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Full text of "The social history of Flatbush, and manners and customs of the Dutch settlers in Kings county"




_ Cornell University Library 

F 129F5 V221909 

Social history of Flatbush, and manners 

3 1924 028 823 981 

~~~ ^~ 






The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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" To Holland they felt a deep, unalterable, hereditary attachment. 
Nor have the vicissitudes of time extinguished that sentiment in their 
descendants. Two centuries have scarcely weakened the veneration 
which citizens of New York of Dutch lineage proudly cherish toward the 
fetherland of their ancestors." 

— History of the State of JHew York. ; J. Eonneyn Brodhead. 

' 1909. 











The Rev. Thomas M. Strong, D. D., for nearly 
forty years beloved pastor of the Reformed Church, 
Flatbush, collected, as far as practicable, facts pertain- 
ing to the early settlement of the town. 

These facts were in the first instance brought 
before the public in the form of lectures delivered 
before the Flatbush Literary Association. 

Subsequently, at the request of his friends, these 
lectures were collected in a volume, entitled "The 
History of the Town of Flatbush," and published 
in 1842. 

Since the publication of this interesting volume, 
there have been great changes in this little town. 
The day is probably not far distant when it will 
become a part of the adjoining city, of Brooklyn ; then 
all traces of its village life and its individuality as a 
Dutch settlement will be lost. 

In all love and respect for the memory of Dr. 
Strong, I have taken up the pen which he laid down, 


not SO much in continuation of his subject as to give 
it from a different standpoint. As a woman, I have 
incHned to the social side of life, add have endeavored 
to record the changes which time has made among 
the people in their homes and at the fireside. 

I have undertaken this as a pleasant task, bringing 
to the work at least so much of fitness for it as may 
be caused by familiarity with those changes, and a 
knowledge of the traditions, customs, and manners of 
the Dutch. 

At an early period all the families in this county 

were united through marriage and intermarriage, thus 

forming one large family circle. I have assumed 

with greater confidence the preparation of this work 

because, as I do not address the great world beyond, 

I may, for that reason, escape unfriendly criticism ; 

these simple annals being only intended for this 

family circle of the descendants of the Dutch settlers, 

who alone can find an interest in the record. 

Gebtkude L. Yahdekbilt. 
Flaibuoh, 1880. 



I. Introductory . . : 

II. Early Settlement op Kings County 

III. Characteristics of the Holland Settlers 

IV. Gradual Change from Dutch to English 
V. Name of the Village of Platbush 

VI. Dutch Names 

VII. Use of the Dutch Language . 
Vni. Exterior of Dutch Houses 
IX. Interior of Dutch Houses 
X, Furniture .... 
XI. Preparation of Winter Stores 
XII. Cooking Utensils 

XIII. Silver and China 

XIV. Musical Instruments and Pictures 
XV. Dress .... 

XVI. Weddings .... 
XVII. Funerals 
XVIII. The G-raveyabd of the Reformed Dutch 
Church ..... 
XIX. Hbalthfulnkss of Flatbush, and Morality 
OF THE Inhabitants .... 
XX. Farms and their Owners . 
XXI. Domestic Service . . . . 

XXII. Agriculture , , , . . 

























Fruits akd Vegetables 

. 277 


Gardens, Wild Flowers, and Woods . 



Village Roads 

. 399 


Churches in Flathush 



Religious Societies . 

. 319 


War of the Revolution — 1776 . 



Work for the Soldiers 

. 337 


Town-Hall .... 



Our Dutch Forefathers 

. 330 


Miss Sally. .... 



Rest after Strife . -.. 

. 364 

Appendix ..... 






OuE Dutch ancestors were slow to accept innovations. 
It is probable that before the beginning of this century 
their manners and habits had remained for generations 
the same. Such is no longer the case. We need only 
go back a few years to find customs which have now 
ceased to exist. Neither Flatbush, nor any of the towns 
on Long Island settled by the Dutch from the Nether- 
lands, differ for that reason from other towns and vil- 
lages in the State. 

Nearly every trace of Dutch descent has been swept 
away ; there only remain the reminiscences and tradi- 
tions, while the old family names mark the localities 
still, as the projecting peaks mark the submerged rock. 

All that relates to home and kindred has its interest, 
especially when we know that the home is soon to be 
broken up and the ties of kindred sundered. In this we 
find our excuse for calling together the family circle of 
Dutch settlers in Kings County, to talk with them of 
changes which have taken place in social life, and to 
review customs and habits which are almost forgotten. 


It seems presumptuous to dignify with the name 
of history this fraginentary account of old and familiar 
things ; perhaps we might offer it as the " landscape of 
the age" in which the actors of Dr. Strong's History 
lived. As such it may help us to understand some 
things which time is every day rendering more indis- 

Dr. Stiles, in his history of Brooklyn, apologizes for 
giving comparatively unimportant minutiae, with the 
plea that it is "for those who are to come after us, 
and to whom these matters may be to a considerable 
extent unattainable except through our pages." He con- 
tinues : " 'Posterity,' it has been said, 'delights in de- 
tails,' and to many of our readers themselves, if they 
should live to a good old age, years will bring a truer 
appreciation of the value of these little points, which 
are now unheeded in the rush and bustle of the active 

We may plead in the same words for the many appar- 
ently unimportant things which we have related ; they 
may be so familiar now as to be almost unworthy the 
record, but they will grow in importance as the years 
pass on. 

As one gathers a leaf or presses a flower from a spot 
which is full of pleasant memories, so we gather these 
leaves, and present them as memorials of the pleasant 
garden spot of which, in time, there will be little left 
save these mementoes which we here offer. 



Comparatively few of the towns and cities of the 
United States have a history which extends far into the 
past. They are of to-day ; they glory in their rapid 
and vigorous growth. Last year there was the stillness 
of the unbroken forest ; this year is heard the pioneer's 
axe ; next year you may find a thriving and populous 

Such is not the case with the villages of Kings 
County. Their place is among the earliest of Amer- 
ican settlements. The uncouth ships, which in slow and 
perilous voyages brought our ancestors from the Nether- 
lands, sailed at a time just after the Second William of 
Orange had died, when De Witt was made Grand Pen- 
sionary of Holland, Oliver Cromwell held rule in Eng- 
land, and Louis XIV reigned in France. 

As long ago as that, our ancestovs left their homes 
in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in TTtrecht and Dor- 
drecht, in Leyden and Delft, and embarked in the ships 
that sailed from the ports of North Holland for the, as 
yet, unsettled shores of the New World. 

. They came of a race of soldiers and sailors ; they 
had fought against their Spanish oppressors, and had 
obtained the freedom they desired. They had wrestled 


with the tides of the strong North Sea, and they had 
conquered their land from its dominion. The sailors 
among their people were found in every port and on 
every coast. 

But these men came to the new world neither as sol- 
diers nor sailors, not even as traders ; agricultural pur- 
suit was their aim. They were attracted toward the new 
territory beyond the sea by the descriptions of the rich 
soil and the abundant harvests that repaid the culture of 
the unappropriated lands. They were not driven out 
by oppressipn, as were the Puritans ; for there was no 
country in the world that was so liberal as to religious 
opinions at that period, and so tolerant, as was Holland. 
They came, a hardy, energetic race, at the freedom of 
their own choice, in the strength of an independent 
manliness, to earn an honest living by their own indus- 
try. They brought their families with them and all 
their household effects ; for they looked forward to 
making the New World a permanent home for them- 
selves and their children. 

Following the route taken by Hendrick Hudson, they 
steered toward the island called Manhattan, where al- 
ready the home government had offered inducements for 
them to settle, and from which friends had written 
beckoning letters. For a while they may have lingered 
among their countrymen there, but, casting their eyes 
southward toward the wooded heights beyond the swift- 
^running river that divided Manhattan from the island 
called by the natives Seawanhacka, influenced by their 
agricultural proclivities, they sought ^ richer soil than 
New Amsterdam afforded. 

And now the little towns began to spring up in the 


In 1636 there were a few settlers along the shore line, 
and in time, as a house here and there appeared, their 
settlement got to be known as Breuckelen. In the 
same year Ex-Governor Van Twiller had a tobacco farm 
on the opposite shore ; and the houses that gathered in its 
vicinity, and the farms that gradually were brought un- 
der cultivation, became another town called Amersfoort, 
after the birthplace of the good patriot Oldenbarneveldt. 
Greatly must we regret the descriptive propensities that 
forced the original names of Amersfoort and Medwoud 
into Platlands and Flatbush. 

In 1643 the English held a patent from the Dutch, 
under allegiance to the States-General, and Governor 
Kief t calls their seaside home s'Gravensande (the Count's 
Beach), and Lady Moody introduced some English names 
and English blood into the settlement ; but the good 
Baxters and Hubbards and Stilwells intermarried with 
the Dutch after her ladyship went away, and s'Graven- 
sande became as thoroughly Dutch as any of us. 

In 1654 some families from Holland, still following 
the coast line, took up their abode in another little 
settlement, in which they also commemorated their 
love for the fatherland by calling it New Utrecht. It 
was not until 1660, or later, that they obtained a patent, 
and the little town began to grow. 

Midway between Amersfoort and Breuckelen in 1651 
there lay a tract of land which gladdened the heart of 
the Hollander, because, with its level surface, it also 
gave promise of rich soil ; a small portion southward 
was even a level flat without trees. They soon found, 
however, that the densely wooded was the richer land. 
Here the farmers began their work of forming homes 
in the primeval forest by cutting down the great trees 


of hickory and white oak and black oak. Perhaps it 
was in memory of the hard labor th^t the heavy timber 
cost them that they gave the name of Midwood to that 
little clearing. It lay on an inclined plane, elevated 
some fifty feet above the level of the ocean, toward 
which it gently sloped southward. 

Thus it was that, looking here land there, and bar- 
gaining for patents or formal grants, and perhaps get- 
ting a little angry now and then, and having their 
plucky nature tried to the utmost by disputes between 
various claimants, and as to the limits of various boun- 
daries, they finally came, each one, into possession of a 
certain allotment of land, and here and there grew fam- 
ily homes, and under the names of Breuckelen, Med- 
woud, Amersfoort, Utrecht, and s'Griavensande appeared 
the five Dutch towns of Kings County. 

Silas Wood, in his " Sketch of the First Settlement 
of Long Island," says that "the western part, if not 
the whole of it, was in a great measure bare of timber. " 

This may possibly be true of some portions of the 
island, but it was not true of Platbush. Dr. Strong 
says that the " lands in and about Flatlands were level 
and free from woods" ; but, in speaking of Flatbush, he 
says, " it comprised a tract of woodland bounded on the 
north by hills, on the south by Flatlands, and extend- 
ing east and west in one continual forest." Elsewhere 
he says : " At time of purchase it was heavily covered 
with timber." 

In the orders and proclamations of the Governor to 
the different towns at various times there is inferential 
proof that Dr. Strong is correct, for in 1656 the inhab- 
itants of Flatbush were ordered to inclose their village 
with palisadoes, within the inclosure of which they re- 


tired for mutual protection during the night ; the first 
church was also fenced in with strong palisadoes. 

A law was passed commanding the inhabitants of 
New Utrecht to cut down the belt of trees around their 
settlement, which formed a hiding-place for lurking sav- 
ages. Also in 1646 the people of the town of s'Graven- 
sande, by a vote of the first town meeting, ordered " every 
inhabitant to make poles of fence to' inclose a common 
field of corn." In like manner, they voted in 1648 
to make a common pasture for their calves. As these 
palisadoes were probably young trees, it would have 
been difficult to enforce these laws if the island had been 
so wholly destitute of timber. 

In the Journal of the Labadists, translated by Hon, 
H. C. Murphy, they refer, in 1679, to the woods seen 
on approaching the land at the Narrows. 

They distinctly mention passing through woods on 
their first visit to Breuckelen, and when they enjoy the 
hospitality of the settlers at Gowanus they make marked 
reference to the free use of fire-wood, which could 
scarcely have been the case unless the woodland had 
been not only abundant, but very accessible. They say : 
"We found a good fire, half way .up the chimney, of 
clear oak and hickory, of which they make not the least 
scruple of burning profusely." 

Hence we judge that the axe rather than the plow 
first gave employment to the settlers. To those who 
in the Netherlands had toiled hard to reclaim their land 
from the ocean, this must have been unaccustomed, 
but it could not have seemed like hopeless or discour- 
aging work. They were now to cultivate a wilderness 
that had never been plowed or planted before, but these 
men brought to the task the energy they had gained in 


their labor among the dikes and dunes of Holland, and, 
because they came of a stalwart race, they were not afraid 
of work. 

The west end of this island was described by Hen- 
drick Hudson's men as being " full of great tall oaks, 
and the lands were as pleasant with grass and flowers 
and goodly trees as they had ever ^een, and very sweet 
smells came therefrom." 

Surely the land " so pleasant with grass and flowers 
and goodly trees " has been true to the promise it gave 
to its discoverers, and has, for these ;two hundred years, 
borne rich harvests. 

Under their careful cultivation, the beautiful gar- 
den and farming land of Kings County has supported 
many generations ; their industry has given it as a leg- 
acy to us, and we surely owe them the slight tribute 
which may be included in a recognition of their toil. 



It has been the fashion to laugh at the Dutch set- 
tlers. They have been held up to ridicule, and their 
manners and customs have been considered an excellent 
subject for a jest. But a caricature is not a true pic- 
ture ; it would be folly to consider that intended as a 
likeness which was acknowledged to be an exaggerated 

It has been said by a great historian that "the Eng- 
lish courtiers sneered at the honest Dutchmen of the 
Netherlands, whose virtues were a, reproach to them 
and their king, and whose national prosperity caused 
them intense jealousy." That was in the distant past, 
but lingering echoes ojf these sneers long followed the 
Hollander ; perhaps they were heard the more dis- 
tinctly for the silence that followed, neither the Dutch- 
men in the Old World nor their descendants at a later 
period in the New pausing amid their industries to lis- 
ten and retort. 

Honesty, industry, economy, prudence, self-reliance, 
truthfulness, patience, and forbearance were character- 
istics of these people ; but, as some one has wisely said, 
" these are not flashy virtues, they are not even attrac- 
tive to thoughtless youth, and they .are despised thor- 


oughly by reckless adventurers. Nevertheless, they are 
the virtues which make good and happy homes, a sta- 
ble government, and a prosperous community. " Such 
were the characteristics of these men, and upon these 
as a foundation they laid the corner-stone of their home 
in the New World. 

"The New Englanders," says a popular writer, 
"have had full justice done to their colonial and their 
subsequent enterprising achievemeilts in building up 
the new republic of America. . . . With the people of 
Holland it is different, and until recently compara- 
tively little has been known in this country of their 
national heroic history and character." 

When Motley, the great historiaii of the Dutch re- 
public, placed before the world the national history of 
our ancestors, he laid us, in common with all others of 
Dutch descent, under infinite obligations to the culture 
of New England that produced the historian so entirely 
worthy of this theme. We find it now easier to prove 
that these original settlers of our Dutch towns were not 
the boors which they are sometimes called, because it 
has been shown to the world that, in the country from 
which they came, " political and religious freedom was 
most highly prized, popular education nearly universal, 
and regard for law and order was most profound ; where 
the rewards of industry were widely shared, the neces- 
sities of life most abundantly secured, and the blessings 
of civilization were equally diffused." 

We have every reason to believe that the Dutch de- 
sired to perpetuate the political and religious freedom 
to which they had been accustomed ; for, says Brod- 
head, speaking of the colony, "Up to this time (1688) 
New York had always been differently governed from 


any other British American colony. She had never 
been a chartered or a corporate government under 
Dutch or English authority. Her eclectic people never 
wished to be ruled by incorporated oligarchies like those 
of New England. What they desired, and what for a 
season they enjoyed, was a ' Charter of Liberties,' secur- 
ing to every inhabitant a« share in local legislation, free- 
dom of conscience, and equality of all modes of Chris- 
tianity. While a Dutch province. New York, with the 
comprehensive liberality of her fatherland, had invited 
strangers of every race and creed tp nestle among her 
own early colonists. " 

When Governor Stuyvesant undertook to drive the 
Quakers from the colony, he was reprimanded by a let- 
ter from the Dutch West India Company in 1663, in 
which it is asserted that "the consciences of men ought 
to be free and unshackled." Furman says that this is 
the only instance in which the Dutch colonial govern- 
ment attempted to exile a man for his religious princi- 
ples. It is said that in after-years the old Dutch Gov- 
ernor admitted his mistake, and offered as his excuse 
that he thought it was intended to make political use 
of the liberty sought. 

The Dutch Government refused to recognize witch- 
craft or to inflict the death penalty upon those who 
were suspected by others ; in thiS respect they were 
surely in advance of an age which gave the fullest cre- 
dence to this superstition, and persecuted unto death 
the poor victims who might be suspected. 

The Eev. George W. Bethune, D. D., said, in speak- 
ing of Holland : " The world, especially this country, 
owes Holland a large debt of gratitvicie for the earliest 
lessons of modern freedom, the foremost lessons of re- 


ligious toleration, and the finest exhibition of the influ- 
ence which general education and simple religious hab- 
its have upon the character and happiness of a people. " 
Another writer on colonial times, speaking of the 
Dutch settlers, says : "If there be any who, in looking 
back to the period and persons we are sketching, feel a 
sort of compassion for their supposed inferior chances 
and lower development, we advise them to spare their 
benevolence and apply it where it -R^ould be more truly 
needed. The comparison of merit between the inhabit- 
ants here during the last century, or of the years pre- 
vious, with the present time and all its vaunted educa- 
tional and fashionable advantages, is not a whit in favor 
of our own day in all the important' respects that make 
manly and womanly excellence. " 

We may question the educational advantages of that 
period if the writer has reference to those derived 
from books and study, schools and colleges ; but there 
are other sources for the development of character, and 
these may have had greater power and efficiency in pro- 
ducing a sturdy manhood then than many of the mold- 
ing influences to which young men and women in this 
age are subjected. 

As to the religious training, its results upon charac- 
ter may have been as efficient as that of to-day. It was 
certainly all that the age could give. The fruit of 
October may have been advanced by the May sunshine 
proportionately with the more perceptible mellowing 
of the August heat. 

The Dutch were a religious people. They prized 
highly the services of the sanctuary, and established 
their churches with their first settlement. In New 
York as early as 1626 they assembled together for wor- 


ship, and for forty years theirs wag the only church in 
that settlement. At the recent quarter-millennial an- 
niversary of the Collegiate Church, the dates upon the 
walls, interwoven with flowers, were 1628-1878. 

Even before the new colony was supplied with a 
minister, his duties were undertaken by men known as 
" Krank-besoeckers," or " Ziekentroosters," i.e., con- 
solers of the sick, whose duty it was also to read the 
Scriptures to the people on Sunday. 

As to the estimation in which they held learning, 
Brodhead says : "Neither the perils of war, nor the 
busy pursuit of gain, nor the excitement of political 
strife, ever caused the Dutch to neglect the duty of ed- 
ucating their offspring to enjoy that freedom for which 
their fathers had fought. Schools Were everywhere pro- 
vided, at the public expense, with good schoolmasters to 
instruct the children of all classes in the usual branches 
of education. " 

A church was built in Flatbush as early as 1654, and 
we have the records of schoolmasters from 1659 ; but 
there was a school even before this date. This early 
attention to the education of the children is what we 
might expect of settlers from a country which, says 
Charles Sumner, " is placed in the very front rank as the 
land which first established common schools, and threw 
the doors of its universities open to all." "And," says 
another historian, speaking of this time, "it is not too 
much to say that they [the inhabitants of the Nether- 
lands] were far in advance of all other nations in every 
element of civilization, whether material, intellectual, 
artistic, moral, or religious." 

Says T. W. Field, writing of Brooklyn and its vicin- 
ity ; "In every town of the New Netherlands which 


was settled under the Dutch Government a school was 
established, which was taught by a competent teacher 
under a license of the Government, which paid him a 
small salary in addition to his other emoluments. . . . 
After the conquest by the English in 1664 the teachers 
received no salary from the Government, which did little 
to encourage education. . . . The liberality of the pa- 
ternal Dutch Government was thus strongly contrast- 
ed with the stinginess of the English authorities, who 
never dreamed of such extravagance as paying salaries 
to teachers." 

T. G. Bergen says that this liberality was not that 
of the paternal Dutch Government, .but of the Dutch 

Furman says, in reference to this, that Governor 
Stuyvesant recommended a suitable person for the 
schoolmaster in Breuckelen, because they regarded it as 
being so important, not only " to establish schools, but 
to secure the service of proper men to conduct them," 
and therefore they would select no one unless " the Gov- 
ernor was satisfied of his competency." Furman adds, 
speaking of schools among the Dutch, "With them it 
was a cardinal principle to diffuse the means of educa- 
tion as widely as possible." 

The prestige of the Latin School of Dordrecht was 
such that, in 1635, it was considered the best in north- 
western Europe. 

The advantages for obtaining an education in the 
Netherlands were so general that the most of those 
who came from there to settle here could read and write. 
They brought not only their great Dutch Bibles and 
Psalm-books with them, but many a little parchment- 
covered volume, in heavy black-letter, with here and 


there quaint pictures on its pages, that still remain to 
attest their love of reading, notwithstanding the neces- 
sity for their constant, plodding labor. They not only 
established Dutch schools at an early date, but they 
encouraged the study of English, when a knowledge of 
that language gaYe greater advantages to their children. 
In the old, worn Dutch dictionaries that lie on our 
upper shelves we find the proof that- even the older peo- 
ple endeavored to improve themselves in English by the 
study of the "Groot Woordenboek," the great word- 
book, as the dictionary was aptly called : the " Groot 
Woordenboek der Engelsche en Nederduytsche Taalen ; 
nevens eene spraakkonst derzelver." 

The children were thoroughly drilled in lessons upon 
the Bible, so that from their youth up they might be 
a God-fearing as well as a moral Community. They 
were also thoroughly indoctrinated in the articles of 
their faith by the study of the catechism. 

We find in the inventory of an estate of an old land- 
owner, born 1684, that among his other properties he 
had in his house eleven Dutch catechisms. Under the 
discipline of such training as this grew up the children 
of successive generations in the homes of our Dutch an- 
cestors, and, if they were not morally sound and hardy, 
there must have been great waste of precept and ex- 



Aeound these early settlers on Manhattan and on 
Long Island stretched an unknown continent in un- 
broken wilderness, save as here and there along the coast 
glimmered the lights of some small and widely separated 
settlements like their own. But it was not by these, 
nor yet by themselves, that their destiny was shaped. 
It was the cabinet intrigues of the Old World that 
gave them Dutch rulers or made them the subjects of 
an English king. The political broils, the international 
feuds and jealousies, or the open wai-s of Europe, were 
the pebbles thrown into the stream that in ever- widening 
circles reached and agitated the little towns that lay 
close to the shores. 

The effect of change from Dutch customs, manners, 
and form of government to English was so slow as to 
be in process of growth almost imperceptible. At first 
the settlers built their houses of brick imported from 
Holland, and in many other ways, from force of habit, 
attempted the useless task of trying to make their new 
homes conform to those which they had left. 

What is said in Bryant's "Popular History of the 
United States " about New York, in jits period of transi- 
tion under the early English governors, was equally 
true of the little towns and villages around that city. 


settled at the same period and by the=same people : "Its 
customs long remained those which its first settlers had 
brought with them out of the Dutch fatherland. Its 
architecture, most of its local names, and even its more 
common speech, were Dutch. Its domestic and social 
life was regulated by the customs of Holland. If it was 
simple and somewhat heavy, it was at the same time 
healthy, virtuous, and full of kindliness and hospitality. 
If the stout burghers moved slowly, thought only of the 
practical side of things, and went to bed at nine o'clock, 
they also worked steadily, governed their households 
wisely, and pei'secuted nobody. If they introduced for 
a brief period into their new home the law they brought 
from Holland of the great burgher-right and the lesser 
burgher-right, those who received the former were 
worthy of the dignity, and those who were confined to 
the latter valued their citizenship and educated their 
children none the less carefully." 

Says one, sketching this period : " The settlement of 
Kings County and Manhattan Island was essentially 
Dutch, not only in its social, but in its political customs 
and institutions. . . . From 1620 to the close of the 
century Long Island was solely Dutch, and when after- 
ward the English took possession there was no social or 
domestic change." 

It is probable that the energies of these pioneers were 
taxed to the utmost to obtain the comforts to which the 
civilization of the Netherlands had aqcustomed the Hol- 
lander ; for rude and meager as their surroundings were, 
compared to the luxurious abundahce in the reach of 
every industrious householder of this age, yet they were 
far in advance of those of the same social status in many 
^ other countries of Europe, 



On this account they had the less time to waste upon 
the political changes, which had, after all, little per- 
ceptible effect upon their liberty and prosperity. Their 
language, their schools, their religious privileges were 
not interfered with. It was expressly stipulated that 
the Dutch, in capitulating to the English in 1664, 
should enjoy "liberty of their co,nscience in divine 
worship and church discipline." Also that they should 
"enjoy their own customs concerning their inheritance. "' 
The Dutch are essentially a law-abiding people, and as 
their English rulers secured to them all which their own 
home government had granted, they were willing to 
recognize their power and acknowledge their sovereignty. 
As open rebellion or unwilling submission would have 
done very little to change matters, we must admit that 
peaceful acquiescence was the wiser policy. 

Says Dr. Morgan Dix, speaking of this period in the 
history of the Dutch settlers: "N;ew Amsterdam was 
taken ; it became New York ; and the Church of Eng- 
land was planted where the Classis of Amsterdam had 
been the supreme and only ecclesiastical authority. 
But observe how scrupulously the rights of your fore- 
fathers were respected. There is nothing like it in his- 
tory ; never did conquerors treat the conquered with 
such deference and consideration. As far as possible 
the old customs were preserved ; private rights, con- 
tracts, inheritances were scrupulously regarded ; and, as 
for the Reformed Dutch Church, it seems almost to 
have been treated as a sacred thing. It was more than 
protected; it was actually established by law by an 
English governor under English auspices. This was, 
perhaps, no more than a fair return. for the good deeds 
done by your people. When your turn came to be un- 


der the yoke, it was said to you in substance : ' You 
shall still be free ; not one of your old customs shall be 
changed until you change them yourselves ; by us you 
shall not be meddled with ; keep yQur places of wor- 
ship, your flocks, and all you have,. in peace.' And so 
to their old church of St. Nicholas inside the fort did 
your people continue to wend their way in absolute 
security, though English sentries were at the gates ; 
and within the walls over which the standard of Eng- 
land waved did the good Dutch dominie speak his 
mind as freely as ever- to his spiritual children ; nor was 
it until they had finished their devotions and with- 
drawn that the English chaplain ventured within the 
same house of Worship to read his Office from the Book 
of Common Prayer. I see in this what does credit to 
humanity — kind consideration, mutual respect, and on 
both sides a study of the things that make for peace." 
Speaking of this, Brodhead says .that the Keformed 
Church was virtually " established ".in New York by its 
English rulers. The same generosity was extended to 
the Dutch on Long Island, and with similar results. 

Under the English laws a constable and overseers 
were added to the town officers ; it was one of their 
duties " frequently to admonish the inhabitants to in- 
struct their children and servants in matters of religion 
and the laws of the country." This could not have 
been considered an unusual thing for those who were so 
eminently law-abiding, and who were accustomed to the 
same admonitions from their own rulers. 

Thus it happened that gradually, and almost uncon- 
sciously, they glided along the smooth current which, 
from that day to this, has been changing them from 
Dutch to English, 


Looking back to their daily life, we find that they 
had many things to contend against which must have 
given them more uneasiness than this change, which 
was attended with so little inconvenience to themselves. 

The cutting down of the forest and making their 
clearings was very different work from the agriculture 
to which they had been trained upon the polders, the 
rescued lands, of Holland ; nor was a knowledge of the 
dikes and drainage of the Zuyder Zhe available in the 
dry and sandy farms "op 't ijlant Nassau." 

A still greater cause of anxiety, however, must have 
come to them from contact with the savages who at 
this period peopled the continent. The uneasiness 
of the pioneer settlers in Plymouth and Jamestown 
must also have been felt in a slight degree by the set- 
tlers on Long Island, for in 1656 an order was given to 
erect palisadoes, so as to protect the town against the 
Indians, who lurked in the forest with tomahawk and 

It may have been that the peaceful Dutchmen of 
Kings County did not provoke the aboriginal settler to 
retaliation ; for, says B. F. Thompson, in his history : 
"The Indians on Long Island were less troublesome 
to their white neighbors than the Indians north of 
the Sound, nor does it appear that any formidable 
conspiracy ever existed among them to destroy the set- 

George William Curtis, who can not be regarded 
as one biased in favor of the Dutch, said, in an address 
recently delivered at Deerfield, Massachusetts, that 
"the Dutch settlers, who never broke faith with the 
aborigines, suffered from them comparatively little 


The land in the Dutch towns of Kings County was 
not wrested from the native tribes, but amicably ob- 
tained by regular purchase from its owners, the Canarsee 
Indians, who, in 1609, were the first to welcome Hen- 
drick Hudson to the shores of the New World. 

Governor Stuyvesant, in 1647, prohibited the sale of 
strong drink to the Indians under a heavy penalty, to- 
gether with the "responsibility for all the misdemean- 
ors that might result from its use." He was also very 
peremptory in his charge that justice should be shown 
in all cases to the Indians. 

" Both the English and the Dutch on Long Island 
respected the rights of the Indians, and no land was 
taken up by the several towns, or by individuals, until 
it had been fairly purchased of the chiefs of the tribes 
who claimed it," says another historian of Long Island. 

There may have been less distrust on this account, 
for the inhabitants of Midwood did not keep even the 
vigilant guard which the law required ; and when, in 
1675, the English held their court of sessions over this 
district, called by them the " West Riding of Yorkshire," 
and which included the five Dutch towns, we read that 
Midwood was much censured for having neglected to 
keep up the fortifications as safety demanded to insure 
protection against the savages. 

In 1658 Flatbush was the county market-town. 
Here, also, was the seat of justice for the county ; here 
the courts were held ; hero the sheriff lived, and the 
county clerk. Here also the schoolmaster dwelt, and the 
minister who preached at stated times in the five Dutch 
towns, and who from respect to his office was considered 
a most infiuential member of the settlement. 

The change in regard to the civil importance of 


Flatbush has been recorded in Dr. Strong's history. In 
these pages we only propose to refer to the public rec- 
ords when they reflect light upon the home life of the 

In regard to language, manners, and customs, the 
change has been in accordance with the progress of the 
age, as the people have been called to keep step in that 
advancing line of onward march in civilization in which 
the Anglo-Saxon race has led the world. 



At its settlement in 1651 Platbush was variously 
called Midwout, Midwoud, and Medwoud ; it is difficult 
to say why or when the change was made to Platbush. 
Various opinions have been offered as to the meaning of 
the name. 

In a paper read before the Historical Society of the 
State of New York, December 31, 1816, there is a con- 
jecture ofEered to the effect that, as Breuckelen and 
Amersfoort were, from their proximity to the water, 
earliest settled, and a space intermediate and about equi- 
distant between them remained as woodland, it was there- 
fore designated by the Dutch words "' woud " or " bos," 
signifying woods, thereby becoming, " med woud," or 
middle woods. Or, as it was a plain — "vlachte," in 
order to distinguish it from the wooded heights — '^Ge- 
bergte " — between this plain and Brooklyn, it was called 
the "Vlachte bos," or the wooded plain. 

Teunis Gr. Bergen says that Medwoud and Oost- 
woud, now Platbush and New Lots, were both named 
after villages in North Holland. There are others who 
give the name a different derivation, and say that it 
does not come from " woud," a forest, but from " woon " 


or "-woonen," to dwell, having reference to the people 
who lived in the middle district between the two settle- 
ments of Breuckelen and Amersfoort. 

In the town records of 1681, New Lots is called Oost- 
woud, and Platbush, Medwoud. 

At a convention, held at Hempstead in 1665, Long 
Island and Staten Island were erected into a shire, and 
divided into districts called Ridings ■■••, * Flatbush was in 
the West Riding of Yorkshire. It has been said that 
the name of Medwoud was changed at that convention. 
If so, the change was not generally accepted, for it was 
called Medwoud after that on many public occasions, 
and in many public documents. 

All these names, Medwoud, Midwoud, Midwout, and 
Vlachte Bos, appear upon the old town records ; and in 
all the public writings they seem to be used interchange- 
ably, as we shall see. 

On an old grant, signed by Governor Stuyvesant, 
bearing date 1661, and still in possession of the family 
to whom the land was given, the "name of the town 
appears as Midwout. The first provincial seal of the 
New Netherlands is upon this grant ;: a shield bearing a 
beaver, proper, surmounted by a count's coronet, and 
encircled by the legend " Sigillum Novi Belgii." In 
another old Dutch writing of the same character, bear- 
ing date 1677, Flatbush is called Vlackebos. In a dis- 
pute as to the boundaries between Platbush and Brook- 
lyn, which occurred in 1678, our people call Platbush 
" onse Dorp Midwout." In a dispute as to the bounda- 
ries between Platbush and Flatland^, which took place 

* In 1683 the province was diyided into coimties, and the " ridings " 
were abolished. 


in 1688, the two towns are spoken of respectively as 
Midwout and Amersfoort. 

In other papers relating to the boundaries of the 
Dutch towns, bearing date 1677, our people " von het 
bos," say, "Wij, gemeentevon Midwoud," i. e., we, the 
commonalty, or community, of Midwoud. In other 
disputes relative to boundaries, bearing date 1666, the 
town is called Flackebos. In an old Dutch deed, among 
the town papers relating to taxes, dated 1676, the place 
is called Flackebos. In 1677, in an old paper written in 
in English, as few among the town records are, the set- 
tlement is called "Flatbush, alias Midlewood"; and 
subsequently through the paper it is called Midlewood. 

In a paper among the old town records signed by 
Pieter De la Noy, and bearing date 1680, the village is 
called ''Het Dorp Midwout." In another old paper, 
dated 1681, found among the town records, being a 
receipt for certain books transferred to the town by 
Joseph Hegeman, the date is given from Midwout. 

In April, 1693, the Colonial Legislature passed an 
act changing the name of Long Island to Nassau Island, 
but the act did not affect the old name or make it per- 
manent, although sometimes in the old writings Flat- 
bush is spoken of as "op 't ijlant Nassau." The Indian 
names of this island were Paumanacke, Mattouwack, 
and Seawanhacka,* each of which names is variously 

* Seawan-haeky means the " island of shells." Seawan was the name 
of their money, made from the shells which are abundant on the south- 
ern coast ; the wampum, or tBe white, was made from the periwinkle ; 
the black was made from the quahaug. B. F. Thompson says, speaking 
of its Talue : " Three beads of black and six of white were equivalent to 
an English penny or a Dutch stiver." 


In a bill among some old family, papers we read : 
" I Bekome ontfangen te hebbe ivon E. Hegeman de 
somme von vyf pondt, etc. 

"Jacobus Beekman. 

" Flaokebos, Den 20 AgH, A. D. 1717." 

In an old will, written in 1715, In English, we find 
the modern name appears : 

" In ye first y' reign of our Sovereign Lord, George 
of Great Brittain, Prance, and Ireland, King, Defender 
of ye faith, etc., etc., and in ye year of our Lord Christ 

one thousand seven hundred and fifteen, , of 

Flatbush, in Kings County, on ye Island of Nassau, in 
ye Province of New York," etc. Ad old agreement, of 
more value than the above, we find dated, " Midwout, 
Oct. 1, 1718." In 1733 we still find the name of Mid- 
woud : 

"Midwoud, Den %l Augustes, a. d. 1733. Ont- 
fangen de somme dertigh gulden, etb. 

(Signed) "Pieter Strtckeb." 

Another old paper, dated "Anno dom 1745," speaks 
of the signer as being a resident of "Flatbush in King's 
County, on Nassau Island, in the Province of New 
York." A more intelligible, because not faded, writing, 
bearing date "Anno dom 1748," calls Flatbush Flacke- 
bos. In a will bearing date 1759 the town is called Flat- 
bush and the island Nassau. 

We have copied from old writings these different 
ways of naming the village, not becaiise the particular 
sources of information are in themselves of any value, 
but because they show how long, and upon what various 
occasions, the names seem to be used interchangeably 


and somewhat at random. Through all these years the 
name might be written Midwout, Midwoud, Medwoud, 
Flackebos, Vlactebos, until it became Platbush ; either 
name being at the option of the writer. 

Thus for a century the names in their variations 
came down the stream of time together, side by side. 
We do not know upon what petty obstruction in tlie 
channel foundered at last the sweet rural name of Mid- 
wood, but some of the early years in the last century 
proved the bar over which it did not pass. It has been 
gradually lost sight of in the distance, and now we can 
only find it when we look back to the days when the 
village was shut in by the primeval forest, and the 
name so aptly described it as Midwood.* 

Flatbush had at an early period names for its differ- 
ent sections. The north end was called "Steenraap " ; 
the center, "Dorp" ; the south end, " Rustenburgh. " 

The English of "steenraap" is stone-gathering, 
from steen, a stone ; raapen, to reap, implying that it 
was rough and stony, or a place where stones could be 
gathered. As the meaning of the word " raap " is a 
turnip, it may also mean, not a wild and rocky place, 
but where small stones, like turnips upon a cultivated 

* It is curious to obaerTe the changes in the Dutch names given by 
the Dutch settlers : 

Hell Gate, supposed to be named from dangerous navigation, was 
formerly " Hellegat," after a river in Flanders. Breuckelen was named 
after a village in the province of Utrecht. Gravesend was not named 
by the English under Lady Moody, but was called s'Gravensande by 
Governor Kieft, after a seaport near the river Maas, signifying the 
Count's Sea-beach : graf or graven, counts ; sande, a sandy beach. 
Just as the Hague, at first a hunting-seat of the Counts of Holland, was 
called s'Graven Hague, or the Counts' hedge or woods. 


field, k_y thick upon the surface. This suggestion as 
to the derivation of the word is given by Teunis Gr. 
Bergen, whose close attention to Dutch names and their 
derivations makes it worthy of attention. The soil in 
the northern part of the town is rich, but the fields did 
at one time present a surface covered with small stones, 
such as might be described very properly by a word witli 
such a derivation. 

This name may, for another reason, have been applied 
to this portion of the town. There was at one time a 
brick kiln, " steenbakkery," upon the farm owned by 
Mr. John Lefferts. The name of steenbakkery was still 
applied as late as 1876 to the large pond formed by the 
digging out of clay for the bricks. The clayey soil 
made it almost impossible to drain the pond, and it was 
used by the school-boys in the town as a skating pond 
in winter, and always was known by them as the 
"steenbakkery." It was not until the hollow was filled 
up to make a causeway for the railroad from Nostrand 
Avenue to Platbush Avenue that the pond began to dis- 

The land on the southern side of Kings County is 
remarkably free from rocks ; boyonii the central ridge 
of the island there are none. There is said to be an 
Indian tradition to the effect that Satan threw all the 
rocks from Long Island across the Sound to Connecti- 
cut in a fit of anger ; if so, he certainly cleared this part 
of the island very effectually. 

The middle of the town was called " Dorp," a village 
or country town ; that is, the village proper and the 
business center. The south end of the town was known 
as " Eustenburgh," or the resting-place. With what 
peculiar fitness this name was given we can not say. 


unless the calm restfulnoss and repose of the landscape 
was impressive. It may have been, as the earliest set- 
tlers had each a portion of the open and unwooded land 
while the forest was being cut down m Dorp and Steen- 
raap, that they had their first homes in Eustenburgh ; 
thus this portion of the town may have been their tem- 
porary resting-place. But history in this instance, as 
is often the case in more important things, gives no 
answer to our questions. 

The present name of the village is not an im- 
provement upon that first given ; and it is much to be 
regretted that the pretty village should not have re- 
tained the title applied so aptly by the old settlers — 
Midwood. It was appropriate in all its significations, 
whether referring to the people who lived in the middle 
district, or the little town in the midst of woods. 

Looking down upon it from the highest point in 
Prospect Park, it is so shut in by trees and shrubbery 
that we might say, almost as appropriately now as two 
hundred years ago, it is Midwood still. 



Until this century the Dutch names from the 
fatherland were still given by the descendants of the 
settlers to their children. Some of us can remember 
names which were once household words in every fam- 
ily, as being the names of parents and grandparents, but 
which now are never heard. We can trace them through 
the county in their English translations ; but the origi- 
nals, like the old people who bore them, have died out. 

We here furnish some of the names which are found 
constantly recurring in the old recor.ds of the town, to 
which we add the translations under which they now 
appear : 

Aart (Arthur), Aries (Aaron), Arian (Adrian), An- 
dries (Andrew), Bornt (Barent or Bernard), Christoffle 
(Christopher), Claes or Nicolaes (Nicholas), Dirk or 
Diederick (Richard), Guilliam (William), Hans, the 
nickname for Johannes (John), Joris (George), Jaco- 
bus (James), Lucas (Luke), Paulus (Paul), Pieter (Pe- 
ter), Roelef (Ralph), Wouter (Walter), Wilhelmus (Wil- 
liam), Yacob (Jacob), Jacques (James), Joost (George). 

There are other names which were never changed by 
translation ; some of them are probably family names : 


Wolfert, Gysbert, Volkert, Wynanci, Lambert, Ger- 
brandt, Rynier, Myndert, Baltus, Rutgert, Harmanus, 
Ulpius, Jurian. Rembrandt was abbreviated to Rem, 
and under that form it was a name frequently given. 
There are other narries which might have been trans- 
lated, but are still continued in their original form, viz. : 
Ooert is probably Courtland ; Gerretis Gerhard or Ger- 
rard ; Evert is Everard ; Laurens is Lawrence or Loren- 
zo ; Tennis is Anthony. 

The family name Denyse is from Denis, and is the 
contraction of Dionysius. St. Denis is Dionysius the 
Areopagite, converted by Paul's sermon on Mars Hill. 

The family name Tiebout, at one time numerous in 
Kings County, is, in its translation, Theobald. 

The English rendering of some of these names seems 
to us somewhat arbitrary. Cobus was a common nick- 
name for Jacobus ; it would seem natural to have the 
English translation of it, Jacob ; but we find that it has 
been always translated into James. In the patent ob- 
tained from James, Duke of York, by Governor Sir 
Edmond Andros, the Duke is called " Jacobus, Hertzog 
von York and Albany." Prom this we judge that this 
translation was the general one, and not a local render- 
ing by the farmers. 

The names of the women seem to have undergone 
even a greater change than those of the men. The di- 
minutive je, pronounced as we do ia, is attached to most 
of the feminine names. In a dictionary published in 
Amsterdam, 1749, there are some pages devoted to 
" Naamen van Mannen en Vrouwen" — names of men 
and women. In this the author gives a most uncompli- 
mentary reason for the fact in the explanation that, 
"since the Female Sex is lookt upon as inferior to the 


Male, these diminutives are applied to women." As 
these diminutives were also expressive of endearment, 
in view of the strength of family ties among the Dutch, 
we find a stronger reason in the expression of afEection 
by father and husband, rather than in attributing their 
use to an arrogation of superiority. 

The following names of our grandmothers and 
great grandmothers appear upon the baptismal records 
of the past century : 

Aaltje (Aletta or Alida), Annetje (Anne), Arriantie 
(Adrianna), Beletje (Bella), Dirkje or Dortie (Doro- 
thea), Elsie (Alice), Evau (Eve), Bemmetia (Phebe), 
Gertje (Gertrude), Grietje or Margarietje (Margaret), 
Engeltie (Ann), Helena (Helen), Jannetje (Jane), Lam- 
metje (Lemmian), Lysbet (Elizabeth), Katrina or Tri- 
entje (Catharine), Morritje (Mary), Neeltje (Cornelia, 
sometimes Nelly), Pietemeltje (Petronella), Willimentje 
(Wilhelmine), Leentje (Magdalena), Seytia (Cynthia), 
Yda (Ida), Motje (Martha). Hieltie, also spelled Hil- 
letie, is probably the abbreviation of Hildegonda, Tiesie 
(Letitia), Gashie (Garrita). 

There are some names which are nearly obsolete, if 
not entirely so ; these are : Hildegonda, Geradina, Pe- 
tronella, Wilhelmina, Lemmian, Alida, Garetta, Adri- 
anna, Blandina. There are other names which have 
gradually fallen into disuse, such as Phebe, Cynthia, 
Dorothea, Catalina. 

Family names were strictly adhered to, and the eld- 
est son was given either that of his iather or one or the 
other of his grandparents. Thus it happened that cer- 
tain names were found descending from father to son 
through many generations; there are names in this 
county always to be found in certaiil families. Some of 


these appear in the documentary history of this State 
at a Tery early period, and are repeated upon the town 
records through successive years to this present time. 
The Van Brunt family have never been without a Eut- 
gert or Rulif ; Wynant is the family name in the Ben- 
nett family ; Ooert and Lucas in the Vorhees family. 

As early as 1700 the names of Domenicus and Cor- 
nelius appear among the Vandeveers ; there is the rec- 
ord of Englebert Lott in 1666 : these names are not yet 

Jacques has Ibeen a family nanie in the Gortelyou 
family since the first settlement of New Utrecht. 

Gerret has been the family name: in the Stryker fam- 
ily ; Hendrick has been in the Suydam family since 
1663, when the ancestor of that name came to this 
country ; Adrian, Marten, and Gerret have been names 
in the Martense family for an equal length of time. 
Jan, and formerly Douwe, were names generally found 
in the Ditmas family. 

The unusual name of Leffert occurs constantly in the 
family bearing that surname ; wherever the family name 
of LefEerts is found, there may be seen its repetition, in 
the old family custom of calling one of the sons Leffert 

This name also appears frequently in connection 
with other families : as early as 1700 it was used in the 
Waldron family ; in 1720, in the Martense family ; in 
1768, in the Ryerson family; in 1776, in the Polhemus 
family ; in 1783, in the Lloyd family ; in 1789, in the 
Bergen family ; in 1792, in the Gerretson family ; in 
1807, in the Schenck family. The above names were 
probably given through intermarriage, but, as Leffert 
Pieterse was the name of the ancestor of this family who 


settled in Platbush in 1661, it is probable that, origi- 
nally, Leffert was a given and not a surname. 

There are names on the assessment roll of 1676 which 
still appear in Flatbush : 

Jan Jansen van Ditmersen (ancestor of Ditmas 
family), Pieter Loott (ancestor of Lott family), LefEert 
Pieterse (ancestor of LefEerts family), Jan Streycker, 
Hendrick Streycker, Aris Jansen Yan de Bildt, Jacob 
Janse Van de Bildt, Abraham Hegemau. 

From a record of the heads of families in Flatbush 
in 1687, we select the following names of those whose 
descendants are still living in the town, many of them 
bearing the same names as their ancestors : 

Englebert Lott, Pieter Strycker, Pieter Lott, Joseph 
Hegeman, Lefferd Pieterse (in the next generation, 
called Peter Lefferts), Jan Van Ditmaertz (now spelled 
Ditmas), Aris Vanderbilt, Jacob V-andorbilt, Marten 
Adrianse (Marten de Boer, ancestor of the Martense 
family), Jan Oake, Jacob Remsen, Pieter Williamson, 
Jan Oornelissen Vander Veer, Gerret Janse Strijker. _ 

In the year 1698 there were in the whole of Kings 
County: men, 308; women, 333.; children, 1,081. 
There were also at this time 296 negroes in the 

From " a list of the inhabitants of the township of 
Flatbush," in the year 1738, we give the following names, 
still represented by families in the town : 

Dominicus V. D. Veer, Peter LefEertz, Jan Van der 
Bilt, Abraham Lott, John Vanderveer, Oornelis Sudam; 
John Sudom, Adrian Hegeman, William Bennett, Hen- 
drick WickofE, John Lot, John Striker, Laurens Detmas, 
John Detmas, Isaac Oakey, Dom. Antonidus, Rem Mar- 
tense, Adrian Martense, Gerret Van Duyne. 


There is great diflSculty in tracing names of our 
Dutch ancestors, from the fact that on the earliest rec- 
ords the names were not fixed. This, Peter's son being 
named Jan, he wrote his name as Jan Petersen, but, he 
in turn calling his boy after his father, the boy's name 
in time came to be Peter Jansen. Also, the same name 
is spelled in so many different ways, by members of the 
same family not only, but by the same person, that it is 
at times difficult to identify it. 

As an example of the first, we may refer to the an- 
cestor of the LefEerts family, who appears upon the 
record of 1676 as Lefferd Peterse, and in the next gen- 
eration it was changed again to Peter LefEerts, ever since 
remaining as LefEerts. The same change was made with 
the name of the Martense family. 

In the old family Bible in the possession of the de- 
scendants is the record that " 1659, July 29, es Adrian 
Ecyerz getrout met Annctje Martense. " 

1660, Marten Adrianse (son of Adrian) was born, 
and his children were called Marten's sons, which name, 
at first as Martensen and afterward under the contrac- 
tion of Martense, has continued to be the patronymic 
of the descendants of Marten Adrianse, son of Adrian 

As to the spelling of names we find the following 
changes in the same family name : 

Stryker, Striker, Strycher, Streycker, Strijeker, 
Streicker ; Martens, Martense, Maertense, Maerthense ; 
Loot, Loott, Lot, Lott ; Conover, Couwenhoven, Kou- 
enhoven. Von Couwenhoven, Von Oouwenhooven, Cou- 
venhoven, Koowenoven ; Vanderbiltj Van Der Bilt, Van- 
derbildt,Van de Bildt ; Cortelyou, Gorteljou, Cortelliau, 
Corteljouw ; Vorhees, Voris, Van Voorhuys, Von Voor- 


huijs; WyckofE, Wijkoff, Wickhof, WycofE ; Lefferts, 
Loffert, Leffertt, LefEertze. 

The birthplace has in many cases furnished the name 
of the family. The prefix Van, like the German Von, 
undoubtedly refers to the place whence the family came. 
In some cases it has become incorporated in the name, 
as : Vanderyeer, Vanderbilt, Vandervoort ; in other cases 
it was more properly written with distinctive reference 
to its derivation, as : Van Deventer, Van Arsdalen, Van 

Mr. Teunis G. Bergen says that the name of Van 
Brunt is an exception, and that a family, and not a 
place, is referred to. 

Barkeloo, Deventer, Wyck, Antwerp, Buren, and 
many other towns, in and near the Netherlands, have 
furnished names to the families who, leaving there, have 
settled in America. The name of Ditmas was derived 
from the place in Holland whence the family came ; for 
the early settler is recorded upon the assessment roll as 
Jan Van Ditmarsen, 

In a list of those coming over in l&bt, is Claes Pou- 
welson from Ditmarsum, and Jan Petersen from Dit- 
marsen, showing it to be the name of a place. 

The letters " se " which, in many of the Dutch names 
were the final letters, are an abbreviation of "sen." 
Thus, Martense is the the son of Marten ; Lefferts 
was the son of LefEert ; Denyse was the son of Denis ; 
Janse was the son of Jan. 

There are probably very few towns in this country, 
if any, in which the farms have beeti held in the same 
names so long as they have in Flatbush. Living in a 
land where everything seems in almost perpetual change, 
the old homesteads yet shelter thg families by whom 


they were built, and the farms belong to the children of 
those by whom they were settled, while before the bap- 
tismal bowl in the old Dutch church the same names 
have been repeated from father to son for two hundred 

We copy the following from a letter published in 1859 
by Hon. H. C. Murphy, of Brooklyn. It was written 
during his stay in Holland, and is dated from the 
Hague : * 

"In order to show what difficulties the peculiar systems 
adopted in this country [Holland], and continued by the settlers 
in our own, have thrown in the way of tracing genealogies, it is 
to be observed that the first of these in point of time was the 
patronymic, as it is called, by which a child took, besides his 
own baptismal name, that of his father with the addition of 
Zoon or Sen, meaning son. To illustrate this : if a child were 
baptised Headrick and the baptismal name of his father were 
Jan, the child would be called Hendrick Jansen. His son, if 
baptised Tunis, would be called Tunis Hendrioksen. The son of 
the latter might be Willem, and would have the name of Willem 
Tunissen. And so we might have the succeeding generations 
called successively Garret Willemsen, Marten Garretsen, Adrian 
Martensen, and so on through the whole of the calendar of 
Christian names; or, as more frequently happened, there would 
be repetition in the second, third, or fourth generation of the 
name of the first ; and thus, as these names were common to the 
whole people, there were in every community different lineages 
of identically the same name. This custom, which had pre- 
vailed in Holland for centuries, was in full vogue at the time of 

* We were not aware at the time of taking this letter from the 
newspaper in which it was published that it had been copied in Stiles's 
" History of Brooklyn." We shall not withhold the portions of it selected 
for use here, however, on that account, as it verifies much that we have 
said, and may interest those of our readers who have not seen it else- 


the settlement of New Netherland. In writing this termination 
»en, it was frequently contracted into «e* or z or «. Thus the 
name of William Barentsen, who commanded in the first three 
arctic voyages of exploration, in 1594, 1595, and 1596, is given 
in the old accounts of those voyages Barentsen, Barentse, Ba- 
rentz, Barents ; sometimes in one way, sometimes another, in- 
differently. Or, to give an example nearer home, both of the pa- 
tronymic custom and of the contraction of the name, the father of 
Gerritt Martense, the founder of a family of that name in Flat- 
bush, was Martin Adriense, and his grapdfather was Adr»n 
Ryerse, who came from Amsterdam. The inconveniences of 
this practice, the confusion to which it le,d, and the diflBculty of 
tracing families, led ultimately to its abandonment both in Hol- 
land and in our own country. In doing so, the patronymic 
which the person originating the change bore, was adopted as 
the surname. Most of the family names thus formed and exist- 
ing among us may be said to be of American origin, as they 
were first fixed in America, though the same names were 
adopted by others in Holland. Hence we have the names of 
such families of Dutch descent among us as Jansen (anglice 
Johnson), Garretsen, Cornelisen, Williamsen or Williamson, 
Hendricksen or Hendrickson, Clasen, Sijnonsen or Simonson, 
Tysen (son of Mathias), Arendaen (son of Arend), Hansen, Lara- 
bertsen or Lambertson, Paulisen, Remsen, Ryersen, Martense 
Adrian, Rutgers, Everts, Phillips, Lefferts, and others. To 
trace connection between these families .and persons in this 
country, it is evident, would be impossible, for the reasons 
stated, without a regular record. 

" Another mode of nomenclature intended to obviate the diffi- 
culty of an identity of names for the time being, but which ren- 
dered the confusion worse confounded for the future genealogist, 
was to add to the patronymic name the occupation or some other 
personal characteristic of the individual. Thus Laurens Jansen, 
the inventor of the art of printing, as the Dutch claim, had 
affixed to his name that of Coster, that is to say sexton, an office 
of which he was in possession of the emoluments. But the same 
addition was not transmitted to the son ; and thus the son of 


Hendrick Jansen Ooster might be called Tunis Hendricksen 
Brouwer (brewer), and his grandson might be Willem Tunissen 
Bleecker (bleacher). Upim the abandonment of the old system 
of names this practice went with it ; but it often happened that 
while one brother took the father's patronymic aa a family 
name, another took that of his occupation or personal designa- 
tion. Thus originated such families as Ooster, Brower, Bleecker, 
Schoonmaker, Stryker, Schuyler, Oryger, Snediker, Hegemaii 
Hofman, Dykman, Bleekman, Wortman, and Tieman. Like tht 
others, they are not ancient family names, and are not all to be 
traced to Holland as the place where they first became fixed. 
Some of them were adopted in our own country. 

" A third practice, evidently designed, like that referred to, to 
obviate the confusions of the first, was to append the name of 
the place where the person resided — not often of a large city, 
but of a particular liuiited locality, and frequently of a particu- 
lar farm or natural object. This custom is denoted in all tliose 
family names wbich have the prefix of Van, Vander, Ver (which 
is a contraction of Vander), and Ten, meaning, respectively, of, 
of the, and at the. From towns in Holland we have the families 
of Van Cleef, Van Wyek, Van Schaack,Van Bergen, and others ; 
from Guelderland, those of Van Sinderen, Van Dyk, and Van 
Buren ; from Utrecht, Van Winkel ; from Friesland, Van Ness ; 
from Zeeland,Van Duyne. Sometimes the Van has been dropped, 
as in the name of Boerum, of the province of Friesland ; of Co- 
vert, of North Brabant ; of Westervelt, of Drenthe ; of Brevoort 
and Vessels in Guelderland. The prefixes vander, or i>er, and 
ten were adopted where the name was derived from a particular 
spot, thus : Vanderveer (of the ferry), Vfinderberg (of the hill), 
Vanderbilt (of the bildt, that is, certain elevations of ground in 
Guelderland and near Utrecht), Vanderbeck (of the brook), Van- 
dervoort (of the ford), Vanderhoff (of the court), Verplanck (of 
the plank), Verhulst (of the holly), Verkerk (of the church). 
Ten Eyok (at the oak), Tenbroeck (at the marsh). Some were 
derived, as we have observed, from particular farms ; thus. Van 
Couwenhoven (also written Van Cowdenboven— cold farms). 
The founder of that family in America, Wolphert Gerrissen Van 


Oowenhoven came from Amersfoort, in the province of Utrecht, 
and settled at what is now called Flatlande, in our county, but 
what was called by him New Amersfoort. Some names in the 
classification which I have attempted have undergone a slight 
change in their transfer to America. Barculo is from Borculo, 
a town in Guelderland ; Van Anden is from Andel, in the prov- 
ince of Groningen ; Snediker should be Snediger ; Bouton, if of 
Dutch origin, should be Bouten (son of Boudwijn, or Baldwin), 
otherwise it is French. Van Oott was* probably Van Oat, of 
South Holland. The Oatti were the original inhabitants of the 
country, and hence the name. There is one family which has 
defied all my etymological research. It is evidently Dutch, but 
has most likely undergone some change, and that is the name 
of Van Brunt. There is no such name now existing in Holland. 
There are a few names derived from relative situation to a place ; 
thus Voorhees is simply ie/ore, or in front of, Hess, a town in 
Guelderland, and Onderdonk is below Doni;, which is in Brabant. 
There are a few names more arbitrary, such as Middagh (midday), 
Conrad (bold counsel), Hagedorn (hawthorn), Bogaert (orchard), 
Blauvelt (blue field), Rosevelt (roaefield), Stuy vesant (quicksand), 
Wyckoff (parish court), Hooghland (highland), Dorland (arid 
land), Opdyke (on the dike), Hasbrook (hares' marsh), and af- 
ford a more ready means of identification of relationship. The 
names of Brinkerhof and Schenck, the latter of which is very 
common here, may be either of Dutch or' German origin. Mar- 
tin Schenck was a somewhat celebrated general in the War of 

"Ditmars is derived from the Danish, and Bethune is from a 
place in the Spanish Netherlands near Lille. Lott is a Dutch 
name, though it has an English sound. There is a person of that 
name from Guelderland residing in the Hague. Pieter Lots 
was one of the Sohepens of Amersfoort in 1676, and I infer from 
the patronymic form of his name that Lot,t is a baptismal name, 
and is derived from Lodewyck or Lewjs, and that Pieter Lots 
means Peter the son of Lodewyck, or Lot, as the former is often 
contracted. Some names are disguised in a Latin dress. The 
practice prevailed at the time of the emigration to our country 


of changing the names, of those who had gone through the uni- 
versity and received a degree, from plain Dutch into sonorous 
Roman. The names of all our early ministers were thus altered. 
Johannes or Jan Meckelenburg became Johannes Megapolensis ; 
Evert Willemse Bogaert became Evarardus Bogardus ; Jan Do- 
ris Polheem became Johannes Theodorus Polhemius. The last 
was the founder of the Polhemus family of Brooklyn. The rec- 
ords here show that he was a minister at Meppel, in the prov- 
ince of Drenthe, and in 1637 went as such to Brazil under the 
auspices of the West India Company, whence he went to Long 
Island. Samuel Dries, who, by the way, was an Englishman, 
but who graduated at Leyden, was named Samuel Drisius. It 
may, therefore, be set down as a general rule that the names of 
Dutch families ending in m have thus been Latinized. 

" There were many persons who emigrated from Holland who 
were of Gallic extraction. When the bloody Duke of Alva came 
into the Spanish Netherlands, in 1567, clothed with despotic 
power over the provinces by the bigoted Philip II, more than a 
hundred thousand of the Protestants of the Gallic provinces fled 
to England under the protection of Queen Elizabeth, and to their 
brethren in Zeeland and Holland. They retained their language, 
that of the ancient Gauls, and were known in England as Wal- 
loons, and in Holland as Waalen, from the name of their prov- 
inces, called Gaulsche, or, as the word is pronounced, Waalsche 
provinces. The number of fugitives from religious persecution 
was increased by the flight of the Protestants of France at the 
same time, and was further augmented five years later by the 
memorable massacre of St. Bartholomew. When the West In- 
dia Company was incorporated, many of these persons and their 
descendants sought further homes in New Netherland. Such 
were the founders of the families of Eapelye, Cortelyou, Dubois, 
Debevoise, Duryea, Crommelin, Conselyea, Montague, Fountain, 
and others." 



Dk. Steong states in his history that the first school 
established in Platbush was in 1659. Mr. T. G. Bergen 
places the date at one year earlier. There is also a dif- 
ference of opinion as to the person who first filled the 
office of schoolmaster. Dr. Strong heads the list with 
the name of Adrian Hegeman ; Mr. Bergen says it was 
Rynier Bastiansen van Giesen who first accepted the 
position at an annual salary of two hundred florins. 
O'Callaghan says that in 1683 the s6hoolmaster in Flat- 
bush was paid his salary in wheat, " wampum value." 

The instruction given at that time was entirely in 
the Dutch language. Petrus Van Steenburgh, who 
was appointed schoolmaster in 1762, was the first who 
taught English ; he had pupils in both languages. An- 
thony Welp, his successor in 1773, was the last teacher 
who was required to teach Dutch. We have found two 
of the original school bills of these .teachers ; it is not 
often that school bills are preserved for more than one 
hundred years. The handwriting of Master P. V. Steen- 
burgh is very distinct, and abounds in flourishes, par- 
ticularly in his signature. 


EvKBT Hbokman, Dr. 

To P. V. Stkknbebgh. 
1773, August 5th. 

To schooling from the 15th March to this day ... 9«. M. 
For half a load of wood 2 6 

£0 11 11 
Received the full contents : 

tP. V. Stebnbeegh. 

The following, from Mr. Anthony Welp, is perfect as 
to its penmanship, which is as regular and legible as 
print ; but we find that Mr. Welp, who, in Article 3d 
of his agreement, engages to teach English spelling, is 
himself a little careless in that respect : 

PLATBtrsH, Mirch ije 24, 1774. 
Mr. IIbgkman, 

To Anthony Welp, Det., 

To Teaching of Polly Sebree, 3 ms., 

The English spilling 4s. 

To one load of wood 6s. 

£0 10 
Keceived in full per me : 

Anthony Welp. 

The load of wood referred to in each bill is in ac- 
cordance with the requisition in Article 3d, that "a 
load of firewood shall be bought for each scholar every 
nine months for the use of the school." 

The price of tuition, according to' the agreement Mr. 
Welp signed, amounted to the sum of four shillings for 
three months' instruction in low D'utch spelling, read- 
ing, and writing ; five shillings for the same in English ; 


six shillings for instruction in ciphering. The position 
of schoolmaster was no sinecure in those days. Let us 
hope that he faithfully discharged his duty ; but if, in 
its multitudinous requirements, he sometimes proved 
delinquent, the most exacting must surely have forgiven 

The children were to be instructed in the ordinary 
branches of a Dutch education, although we confess 
ignorance as to what may have been comprised therein. 
In addition, there was to be a thorough course of cate- 
chism ; and the schoolmaster was required, when these 
little ones were publicly catechised, to encourage them 
"to be friendly in appearance." We regret that the 
method for accomplishing this is nbt designated. He 
was to keep the church clean and ring the bell. Before 
the sermon he was to read a chapter out of the Bible, 
the ten commandments, the twelve articles of faith, and 
then take the lead in singing. 

The afternoon duties were of a siniilar nature. When 
the minister preached in some other village he was re- 
quired " to read twice before the congregation, from the 
book commonly used for that purpose, and also to read 
a sermon on the explanation of the catechism." He 
was to provide the bread and wine for the celebration 
of the Lord's Supper and the water for the administra- . 
tion of baptism. He was to invite to funerals, being 
paid extra if required to go to New York for that pur- 
pose ; he was to dig the grave and toll the bell. As at 
that time the practice of burying under the church was 
quite general, the schoolmaster was to see that the grave 
was seven feet deep, and he was required "to remove 
all the dirt out of the church." 

The person who was capable of accomplishing all 


this fliust have been a most energetic schoolmaster. 
Such a position at the present day would involve the 
use of multipled talents. He would relieve the minister 
of half the church service ; he would supply the place 
of choir, organist, and organ-blower ; he would fill the 
place of the principal of Erasmus Hall ; he would as- 
sume the responsibilities of all the Sunday-school teach- 
ers, and would perform the duties of the sexton. This 
was required of the schoolmaster a hundred years ago. 
But even these were not all his duties ; for, during the 
session of the court, he was employed for the service of 
"court messenger for the village of Midwout, to serve 
citations," etc., for which, however, he was "entitled to 
proper compensation," in addition to his ordinary pay. 

In 1776, in order to oblige the children to learn 
English, they were compelled to converse in that lan- 
guage in school, and were punished if they spoke 

At home, however, where no compulsory measures 
were used, they naturally fell into the old familiar 
words, and their language there still that of the 
fatherland. At the fireside, on the farm, in the 
street, they spoke Dutch ; the colored people in the 
kitchen, the master and mistress in the house, neigh- 
bor to neighbor and friend to friend, all conversed in 
Dutch. Business was transacted in that language, wills 
were written and agreements made in that familiar 
tongue ; and on the Sabbath-day they read from their 
Dutch Bibles, sang from their Dutch Psalm-books, and 
listened to sermons in Dutch from ministers who, as 
late as 1746, came from Holland. They had their store 
of old Dutch books, bound in parchhient, and meant to 
last, as they faithfully have done. We have some of 


them still on the upper shelves and in the old chests of 
the capacious garrets. Many of them are illustrated 
with quaint old plates. 

There is "Batavische Arcadia," published by "Jo- 
hannes van Eavesteyn, Boekverkooper en Ordinaris, 
Druker defer stede 1662." 

There are religious books by "Michiel de Groot, 
Boekverkooper, Anno 1663." 

Others are published by " Cornells Jacobsz Naenaart, 
Boekverkooper woonende op het Oude Kerkhof, in't 
Jaar 1675," and others published by" Jacobus Wolffers, 
Boekverkooper in de Beursstraat 1724." 

These were all purchased in Amsterdam ; some of 
them doubtless were brought over by the early settlers 
themselves, and others were subsequently sent for. 

There are books on the knowledge or science (" wee- 
tenschappen ") of arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, 
and algebra, by Christian Wolff, published " Te Amster- 
dam by de Janssoons van Waesberge, 1738," and other 
books, from the same publishers and by the same author, 
on architecture (de Boukonst), on fortifications, and 

"Drie Parabolen ofte Gelykenissen," etc., is the 
title of a large parchment-covered volume published in 
Amsterdam in 1665 which is still in possession of a lady 
in Flatbush, and which has descended to her through 
several generations. It was probably brought from Hol- 
land when her ancestors first settlediiere. 

It was not until 1793 that the afternoon services in 
the congregations of Brooklyn, Flatbush, and New 
Utrecht were in English. 

As late as 1830, and even 1840, when elderly people 
met together socially, it was quite common for them to 


drop gradually into the use of the Dutch tongue, even 
when the conversation had begun in English ; a little 
confidential talk between old ladies was sure to be in 
Dutch. So gradual was the change that the elderly 
members of a family would often consult with each 
other on any important matter in Dutch, and, turning 
to their children, address them in English. This inter- 
changeable use of the two languages may have been the 
means of prolonging a knowledge of the Dutch, and of 
having caused the young children to catch many a quaint 
word and odd expression ; for the mother tongue of so 
many generations could not pass away without leaving 
some sign, or dropping some phrases into the memory of 
the children who stood looking up, eager-eyed, as father 
and mother talked together. 

For a long time, in this mingling of two languages, 
neither of them was grammatically spoken ; bad Eng- 
lish and worse Dutch were the result, until finally the 
Dutch was vanquished and the tongue of the Anglo- 
Saxon was triumphant. But there were many words 
which lingered and fell behind the ranks of the retreat- 
ing army. Some of these were caught by the children, 
others were imprisoned in the memory of those older, 
so that, long after Dutch sentences were forgotten, 
Dutch words and quaint expressions might be heard in 
the family. 

A child who was querulous was said to be " krankie," 
from "krank," weak, sick. One who complained with- 
out sufficient cause was said to be " kleynzeerig." A 
thriftless person, one who could with difficulty earn a 
livelihood, was called an "arm sukkelaar." Ohe who 
was sad and downhearted was spoken of as " bedroefd." 
The word " begryp " was often used instead of the English 


"comprehend," as being more forcible, and that which 
was comprehensive was, from the same verb " begrypen," 
called " begrypelyk." "In doods nood," was to be in 
danger of death. Easter was long known as Paasch, 
and Whitsuntide was Pingster. A child who was rest- 
lessly creeping on the floor was said to be "kriewelen." 
The tin dipper that hung at the well curb was a " blik- 
ke," from the Dutch word "blik," for tin. 

We remember to have heard children call their grand- 
mother "Grootje." Kelder was cellar; Opperzolder 
was garret ; little cakes, Koekjes (the sound of j is 
that of i) ; Zoetekoek was a kind of sweet cake raised 
with yeast, which had sometimes currants and raisins in 
it. The wife of the minister was always called "Jof- 
frouw." The word Sprookjes was used for stories which 
tended to the ghostly and marvelous. 

Even many of the proverbs of this period are ours in 
their translations : 

" De pot verwyt den ketel dat hy zwart is," alluding 
to the proverbial jealousy of pot and kettle. 

"As you have brewed, so you must drink " : " Dat gy 
gebrouwen hebt moet gy zelf drinken," is the proverbial 
expression for bearing the evils we bring upon ourselves, 
and which has its counterpart in an English proverb, 
which says, "As you make the bed, so you sleep in it." 

" The burned child dreads the fire," we say of the 
wisdom we gain from bitter experience, and the old 
Dutch people expressed it in the same figure : " Een 
gebrond kind schroomt het vuur." 

" Die dat opstaan zyn plaats vergaat," was also a 
common saying. 

These words and sentences have lingered in the 
memory of the generation that is not yet past. There 


are aged people still living in Platbusli who keep in 
mind the Dutch language, and a few of the old colored 
people remember some familiar words and expressions, 
but these all are only as the rustling leaves upon the 
dead oak, which will be swept away when the tree falls, 
if not loosened before that time, as the withering branch 
loses its power to hold them. 



Introducxoby to what we have to say about Dutch 
homes and customs, we would here state that some of 
the changes recorded we give from personal recollec- 
tion, others from memory of what was told by the old 
people at the fireside. The information gathered has 
been from varied, but, in every case, from reliable, 
sources. In sympathy with the antiquarian, it has been 
a pleasant task to search among relics of the past. We 
have found many a remnant from which to learn what 
were the colors of the garment when it was new ; we 
have collected the broken fragments to judge of the 
shape of the vessel when it was whole ; aged persons 
have opened to us the storehouse of their memory, from 
which we have gathered things forgotten by the world. 
We have ransacked old garrets, which have for genera- 
tions held their treasures fast with human penurious- 
ness, and we have loosened from tlieir grasp many a 
babbling bit of furniture and many a garrulous old ac- 
count-book. Old chests and old desks have offered us 
their treasures, and we have taken what each had to 
give. But, as we survey our booty, we greatly fear that 
the most we have gathered will prove, like a reliquary 
filled with bones of a saint, only valuable for the sake 
of those to whom they once belonged. 


Stiles, in his " History of Brooklyn," says : " The 
farmhouses on Long Island were more generally con- 
structed, in a rough but substantial manner, of stone, 
lighted by narrow windows containing two small panes 
of glass, and protected against the ' overloopen,' or 
escalading, of any savage foe, by strong, well-painted 
palisades. Snugness, economy, safety, were the char- 
acteristics of these country dwellings." This was in 
1665 ; we do not propose to go so far back as that. 
There are no houses now remaining in Flatbush which 
were built before the eighteenth century. The house 
now owned by the heirs of the late John C. Bergen was 
standing during the War of the Revolution. If it was 
built by Dominie Freeman, as there is reason to suppose 
it was, then it must have been erected some time between 
1714 and 1741. The house lately occupied by the fam- 
ily of Dr. Robinson, at the corner of Winthrop Street 
and Flatbush Avenue, was erected about 1740 or 1750 ; 
both of these are still standing and in tolerably good re- 
pair. About thirty years ago the old brick house of 
the Stryker family was pulled down ; the date marked 
upon that was 1696. 

The style of these old houses on Long Island was 
different from any of those which are built in this age. 
The architect of to-day does not model his plans after 
these. The young couple just starting in life do not 
build after the pattern of the old homestead. And yet, 
at the time in which they were built, they were capa- 
cious and comfortable ; but they are not suited to the 
change in our mode of living. The low ceilings were 
necessary where the rooms were only heated by open 
wood fires ; the great cellars were indispensable where 
they were required for the storage of the whole winter's 


provisions ; the roomy garrets were a convenience when 
the great spinning-wheels were to be temporarily set 
aside. But we require different arrangements now. 

The old houses were long and lovj,, rarely more than 
a story and a half high. The roof was heavy ; some- 
times it was broken by dormer windows, but oftener it 
sloped from the ridge-pole in unbroken descent, and 
extended so as to form a front piazza, while at the rear 
the slope in some of these houses extended so low that 
it reached to six or eight feet from the ground. 

We have good authority for saying that the houses 
with an unbroken sweep from the ridge-pole to the 
eaves were those of earliest construction ; the roof was 
not built in a straight slant downward, after the style 
of a heavy Gothic roof, but curved slightly in the de- 
scent. The houses with a double pitch in the roof, both 
with and without dormer windows, were erected either 
just before the American Kevolution or about the year 

Extension rather than height was the aim in the 
construction of these old homesteads ; they were long, 
low, rambling houses, to which an addition might be 
made in any direction at the will of the owner, adding 
to its picturesqueness as well as to comfort. 

This manner of building suggested the idea that land 
m those days was not very expensive ; the extension of 
the homestead was not skyward ; there was plenty of 
room upon the solid earth. These old Dutchmen be- 
lieved in going about upon a plain without the tiresome 
climbing of long stairs, just as in the fatherland they 
were not accustomed to climb hills, but moved about on 
an unvarying level. 

It is not probable that the houses of the early set- 


tiers had window-shutters ; at a later date all the houses, 
whether brick or wood, had wooden shutters opening 
outward and tui-ning upon heavy iron hinges. These 
hinges, extending nearly across the shutter, were made 
the more conspicuous by being painted black. 

For holding back these heavy shutters against the 
house when open, there was an awkward iron, some- 
what in the shape of an elongated letter S, projecting 
some two inches beyond the house. 

Some of the old houses had openings cut in the up- 
per portion of the shutters, in the shape of a crescent, 
to admit the light in the early dawn. 

Tin spouts to the gutters extended some two feet 
beyond the house at each corner. The water fell from 
these upon a flat stone below. At the rear of the liouse 
there were large casks frequently placed so as to catch 
the flow from these spouts ; especially was this the case 
after a drought, when the cisterns were nearly empty. 

Previous to and about the year 1800, many houses 
had a projecting beam above, to which tackle might be 
fastened to hoist up any heavy article into the roomy 
garret. The grist from the mill was thus raised from 
the wagon, to be stored away. We have this informa- 
tion from elderly people in whose memory the custom 
still existed, and we can the more readily give credence 
to it as being very general, because this manner of rais- 
ing heavy articles into the house is common at the pres- 
ent day in Holland. 

. The first houses of the old settlers which were built 
of brick usually had the date of their erection upon the 
front ; sometimes the figures were made of iron and fas- 
tened across the front, or they were built in with darker- 
colored brick. The modem fashion of two or four large 


panes of glass was then unknown, and six or nine panes 
filled each upper and lower half in :the windows. The 
frames were broader and heavier that held these sashes, 
and the glass was by no means clear. It had seams and 
inequalities which tended to produce irregular outlines 
in objects seen through it. 

The back of the fireplace was indicated by brick or 
stone-work on the exterior wall of the house, and the 
chimneys rose, broad, huge, and firm, from each gable- 

The front door in these houses was always divided 
into an upper and lower half. The upper half was usu- 
ally lighted by two round glasses, called bulls'-eyes. 
These served to light the halls in pla^e of the sidelights 
introduced afterward. Round lights in the upper doors, 
such as these, are still used in Holland. The knockers 
on these were of brass or iron. Sometimes they were 
ponderous, and wrought with quaint device. The de- 
sign most frequently seen was that of a lion's head 
holding a ring in its mouth. When the knocker was of 
iron, the door knob was of the same miaterial, and so, 
also, when it was brass, the door knob was of brass. 

The oldest fastening was a latch raised by the exte- 
rior knob ; but, even when the usual style of lock and 
key was used, it was not inserted in the door as it now 
is, but fastened against it on the inner side. 

When brass was the material used for the lock and 
the knocker, it was kept polished brightly with the as- 
siduous care that the Dutch matron lavished upon every 
object in her domain which required manual labor. 

The old houses in this village were built almost di- 
rectly upon the street. Some of them, in order to have 
any inclosure in front, were fenced lupon the sidewalk. 


Being built when there was but little travel, and when 
settlers were few, they were naturally so placed as to 
bring them as near to their neighbors as the extent of 
their farms would allow. 

The only old house which forms an exception to tliis 
rule is the one until recently occupied by Dr. Robin- 
son, corner of Matbush Avenue and Winthrop Street, 
and this was not built by the Dutch. 

Probably at the early settlement of the town there 
were in the old houses built at that time two front doors, 
each opening from the " stoop " into the separate front 
rooms ; in such cases there was no hall. There have 
been, until a recent date, very old houses, almost going 
to decay, so arranged. 

A southern exposure was almost a necessity in this 
peculiar style of Dutch architecture, because the unu- 
sual length of the house in proportion to its breadth 
made it desirable that it should be so placed as to re- 
ceive the sunshine upon this long side. It was, there- 
fore, quite customary to place the gable-end of the 
house to the street where that ran north and south, as 
is the case with the main street in Platbush. 

The long " front stoop " was an important feature 
in these Dutch houses. It was here, the family gathered 
at the close of the day ; here the neighbors met to- 
gether, and the men smoked their jiipes and talked of 
colonial politics or, later, discussed the question as to 
wht) should be appointed to the Continental Congress. 
When the pipe needed replenishing, the little negro 
boy brought the brass chafing-dish filled with hickory 

In some houses a long seat ran the length of the 
" stoop" ; in others, there were seats at both ends. 


The flat stone next to the stoop on the walk that led 
from the gate to the door was often a millstone, no 
longer required for its legitimate use. Upon this lay the 
mat, made of corn husks, crisp and bushy when new, 
and when flattened down by use consigned to some less 
conspicuous place. 

It is probable that the addition of wings was the im- 
provement of a comparatively modern era ; the oldest 
houses were without these, and only when enlargement 
was necessary were wings added. A back kitchen at 
the rear formed the quarters for the colored people at 
the time when the slave population was large; this 
stood close to the house, but was detached from it. The 
material of which the Dutch houses were built was 
brick or wood ; they were rarely built of stone ; the 
most ancient were undoubtedly of brick. For some of 
these, the brick was brought from Holland, but there 
was at an early period a brick-kiln in Flatbush. The 
large pond on the southern side of what was once Mr. 
John Lefferts's farm, called the Steenbakkery, was 
formed by the digging out of the clay for bricks and 
pottery, as its name indicates. 

Sometimes the lower portion of the house at the 
gable-end was of rough unhewn stone ; or the lower 
story as far as the projection of the piazza was of stone 
and the remainder shingled, and at other times the 
front of the house was covered with a smooth stucco ; 
but the majority of the earliest homesteads were built of 
brick, and these were in turn superseded by the frame 
houses of a succeeding generation, many of which still 
remain. The roofs were of shingles, and the sides the 
same. The "clapboards" in use at present were not 
then made. Although we can not definitely specif}' the 


exact year, we are safe in saying tjiat it is only within 
the second quarter of this century that houses were 
boarded in Flatbush ; up to that time they were covered 
with shingles. 

Thus stood those old Dutch houses, unpretentious, 
unostentatious, yet comfortable and roomy, just the 
picture that comes to mind when one thinks of an old- 
fashioned pleasant home ; just what is expressed by that 
phrase " the old homestead." 



The furniture which we are about to describe was 
not peculiar to Dutch houses. The articles in house- 
hold use were probably the same as those in the homes 
of the Puritans, or in the houses of the English people 
of the same class in society. A certain degree of con- 
formity to a particular style marks the household ef- 
fects of each succeeding age ; this is varied and modi- 
fied to suit the manner of living of the people by whom 
it is adopted. 

There were in the dwellings built in Flatbush during 
the last century certain characteristics common to them 
all. The ceilings were low, even when the rooms were 
large, and the rooms for this reason seem out of propor- 
tion. This may be accounted for ih the fact that the 
only method of heating the apartments was by means of 
the large open fireplace ; the only mode of lighting them 
was by the dim yellow flame of tallow candles. 

Our climate in winter is not mild and genial, so that 
draughts through the loose, rattling sashes and from 
the cracks and crannies in the heaVy doors would have 
made it almost impossible to warm the rooms, had the 
ceilings been high in proportion to their size. 

In many of the old houses the heavy hewn beams 


which supported the upper story were projected across 
the ceiling of the rooms upon the fiyst floor ; these were 
left the natural color of the wood. There are houses 
still standing in Flatbush in which these cross beams 
may he seen ; all such were built previous to the War of 
the Revolution. 

Wainscoting was the finish of the lower half of the 
walls in many of the houses, but it was not general ; a 
wooden molding, called a "chair board, "often supplied 
its place ; this extended around the room, about three 
feet from the surbase. 

In the old house, alluded to in Dr. Strong's history, 
which stood at the southern extremity of the farm of 
Mr. John Leiferts, and which was burned down by the 
British in the battle of Flatbush, the surbase was made 
of tiles, the same as those around the jambs of the chim- 
ney. We state this to show that the use of tiling as an 
ornamental finish to the best apartments was more com- 
mon than is generally supposed. 

The old lady, in whose memory this room was most 
tenderly held, thus described the method of cleansing 
these tiles : they were first whitewashed ; this coating of 
lime was allowed to become perfectly dry, and was then 
rubbed off with a woolen cloth. Through this means, 
not only did the tiles remain clean, but the interstices 
were kept white. 

The fireplace in houses of an early date occupied 
nearly the entire side of the room, and was, as to im- 
portance as well as size, more conspicuous than the sham 
chimney-piece which at present takes its place. 

The delightful associations of the family gathering 
have been felt even through less attractive surroundings, 
so that the fireside has come to stand for the very home 


itself. How strong, then, must hayeibeen the association 
of home and kindred with this broad, blazing chimney, 
around which all the family gathered through the long 
winter evening, the circle enlarged at times by neigh- 
bors and friends ! 

There were no libraries within -their reach at that 
time from which they could procure a variety of books ; 
nor, had they such, were there good lights to attract 
the children to the reading-table ; the dark and un- 
paved roads did not tempt them to walk out, neither 
were there public amusements to divert them from the 
social gathering around the blazing fire. No wonder, 
then, that the prominent picture associated with the 
thought of home was the fireside. 

The natural economy of the Dutchmen was not ex- 
ercised in a direction that would curtail the comfort of 
their families, and the woodland, which formed a part 
of all the large farms, rendered the supply of fuel such 
as to be only limited by the wants of the household or 
the leisure to pile up the wood-yard. 

We are not surprised that travelers visiting them 
should make allusion to their " fires of oak and hickory 
half way up the chimney." 

Whiittier, in "Snow-Bound," has given a descrip- 
tion of the way in which the wood-fi:res were laid. The 
arrangement of the logs in the Lon^ Island homestead 
was exactly the same as in his New England home : 

" The oaken log, green, huge, and thick, 
And on its top the stout back-stick : 
The knotty fore-stick laid apart, 
And filled between with curious art 
The ragged brush ; then, hoverino; near, 
We watched the first red blaze appear." 


The hearth was brushed clean of ashes with a wing. 
Wings of dacks and geese, carefully prepared, served 
this purpose, and the ashes were never, in a neat house- 
hold, allowed to be scattered over the hearth-stones. 

The same use was made of wings in New England. 
Whittier alludes to this when he says : 

" Shut in from all the world without, 
We sat the clean-winged liea,rth about." 

These old fireplaces were tiled in the best rooms; 
the tiles were of chocolate-color, a reddish pink or pale 
blue, and generally represented Scripture scenes. At a 
later period oast-iron jambs were inserted, the fireplaces 
being smaller. 

The kitchen andirons were large and of oast iron ; 
in the best rooms the shovel and tongs, fender, and 
andirons were of brass and kept brightly polished. 

During the summer the bricks within the fireplace 
were painted with red-lead, to look .fresh and tidy, and 
then a jar holding asparagus and other ornamental green 
branches took the place of the winter's log. 

The mantel-pieces which were built in the beginning 
of this century were also of wood. They were some- 
times over six feet high, and the shelf was very narrow. 
They were ornamented more or less with fluting and 
some fancy designs, but there was no fine wood-carving 
upon them. Marble mantel-pieces were in use in New 
York as early as 1772, for we find an advertisement in 
the "New York Gazette," as follows : 


" A negro man, an organ, two marble chimney-pieces and 
a mai'ble slab for a hearth, and some sheets of gilt leather." 


There were no "marble chimney-pieces" so early as 
that in Flatbush. 

Anthracite coal was brought into use in Flatbush 
about 1830. The grates in which it was burned differed 
somewhat in construction from those subsequently used. 
The iron grate was hung between two brass columns, 
which were surmounted with large brass knobs. These 
columns were connected and stayed by a broad, curved 
band of brass below the grate. The grate-pan, which 
held the ashes, extended upon the hearth like a fender, 
and its outer curve was also of brass. 

The huge, old-fashioned chimneys were not cleaned 
after the manner of the narrow flues which are now in 
use for the fires of hard coal, that, by means of fur- 
nace or grate, heat our modern rooms. 

In earlier years little colored boys used to ascend 
the chimney from the open fireplace with scraper and 
brush. Poor little fellows ! theirs was a hard life. It 
had, however, this alleviation, in the fact that they soon 
outgrew the possibility of its continuance, for only 
small children could creep up the chimney. When they 
reached the top, they were expected to thrust out their 
heads, like chimney swallows, and to sing their melan- 
choly song from that height. This was the announce- 
ment that they had really reached Jhe top before they 
began their descent. The song which they sang was 
the same by which they called the attention of house- 
wives to their passing in the street ; it was a mournful 
song, and resembled the "yodeling " of the Swiss moun- 
taineers if the sweep had a good voice. A man gener- 
ally accompanied these little sweeps ; he it was who 
hired them and to whom the money for their work was 
to be paid ; but they were often very cruelly treated by 


their employers, and in this country, as well as in Eng- 
land, this manner of sweeping chimiieys was finally for- 
bidden by law. 

There was, however, a more primitive method of 
cleansing chimneys, which was common in the country 
towns, but which from force of circumstances could 
not have been available in large cities. 

A very rainy day, on which there was little or no 
wind, was taken advantage of as most suitable for the 
occasion. A huge bundle of straw tied on a pole was 
brought in from the barn, the fire in the fireplace was 
allowed to go out, and then this fagot of straw was 
lighted and held up the chimney. One man was sta- 
tioned outside to watch if the rain extinguished every 
floating particle of straw or soot, for sometimes the 
flame reached beyond the chimney top ; the roaring was 
like distant thunder, and, when the pole was withdrawn, 
a shower of fiery flakes and smutty tips of bui'ning 
straw followed, like a dull, red shower, in the fireplace. 
There have not been many chimneys swept in that way 
in this town for the last thirty years, and yet it was at 
one time the only method of getting 'the chimneys clean. 
While upon the subject of chimneys and fires, we must 
digress to say that, during the last century, and even 
during the early part of the present, in case of the de- 
struction of a house or barn by fire, or in any accident 
which occasioned pecuniary trouble, the neighbors and 
friends always came forward to assist in making up the 
loss. There is on record, as early as 1675, the recom- 
mendation of Governor Andros to the people to assist 
by a day's work in repairing the loss, " through misfor- 
tune by fire," sustained by Jacques Gorteleau. 

It was also very common, when a building was to be 


erected, for the farmers to be invited to assist in raising 
the frame. A branch of evergreen was placed upon the 
topmost point as a trophy of the completion of the 
work. Then a table was spread, and this was the occa- 
sion of feasting and merriment. 

These pleasant, helpful acts certainly showed kind 
feeling between friends and neighbors, for there were 
no insurance offices and no fire alarms then ; they de- 
pended upon each other, and it was a dependence which 
did not fail. 


Most of the houses at an early period were wainscot- 
ed ; above the wainscoting, they were plastered. Some 
of the walls in the houses built about 1800 were made 
with a smooth, clouded surface, as if to represent black- 
and-white marble. 

The use of wall-paper in Flatbhsh probably dates 
from about 1830 ; but there is one house where, judg- 
ing from the style of the paper, which is still in a state 
of good preservation, it must have been introduced be- 
fore that date. This paper represents scenes in out-door 
life — chateaux surrounded by Lombardy poplars, gay 
ladies and gentlemen, evidently French, enjoying them- 
selves upon a lawn, etc. The design is probably in imi- 
tation of tapestry hangings. 

The ground-color of the papering at first used was 
darker than that which afterward came into fashion ; 
these deep shades were in turn cast aside for delicate 
tints of fawn-color, pearl, and a shade known as " ashes 
of roses." 


Although the heavy Dutch roof contracted the height 
of the second-story chambers, it was generous in the 


space afforded to the garret, which usually extended in 
undivided length from end to end of the house. 

Huge beams, hewn from the woods when the house 
was built, and which seem heavy enough to support a 
castle, hold up the broad roof, which here sloped down 
to the floor. There was an attractive mystery about the 
dim corners under these sloping eaves, for this was the 
receptacle for all the articles which had gradually come 
into disuse through the changes of fashion or the wear 
of time. 

Here might be seen a corded bedstead with, perhaps, 
a dislocated leg, serving to support the feather-beds not 
needed in ordinary use, the huge pile being carefully 
covered with a faded but clean patchwork quilt. Here 
we may find long chests on ball feet ; the cradle and the 
crib outgrown by the children ; bags of feathers for fu- 
ture pillows ; the quilting-frame ; boxes of old news- 
papers or Congressional documents ; old hairy trunks, 
which look as if the animal that furnished the leather 
had been mangy ; old bandboxes, used at a time when 
the ladies' bonnets were huge in size ; furniture in all 
stages of dilapidation. All these things were placed in 
orderly rows along the roof between the beams, which, 
like watchful policemen, gave a rap on the head to the 
intruder who unwarily came too near the slope which 
they supported. 

On each gable-end ran up two brick chimney-stacks, 
roughly mortared, joining at the upper end before they 
pierced the roof. The window within the peak thus 
formed not even the neatest housekeeper could always 
keep clear of the webs the busy spiders were ever hang- 
ing across the panes. Wasps were fond of this quiet re- 
treat, although it was always a mystery how they got in ; 


but there they were, buzzing angrily with extended 
wings against the glass, or sitting in motionless clusters 
along the molding. 

It was in this roomy garret that the careful house- 
wife had the week's washing hung in stormy weather ; 
the clothes-lines were stretched from side to side, and 
thus, when in winter the ground waS covered with snow, 
it was a convenience to have the great basket of wet 
clothes carried up and hung out here, to freeze and dry 
undisturbed and out of the way ; for in those days the 
laundry was not a room apart, the washing and ironing 
being done in the kitchen. 

The shingled roof which overarched the garret in 
all its length and breadth was discolored by time, and 
streaked and stained with the leakage occasioned by hard 
northeast storms ; there were tin pans and sea-shells, 
apparently placed at random over the floor in a purpose- 
less way, but which were intended to catch the drip 
where the warped shingles admitted the rain. In win- 
ter there were little drifts of snow here and there which 
had sifted through nail-holes and cracks. A ladder rest- 
ing upon the beams led from the floor to the scuttle in 
the roof. The boards of the floor were not the smooth, 
white boards we use now for flooring ; they were dark 
and heavy, and looked as if they might have been sawn 
from the same trees that furnished the hewn beams sup- 
porting the rafters of the roof. 

The great spinning-wheels, which have been unused 
for so many years, were also stowed away close to the 
eaves in these capacious garrets. Near them remnants 
of flax hang on projecting wooden pegs, and hanks of 
thread are tucked between the beams and the time- 
stained shingles of the roof, as if the good old dames 


proposed to come back soon and resume their spin- 
ning; but, meantime, the Fates who spin the thread of 
human existence had taken the distaff, and Atropos had 
cut their thread of life before they, our dear old grand- 
mothers, could return to their spinning-wheels. 


A Dutch kitchen ! what a comfortable-looking place 
it was ! Not an underground apartment, with win- 
dows half darkened by area steps, but on the same 
level with the rest of the house, and made pleasant 
and cheerful by the combined influences of sunlight 
and firelight. 

There is no doubt that in early times the principal 
kitchen was also the family sitting-room, and that a 
smaller kitchen was at the rear of the large one for the 
use of the servants, who at that time were slaves. 

We know of several Dutch houses in which there 
were these back kitchens ; they were probably attached 
to every house of any pretension to style or belonging 
to the more wealthy farmers. 

The kitchen fireplace, with the oven attached, occu- 
pied nearly the entire space on one side of the room, 
so wide was the opening of the chimney. 

The back-log was the unsplit boll of a hickory-tree ; 
it required the strength of two men to carry it in from 
the wood-pile and place it back of the andirons. A front- 
log, about one fourth as large as the back-log, was placed 
next upon the andirons, and the interstices were filled 
in with chips and corn-cobs. 

There was a brilliant light when this wood was first 
kindled ; the sparks went snapping and crackling up the 
chimney ; the fire curled and spread, and broadened 


upon its bed, until it went up in a sheet of flame that 
sent its glow across the kitchen. 

After a while there was a rich bed of glowing hick- 
ory coals ; then the sap began to bubble out of the ends 
of the back-log and drip into the ashes, adding its mo- 
notonous undertone to the quiet singing of the tea- 

At night the coals were covered with ashes ; for the 
fire in the kitchen, like the sacred fire on the altar of 
some of the heathen gods, was never allowed to go out. 

The floors of these Dutch kitchens were kept sanded 
with white sea-sand ; this was scattered over the floor 
on one day, and on the next formed into various pat- 
terns with the broom. The boards of the floor, the 
tables, and the pails with brass hoops were assiduously 
scoured. Upon the walls were hung tin pans and pew- 
ter vessels of various sorts, while the kitchen " dresser " 
looked tasty and neat with its burden of blue or brown 
dishes, plates, bowls, and large pewter platters, each re- 
flecting the firelight or throwing back the flashes from 
the bright tins on the opposite walls. 

The huge kitchen fireplace was high as well as wide, 
and across the top was hung from side to side a blue or 
pink check valance, which was put on clean every Satur- 
day afternoon. By the old people these were known 
as "schoorsteen valletje." 

The kitchens of these old Dutch houses, as we have 
stated, were never in the basement ; that portion of the 
building was always adapted to the preservation of the 
provisions for winter use. Nothing was ever made 
or purchased by the old-time householders in small 


quantities at retail. Notwithstanding their habits of 
careful economy, they laid in a very bountiful winter 

There was no convenient grocery just around the 
corner at that time ; no butcher making his daily 
rounds ; no stall where fresh vegetables could be pur- 
chased at a short notice, and, more than all, there were 
no canned fruits, vegetables, or meats. 

The stores upon which the family depended for their 
winter use were carefully provided in the autumn, and 
the cellars of these old homesteads, broad as the house 
itself, were capacious enough and of a temperature fit- 
ted for the preservation of all the -beef, pork, butter, 
fish, and vegetables which might be aieeded through the 
long, cold winters. 

The cellars were carefully built, with a view to being 
cool in summer and warm in winter ; to accomplish 
this they were of rough, unhewn stone, with brick or 
earthen floors. To insure perfect cleanliness, the neat 
housewife had them thoroughly whitewashed semi- 
annually ; but, in spite of all her efforts, there was 
sometimes an unpleasant odor coming up from the 
great heaps of potatoes, turnips, and parsnips. This 
was especially the case toward spring, when the farmer 
set his men at work turning the potato heaps and pull- 
ing ofl' the sprouts which the warmth of the cellar may 
have caused to grow. This sometimes was occasioned 
by the want of ventilation in the cellars, for it was cus- 
tomary in the autumn to close up the windows and 
gratings with salt hay, which was tightly packed against 
every opening, leaving only toward the southern expo- 
sure some entrance for a gleam of sunshine. A candle, 
or the open cellar-door, gave the visitor to these apart- 


ments the only means of picking his way there from 
December to March. 

The furnaces with which we heat our dwellings 
would render such storage of winter provisions at the 
present time impossible, even were there not other rea- 
sons which make such a course unnecessary. , 

Here in these cellars might be seen huge hogsheads 
of salted beef, barrels of salted pork, hams in brine be- 
fore they were smoked, firkins of salted shad and mack- 
erel, firkins of home-made butter and lard, stone jars of 
pickles, and little kegs of pigs' feet in vinegar, called 
souse. Festoons of sausage hung in the cold-cellar 
pantry, "rolliches " and head-cheese were on the swing- 
ing shelf, which was constructed as a protection against 
the foraging mice. 

In another portion of the cellar were bins for the 
potatoes, turnips, and parsnips. There were great heaps 
of apples for cooking or common use, barrels of apples 
of more choice varieties ; barrels of vinegar, and of 
cider, and at the foundation of the kitchen chimney 
there was a receptacle for wood-ashes from the fireplaces 
above, to be used for ley in the making of soap. 

These cellars were invariably entered from without 
by means of sloping doors over the steps. The doors 
were left open in dry and sunny weather, and fastened 
with a padlock at other times. 

Thus the cellar in the Dutch homestead was the 
great storage-place for the provisions of nearly the entire 



We know of no better way of giving the proximate 
value of housekeeping articles and furniture than to 
publish the list of prices paid for such when purchased. 

We are enabled to do this by means of the possession 
of a bill of sale of the household effects of an old inhab- 
itant of Flatbush, whose death occurred in 1767. 

This faded document is an inventory of the articles 
sold at auction, probably held for the division of prop- 
erty among the heirs. 

The following extracts show the cost of such articles 
more than one hundred years ago. 

The family clock sold for £12. Laurence Ditmaerse 
bought "een kas" (a clothes press, or chest of drawers) 
for £8. Adraen Hegeman bought " een Brand-yzer, en 
een Tang, en een Aschchap " (a pair of andirons, a pair 
of tongs, and an ash shovel) for 15s. Jannetje Cornell 
bought "een deken" (a blanket) for lis. Gd. "Een 
Spiegel " (a looking-glass brought £3 5s. " Een zilver- 
gevest degen" (a silver-handled sword), £4 10s. "Een 
plaat," £2. A large looking-glass was purchased by 
Douwe Van Duyn for £3. A pewter platter was 
bought by Hendrick Suydam for 4s. 6d., and another 
for 7s. 6d. Adraen Hegeman bought for 15s. " Een 


knaap," a small stand such as was used for the evening 
candle. {" Zet de kaers op de knaap," to put the candle 
on the stand, was to begin the evening.) " Een tafel " 
a table, brought £1 13s. Whether this " tafel " was of 
deal, or of some more expensive wood, the inventory 
does not say. "Een bruyn tafel " (a dark table) brought 
16s. "Drie dassjes en een suykeremmerjes," three 
small boxes and one small sugar pail or box, brought Zs. 
It was the custom to have a full, deep valance across the 
front of the kitchen chimney, as these open fireplaces 
were nearly as high as the ceiling ; it is that which is 
meant by the following : "Een schoorsteen valletje" (a 
chimney valance), 5s. 

This inventory and appraisement was made by two 
neighbors of the deceased, as they ceiiif y by their signa- 
tures : 

" Opegenomen en geprecert by ons, 

Lbffebt Leffebts. 

Leffbbt Mabtense." 

At another auction sale of about the same period, in 
which the inventory is taken in English, which, how- 
ever, scarcely renders it more intelligible, we find the 
following list of prices : 

£ s. d. 

Evert Hegeman, a psalm-book 6 

Evert Hegeman, a psalm-book 2 5 

Hendrick Suydam, Jr., a basket of books. ..016 

Samuel Garretsen, one frying-pan 4 

Jan Saydam, an earthen dish 3 9 

John Lefferts, half a dozen pewter plates ... 9 9 
Gnlian Cornell, half a dozen pewter plates. .0105 

Peter Lott, knives and forks 1 7 

Peter Vanderbilt, Jr., one looking-glass. ... 18 
Douwe Van Duyne, one large lookingrglass . . 3 

puRmruRE. 81 

Then follow a great number of farming implements, 
for all of which the prices are stated, and the whole is 
certified as correct by Jer. Vanderbjlt and Gerret Kou- 

In the year 1792 an appraisement of the property of 
Peter Lefferts, deceased, was made by John Van Der 
Bilt and Samuel Garretsen for division. We find the 
value of the articles thus given. We select a few from 

a long list : 

£ I. d. 

25 pewter plates, 1». each 1 5 

37 earthen plates 10 

9 pewter dishes, 4«. each 116 

8 earthen dishes, 2«. M. each 1 

2 waffle-irons, 6«. each 12 

1 musket 16 

1 saddle and hridle. .. , 3 

10 keelers (wooden tubs used for milk) 1 

6 spinning-wheels, 12«. each 3 12 

1 pair kitchen andirons ' 8 

2 bookcases, Is. &d. each 3 

1 bed, bedstead, and curtains 10 

1 dining-table - 16 

1 looking-glass 1 10 

15 Windsor chairs, 6«. each 4 10 

12 rush-bottom chairs, 2s. each 1 4 

4 mahogany chairs, 8s. each 112 

8 old chairs, U. each 4 

1 mahogany dining-table * 4 

1 writing-desk 10 

1 cupboard 16 

1 large chest 16 

1 looking-glass 1 

1 large Dutch cupboard .;. 4 

1 bed, bedstead, and curtains. 15 

1 wild-cherry dining-table ... 10 



£ «. d. 

1 looking-glass 1 5 

1 eight-day clock 14 

1 looking-glass , 5 

1 desk and bookcase. . . , : 20 

1 mahogany tea-table 2 

1 bed, bedstead, and curtains 10 

1 Dutch Bible 2 

1 English dictionary 1 

1 parcel of books 1 

6 sets of china cups and saucers 3 

27 Delft plates 13 6 

1 silver tankard 16 

1 silyer sugar-cup 14 

1 silver milk-pot 4 

13 silver table-spoons 13 


The chairs which, a century agoj were used in the 
best rooms, were of hard dark wood. The seats of these 
were very broad, and were generally covered with a 
durable silk and worsted brocade. The backs were high 
and straight ; the legs terminated in claw-feet clasping 
a ball. These chairs were of such good workmanship 
and. good material that many of them may still be 
found in families in which, although in daily use, they 
have been preserved for more thaii a hundred years. 
Age has turned the wood of which they were made al- 
most black, or of a dark walnut color. 

There are kitchen chairs which have also survived a 
century of service ; some of these may still be seen, be- 
ing used as garden chairs, their durability, and the fact 
of their being entirely of wood, fitting them for such a 


A low chair, with a seat of twisted osier, on which 
was tied a loose feather-filled cushion, covered with some 
gay material, was generally placed in the corner near a 
sunny window with a southern exposure. In front of 
this stood an array of favorite plants — roses, geraniums, 
or stock-gillies. On the back of these chairs hung the 
bag of knitting, the little red stocking, and the shining 
steel needles plainly visible, indicating that this was 
the favorite seat of the industrious mother of the fam- 
ily, and that this was the work she took up in her leis- 
ure moments — "between times," to express it idiomat- 
ically and forcibly, for, with these industrious people, 
time represented work ; or a basket of patchwork held 
its place upon a low stool (bankje) beside the chair, also 
to be snatched up at odd intervals (ledige tyd). 

In the corner of the fireplace stood the large arm- 
chair of father or grandfather : these were circular and 
broad-seated. They held their places in convenient con- 
tiguity to the narrow mantel-shelf on which lay crossed 
the long pipes, ready for use. 

In the best bedroom was generally to be found a spa- 
cious stuffed chair, the back some five feet high, and 
padde'd throughout. This was for times of convales- 
cence after sickness, or it may be that it was a pleasant 
retreat in which to take a midday nap ; the good moth- 
er rose at such an early hour she might be excused for 
this indulgence. These last-mentioned chairs, however, 
do not date farther back than the first years of this cen- 


In the oldest houses, those of the first settlers, there 
were probably no blinds at the windows. The light was 
shaded by closing or bowing the outside wooden shut- 


ters. Succeeding generations used chintz curtains, and 
the remnants of these remain to offer hints, but not to 
furnish us with any assurance, as to whether they were 
hung in parlor or bedroom. 

At no very distant period, green blinds, known as 
Venetian blinds, hanging inside of the window, served 
to soften the sunlight. They were formed of slats strung 
together with cords, and divided by a ladder of green 
worsted braid, depending from a green and gilt heading. 
They were opened at a greater or le^ss angle by a green 
worsted cord and tassel at the left side, and were 
raised or lowered by a cord on the right side, which 
cord was wound round a gilt knob in the window-frame. 
This style of blind may still be found in England, but 
in this country they have fallen entirely into disuse, 
and with reason, for they were troublesome at best ; at 
the most inopportune times the strings would break, or 
the divisions of the braid ladder would become loosened, 
the broad swathe of light upon the carpet suddenly re- 
vealing their dilapidated condition. 

As the ordinary outside blind took the place of the 
heavy wooden shutter, the convenient inside blinds have 
come into fashion ; these have displaced those formerly 


The tall eight-day clock is to be found in all the 
families in this village. We are safe in saying that in 
every house in which live descendants of the Dutch 
settlers they can point to these old timepieces which 
once belonged to grandfather or great-grandfather, and 
which, old as they are, keep good time and need very 
little repair, although they have measured the hours of 
the past century. 


In most of these clocks the face is of brass ; some- 
times it is of porcelain ; but it is doubtful whether these 
fresh faces are the original ones. During the Revolu- 
tionary "War the families who left the village took with 
them the works and left the case of the clock ; in con- 
sequence, there were many of the original cases broken 
or burned by the British. 

Some of these clocks indicated the day of the month, 
as well as the hour of the day, and some showed the 
changes in the moon ; a few of them were musical, and 
played tunes at given hours. The mechanical arrange- 
ments for such performances have been worn out, how- 
ever, and at present they make no higher pretension 
than do the cheap and common clocks which mark the 
hours with noisy ticking. The oldest clocks were orna- 
mented at the top with brass balls. The most common 
devices for the embellishment of the face were the sun 
and moon rising above the horizon, or a representation 
of the antiquated Dutch galleon which swayed to and 
fro over the mimic waves with the movement of the 

We have the feeling that these old timepieces assume 
a peculiar dignity of their own, as' they stand in such 
marked contrast to the fanciful French clock that orna- 
ments the mantel-piece, or to the Icheap and noisy bit 
of mechanism which flippantly hurries through the an- 
nouncement that it has measured off another period of 
sixty minutes. There seems to be in the tall Dutch 
clock a realization of the importance of the hours, and 
a recognition of solemnity in the flight of time. It has 
marked so many changes that we almost invest it with 
a human sympathy for us mortals, whose short period 
of life it has so often measured. The key of the old 


clock has been handed down from generation to genera- 
tion, as Time, the conqueror, has taken it from the fin- 
gers that were accustomed to wind up the weights, and 
has passed it on to a younger hand ; and when that, too, 
has fallen, nerveless and helpless, it has handed it on to 
the next ; and there stands the old clock still, ticking, 
ticking — counting the moments of time while we pass 

into eternity. 


In an age when pantries were not considered a ne- 
cessity in a well-planned house, the great cupboard sup- 
plied the convenience which we now find in the numer- 
ous closets designed by the architect in, and as part of, 
the house. 

The dresser in the kitchen held the pewter and 
earthen platters in daily use ; the cupboard held the 
more expensive china and the silver. 

It is probable that the word cupboard, however, 
came to be applied eventually to any large piece of 
furniture of the same shape, and that the table-linen 
and bed-linen were also kept in what were called cup- 
boards, so that they were not used exclusively for dishes, 
but were filled with the family treasures, in whatever 
such consisted. 

The old cupboards have been banished to the garret 
or consigned to the cellar ; only a few of them still re- 
main with paneled doors and dark cherry-wood shelves, 
seeming to bid defiance to the ravages of time and to 
mock by their endurance the veneering of model fur- 

Those which have not been altered have very heavy 
overhanging moldings upon the top, and stand on huge 
ball feet. The inconvenience of moving such heavy 


pieces of furniture resulted in the cutting ofiE of all un- 
necessary ornamentation, and thus many of these curi- 
ous old articles of furniture have been remodeled into 
ordinary clothes-presses. 


Long chests, also standing upon huge ball feet, were 
considered by our Dutch ancestors as a necessary and 
valuable bit of property to the householder. They were 
made of cherry or some dark, haj-d wood, and were 
about five or six feet long and two and a half feet wide. 
These were similar in size and shape to the elaborately 
carved cofEers which one sees in the museums of the 
German and Italian cities, but, in the simple homes of 
our Dutch ancestors, they held no costly treasures of 
jewels and gold ; they were receptacles for the rolls of 
homespun linen, from which the bed-linen, table-linen, 
and toweling were cut. When the young wife was about 
to leave her father's house, it was from these stores that 
she received the linen for her new home, and, if some of 
it was not of her own spinning, it was because she was a 
bride too early in life to have assisted her mother and 
sisters at the spinning-wheel. Theye are some of these 
chests still remaining in the old houses ; they have been 
banished to the garret or to the linen closet ; but the 
hoiisekeeper of to-day finds them as useful as they ever 
were, as they form a commodious receptacle for the cur- 
tains, the blankets, and whatever storage the changing 
seasons make necessary. 

One of these old chests in the wide garret of the 
house of Mr. John Lefferts was found to have a false 
bottom. When the discovery was made, it contained a 
large amount of Continental currency. At the time it 


was SO carefully secreted it was, of course, redeemable, 
but when found it was about as valuable as are now the 
bills of the Southern Confederacy. 

It is probable that these chests are referred to in the 
old English story of the bride who playfully hid in the 
great chest in the lumber room, and was made prisoner 
by the spring-lock until, a century after, her bones were 
found and identified by her wedding finery. 


A style of bureau, made more recently than the chests 
and cupboards above described, consisted of inclosed 
shelves in the upper portion, a writing-desk with pigeon- 
holes and secret compartments in the central division, 
and drawers below. It was ornamented with plates of 
brass around the key-holes of the l<A3ks, and there were 
brass handles and plates upon the drawers. The brass 
mounting was kept brightly polished, which made this 
piece of furniture quite showy in appearance. The desk 
portion had frequently secret divisions and hidden 
drawers, to be opened by unseen springs, which revealed 
places for concealing valuable papers and money. 

At a time in which there were no safe-deposit com- 
panies and no patent safes, the old parchment wills, 
bonds, and mortgages were generally kept within these 
secret compartments. "While on the* subject of writing- 
desks, it is in place to state that the writing paper was 
very different from the fine sheets which we can now 
procure at such a low price ; it was of a yellowish hue, 
not by any means smooth and clear. Envelopes were 
never used for letters ; the sheets were large enough to 
fold in such a way that the address could be written on 
the exterior of the last page. Pens were made of quills ; 


these were sharpened every time they were used, the 
penknife being as necessary as the pen itself. Sand was 
sifted over the fresh ink, instead of using blotting-paper 
such as is now prepared for the purpose. Letters were 
sealed with red wafers or sealing-wax. If the family 
were in mourning, black wafers or black sealing-wax 
was used. 


Says one, writing for " Scribner's Magazine " on 
" New York fashions in 1814-1830 " : " Our toilet-tables 
I used to consider very pretty ; they were of half-moon 
shape, the top stuffed and covered with white, the frills, 
reaching to the floor, of transparent muslin over some 
bright color." 

There were many of this kind also in the houses 
here ; some of them were covered with white dimity ; 
these were trimmed with ball fringe. Toilet-tables such 
£,s these were placed in small bedrooms under a hanging 

There were other styles of dressing-tables and bu- 
reaus, but they did not differ essentially from those 
made at the present day. 


Until within the last fifty years it is not probable 
that there was in use any other style of bedstead than 
the high, four-post, rope-corded bedstead. What un- 
wieldy things they were to manage in the semi-annual 
house-cleaning ! 

It required a man's strength to turn the machine 
that tightened the ropes in cording these beds when 
they were put together ; some one was stationed at each 
post to keep it upright, while a man — it might be pater- 


familias himself — was exhausting his strength, and per- 
haps his stock of patience and good temper, in getting 
the ropes sufficiently tight to suit the wife or mother 
standing at one of the posts inspecting the work. 

When the bedstead was duly corded and strung to 
the tension required, then a straw bed, in a case of brown 
home-made linen, was first placed oyer these cords, and 
upon this were piled feather beds to the number of three 
or four, and even more if this was the spare-room bed- 

The sheets and pillow-cases were always of linen ; 
homespun open work or knit lace often ornamented 
the end of the pillow-case ; this was made the more 
conspicuous by a strip of some bright color beneath it. 
The blankets were home-made, and were woven from 
the wool of the sheep sheared upon the farm. They 
were not so soft and white as those which we may now 
purchase, yet probably cost more for the spinning and 
weaving. There were other coverings for beds besides 
the blankets ; these were made in the family, by dye- 
ing the wool or flax and weaving the cloth in figures ; 
they were generally blue and white, as the dye was in- 
digo, and, being used for upper coverings, went by the 
name of "beddekleeden." The various intricate designs 
of patchwork quilts occupied the spare moments of our 
grandmothers, and were an expression of their love of 
design and fancy work, just as worsted work or embroid- 
ery expresses a similar taste in their grandchildren. 

It is a mistake, however, to think that these patch- 
work quilts, however neatly made or elaborately designed, 
were considered for the last sixty years as the suitable 
upper covering on the best bed. There was a heavy 
white coverlet used for such a purpose, which bore some 


resemblance to what is called now; a Marseilles quilt; 
the figure upon it was more puffed out, being stufEed 
with cotton, and the coverlet itself Was heavier than the 
modern material, which it somewhat resembled. 

This white coverlet was used when white dimity 
curtains were upon the bedstead ; these were generally 
trimmed with ball fringe, and the hanging, festooning, 
and arranging of these curtains required a great amount 
of skill, patience, and labor. Another coverlet, much 
used, we might describe as a white cotton rep ; the 
figure was woven on the surface in little knots or knobs. 
The bedsteads, particularly those which were in the best 
bedroom, had the four posts richly carved ; these reached 
to the ceiling and were surmounted with a tester. Bed- 
steads similar to these are frequently seen in England, 
but now are rarely found here, they having been gen- 
erally replaced by French bedsteads. 

A material also much used for curtains and cover- 
lets in the beginning of this century was of linen, 
printed in gay colors, with an India pattern of palm, 
trees and Oriental birds, with interlacing vines and foli- 
age. When this was used as curtains, the coverlet was 
of the same piece. This material was expensive, but it 
was very durable, and no amount of washing, or even 
boiling, could make it fade. 

We have seen a set of chocolate-colored curtains, 
which found great favor just after the close of the War 
of the Eevolution, from the patriotic sentiments ex- 
pressed thereon. They contained medallion heads of 
all the heroes of the war, while winged cherubs were 
blowing from their puffy cheeks substantial lines, sup- 
posed to be the breath of fame. Apparently in an 
ecstasy of cherubic delight, these little winged creatures 


pointed to scrolls which contained couplets in praise of 
the military heroes, whose staring eyes were not very 
suggestiTe of repose or slumber. 

These canopied bedsteads varied in shape ; some had 
square tops reaching to the ceiling, with an upper valance 
on three sides and long curtains at the posts. Others 
were rounded over the top ; the postsi not being so tall, 
were finished by an ornamental knob or ball ; the cur- 
tains were festooned below the canopy, which, spring- 
ing from the posts, made an arch covered with chintz 
like the curtains. 

For young children a small bed called a " trundle 
bed," in Dutch "een slaapbank op rollen," was fre- 
quently used. This was, as the name implies, a low bed- 
stead upon rollers, which during the day was rolled 
under the great high post bedstead and hidden by the 
valance. At night this was rolled out at the side of the 
mother, and was convenient for her watchful care over 
the little ones ; for the Dutch mother never gave up 
the care of her children to others, even in families where 
the colored people in the kitchen were numerous enough 
and willing to relieve her. 

The cradles were not the pretty, satin-lined, rattan 
baskets such as those in which the children of this gen- 
eration are rocked. They were of heavy, solid mahogany, 
with a mahogany roof, if we may so call it, which extend- 
ed one third of the length above, to shield the light from 
the eyes of the little sleeper. These cradles were handed 
down from generation to generation ; some of them are 
still in existence. With the cradle there has also sur- 
vived an old Dutch lullaby. As it is a sort of tradi- 
tional "Mother Goose" among our Dutch families, we 
give it here, but we are not willing to vouch for the 


spelling, as we have never seen the words printed ; prob- 
ably it has never before been in print. We feel sure, 
however, that it is a familiar sound to the descend- 
ants of every Dutch family, and that grandpa and 
grandma have trotted many a little four-year-old upon 
their knees to the little song of 

" Trip a trop a tronjes; 
De varkens in de boonjes, 
De koejes in de klaver, 
De paarden in de hayer, 
De eenjes in de waterplass, 
So groot myn kleine — — was." 

A free translation of the above being that, to climb 
up to father's or mother's knee was for the child a little 
throne upon which he might be as happy as were the 
little pigs among the beans, the cows among the clover, 
the horses among the oats, and the ducks splashing in 
the water. 

At the last line the singer is supposed to toss up the 
child as high as he could reach, giving the real name in 

the blank left above in saying, " So great my little 


As a nursery rhyme it is certainly more rational than 
"Old Mother Hubbard," "The Cat's in the Fiddle," 
" Little Jack Horner," or the rest of the Mother Goose 
melodies with which the English babies of the same age 
were tossed up by mother or nurse. 

We find upon inquiry that this little cradle song 
was everywhere in use in the Dutch settlements, from 
Albany to Long Island. It is familig,r, and is recognized 
as the nursery song in the Dutch towns along the Hudson, 
so that, upon application, it has been sent to us from 


different sources, with only the slight variation occa- 
sioned by the loss of one line in the Long Island version. 

" De eenjes in de waterplass," 

should he 

" De kalf es in de long gras." 

This is the only theft that time has succeeded in 
making for, perhaps, two hundred years, for we can 
give no date to the bit of rhyme ; there is nothing in 
the words which makes it improbable that it came with 
the children from the fatherland. 

Sometimes, instead of the child's name in the last 
line, it was altered thus : 

" So groot myn kleine poppetje was." 

That is, so tall is my little puppet, doll, or baby, as it 
may be translated — a term of endearment. 

There is another little rhyme which we may also 
take as a sample of Dutch " Mother Goose." As it has 
been preserved in the memory of the Dutch people in 
Albany during these two centuries, we give it another 
toss onward to the coming years by placing it, probably 
for the first time, in print : 

" Dnur zat een aapje op een stokje 
Achter myn moeder's keuken deur ; 
Hy had een gaatje in syn rokje, 
Duur stok dat schelmje syn kopje deur." 

The translation of this is : "A little monkey sat on a 
bench behind the kitchen door ; he has a hole in his 
jacket, and through that the little rogue (schelmje) 
sticks his head." 


Under the faint disguise of " oen aapje " we see lit- 
tle Hans himself, mischievously bent upon increasing 
the size of the hole in his jacket, while the reproof, 
rather insinuated than expressed, implied that the child 
surely would not care to be like a little monkey ! 

As we have wandered from cradles to cradle-songs, 
we will so far continue the subject as to copy from the 
" History of New York," by Mary L. Booth, a Christmas 
address of the children to Santa Glaus, said to be re- 
peated on Christmas-Day ; but it was not so widely 
known as " Trip a trop a tronjes " : 

" St. Nicholaaa, goed heilig man, 
Trekt uw' besten tabbard aan 
£d reis daamee naar Amsterdam, 

Von Amsterdam naar Spanje, 

Waar appellen von Oranje, 
En appellen von Granaten, 
Bollen door de straaten, 

St. Nicholaas, myn goeden vriend 

Ek heb uwe altyd wel gediend 
As gy my nu wat wilt geben 
Zal ik uwe dienen als myn leven." 

We would here repiark in parentheses that we think 
the writer from whose pages we have transcribed the 
above scarcely appreciates the stern Calvinism of the 
Dutch, when, in another chapter, we read that "at nine 
o'clock they commended themselves to the protection 
of the good St. Nicholas and went to bed. " The old 
worthies, brought up on the doctrines of the Heidelberg 
Catechism and the Synod of Dordrecht, would scarcely 
have appreciated the jest, so abhorrent to them was 
anything like prayers to the saints. 



At a time when there were no furnaces nor stoves, 
and the cold was only moderated by the wood fire upon 
the hearth, the temperature of the halls and sleeping 
apartments was such that water froze if left in the 
room. One can imagine under such circumstances the 
comfort afforded to the chilled occupant of these apart- 
ments by having the bed warmed. A large copper or 
brass covered pan was used for this purpose. The 
warming-pan, as it was called, was filled with glowing 
hickory coals, and when sufficiently heated was passed 
rapidly to and fro between the sheets, thus taking off 
the chill from the cold linen, and preparing a grateful 
warmth for those who had been shivering while un- 
dressing in the atmosphere of a room which in mid- 
winter was not many degrees warmer than the open air. 


People generally think that the old Dutch farmers 
had nothing more than the bare necessaries of life. We 
should have inclined to believe that they had no look- 
ing-glasses whatever, had we not abundant proof to the 
contrary. The large mirrors of the present day were 
of course unknown among them, but, as early as 1684, 
there is mention made of looking-glasses in the colony. 
In the inventory of the household effects of Nicholas 
Rutgersen Van Brunt, made at that date, two looking- 
glasses are mentioned. In 1733 a toll of four pence 
was imposed upon every looking-glass of two feet high 
and upward which was carried across the Pulton Ferry. 

We find advertised in 1773, "an assortment of oval 
looking-glasses ; pier ditto ; sconces and dressing-glass- 
es," for sale on Hunter's Quay, New York. So that even 


handsome mirrors must have been in. general use in the 
colonies at that time. Under the date of 1776 we find 
the following advertisement : 

" An elegant assortment of looking-glasses in oval and 
square ornamental frames ; ditto mahogany, etc., etc, I flatter 
myself from the assurance of my correspondent in London, when 
the difference is settled between England and the colonies, ot 
having my store so constantly supplied with the abore article 
as will give general satisfaction." 

By reference to the prices upon the bill of sale in 
1767, to which we have referred previously, we find that 
a large looking-glass (een spiegel) sold for three pounds. 

In the appraisement of the property of Peter Lef- 
ferts, in 1793, there are at least three looking-glasses 
mentioned, one of which was valued at five pounds, 
one at one pound ten shillings, and one at one pound. 

The glass in the mirrors of a later period was rarely 
in one plate ; there was usually a division across the 
top, making it a plate and a quarter ; in some this up- 
per quarter was a gilded landscape, instead of glass. The 
gilt frames of these mirrors were sometimes elaborately 
ornamented with gilded balls, chains, eagles, or foliage. 

The mirrors which were first used as mantel-glasses 
had two divisions, one near each end, thus dividing the 
plate-glass into three divisions, one large and two 

There were also frames of dark wood, or of mahog- 
any ornamented ; these were sometimes adorned with 
gilt-embossed figures along the borders of the frame. 


Of the tables used previously to the Revolution we 
know little ; there are probably none now remaining in 



the village which were in use at that early date. The 
oldest which have come under our notice are not nearly 
so convenient as the extension dinipg-tables of the pres- 
ent day. 

They had "leaves," which hung down when not 
used, and were held up, when extended, by legs drawn 
from under the central portion of the table. These 
were found to be very heavy when moved, and uncom- 
fortable when in use unless the leaves were opened. 

These dining-tables were usually square ; the oval 
and round tables now in use were only occasionally to 
be seen ; there were semicircular tables placed in the 
halls, or under looking-glasses which were formed to 
make part of the dining-table, and thus increase its size 
when needed ; these were joined to |his tabl^ by a small 
brass fastening made for the purpose. > 

These semicircular halves, when added to the two 
extended leaves, formed the largest-sized table around 
which guests could be seated. We can not offer them 
unqualified praise, for the legs of the table made some 
of the seats uncomfortable ; but they have been the cen- 
ters of much hospitality, and a genial, true-hearted wel- 
come to the abundance spread upun them was never 
lacking ; neither was there wanting the expression of 
gratitude to God for the goodness that provided the 
feast ; before and after every meal there was grace said 
by the head of the household, while the whole fam- 
ily bowed in reverent silence until the blessing, wheth- 
er silent or audible, had been asked and thanks re- 

There were small tea-tables, the four legs of which 
were stayed and joined by a cross-piece terminating in 
claw-feet holding each a ball. The leaves of these ta- 


bles were semicircular, and could be raised or lowered at 
pleasure. There were round tables called " stands," of 
about a yard in diameter ; these stood upon a tripod, 
which branched off from the inain pedestal. These 
could be turned up like a screen, and were in this form 
placed to fill and furnish a vacant corner. 

Smaller tables, known also as "stands," less than 
half a yard in diameter, were in every family. They 
were used to hold the candle at night and for the great 
family Bible. There is one of these little stands still in 
use which, before the Revolutionary War, served as a 
rest for the old Dutch Bible. 

The Dutch for a table was een tafel ; these small 
stands, on which the candlestick lyas placed, went by 
the name of kaers-knaap. 


The old-fashioned cupboard was :replaced in the be- 
ginning of this century by the mahogany sideboard, 
which has in turn given way at this present day to the 
French buffet of black walnut, an article more grace- 
ful than either of its predecessors in the dining-room in 
shape and appearance. 

In the days when the feeling as to temperance had 
not as yet discountenanced in the household the display 
of spirituous liquors, the sideboard was usually orna- 
mented with an array of decanters, cut-glass tumblers, 
china pitchers, and square, high-shouldered glass bot- 
tles ornamented in gilt figures. These sideboards had 
compartments for wine bottles, for china and glass, and 
also drawers for table-linen ; some of them had an 
arched open space below in the center, in which two or 
three salvers of graded sizes were placed. The oldest 


sideboards had high boxes at each end, designed for 
knives and forks. 

The pretty bric-a-brac treasures which adorn the 
parlors of modern hou'Ses were not to be found in our 
homes in Flatbush many years ago. With a moderate 
income a room can be tastefully furnished to-day, and 
made cheerful with the many little knickkiiacks whicli 
it would have been quite impossible to procure in the 
past age. 


The candles in common use in the household, prior 
to 1835 or thereabout, were made in the family. The 
tallow, which had been collected after preparing the 
winter's supply of beef, was melted in a caldron ; rat- 
tans, on which the wicks, cut of the required length, 
were hung, were in readiness, and these were dipped in 
the hot tallow until by repeated dipping and cooling 
they had acquired the proper size. 

Tin molds were in occasional use to make these can- 
dles, but generally, when other than this common arti- 
cle was needed, wax candles were purchased. 

The lamps in use at that period were made with 
small tubes, through which the cotton wick ran down 
to the oil in the bulb below. As these were without 
shade or chimney, the wick could not be raised very 
high without smoking. 

The lamps which were introduced into general use 
for the center-table about 1831 had a tall chimney and 
ground-glass shade to soften the light ; they were called 
Astral lamps. The wick used in this lamp was circu- 
lar. The two arms, which served as supporters to the 
shade, also served as leaders to the oil cup in filling the 


lamp with oil. As kerosene was unknown at this time, 
sperm and whale oil were in use. 

This style of lamp was superseded by an improved 
pattern known as the solar lamp, which from some 
improvement in its construction gave a more brilliant 
and steady light. 

After the discovery and introduction of kerosene oil, 
this same style of lamp, with very little alteration, was 
continued in use for the parlor table. Hand lamps, 
with flat wicks and shades, student lamps, which could 
be raised or lowered on-a standard, and a variety of hall 
lamps, parlor lamps, and night lamps were invented 
and improved upon after the discovery of kerosene ; but 
the introduction of gas into every house, and its use in 
the streets and public buildings, quickly followed the 
formation of the village gas-works in 1867. 

In the earliest Dutch houses the space between the 
fireplace and the ceiling was sometimes paneled. The 
mantel-piece in this paneling was scarcely more than a 
broad molding ; a wide mantel-piece was rarely seen. 
Candlesticks of highly polished brass were placed upon 
this shelf, or, if in the best room, they were of plated 
ware, sometimes of silver. 

A tray of the same metal was placed between the 
candlesticks to hold the snuffers. 

Tenderly as we cling to the memory of the past, we 
none the less willingly admit the superior advantages 
of the present. The laboring-man to-day may have his 
house more thoroughly warmed and more easily lighted, 
and in many ways made more comfortable, than the 
richest farmer of that time. 



There was more work to be done at home in the 
housekeeping of earlier days than there is at the pres- 
ent time. This arose from the fact that certain articles 
of food could not be purchased as they can be now ; 
many things could not be purchased at all, and conse- 
quently they were prepared in the family. 

All the butter for winter use was made and packed 
down in firkins, for every farmer kept a herd of cows, 
which were driven up the farm lane in the morning, or 
were turned out to pasture in "the wood lot." The 
oldest in the drove wore the brass bell about her neck ; 
in the evening, on their return, they would stand low- 
ing at the " swing gate " until it was opened, and they 
were driven into their quarters, to be milked for the 
night. If, after the bars were let down in the field, a 
young heifer loitered in the lane to crop the clover, 
the sharp call of " Cobus, cobus, cobus ! " from the 
farmer, or '* Cusha, cusha, cusha !*" from the milk- 
maid, speedily hurried the loiterer into an uncouth 
gait that raised a cloud of dust upon the narrow farm 

In the autumn came the busy season called "kill- 
ing time," which brought with it an amount of labor 
such as would almost startle the inexperienced house- 


wife of to-day, whose sole duty now is to purchase the 
articles which at this earlier period were prepared in 
the family. 

In the month of November arrangements were made 
by the farmer for killing the swine and oxen which he 
had fattened for the winter's stock of provision. 

Sometimes a dozen or more were, by previous weeks 
of fattening with corn, prepared as one farmer's pro- 
portion of the great hecatomb of the season ; but usu- 
ally some six or eight swine were considered sufficient 
for the use of a family of ordinary size, with the farm 
laborers, who might be required as extra help during 
the harvest season. The day appointed for this par- 
pose by the farmer was a bifey one for his wife. 

These Dutch people were always early risers, but at 
this time the dawn of day saw all the family prepared 
for the work which was before them^ as it was necessary 
that the slaughtered animals should be cold and hard, 
for they were cut up and salted on the afternoon of the 
day on which they were killed. The colored servants 
took a most prominent part in the bustle of the oc- 
casion, and, as all the old families employed a large 
number of these, there was more or less of that hilarity 
which characterizes that race when engaged in conge- 
nial labor. 

Before the close of the day the- " pickle pork " was 
salted in huge casks in the cellar ; the hams and shoul- 
ders were also laid in salt. After five or six days water 
was added ; remaining for seven or eight weeks in this 
brine, they were then hung up in the smoke-house, 
of which every farmhouse had one, either partitioned 
off in the garret and connected with the kitchen chim- 
ney, or built apart from the house. 


The hams, prepared with the greatest care on the 
part of the farmer as to the feeding of the animals and 
the subsequent treatment of the meat, were supei'ior to 
those which we now purchase in the pubhc market. 

Sausage-making followed. The tDutch farmer and 
his wife could never have been induced to purchase sau- 
sage from the butcher, even had it been offered for sale 
(as it was not), for they were particular as to the manner 
of making it. In the primitive days they did not have 
the mechanical appliances to relieve .them in the chop- 
ping and stuffing of the meat which in after-days was 
afforded them. 

Some of the products of their labor were given away 
by those who were first engaged in it to friends and neigh- 
bors who had not yet undertaken it, and they, in turn, 
gave back of. theirs when freshly made. By this inter- 
change the tables were supplied with fresh sausage, spare 
ribs, head-cheese, and tenderloin of pork, until all the 
neighbors had prepared each their share of the winter's 

It was also the custom, when a calf, sheep, or lamb 
had been killed, to send what was not needed for im- 
mediate use to the neighbors, who, in their turn, felt 
obliged to return an equal portion upon a like occa- 
sion. By this means their diet was varied, and salt pro- 
visions were not the monotonous farO they might other- 
wise have been. 

At a period when the coming of the butcher was not, 
as now, a weekly occurrence, the convenience of this mu- 
tual interchange of provisions was an assistance such as 
we, who do not need relief of this kind, can scarcely 
estimate. The poor found this a season of plenty, fot 
they were large sharers in the general abundance. 


Immediately after the sausage.-making was com- 
pleted, the fatted cows were killed for the winter's sup- 
ply of beef. The proper pieces for smoked beef were 
selected to be hung up in the smokehouse, with the 
hams and shoulders. Some of the best pieces were 
reserved to be eaten while fresh, and the remainder 
were kept in brine, to be used through the year as corned 
beef for the table. 

" Head-cheese" and " roUiches " were articles of food 
so exclusively Dutch that it is doubtful if they were 
ever seen except in Dutch families, and they have al- 
ready almost passed out of the knowledge of the present 

" KoUiches " were made of fat and lean beef cut in 
pieces somewhat larger than dice, highly seasoned, sewed 
in tripe, and boiled for several hours-. These were then 
placed under a press and were eaten cold. When cut in 
thin slices, and the dish ornamented with sprigs of 
parsley, its marbled appearance made it not only an 
attractive-looking dish, but it was justly esteemed by 
the epicure as being a great delicacy, 

" Head-cheese " was somewhat similar, except that 
it was made of the fat and lean of pork chopped as fine 
as for sausage-meat. It was then highly seasoned, tied 
up in a piece of linen and boiled. This also was put 
under a press, and eaten when cold. 

Doughnuts hold such a prominent place on the New 
England table that they have ceased to be thought a 
Dutch cake. Under the name of "olekoek," they were, 
however, to be found on all Dutch tea-^tables, and we insist 
that the art of making them was learned by the Puritan 
housewives while they were in Holland previous to the 
embarkation of the Pilgrims. We may imagine those 


English dames seated at the Dutch tea-table, and asking 
for the most approved receipts for making the articles 
which they found so nice, and that our great-great- 
grandmothers most cheerfully copied off the contents of 
their cook-books for their visitors. T.hus these receipts 
came over in the Mayflower with the many other things 
which are supposed to have been brought hither in that 
good ship. 

There is this difference in the Dutch and the New 
England use of doughnuts : our New England sisters 
make them in every season of the year, and use them, 
at least the farmers' families do, at every meal. Not so 
with the Dutch ; they only made them from November 
until January, because at that period the lard in which 
' they were cooked was still fresh. A^iier January they 
were rarely, if ever, found in a genijine Dutch family, 
and they were never used except on the tea-table, or be- 
tween meals by the children. 

It has been said that " suppawn," or Indian-meal por- 
ridge, made very thick, was a favorite dish among the 
settlers. As corn was raised on the Long Island farms 
in great abundance, this may have been, probably was, 
an article of diet much used. But it was not, of course, 
a Dutch dish, for, on coming to this country, they were 
not accustomed to the use of corn meal. They must 
have acquired the knowledge of its us^ from the Indians. 

We incline to believe that even its name was Indian, 
unless we derive it from the word sop, broth, or soppen, 
to dip in. We do not pretend to a knowledge either of 
its derivation or its spelling, and only offer this as a 

" Suppawn " was also made from pumpkins boiled, 
to which was added wheat flour, making it of the con- 


sistency of Indian suppawn ; this, Uike the other, was 
eaten with cream or milk, and was often used for a late 

A bit of doggerel in reference to this dish, partly in 
Dutch and partly in English, still clings in memory as 
many a useless tattered remnant Will do, held by its 
strongest thread — that of being repeated by an aged 
negro in the chimney-corner introductory to stories of 
"old times": 

" With their round-scooped ladles they eat their suppawn, 
Calling, ' hoe vaarje Hansem, waar komt ye von daag ? ' " 

We should not like to be held responsible for the 
spelling of the above, but we venture to give the lines 
as showing that suppawn was a dish used by the Dutch 
settlers at a very early period. 

There was a Dutch dish of apples and pork, but 
how it was made we are unable to say. 

Poultry of all kinds was raised on the farms in great 
abundance for winter use. 

The turkey was not so great a favorite with the Long 
Island farmer as were ducks and geese. Ducks roasted 
before the fire in the Dutch oven, and brought to the 
table on a large platter, encircled by raised dumplings, 
as light as a sponge, were a dish greatly in favor. 

Roast goose was the chosen dinner for the winter 
holidays, Christmas and New Year's day. 

Paasch, or Easter, was the season in which the chil- 
dren collected the fresh eggs from the barn-yard and 
had them colored, to be used freely in the family, both 
by master and mistress, the children and the slaves. 

Easter (Paasch) and Whitsuntide (Pingster) were al- 
ways kept in old Dutch families. 


Large quantities of shad and mackerel were caught 
in the bays by the farmers in the adjoining towns, who 
had this right; these were purchased from the boats 
coming to shore, and were salted to add to the variety 
of winter provision. As great pains were taken with 
the preparation of these fish, they w«re far more rich, 
juicy, and palatable than the dry, briny material which 
is purchased now under the name of salt shad and 

Game was also abundant in former years on Long 
Island. Wild ducks and wild geese were frequently 
brought down by the farmer's gun in his visits to his 
salt meadows, most of the farms in Flatbush having a 
piece of salt meadow, which was considered as much a 
part of the farm as if it lay contiguous to it. 

If we go back to a distant period, it is probable that 
game was very abundant on Long Island. A law was 
passed " for the more effectual preservation of deer and 
other game, and the destruction of wolves, wild cats, 
and other vermin" in the year 1708, or in the "sev- 
enth year of Queen Anne," as the old law book dates it, 
which shows what game was to be had in Kings County 
at that time. It was enacted that no "Christian or 
Indian, freeman or slave," within the given time for 
the protection of game, should, under penalty named, 
kill "any buck, doe, or fawn ; any wild turkies, heath 
hens, partridges or quails, in the counties of Suffolk, 
Queens and Kings." 

There was a law passed in 1695 forbidding the prof- 
anation of the Lord's Day by " shooting, fishing, sport- 
ing," etc. 

A law was passed in 1717 "to encourage the de- 
stroying of wild cats and their catlings, and foxes and 


their puppies, in the County of Suffolk, Queens County, 
and Kings County." This was also for the better pres- 
ervation of game. 

Within ten years quail have been shot in Flatbush ; 
wild rabbits, squirrels, quail and partridges were quite 
numerous some twenty-five years ago. 

At the present time there is no game in Flatbush, 
unless we except the robins and the migratory birds that 
in their flight from north to south come within range 
of the sportsman's gun. The farmers of Flatbush rely 
upon the markets of the adjacent cities to vary their 
larder, rather than upon anything they may chance to 
find in the circumscribed limits of their present farm- 
ing lands. 


When circumstances were such that the housewife 
herself did not make the bread for the family use, there 
was usually some well-trained colored cook to take her 
place in doing this duty. Bread making was no easy 
task when a dozen or more loaves were to be made at one 
time, particularly as one of those loaves was fully equal 
to two of modern size. 

Bread was always raised with a leaven of the dough 
made at a preceding occasion. It was kneaded in 
great wooden kneading-troughs. There were loaves of 
wheat flour occasionally made, but for daily use it is 
probable that rye bread was the supply of the family 
until the slaves were all freed, and the size of the family 
in the kitchen was diminished. Large bins of wheat 
and rye flour and Indian meal, each capable of holding 
a quantity equal to the contents of two or three barrels, 
were kept well filled for family use. The farmers never 
purchased flour, but sent the grain raised upon the 


farm to the mill, the miller retaining a certain propor- 
tion for his payment. 

The bread was light and nice. The loaves were 
large, and the slices were cut alternately from the upper 
and the lower half of the loaf. In the kitchen, the ser- 
vants, who were at that time slaves, used lard instead 
of butter on their bread ; it was also used in families 
in which poverty made the most rigid i economy neces- 
sary, for even the poor were unwilling to be dependent 
upon public charity, and learned to have their wants 
conform to their circumstances. 

It will thus be seen that, from necessity, the comfort 
of the family depended upon the skill of the house- 
keeper. For this reason, the Dutch matron gave vigi- 
lant oversight, and oftener still took an active part in 
the preparation of the meals in her household. She 
knew that those whom she loved so well must look to 
her for many things which now even moderate means 
can purchase. So identified did she become with these 
household duties that the language betrayed the fact, 
and the word "huysvrouw" was a synonym for our 
word wife. Is there not great significance in this fact 
as to the domestic habits of the women, that in these 
old homesteads the wife and mother stood the central 
figure in the home life ? She was the "huysvrouw." 



The cooking utensils in the old Dutch kitchens dif- 
fered as much from those in present use as the great 
open fireplace differs from the modern range, to which, 
with its various appurtenances, it has given place. 
The roasting of meats and poultry was done before the 
open fire, in what was called a Dutch oven. This was 
cylindrical in form, but stood on four feet, and the 
joint to be cooked was held in place by a long spit 
which projected at each end, so that the meat could be 
turned without opening the door of the cylinder. It 
was of course open to the front of the fire, and there 
was a door at the back for convenience in basting. 
When more than this was needed, then the great brick 
oven was heated. 

For the baking of hot biscuit for tea, or a single loaf 
of bread or cake, a flat iron pot was used, which was 
called a "bake-pan" or a "spider." This was placed 
in the corner of the fireplace upon hot coals, and a layer 
of hot coals covered with ashes Ti^as placed upon the 
tight-fitting iron lid. A larger "bake-pan" than this, 
but similarly formed and used, was sometimes called a 
pie-pan. For boiling meats and vegetables cast-iron 
pots were used. 


A large-sized iron pot at one side of the fire was al- 
ways kept filled with hot water, as the pipes at the back 
of the chimney, which now supply that need, were then 
unknown. From a long iron crane, which was fastened 
in the brickwork of the chimney, there were links of 
heavy iron chain, known as trammel and pot-hooks, on 
which the vessels for cooking were hung over the fire. 
These vessels were of iron, copper, or brass ; usually 
they were of iron. The tin or the porcelain-lined ket- 
tles, such as are now used on the modern range, were 
not known. The great brick ovens of those days were 
quite different from the small stove and range ovens in 
present use. They filled the comer of the kitchen next 
to the fireplace, and when the fireplace took up more 
space than usual, instead of contracting the size of the 
oven, it was placed in a shed adjoining the kitchen. The 
Dutch housewife expected to have at least a dozen loaves 
of bread baked at one time, with, perhaps, as many pies, 
before these brick ovens cooled after being heated. 
The loaves of bread were not baked in pans, but on the 
stone floor of the oven. There was this large baking of 
bread, cakes, and pies every time the oven was heated, 
because the families, including the slaves, were large, 
and there was no bakery to supply a deficiency, should 
there be such. 

In order to heat these ovens, the farm hands brought 
in a quantity of light wood which had been thoroughly 
dried for oven wood. This was lighted in the oven, and 
when it was entirely consumed the ashes were swept 
out, and the floor was cleansed with a wet towel fastened 
on the end of a pole, forming a sort of mop which was 
kept for that purpose, or with a brush called a "boen- 
der " ; for the Dutch women were neat to an extreme. 


Every family owned a waffle-iron ; these were larger 
and deeper than those now made, and had two long 
handles for the purpose of holding them with more ease 
over the beds of hickory coals on which the waffles were 

We find in an old newspaper of March 16, 1773, an 
advertisement, as follows : 

Hard and soft waffle-irons for sale by Peter Goelet, at the 
Golden Key, Hanover Square, New York. 

There was another tea cake which we must consider 
exclusively Dutch, as we have never seen the irons for 
cooking them anywhere except in families who are de- 
scendants of the Dutch settlers. These cakes were so 
thin as sometimes to be called wafers ; they were also 
known as split cakes, because, thin as they were, they 
were split open and buttered before being sent up to 
the table. The name by which they were correctly 
known was " Izer cookies " ; this might have refer- 
ence to the iron in which they were baked — Yzer, or it 
may be a corruption of "Eitzaal," a dining-room. On 
going to housekeeping, it was customary to have one 
of these wafer-irons made with the united initials, and 
the date upon it, so that the impression of the letters 
and figures was made on the cakes when baked. The 
letters P. L. and P. L., with the date 1790, are to be 
seen in an iron which is still in use among the great- 
grandchildren of P. L. and P. L. 

From what we have said, it will be inferred that the 
Dutch enjoyed the good things of this life, and that their 
household arrangements were such as to provide the table 
with abundant and wholesome food. This is strictly 
true, with only the limitation of that proper moderation 


which is characteristic of the Dutch under all circum- 

A letter quoted in Stiles's " History of Brooklyn " 
gives such a false representation of the Dutch manner 
of living that simple justice should have impelled the 
historian who published the letter tp follow it with an 
explanation, instead of offering it as a " portrait of most 
of the Dutch families of that day." It seems that an 
officer who was billeted in Flatbush during the War of 
the Bevolution wrote a letter complaining of his very 
poor fare and the extreme poverty of the table appoint- 
ments. The letter is called by Stiles " a humorous 
sketch," and he leaves his readers to infer that the mode 
of living and the food offered at that period in Flatbush 
were hardly those of civilized life. As the historian 
quoted the letter, he should have followed it with the 
explanation that Flatbush at that period had been rav- 
aged by the lawless hordes that follow an army ; that 
their crops had been burned, and their cattle driven 
away, while they were left with scarcely subsistence for 
their own families ; and that these soldiers were billeted 
upon them not only against their wishes, but in spite 
of their representations as to their poverty. The board 
promised for the support of each soldier was two dollars 
per week, or a little more than nine cents for each 
meal, and the payment of even that was doubtful. We 
are glad that the writer of the letter is obliged to notice 
the "extreme neatness of the house and beds," and that 
there was grace said over their food, although this ad- 
mission is accompanied with a sneer. But it is obvi- 
ously gross injustice to take a period in which all their 
resources were exhausted as the typical one of the Dutch 
manner of living. 



Every Dutch family in Flatbush owns some piece of 
silver which has been handed down as an heirloom ; to 
one, the family tankard has come through many gener- 
ations, passing to the oldest son or the only daughter ; 
to another, it may be only some quaint old spoon, a 
cream-jug, or a sugar-bowl. 

Upon the marriage of a daughter it was quite cus- 
tomary to purchase, in connection with her wedding 
outfit, and as a wedding present for her, a tea service, 
consisting of a teapot, cream-pitcher, sugar-bowl, and 
slop-bowl. These were usually of heavy, solid silver, and 
varied in price according to the means of the family. 

The old farmers have had the -reputation of being 
very close in their expenditure, excefpt for the mere ne- 
cessaries of life. This is unjust, and the charge has been 
made by those who do not understand the character of 
the Dutch people nor appreciate their economy, pru- 
dence, and wise provision for an unforeseen exigency in 
the future. They were generous to their children and 
relatives, helpful and kind to their neighbors ; because 
they were not wasteful, they had the more to give, and 
when they gave it was not grudgingly. 

They were fully capable of appreciating that which 
was beautiful and ornamental, but their preference lay 


in the direction of that which was solid and substan- 
tial, and their selection in the way of gifts was always 
in favor of that which was supposed to be durable. This 
was characteristic, for they abhorred shams and cheap 
imitations, and, when an article was purchased in ac- 
cordance with their taste, it was the best of its kind, 
and that which would last. We can easily see, there- 
fore, why they gave plate the preference, and why al- 
most every family has some silver heirloom in posses- 

There are still bills to be found among old papers, 
which we give to show the cost of such articles at time 
of date. There are silver pieces of an earlier period 
than these, the value or age of which we do not know. 
As money was more scarce then than now, the sums paid 
indicate a larger amount compared to their general ex- 
penditure than the same outlay would at the present 

„ ^ NBw-YoBK,»5<A,7Wy,17»«. 

rHEBB Leffebts 

Bo't of John Vbknon, 

1 silver teapot, engraved in cypher £16 5». 8i. 

Eeceived the above in full, 

Jno. Vbbnon. 

T , „ N«w ToBK, Oct. 8, 1787. 


Bo't of Tho8. Daft, 

£ ». d. 

1 silver teapot 12 

Sugar basin and engraving 9 13 

Milk-pot , 4 12 

26 5 
Received at the same time the full contents, 

Thos, Daft. 


* - _ Nbw Tobk, Sa>t. 4, 1802. 

John Lott, Esq., 

Bo't of John Vkhnon, 

£ «. d. 
1 teapot, sugar-dish, and milk-pot 45 

1 dozen table spoous, engraved in cypher 16 5 4 

i dozen tea " " " " 2 12 8 

1 sugar-tongs 16 

65 4 
Received payment. 

Jno, Vbbnon. 

In an inventory of estate, dated 1776, we find nine 
silver spoons valued at nine pounds ; six small tea- 
spoons at eighteen shillings. 

"We find, from a record which has been preserved, 
that at a private sale of the household effects of Eev. 
M. Bchoonmaker, June 9, 1824, the following prices 
were paid for a silver tea service : 

1 silver teapot, sugar-dish, and milk-pot, weighing 

41-i oz., at 9». per oz $46.69 

6 silver teaspoons, 2J- oz., at 8«. per oz 2.25 

A silver tankard was at one time in possession of al- 
most every family in Platbush. These were sometimes 
not only heavy but were of curious workmanship, and it 
is probable that they were brought from Holland. It 
is much to be regretted that some of these valuable pieces 
have been exchanged for modern silver. Others have 
been stolen or lost through the many vicissitudes which 
time brings to every family. 

The following advertisement, taken from the "New 
York Gazette" of October 8, 1733, shows that such 
property was not safe from the predatory tramp even at 
that early period : 


Stole at riatbush, on Long Island : One Silver Tankerd, a 
piece of money in the Led [lid] of King Charles II, and the led 
all engraved. A coat of arms before (in it a man on a waggon 
with two horses), marked on the handle L. P. A. 

One silver Tankerd, plain, with a piece of money in the led, 
marked on the handle A. P., or A. L. 

One cup, with two twisted ears, chased with 'scutohens, 
marked L. P. A. 

One tumbler marked L. P. A. 

One Dutch Beker, weighs about 28 ounces, engraved all 

(This word " Beker " is a Dutch term, signifying a 
cup, a chalice, the same as the English word " beaker.") 

All the above was made by Mr. Jacob Boele, stamped J. B. 
(trade mark). 

One large cup with two cast ears, with heads upon them, 
and a coat of arms engraved thereon. 

One cup with two ears ; a small hole in the bottom. 

Two pairs shoe-clasps, new cleaned. 

For the above a large reward is offered and no questions asked. 

By reference to the sales for division of property, 
already given, it will be seen that, in 1792, silver tan- 
kards, sugar-cups, milk-pots, tablespoons, etc., were 
among the articles in household use. The price of the 
tankard upon the bill is given as £15. The price of a 
tankard on the inventory of an estate, bearing date 
March 11, 1776, is given as £22. 

There was formerly a great deal of blue china in 
Platbush. There are still single pieces which are duly 
authenticated, and known to be a ihundred years old, 
and are probably older. There are also pieces of Spode 
bearing the name of the maker. 

Some articles of old china have outlasted the tradi- 
tion of their purchase or their age. 


For ordinary use at the dinner tables of two hundred 
years ago, pewter plates and platters served the family. 
They varied in price. Upon a bill of sale we find that 
a pewter platter brought four shillings and sixpence 
(English). Another, at the same sale, brought seven 
shillings and sixpence. Six pewter; plates sold for nine 
shillings and ninepence ; an earthen dish for three shil- 
lings and ninepence. 

At the appraisement of the propeirty of an old inhab- 
itant, Peter LefFerts, born 1680, we find that the value 
of his table service of dishes and pla,tes was as follows : 

£ s. d. 

Twenty-five pewter plates 1 5 

Thirty-seven earthen plates 10 

Nine pewter dishes 1 16 

Eight earthen dishes 1 

Six setts china cups and saucers 3 

Twenty-seven Delft plates 13 6 

We find by an appraisement, made 1714, in a neigh- 
boring town, that one china dish and cup were valued 
at seven shillings and sixpence, and one pewter dish at 
five shillings. From these prices we infer that the 
plates and dishes in daily use were not very expensive, 
although the sums given implied a greater relative 
amount of wealth than the same sums would at the 
present day. 

Tall china vases were very frequently the ornaments 
of the mantel-piece. Some of these which have been 
preserved are now very valuable. 

They were generally of dark blue, or of white ware 
ornamented in various ways. The antiquarian or the 
learned in ceramics would be delighted with many a 
tall vase which we remember to have seen consigned 


to the kitchen, or, hidden in upper shelves, disappear 
for ever in that mysterious manner which inanimate 
matter seems to have the gift of doing when not closely 
watched. These tall vases were sometimes cylindrical 
and without covers, at other times they were more 
curved and swelling in their ouj;lines, with dragons 
at the handles and on the cover. Sometimes five of 
these vases constituted a set, or if they were large 
there were hut three. 

It is to be regretted that so few of these china jars 
have outlasted the changes of fashion, as they were un- 
doubtedly of more value than many of the mantel orna- 
ments by which they were displaced. 



We have no knowledge as to the musical taste of 
the early colonists. It is doubtful if it was developed 
in any direction except that of church psalmody ; even 
their best efforts in that line would probably have not 
been considered a success by the connoisseurs of this 
day. In the silver-tipped Psalm-books, which they car- 
ried to church every Sunday, the words were interlined 
with quaint-looking bars of musical notes, from which 
they sang. 

Legends and traditions place the violin in the hands 
of the negro, and tell how the children gathered around 
him in the summer evening or the winter ' " schemer- 
avond " (twilight) to listen to the tones which he drew 
from its strings. 

When we come down to Eevolutionary days, we 
have authority for a band of music in the town, but 
that was not native talent or property. The young 
people danced to the band of the regiment, and the 
pretty girl who was selected by Etha,n Allen as his part- 
ner in the dance transmitted the knowledge of that fact 


to her grandchildren, and with it the very natural 
opinion that the music on the occasion was the best 
in the world. How much an opinion given under 
such circumstances is worth we do not venture to 

In a number of the " Daily Advertiser," New York, 
dated Saturday, May 10, 1788, we find the following ad- 
vertisement : 

Jacob Astor, 

No. 81 Queen Street, 

Has just imported an elegant assortment of piANo-roETEs, which 
he will sell on reasonable terms. 

He also buys and sells for cash all kinds of furs. 

We do not cite this as a proof that " piano-fortes " 
were numerous in our village at this period, but, as the 
full cup overflows, so we may conjecture that the ad- 
joining towns were not entirely without these instru- 
ments if Mr. Jacob Astor could offer such an elegant 
assortment on reasonable terms. 

While exploring in childhood the recesses of an old 
garret, we found under the eaves the dilapidated remains 
of what was once a harpsichord. It was larger than 
the melodeons in present use, and resembled them some- 
what in general appearance, except that it was a stringed 

We find in an old newspaper, printed in 1773, the 
following advertisement : 

John Sheybli, Horse and Cart Street, New York, makes, 
repairs, and tunes all sorts of organs, harpsichords, spinnets, 
and forte-pianos on the most reasonable terms. 

The sparsely settled miles between Horse and Cart 


Street, New York, and the little town at the foot of 
the hills heyond Breukelin, must have made a jour- 
ney which might well have deterred Mr. Sheybli when 
called iipou to tune the spinets there " upon reasonable 

It is probable that there were but few instruments 
in Flatbush. The ivory keys of this one were yellow 
and loose, and, as with childish fingers we ran over the 
scale, the keys rattled to the touch without a sound, 
save as one or two, still connected bya rusty wire, jingled 
and vibrated in most unmusical sibilant echoes. The 
fingers that once brought melody from these time- 
stained keys have been motionless for more than ninety 
years, It almost seems as if no musical sound should 
linger \ipon the broken strings, when it was written 
upon her tombstone who once sang to the accompani- 
ment of these notes that she died August 30, 1786, 
aged twenty-four years. 

There were pianos in Flatbush about 1812, if not 
earlier. We speak from knowledge of one which we re- 
member to have seen in its old age. It was scarcely 
six octaves in length, and had a spindling, attenuated 
appearance, arising from the shallowness of the body 
and the thin gilded legs. On the front, above the 
key-board, were inscribed the name and residence of the 
maker, " Geib, New York " ; this was surrounded with 
a Wreath of painted rosebuds. 

A drawer to hold music opened below the body of 
the instrument. It is needless to say that no great vol- 
ume of sound was produced from these pianos, and that 
their notes were thin and weak. 

The price of this instrument weare enabled to give, 
as the bill has been preserved. 


Mr. L . 

To John Gbib & Son, Dr. 

Sept. 19. 
To an Elegant patent Piano-forte with drawers 

and two pedals $270 00 

$270 00 
Received payment, 

John Gbib & Son. 

To show what money it cost to take lessons in music 
seventy years ago, we copy the following from the 
"New York Weekly Museum," of March, 1809 : 


Frederick W. Dannenberg 
Proposes to give Lessons on the Piano-forte, at his residence, 
No. 60 Maiden Lane, on the following 

1. To enable him to pay the utmost attention to the pro- 
gress of his Pupils, he will engage with only twelve scholars. 

2. Six scholars to form a class, and to be taught at a time. 

3. Each class to receive their lessons twice a week, from 10 
A. M. to 1 p. M. 

4. Each clafls to consist of scholars of equal capacity, so as to 
render the insttuctions in their progress equally beneficial to aU. 

Terms, $12.50 cents per quarter for each scholar. 

A musical instrument maker from London advertises 
that he makes and repairs "all sorts of violins, tenors, 
base violins, guitars, kitts, mute violins, Eeolian harps, 
spinnets, and spinnet-jacks. " 

The "New York Gazette" of the same year (1772) 
also sets forth that a maker from Philadelphia " makes 
and repairs all kinds of organs, spinnets, harpsichords, 
and pianos." But this man apparently had no shop in 


New York, for, to use the words of his advertisement, 
"he is to be spoke with at Mr. Samuel Prince's, Cabi- 
net Maker, at the sign of the Chest of Drawers in Kew 
York." He concludes his adyertisement with a post- 
script to the effect that he makes " hammer spinnets 
that never wants quilling as other spinnets do." 


It is doubtful if there were any works of art worthy 
of the name in Platbush for many years after its settle- 

Family traditions tell us that some of the old 
houses burned down in the Battle of Long Island con- 
tained oil paintings which had been sent from Hol- 
land ; how valuable these were there is no means of 

There were at one time in the village many small 
pictures on glass ; these were of dark colors, and have 
been in possession of the families who own them for 
very many years. They are, however, more valuable as 
relics than for their skillful workmanship. The glass 
seems to be gradually scaling off, and, as the painting 
is upon the glass, the pictures are slowly disappearing. 

We know of one miniature painted about 1780, and 
there are others of more or less value ; but we have seen 
none which are worthy of mention as works of art. 

In a number of the " Daily Advertiser " for 1788, 
we find that an artist of that day in New York was not 
above advertising his skill. We would draw attention 
to the fact that he, singularly enough, offers to "take 
back the likenesses should they not meet with approval. " 
Remembering some old, stiff portraits, we wonder that 
such permission was not taken advantage of : 



Lately arrived from France, 
Presents his respects to his friends and the public in general, 
and informs them that he draws likenesses of ladies and gentle- 
men at the lowest price, and engages the painting to be equal 
to any in Europe. Should the likeness not be approved of after 
drawing, it will be taken back. 

This artist gives his residence as "42 Hanover 
Square, opposite Mr. Peter Goelet's." 

On inquiry we gain traces of portraits which have 
been lost through the lapse of time, and pictures which 
have been destroyed ; but there are none old enough to 
be valuable as relics or worthy of notice. 



Of this chapter on dress we must say, as we did of 
that on furniture, that we describe nothing peculiar to 
this locality ; it is the fashion of the period, and not of 
the Dutch people, which we here attempt to portray. 


The dress of gentlemen about the year 1770 was in 
the style with which we haye been made familiar by the 
pictures of General Washington. In full dress, gentle- 
men appeared in long coats, often of a light color, vel- 
Tet breeches, silk stockings, and knee-buckles ; they wore 
low shoes, which were fastened with shoe-buckles. The 
hair was powdered and tied in a queue. Some of these 
knee-buckles and shoe-buekles are still preserved in 
Flatbush, as also some other portions of a dress of this 

We find a tailor's advertisement in the "New York 
Gazetteer " for May 13, 1773, which glitters like a rain- 
bow. Behold what is offered as the fashionable spring 
colors for gentlemen : 

A general assortment of scarlet, buff^ blue, green, crimson, 
white, sky-blue, and other colored superfine cloths. 

Superfine scarlet, buff, sky-bine, garnet, and green cassi- 


Superfine Genoa velvets ; striped velverets for breeches of 
all colors. . . . 

A neat assortment of gold and silver lace, gold and silver 
spangle buttons ; gold buttons with loops and bands ; silver- 
ground gold brooade for hats. . . . 

Any gentleman that chooses to have his buttons made of 
the same cloth can liave them worked with pearl and spangles, 
with any sprig or flower he may choose, as neat as those made 
in London. 

All these elegant things are ofEe'red for sale by John 
Laboyteaux at his fashionable establishment at Beek- 
man's Slip. 

AVe can not say if our Platbush ancestors were rowed 
in a small boat over the ferry to purchase any of these 
flashy dresses, for, if they ever owned such finery, it has 
as entirely disappeared as the rainbows of that summer. 

The hats worn at this period- by gentlemen were 
cocked hats. In the same newspaper a hatter advertises 
his stock as excelling all others in " cut, color, and cock." 

If we may judge from the advertisement of a fash- 
ionable tailor at the corner of Wall Street, in the year 
1773, the vests worn by gentlemen in full dress must 
have been showy. He offers for sale a " curious assort- 
ment of vest patterns," such as : 

White and bufE tambour embroidered oassamar. 
White silk, embroidered with gbld. 
White silk, " " silver. 

White satin, " " gold. 

White satin, " " silver, etc. 

Since gentlemen assumed the style at present worn 
they have only varied their dress slightly. Sometimes 
the coat-collar has been cut to stand higher in the neck 
or to roll farther back ; the waist has been made shorter 

DSSSS. 129 

or longer, or a button has changed its place here and 
there ; otherwise there has been no perceptible differ- 
ence in the dress of gentlemen for many years. 

For a long time it was considered very foppish and 
undignified to wear a beard. A mustache allowed to 
grow was the sign of a dandy ; a gentleman must be 
smoothly shaven, unless he chose to be looked upon as 
foppish or eccentric. A full beard was never seen in the 
pulpit, never in general society, except when worn by 
foreigners or those aping foreign manners and customs. 

Incredible as this seems, now that gentlemen allow 
their beards to grow as nature intended, yet it is true 
that an elderly gentleman some thirty years ago would 
not have appeared in church or in the street unless he 
was fresh from the process of shaving. It would have 
been the subject of censure from the consistory had 
the clergy appeared in the pulpit as they do now with 
whiskers, mustache, or beard. 

We have Richard Grant White for authority in say- 
ing that "from 1700 to 1835 the appearance of a beard 
on any part of an Englishman's or an American's face 
was, strangely enough, so rare as to be regarded as a 


At the early settlement of Long Island it is proba- 
ble that the short gowns and petticoats of our great- 
great -grandmothers were made of material spun and 
woven in the family. Durability rather than beauty 
was the chief consideration in preparing the cloth. They 
were fond of gay colors, and, as they were not confined 
to somber hues because of the simplicity of their dress, 
bright red and dark blue must have given a pictu- 
resque effect to their costume. 


Up to the time of the War of the Revolution the 
ordinary dress of the women when engaged in their 
household duties was a short gown and petticoat, of a 
color and material to suit the taste of the wearer. 

The full dress of that period was that which is seen 
in representations of the costume of Mrs. Washington. 
There are some dresses of this style in Flatbush, still 
preserved by those whose ancestors wore them about 
ninety years ago. One of these dresses, worn as a bridal 
dress, August 7, 1780, is a fawn-colored satin-damask, 
without a train, and open in front ; it was worn with a 
blue satin-damask petticoat. The vest of the bride- 
groom was made from the same piece of blue satin-da- 
mask. The sleeves of the bride's dress reached to the 
elbow, and were probably trimmed with a deep ruffle of 
lace falling over the arm. Another of these dresses of 
the same age is of silk, embroidered, and with a train. 

After that style of dress, also well known through- the 
pictures of Mrs. Washington, had passed out of fashion, 
it was followed by another, its opposite in almost every 
respect ; the ladies of the next generation wore absurdly 
short waists and scant skirts. This French fashion did 
not retain its hold upon the taste of the ladies as did 
that which had preceded it. 

There are some of these scant, short-waisted dresses 
still preserved by the descendants of those who had 
worn them in the early part of this century. 

After this, dating from 1825 or thereabouts, a more 
simple style of dress came into general use. The skirt 
and waist were united, forming one garment ; this was 
called a frock, a word which has almost passed into dis- 
use, except that in a gentleman's dress it is used to des- 
ignate the garment called a "frock coat." At this date. 

DMESS. 131 

also, there was a marked difference in the dress of young 
people and of elderly people. 

Old ladies wore silver-rimmed, round-eyed specta- 
cles, and Swiss-muslin caps, with narrow borders neatly 
crimped. A white lawn kerchief was crossed over the 
breast, with a black silk one neatly folded above it. 
They wore plain skirts without tucks, flounces, or trains, 
and by their simple and unostentatious garb impressed 
the beholder with the idea of a serene and placid old 
age. That they showed no wish to adopt a youthful 
dress seemed significant of a peaceful acknowledgment 
of the age they had reached, with no frivolous longing 
for the youthful pleasures unsuited to their years. Their 
old age was not one of idleness ; every moment not other- 
wise occupied was employed in knitting ; this work was 
always close at hand, and the needles moved briskly and 
mechanically without the necessity of watching them. 
A knitting sheath was used by these old ladies, pinned 
at the waist, and their method of holding their needles 
differed from that of the knitting of the present time 
in the use of this knitting sheath. A remnant of the 
style of a bygone age also remained in the round, ball- 
like pincushion which hung suspended at the side, un- 
less they were dressed for visiting or for church-going. 

Perhaps we credit these old ladies with a simplicity 
of dress which was, after all, nearly as much the fashion 
of the period as their own peculiar selection, for the 
dress worn by ladies of whatever age was more simple 
fifty years ago than it is to-day. New dresses were not 
so frequently purchased, and, as fashions did not vary so 
constantly, an expensive dress could be worn longer 
without getting to be out of fashion. 

The ordinary dress of a lady in her own home was 


not as costly as it is now, because, being simpler, it 
required less material, and, as it was less elaborately 
trimmed, it did not require so much of a dressmaker's 
time ; consequently a lady could be tastefully and pret- 
tily dressed at much less expense, '^his is going back 
some thirty or forty years ; at that period the vari- 
ations in the style of dress were for a long time very 
slight. Sometimes a belt was worn in the dress, some- 
times it was a bodice ; for one season the sleeve was 
loose and flowing, the next it was tightly fitting ; the 
bishop sleeve was adopted in one year, and the "leg of 
mutton " in the next. This name had reference to the 
shape, which fitted closely to the arm from the wrist to 
the elbow ; above the elbow it puffed out, and was sus- 
tained in this form either by stiff muslin or by down 
undersleeves . These large down or feather undersleeves, 
fastened in the armholes of the dress, were very warm 
and uncomfortable. 

For young ladies, the dress was then worn low in the 
neck ; a round or a pointed cape of the same material 
as the dress was worn with it if needed. The waist was 
always buttoned or hooked up at the back. The intri- 
cacies of overskirts had not yet been adopted, except in 
thin material worn as ball-dresses. The skirts of the 
walking-dresses were not gored, but were worn full, of- 
ten without trimming. A dress could be made by one 
person without a sewing-machine in one day ; some- 
times assistance was given by the young ladies in the 
family, but, even without it, it was not unusual for the 
entire dress to be completed between the hours of 7 A. m. 
and 6 p. m. Sometimes the skirt was tucked, or folds 
were laid on it, or it had rufiles upon it, or it was 
flounced up to the hips ; such dresses of course required 

DRESS. 133 

more time in the making. Bows of the same material 
or of ribbon were worn, or any other ornament, to vary 
the skirt ; but the weighty overskirt of heavy material, 
with its tight tieback, interfering with the free motion 
of the limbs, is an invention of a later day. Anything 
more entangling and illy adapted to free and easy move- 
ment than this it would be difficult to suggest. Upon 
every style of sleeve except the "bishop" and the "leg 
of mutton " a cap was worn. It was of the same mate- 
rial as the dress ; sometimes it reached from the arm- 
hole, into which it was sewed with the sleeve, nearly to 
the elbow ; generally it was three or four inches in 
length, and was trimmed to match the skirt. This fin- 
ish to the sleeve has been so long out of date that now 
it seems useless, but, undoubtedly, it was introduced 
because young ladies often wore short sleeves, and by 
this device the long sleeve could be ripped out, and the 
cap, which remained, formed a short sleeve complete in 

The custom of wearing low-necked dresses and short 
sleeves was very common with children ; their frocks 
were always worn thus. Little girls, those who were 
such between 1825 and 1845, wore v6ry short dresses and 
long pantalettes reaching below their ankles. Infants 
appeared with bare neck and bare arms. They were very 
lovely, and the child looked much prettier ; but this 
fashion began at last to be carried to such an unhealthy 
extent that the evil corrected itself, and children are 
now more comfortably and healthfully attired in long- 
sleeved and high-necked dresses. Proud mothers, anxious 
to exhibit the fair white necks and dimpled shoulders of 
their little ones, often made their dresses so low that the 
wonder was how the child ever kept .the dress on. They 


seemed almost able to slip out of the bit of garment 
altogether, had it not been tied on at the waist by a sash, 
which, in its amplitude, seemed broader and larger than 
the dress itself. This was carried to such an extreme by 
foolish mothers that infants often seemed smaller than 
the huge sash-bow to which, apparently, they were tied. 

Some thirty years ago, infants always wore caps with 
a lace ruffle surrounding the face. This was a pretty 
and a becoming fashion. There is no style of dress so 
unnatural and unhealthy but there are found some fool- 
ish women who accept it, and it is a sad truth that 
many fond but weak mothers have sacrificed the health 
and strength of their little ones to some of these foolish 

We claim for the present style of dressing children 
in moderately long dresses without tieback or sash, high 
at the neck and with sleeves reaching to the wrist, that 
it is the most sensible fashion which parents have ever 
adopted. Let us hope it may long continue, and that 
we may have healthier girls and boys, and stronger men 
and women, in the next generation. 

The corsets worn by the ladies of the present day 
are certainly an improvement as to health and comfort 
upon the "stays" which were worn by the ladies a 
hundred years ago, and, strange to say, were worn also by 
children. An advertisement of a stay-maker in an old 
paper is so curious that we copy it in confirmation of 
our statement as to the article beiiig worn in 1772 by 
children : 

John Bueohett, 
From London and Paris, 
Takes this method to inform the ladies and the pnblick in gen- 
eral that he has removed to Burling's Slip at the sign of the 

DRESS. 133 

Crown and Stays, where he makes all sorts of stays, jumps, 
packthread, turned and single ; likewise children's stays (to give 
and preserve a shape truly perfect, and not drooping or falling 
in before) in the neatest and newest fashions. He has also a 
number of good ready-made stays of the best quality, cheaper 
than can be imported, prices from ten shillings to five pounds, 
and by a system to himself to exceed in fineness and quality. 
Farther, said Burchett will take from any lady who shall employ 
him half cash for stays and the rest in dry goods. He also re- 
turns his most hearty thanks to all who have countenanced him 
with their esteem, tho^ undeserved ; but for the future will use 
all possible -endeavors to merit their interest, and as he has 
obtained a certificate from the Queen's stay-maker, London, he 
flatters himself fully capable to satisfy any ladies who shall 
please to favor him with their commands. 

A dress-maker was called formerly a mantua-maker. 
The dictionary gives the meaning of the word mantua as 
" a gown or dress worn by females." As no part of the 
dress of the present day is so called, the change of name 
has followed both the maker and the thing made. 

We here insert a genuine bill of a mantua-maker 
of seyenty years ago : 

Mrs. Dr. to Jane White : 

£ ». d. 

For outing and making three frocks, 9« 9 

For cuting and making two frocks 040 

For cuting two under coats 3 

[niegiile] .....' 030 

Two wooling stockings 70 

For cuting and making a great coat. 040 


As we read the descriptions accompanying the fash- 
ion plates of the present day, or if we turn to the maga- 


zines which furnish the names of the material for the 
latest style of ladies' dresses, the variety of goods in the 
market seems almost incredible. Biit the ladies of the 
olden time were certainly not the less favored as to 
variety in their choice of material. We do not recognize 
the goods comprised in the following list, but we copy 
it as advertised under the head of "India Goods," of- 
fered for sale by the firm of Francis Lewis & Son, 
"near the Fly Market," New York (1775). We copy 
the advertiser's list : 

TaflEeties, Persians, Damasks, Lutestring, Padusoys, Sattens, 
Amozeens, Modes and Peelongs Dowlas, Garlix, Tandems, Plat- 
tilas royal, Pistol lawns, Minionets. 

Also in Horse and Cart Street, a large assortment of Printed 
Linens, Shalloons, Rattinets, Kentings, Tamies, Durants, Oalli- 
manooes, Alapeens and Silverets. 

We surely can not say, after this list of material, 
that our grandmothers had no choice of the wherewithal 
to make their dresses and petticoats. 


History tells us that in the year 1709 the petticoats 
worn by the ladies of fashion in England had attained 
an enormous size. The "Tatler," the great "censor 
of the morals and manners of the day," jestingly speaks 
of it as a "silken rotunda, not unlike the cupola of St. 

This fashion seems to have reached its most absurd 
height in 1745. A pamphlet was at that time published 
against the fashion, entitled, "The Enormous Abomi- 
nation of the Hoop Petticoat," because the garment 
" had become of so enormous a cirjcumference that it 
could not be longer endured. " 

DJiESli. 137 

Slowly and gradually this unnatural fashion passed 
away, but its extinction was not to he final. Somewhere 
about 1858 it was revived in a more moderate form, and 
hoop-skirt making became an industry that gave em- 
ployment to thousands of workmen. There were man- 
ufactories in all the large cities. The ribs were made 
of steel or tin, with a woven cover qver each rib. They 
were pliable and not expensive. 

It is probable that through the invention and im- 
provement of machinery the hoop-skirts of this century 
were much lighter and less cumbersome than the " stiff 
hoops" which Pope denounces in .his "Rape of the 

The fashion held sway for nearly twenty years, only 
varying in the size and shape of the framework. Then 
the modern hoop-skirt passed into disuse, and woman 
once more presents herself in the size of her natural 


Even articles so simple as stockings have been sub- 
ject to the mutations of fashions. We read that Queen 
Elizabeth had them "of black knitted silk." There is 
little doubt but that at an early period they were of 
bright colors. In 1737, or thereabout, white stockings 
were first worn. At first they occasioned some dispute 
as to whether they were modest and lady-like. White 
stockings, however, continued to be worn, even in the 
deepest mourning, we are told, until 1778 ; at that time 
black silk stockings were introduced as the usual wear 
in England. 

Black silk stockings were always worn in our recol- 
lection in this country by ladies in mourning until 
about 1855, when the fashion of wearing high boots hid 


the stocking, and unbleached cotton hose were worn 
with all dresses, whether dark or light. At that same 
period, also, children always wore White stockings with 
white dresses ; a dark stocking witha white dress would 
haye been considered in very bad taste. At present that 
has been changed ; colored hose of the deepest, or of the 
most brilliant, dye are worn with white dresses, and 
white or unbleached cotton hose are worn only at the 
will of the owner. 

The knitting of stockings was an important industry 
in the family in the last century and in the beginning 
of this. The ball of gray and dark-blue woolen yarn 
was always in the knitting-basket ; the stockings for the 
whole family were knit by hand at that time ; the chil- 
dren's were often of red yarn ; the men's were of gray 
or blue, and the women's of any color to suit the fancy 
of the wearer. To-day, when a good pair of unbleached 
cotton hose can be purchased for twenty-five or thirty 
cents, and coarse cotton at even a less price, we can not 
advise the resumption of the knitting-needle, although 
it seems like a pleasant, home-like Way of spending the 
long winter evening, when conversation, or even reading, 
offers no interruption to the industrious fingers. 


If Fashion stoops to select the color of the stocking, 
we can not expect to have the shape, of the shoe exempt 
from her tyranny. 

With the bridal dress, to which we have referred as 
having been worn in 1780, there were also preserved 
two pairs of shoes. We may judge from these of the 
style worn in full dress at this period. One pair was of 
dark, maroon-colored silk, embroidered ; the other was 



of pink satin. Both pairs were very pointed at the toe, 
and the heels were at least two inches high, and some- 
what in shape of a flattened hour-glass. 

Probably that shape was out of fashion for some 
eighty years ; to-day we find an approximation to it in 
the high heels placed almost under the instep, which 
one sees in the window of the fashionable shoemaker. 
High-heeled shoes passed out of fashion when that ex- 
treme was reached. 

Slippers were always worn in full dress some thirty 
years ago, and high boots were only used in the street. 
Afterward boots for ladies were made with paper soles 
and of handsome material to match the dresses, and 
then slippers were for a time out of fashion. These thin 
boots were laced up at the side. Buttoned boots were 
first used some fifteen or twenty years ago. 

The thick, coarse shoes worn before India-rubber 
overshoes were made were not sufficient to keep the 
feet dry in stormy weather, and it is only since the pres- 
ent perfected use of gum overshoes that there is entire 
protection afforded. 

India-rubber shoes and boots were unknown in the 
time of our grandmothers ; they are comparatively a 
recent invention. They were at first bulky and stiff, 
but now such a degree of elasticity has been attained 
that, whether in the shape of sandal or high shoe, they 
are pliable, light, and strong. 

Before and even a few years later than 1800, the 
shoes for the farmer's family were made in his house. 
The skins of the calves killed on his farm were sent to 
the tanner, who reserved a certain share for his own 
pay, and of the remainder the boots and shoes were 
made by a shoemaker who came to the house for that 


purpose. At such times the whole family, including 
master and mistress, children and slayes, were supplied 
with common shoes for ordinary use. 


About the close of the last century fancy aprons 
were not considered out of place even in full dress, 
although it is not probable that they were worn at balls 
and parties. 

We find in a newspaper bearing date April, 1773, 
an advertisement in which there is a great variety of 
these offered for sale : 

Spotted and figured Scots lawn aprons. 

Spotted and figured silk : 

Plain and flowered, figured and spotted, black 

gauze ' 

Figured and flowered black and white silk .... " 
Needle-worked lawn " 

Fancy aprons, more or less trimmed, were worn by 
young ladies, and formed a very pretty addition to their 
afternoon dress. Until within some ten or fifteen years 
they were not considered inconsistent even with a silk 
dress. At present they are only worn by children, or, 
if used by ladies, only to serve the temporary purpose 
of neatness, and not an ornamental part of their gen- 
eral costume. 


are an expensive and necessary part of a lady's equip- 
ment, but they have not, from the nature of things, 
been subjected to the same changes as have other arti- 
cles of dress, except as to improvement in color and 

DSSSS. 141 

The buttoned gloves worn in full dress were not so 
common a few years ago as they are now. 

When children and young misses all wore short 
sleeves, there were long kid gloves which could be 
drawn up above the elbow ; for school-children these 
long gloves were made of "nankeen." For weddings 
and parties, long kid gloves reached half way to the 
elbow, and were trimmed with lace, swan's-down, or 
quilled satin ribbon ; when they were not worn so long, 
then buttoned gloves came in fashion. 

Silk gloves and mitts were in more general use for- 
merly than they are at present. As long ago as in the 
past century they were worn of colors selected to match 
the rest of the dress. 

We copy the following advertisement from a news- 
paper published in 1773 : 

Women's silk and worsted gloves and mitts. 

" white and purple kid " " " 

" purple " " " 

" crimson " " " 

blue " " " 

" black " " " 

white " " " 

" cloth-coloured " " " 

This last-named color is as much a puzzle to us as 
some of the fancy names which are now given to various 
colors may be to those of the next generation. 


A work-bag, or reticule, carried on the arm, was at 
one time fashionable ; the article itself seems to be 
revived at this present time, but it is now most fre- 
quently worn appended to the waist, upon the belt. 


Bead-bags were made of canyas entirely beaded over 
in designs of flowers, etc. ; others were of velvet, silk, 
or of cloth to match the rest of the dress. 

These bags were used for the ppcket-handkerchief, 
instead of a pocket in the dress ; perhaps they also held 
the snuff-box when that habit was indulged in. 


If there was much jewelry worn by the young men 
and maidens in Flatbush before the Revolutionary War, 
there is very little of it now remaining except some 
few rings, brooches, and the knee- and shoe-buckles 
which formed so important a part of the gentlemen's 

The jewelry worn in New York in 1770-1780 may 
be judged from the jewelers' advertisements, one of 
whom speaks of himself as " the only real Maker in this 
city of Ladies Sett Shoe buckles. Ear rings. Egrets, 
Sprigs and hair pins. Seals, Necklaces, Combs, Crosses 
and Lockets, Sleeve buttons and Braslets, etc. Gen- 
tlemen's Setts shoe, knee, and stock buckles, Seals, 
Brooches, Buttons and rings. The above articles done 
in the neatest and best manner and sold as cheap as in 
London, wholesale or retail." 


There is in this present day an improvement in the 
covering worn upon the head. Hats and bonnets are 
more tasteful and pretty than those formerly worn. 
For children the Normandy cap is comfortable and 
child-like, as also are the round straw hats worn in sum- 
mer. The shade hats used by young ladies, and the 
stylish shapes of their dress hats, are also very pic- 


turesque and becoming. Even the bonnets of elderly 
ladies, when not overladen with trimming, are more 
tasteful than the poke bonnets formerly worn. 

When children were out at play in the summer they 
wore gingham sun-bonnets ; as these were made over 
stiff pasteboard, they were heavy and very uncomfort- 
able. A child has been many a time punished for 
throwing off these scoops in its out-door games, when 
^ the fault really lay with the parent who required the 
child to wear such an uncomfortable covering upon the 

The elaborate bonnets worn some thirty years ago 
consisted of a front piece, a crown, and a cape at the 
back of the neck ; they were varied in their general out- 
line every season — the front flared more or less, the 
crown was at a greater or less angle of inclination, the 
cape was very full and deep, or it was scant ; it was 
plain, or it had frill trimming. The face trimming in 
these fanciful results of the milliner.'s art was an elabo- 
rate semicircle of lace, ribbons, and flowers. There 
were generally tabs of lace against the cheeks, and flow- 
ers above the forehead; or there were lace and flowers 
intermingled at the sides, and bows of pink, blue, or 
yellow ribbon above, like the keystone uniting the arch. 
These bonnets met under the chin, and were tied there 
with broad ribbon, but, in some of the senseless changes 
of fashion, were worn so far back upon the head that 
the strings were useless ; the bonnet almost rested upon 
the back of the neck, and if it was not apt to drop off, 
it had at least that appearance. 

There is a picture of Queen Victoria in one of these 
large bonnets, of the style when they were drawn for- 
ward over the face. 


On or about 1835 a covering for the head, known as 
a caleche, was much worn while walking or driving. 
These were somewhat in shape of a gig-top. They were 
made of reeds covered with silk ; black was the color 
for elderly ladies, green for young ladies ; they were 
lined with white. When laid aside, ihey were perfectly 
flat ; when worn, they were drawn forward over the face 
with a ribbon fastened on both sides .about three inches 
from the top, which was held in the hand. 

A writer in " Scribner's Magazine " for August, 1879, 
on New York fashions in 1814-1830, says : " Chip and 
Leghorn bonnets were the favorites for summer wear. 
Twenty dollars, or even more, were paid for an un- 
trimmed Leghorn bonnet. But then we expected a 
nice thing, once bought, would last a long time ; our 
bonnets were done over and retrimmed, and came out 
again as good as new next season — or, if we were of a 
frugal mind, for several seasons. 

". . . . Merino or raw-silk underwear, or anything 
resembling it, had not yet been heard of. 

" . . . . Merino long shawls, with a broad border at 
the ends, and a narrow one along the length, came up 
during the war, and were considered a part of a nice 
toilet. At first they were white, but black and scarlet 
soon appeared. 

" Tortoise-shell combs and thread-lace were among 
the desirable possessions of ordinarily well-dressed peo- 
ple ; of jewels we heard but little. A person had a set 
of pearls, perhaps, or sometimes you saw a ruby or a 
diamond finger-ring, but precious stones of a high rank 
were very infrequent, " 

Water-proof cloaks, whether of the rubber silk or 
the water-proof cloth, were unknown until within the 

DRESS. 145 

last twenty years. They are now almost a necessary 
part of a lady's outfit, and we hope there may be some 
significance in the fact that these modern inventions of 
women's wear are in the direction of the comfortable 
and the useful. 

The long trains and tieback style of oYerskirt which 
are at present worn may soon be followed by some other 
absurdity ; but it is, at least, a cause for congratulation 
that that which is fantastic and arbitrary does not re- 
tain its hold as long as that which is natural and grace- 

Now that intercourse between this country and Paris 
is so easy and frequent, the fashions of France are 
adopted almost as quickly here as they obtain favor 

In the beginning of this century, instead of the 
fashion-plates, with their full directions as to the changes 
in costume, a doH was dressed in Paris in the height of 
the prevailing mode, and sent by the " regular fast-sail- 
ing packet " to the mantua-makers lin New York as a 
model to be copied. 

As early as 1712, these dolls, dressed in the fashion 
of the period, were sent from Paris to London ; it was 
by this means that the changes of fashion were intro- 
duced before steam opened up the facilities for constant 
intercourse. We have a vivid remembrance of the old 
age of one of these fashion-dolls which had been sent 
from Paris to a fashionable mantua-maker in New York. 
When the dress had changed as to style, the dressmaker 
sold the doll to one of her customers, and " Miss Nancy 
Dawson" passed into the obscurity of humbler dollies 
who had never been sent as minis.ters plenipotentiary 
from the court of fashion. 


Let US hope that in time women -will not be subser- 
vient to the dictates of French modistes, but will select 
for themselves that which is healthful, becoming, taste- 
ful, and simple. 

To spend so much thought, time, and money upon 
the garments which we wear is a wasteful expenditure 
of time which might be better employed, and of money 
which might be better spent, especially if the result is 
the cumbersome and tasteless dress which women, in 
some seasons, have been led by fashion to adopt. 

We here insert an extract from a historian of the 
Dutch in New York, which may be of interest in this 
connection : 

" Every household had from two to six spinning-wheels for 
wool and flax, whereon the women of the family expended every 
leisure moment. Looms, too, were in common use, and piles 
of homespun cloth and snow-white linen attested the industry 
of the active Dutch maidens. 

" Hoards of home-made stuflEs were thus accumulated in the 
settlement, sufficient to last until a distant generation. . . . 

"There was a good deal of wealth and intelligence here, 
and the necessities of their occupations did not prevent them 
from devoting time to mental, social, and religious matters. . . . 

" The Dutch ladies wore no bonnets, but brushed their hair 
back from their foreheads and covered i it with a close-fitting 
cap; over this they wore, in the open air, hoods of silk or taf- 
feta, elaborately quilted. Their dress consisted of a jacket of 
cloth or silk and a number of short petticoats of every conceiv- 
able number or material, quilted in fanciful figures. . . . The 
wardrobe of a fashionable lady usually contained from ten to 
twenty of these, of silk, camlet, cloth, drugget, India stuff, and 
a variety of other materials, all closely quilted, and usually 
costing from five to thirty dollars each. 

" They wore blue, or red, or gre&n worsted stockings of their 
own knitting, with parti-colored clocks and high-heeled shoes. 


" Considerable jewelry was in use among them in the shape 
of rings and brooches. Gold neck and fob chains were un- 
known. The few who owned watches attached them to chains 
of silver or steel, though girdle chains of silver or gold were 
mnoh in vogue among the most fashionable belles. For neck- 
laces they wore strings of gold beads." 

In an autobiography of Mrs. Sigourney, she de- 
scribes the food and clothing of children in New Eng- 
land during her childhood. Her description agrees in 
every particular with the manner in which the children 
on Long Island were trained during the same period. 
We prefer to give her words, rather than our own, for 
we could not reproduce a more perfect picture of house- 
hold life such as it was with us than that which she 
shows us of her New England home : 

" The diet allotted to children in those daya was judicious 
and remarkably simple. Well-fermented and thoroughly baked 
bread of the mingled Indian and rye meal, and rich, creamy 
milk were among its prominent elements. I never tasted any 
bread so sweet as those large loaves, made in capacious iron 
basins. Light, wheaten biscuits, delicious gold-colored butter, 
always made in the family, custards, puddings, delicate pastry, 
succulent vegetables and fruits, gave sufficient variety of condi- 
ment to the repasts allotted us. The extreme regularity and 
early hours for meals — twelve being always the time for dinner 
— obviated in a great measure the necessity of intermediates, 
and saved that perpetual eating into which some little ones fall 
until the digestive powers are impaired in their incipient action. 
If sport, or exercise in the garden, led me to desire refreshment 
between the regular meals, a piece of brown bread was given 
me without butter, and I was content. Candies and confec- 
tionery were strangers to us primitive people. The stomach, 
that keystone of this mysterious frame, not being unduly stimu- 
lated, no morbid tastes were formed, and no undue mixture of 
saccharine or oleaginous matter caused effervescence and dis- 


ease. The name of dyspepsia, with its offspring stretching out 
like the line of Banquo, I never heard ip early years. Spices 
were untasted, unless it might be a little nutmeg in the sauce of 
our nice puddings, which 1 still counted as a foe, because it 
' bit my tongue.' When seated at the ta,ble I was never asked 
whether I liked or disliked aught that appeared there. It never 
occurred to me whether I did or not. I never doubted but what 
I should be fed ' with food convenient for me.' I was helped 
to what was deemed proper, and there was never any necessity, 
like poor Oliver Twist, to ask for more. It did not appear to 
me, from augbt that I saw or heard, that the pleasure of eating 
was one of the main ends of existence. 

" My costume was simple, and unconstrained by any ligature 
to impede free circulation. Stays, corsets, or frames of whalebone 
I never wore. Frocks, low in the neck, and with short sleeves, 
were used both winter and summer. Houses had neither fur- 
naces nor grates for coal, and churches had no means of being 
warmed, but I can not recollect suffering inconvenience from 
cold. Thick shoes and stockings were 'deemed essential, and 
great care was taken that I should never go with wet feet. 
Clear, abundant wood-fires sparkled in every chimney, and I 
was always directed, in cold seasons, to kit with my feet near 
them until thoroughly warmed, before retiring for the night." 



WEDDinrGs among the old Dutch people were cele- 
brated at the house of the bride's parents. There may 
have been instances in which the ceremony was per- 
formed in the church, but we have neve? known of 
such. It was not until some twenty years ago that a 
bridal party assembled in the church for the marriage 
service. It is now quite common. 

Furman says that the marriage fees were not the 
perquisite of the minister, but were paid over to the 
consistory. Dominie Solyns paid 78 guilders, 10 stivers, 
as the slim which he had received officially for this 
duty, this being the amount of fourteen marriage fees. 
In the account of subscriptions received for the building 
of the first church in 1660, we find an item which is ex- 
plained by this fact, viz., " 43 guilders for marriage fees." 

As far back as we have any personal recollection of 
the matter, or as we have been informed by others, the 
service Was performed early in the evening, in the pres- 
ence of the immediate relatives of the bride and groom ; 
the invited guests assembled soon after. 

A table was bountifully spread with very substantial 
refreshments, and as no expense waS: spared to entertain 
the wedding guests, the good things prepared were in 
characteristic abundance. The elderly people left at a 


comparatively early hour, but the yo.unger guests con- 
tinued the festivity until after midnight, as they are 
wont to do even at the present day. 

The office of groomsman and bridesmaid was not the 
sinecure then that it is now ; they vfeve expected to as- 
sist at the serving of the supper, to carve, to see that 
the guests were all helped, to entertain the company, 
and to feel a certain responsibility that everything went 
oil well. The cutting and giving the guests the bridal 
cake was also the work of the bridesmaids, and the 
guests all expected to be provided with a piece to take 

The custom of having a large citcle of friends and 
relatives present at a wedding was very general, particu- 
larly if the choice of the young couple about to be mar- 
ried was acceptable to the parents. It was considered 
as the proper time for rejoicing and merry-making, for 
the Dutch, although quiet and sober in their family 
life, were not as austere as their Puritan neighbors ; 
they were very willing upon the proper occasion to 
throw open their houses for festivity and rejoicing, and 
a wedding was considered very emphatically as the 
proper time. 

There were no wedding journeys undertaken by the 
bridal party whose marriage was celebrated before steam 
made traveling easy and opened so many places of re- 
sort. The day after the wedding the bridal party went, 
accompanied by the bridesmaids and groomsmen, to the 
house of the parents of the groom, where the bride was 
welcomed by her husband's parents, and where it was 
very frequently the case that the festivity of the pre- 
vious day was continued. 

A great deal of visiting followed upon the occasion 


of a wedding ; at one time it was customary for the 
bride and groom to drive about on l^orseback, the bride 
upon a pillion ; the happy couples of a later date paid 
and exchanged their visits in a chaise. They were in- 
vited by their relatives and friends, and entertained at 
tea-drinkings and evening suppers in a continued round 
of gayety. 

It was customary for the bride to wear her bridal 
dress to church on the Sunday following her marriage. 
The young couple were accompanied to church by the 
bridesmaids and groomsmen, who took seats with them^ 

Some rich and handsome fabric -was chosen for the 
bridal dress, which could be worn upon other occasions, 
this practical view of everything showing itself among 
our Dutch ancestors even in their festivities. We refer 
now to the customs of the last century. As bright 
colors and rich fabrics were worn by gentlemen as well 
as by ladies in that age, it was considered a delicate 
compliment to the bride for the groom to recognize her 
taste in dress by adopting the same color in his. In 
the wedding dress to which we have referred as being 
worn in 1780, the petticoat of the bride and the waist- 
coat of the groom were from the same piece of blue 
satin damask. 

To the full bridal dress of a more recent date orange 
blossoms and the bridal veil are indispensable, and white 
must be the only color worn by the bride. 

The engagement ring which the maiden expects 
from her lover in this age was not looked for in the 
last century, or it was loft optional as to whether it 
should be given or not. A gold ring was generally a 
wedding gift, although it was not used in the ceremony 
of the Dutch Church, 



There are certain fragrant flowers which have be- 
come associated with funerals from their constant use on 
such occasions ; we are sometimes inclined to turn away 
from them for the painful memories they bring. Still, 
the custom of placing floral offerings upon the coffin 
and on the grave is a very beautiful one, and it is to 
be regretted that, from their indiscriminate profusion, 
the sentiment that might be expressed is so frequently 
lost. Equally at the funeral of the aged saint and 
the little child, we find the cross, the anchor, the harp, 
or the crown, and these emblems of love, hope, faith, 
and victory have nearly lost their significance in their 
promiscuous use, and are too often objects of display 
rather than touching tributes of affection. But the 
practice of sending flowers as gifts in memoriam at the 
time of a funeral is so touching and beautiful that, even 
when carried to excess, it is like some lovely but un- 
trimmed vine, over which we express regret, not at its 
existence and growth, but rather that its wasteful luxu- 
riance has not been pruned and trained, so as to be kept 
within its proper limit. 

There was a custom which formed part of the fu- 


neral preparations of the last century that was as baneful 
as this practice of sending flowers is beautiful, and 
which grew in proportionate rankness, like the noxious 
growth of some poisonous weed. We have reference to 
the amount of liquor provided by the family of the de- 
ceased at the time of a funeral. It seems almost incred- 
ible now that it should ever have been done, so entirely 
has the custom passed away, leaving nothing but the 
tradition of its existence and the corroborating bills 
among the items of funeral expenses. 

When the country was thinly settled, and friends and 
relatives came from a distance to pay the last tribute of 
afiEection to the dead, some refreshment was necessary 
for them, and thence arose the custom of setting a table 
and preparing a bountiful supply of provisions for such 
as lived at a long distance. There was the free use of 
liquor on all occasions at that period"; the decanter was 
always filled on the sideboard, and it was considered 
inhospitable not to offer it to visitors. We need not 
wonder, then, that it was abundantly offered on wedding 
and funeral occasions. 

The following is an exact copyfof a bill of certain 
funeral expenses of a wealthy and highly respected resi- 
dent of Flatbush, whose death occurred in 1789 : 

An account of Funeral Expenses of P. L , Esq. 

20 gallons good wine. 
2 " spirits. 
1 large loaf of lump sugar. 
\ doz. nutmegs, 
i groB long pipes. 
4 lbs. tobacco. 

IJ dozen of black silk handkerchiefs. 
6 loaves of bread. 


Probably the bread referred to was wheat bread pur- 
chased for the occasion ; the rye bread was baked in the 
house at the same time that the other provisions were 
made ready. 

It is certainly significant of a marked change for the 
better that while in 1789 such articles were deemed ab- 
solutely necessary and respectable, not a single item on 
that bill would be called for on a similar occasion by 
those of the same social status at the present date. 

It has been said that the very choicest wines were 
held in reserve for funeral purposes. 

The funeral services were never held in the church 
in the past century, and rarely until after the middle 
of this ; but always at the late residence of the de- 

Upon the occasion of a death in the family, the sex- 
ton of the church was immediately sent for, and to him 
,was committed the business of inviting the friends to 
the funeral. He went from house tO house and person- 
ally gave an invitation to every family. If any one was 
known to be seriously ill, the distant approach of the 
sexton, as he proceeded on his melancholy errand, was 
as certain an indication of death as if he had already 
announced the summons to the funeral. 

The news of a death and the invitation to friends at 
a distance were generally given through the assistance of 
the neighbors. Two or three young men volunteered 
for this purpose, and divided between themselves the 
routes through the different county towns to which 
they were requested to drive and deliver the announce- 

After the funeral a notice of the death was inserted 
in the weekly newspapers, there being no daily papers 


taken by the people in the country. The daily distri- 
bution of morning and evening papers is part of the 
progress of the last twenty years. 

There was at that time no undertaker prepared to 
furnish all the requisites for a funeral. The cabinet- 
maker was called upon to make a coflBn, and he came to 
measure the dead for that purpose. Some woman in 
the neighborhood was expected to make the shroud, if 
it was not in the house, ready made years before, as was 
often the case. This may seem remarkable, but it is 
nevertheless strictly true that most persons having 
reached middle life felt it to be their duty to see that 
they had a shroud made, so that in case of their sickness 
or sudden death their family would not be obliged to 
have it made in haste for them. We have known persons 
to have a shroud laid by for so many years that it be- 
came so discolored and yellow by ageas to have it thrown 
aside and replaced by another. 

The announcement of death in a house by a drapery 
hung upon the door-bell, of white for a child and of 
black for a grown person, was not customary until a 
recent period. 

Funerals were very generally attended, to show re- 
spect to the deceased, so that the houses were on these 
occasions much crowded. On the morning of the funer- 
al, chairs were carried in from the houses of the fam- 
ilies living near, to seat the numerous relatives and 
friends who were expected. Long after the services of 
the undertaker provided the necessities in other direc- 
tions, the chairs were supplied by the neighbors, for 
the convenient camp-chairs which now it is a portion 
of the undertaker's duty to provide were then not 


Neither the casket nor the oblong burial-case, with 
its heavy silver handles and rich mounting, was then 
in use. The coffins of those primitive days were more 
in the shape of the human frame, broad at the shoul- 
ders and tapering toward the foot. The pall-bearers, 
of whom there were eight, and who Vere usually friends 
of the same age as the deceased, carried the coffin out 
to the hearse, and from the hearse to the grave ; now, 
the coffins being so much heavier, that worli is per- 
formed by paid assistants. In case of the death of elder- 
ly persons, white linen scarfs contaii^ing three yards of 
linen were presented to the pall-bearers. When scarfs 
were not presented, the gift consisJ;ed either of black 
gloves or black silk handkerchiefs. The clergyman 
officiating at the burial service, and the family physi- 
cian who had been in attendance, were included in the 
number of those who received these gifts. 

Not only were the ladies of the family clothed in 
crape upon the death of a friend, but the gentlemen 
wore heavy bands of crape upon their hats. This was 
not, as now, merely a close-fitting band, but, after en- 
circling the hat from crown to brim, a long piece of the 
same was left hanging to reach almost to the shoulder. 
As time passed on this was shortened by pinning it into 
a fold at the back, which fold stood out at a right angle 
to the hat, and, finally cutting off all superfluous length, 
it appeared only as the band of crape at present worn. 

Interments were usually made tbe third day after 
death, as the preserving of the body on ice was not then 
practiced. A bier was used to carry the dead when the 
funeral was not too far from the village graveyard. 

There was a strange, superstitious custom said to 
have been prevalent generations sincfe. It has only sur- 


vived in its practice among the colored people in this 
neighborhood at the present day. All the looking, 
glasses in the house were carefully povered at the time 
of a death in the family. It is within the memory of 
those now living that this has been idone. 

There was another superstitious custom of which we 
have heard, but, as it was told by one who has since 
died at a great age, there is no means of ascertaining if 
it was very general, and how long ago it existed. For 
those who owned many hives of bees, it was usual, in 
case of a death in the family, to knock on the hives 
and inform the bees of the fact, "lest," said the nar- 
rator of this superstition, " the bees should leave." 

It has been said, also, that a coiBn was never placed 
near a mirror ; but this may have been an individual 
rather than a general superstition. The diffusion of 
light and knowledge has driven these old notions skulk- 
ing into the dark corners where they properly belong, 
and it is difficult now to trace them distinctly, even 
in their outlines. 



Dr. Strong says that in 1698 a document was pre- 
pared containing certain laws and ordinances, among 
which were regulations and restrictions in regard to in- 
terments in the church, a practice which seems to have 
been quite general. Those whose friends could afford 
to incur the extra expense connected with this privilege 
were laid to rest beneath the church in which they had 

"This accounts," says Dr. Strong, "for the fact 
that the graveyard contains so few tombstones of ancient 

The custom of burying the dead under the church 
was common formerly in Holland .as well as in Eng- 
land ; the Dutch settlers had therefore a precedent in 
the usage of their fathers for placing their dead within 
the inclosure of their place of worship, but they had 
also an additional reason for doing so in the security it 
afforded them at that period from molestation ; the In- 
dians were said, we know not with how much truth, 
not infrequently to disturb the graves. 

There are very few tombstones which bear the date 
of Revolutionary times, because this part of the country 
was in a very disturbed state, and it was difficult to ob- 
tain the brown stone slabs which were then used. 


Long ago the consistory refused permission to dis- 
turb the ground immediately surro:unding the church, 
on account of the bones which were disinterred in do- 
ing so, for the graves are far more numerous than the 
gravestones in this old burial-place, and the irregular sur- 
face of the ground indicates many an unmarked grave. 

More recently the consistory resolved to refuse per- 
mission for interments in any part of the ground ; ex- 
ception was only to be made in case of elderly persons 
whose relatives were sleeping there, or for whom vacant 
spaces had been reserved at their own request. 

A substantial iron railing has replaced the wooden 
fence which formerly inclosed the graveyard, and it is 
kept in good order. The weeds are not allowed to 
grow, or the grass to cover the mounds in tangled 
masses, as is sometimes the case in old burial-grounds. 

This churchyard has been enlarged from time to 
time, as the passing away of successive generations re- 
quired more room, but it would not now be desirable to 
change its limits, as most of the Platbush families have 
purchased plots in Greenwood Cemetery. 

There are no monuments in this graveyard expres- 
sive of a desire for ostentatious display, and no inflated 
epitaphs upon the old tombstones exaggerating the vir- 
tues of the deceased. It is noticeable that a large ma- 
jority of these tombstones only give the name and 
age of those who sleep beneath ; sometimes this is so 
worded as to express a belief in immortality, or to the 
inscription is added some simple expression of faith 
and hope. There is a certain solemnity about these 
old Dutch words, a dignity that is impressive ; it may 
be the reflection of the graves which they overshadow, 
or it may be that the silence of the long years since 


they were the written or the spoken language invests 
them with the somber grace and tenderness whicli char- 
acterizes the record of that which ias for ever passed 

" Hier leyt begraven" (" Here lies buried ") are the 
simple words that precede the name, and then the age 
follows ; or the wording is this: " Hier leydt het stofEe- 

lyk deel " (" Here lie the earthly remains of "). 

Sometimes the expression is, " Hier rust het lighaam" 
("Here rests the body") ; or it is thus: "In den Heere 
ontslapen " (" Sleeping in the Lord "). 

These words, simple and unaffected, seem a pleasing 
contrast to the pompous eulogies and epitaphs which 
are so often found engraven on tombs. 

" Gedachtenis," in remembrance, from gedacht, 
thought, is a word which frequently appears on these 

The birth and death of a young girl are thus ex- 
pressed : 

Zy kwam in de waereld . Zy es wader uyt verhuys- 

den . She came into the world (date) ; she removed to an- 
other home (date). 

The ugly skeleton heads and croSs bones which may 
be found in some old graveyards are not found here, but, 
instead, upon nearly every stone are carved a head and 
wings, supposed to represent a cherub ; more crude and 
grotesque representations it would be difficult to find. 

Time, for so many years weaving through long sum- 
mers her green coverlet over the beds of the silent 
sleepers, has also been slowly hiding these hideous faces 
under her mosses and lichens, until they seem to ap- 
peal, through their very indistinctness, to our forbear- 


anoe. So we will not criticise thje skill that carved, 
but acknowledge the love that decorated with tender- 
ness, a memorial to the husband or to the "huys- 
vrouw " who here in " den Heere ontslapen." 

Some of the inscriptions are scarcely legible from 
the crumbling of the brown stone and the growth of 
moss and lichens upon the lettering. 

The following are copies of the Dutch headstones. 
Should mistakes appear, they mustibe attributed to the 
defacement of time upon the yielding surface of the 
gravestones : 

Hier leyt begraven het lighaem von Hendrick Saydam, 
overleden den O" July 1805 oude zynde 73 jaren, 3 m., en 
20 d. 

Hier is begraven liet lighaem von Adrieantie Hubbard 
Huyavrouw vou de overleden Adriaen Voorhees, overleden de 
23"° dag von July 1810. In het 80 Jaar haar levens. 

Hier leyt het lichaein von Gerrit Leflfert8 overleden den 14 
May 1773. . . . [illegible]. 

Hier leght t' lighaain von Rebecca Emons huysvrouw von 
Hendrick Suydam geboren 1729. Sept. . . . overleden Oct 

Hier leyt Begraven t' lighaam von Englebert Lott, Sen. 
Overleyden de 17 daag von Nov. 1779. . . . Out synde GO jaar. 

Hier leydt begraven het lighaam van Marytie Ditmas huys- 
vrouw von de overleden Englebert Lott, Sen. overleyden de 27 
dag von April 1797. 

Hier leyt het Lichaara von Abraham Lott Overleden op 
den 29 July 1754. In t' 70. . . 

Hier leyt begraven het Lichaam von Hendrick Suydam over- 
leden den 16 May 1792 oudt zinde 60 Jaaren 3 maanden en 7 
dagen. > 

Hier rust het lighaam von Maria Amermon huysvrouw von 
Hendrick Suydam, geboren May 29, 1755 overleden Nov. 14 
1795 out synde 40 jaaren 5 maanden, 16 dagen. 


Hier Kust het lighaain von Leffert Martense geboren in het 
jaer 1725 den 17"" Janunare. Overleden den 6''' September 
1802 oudt synde 77 Jaareo 7 maanden de 20 dagen. 

Hler leyt het lighaam von HiUetie Van der Bilt huysvrouw 
von Leffert Martense overleden 26 Sept anno 1779 oude zynde 
S8 jaaren. » 

Hler leydt het lighaam von Adriantie Kyder, Huysvrouw 
von Adrian Martense Es geboren in het jaar 1747 den 2 Feb. 
Es overleden den 27 May 1776. 

Hier leyt begraven het liohaam van Joris Martense, Geboren 
Mey 27" 1724 O. S. Overleden Mey 23" 1791 oudt zynde 66 
Jaren 11 maanden, en 15 dagen. 

Hler Lyt het lighaam van Rem Martense Geboren Den 12" 
von Dec' 1695. Gestorven den li"' von June 1760. Out zynde 
64 jaaren 5 maanden en 21 dagen. 

Hier rust het lighaam van Garret Martense geboren den 30 
Jannuwavy 1745 overleden den 1 June 1808 oudt synde 63 jaaren 
4 maanden en 2 dagen. 

Hier leyt begraven het lichaam von Adrian Martense ge- 
boren den 9''* December A. D. 1742 overleden den 13 March 
A. D. 1817 oudt zynde 71 jaaren 3 maanden 7 dagen. 

Hier leyt het liohaam van Jannetie Monfoort huysvrouw 
von Adrian Martense overleden den 28 dagh Oct. A. D. 1804 en 
es geboren den 27 dagh Dec. A. D. 1750. 

Hier leyt het lichaem von Joris Martense Overleden den 'i^' 
dagh von Nov. A. D. 1804 en es geboren de S''" dagh von Maert 
A. D. 1737. 

Hier rust het stofleliok diel von Philipus de son von Johannes 
& Jannetie Ditmas overleden den 20 October 1797 oude zinde 
een jaer ses maanden 13 dagen. 

Hier leydt Begraven het lichaem von Jeremyas Von Der 
Bilt overleden den 12'' dag von November 1785 oudt zynde 70 

Tot gedachtenis van Leffert Lefferts die geboren es den 20"' 
February 1723 en overleden .... oude zynde 77 jaaren 7 
maanden 4 daagen. 

Hier leyt het liohaam von Oatharina VanderVeer Huys- 


vrouw von Jacob Lefferts. Zy es overleden den 2'' Nov. en t' 
yaer 1773. . . . [illegible]. 

Hier leydt het stoflelyk deel von Adriantle LeflFerta dochter 
von Jacob Lefferts. Haar ziel zy hemels waarts heeft Begraven 
Zy leyt hier zonder pyn De ziel is in haar rust. Zy kwam in 
de waereld den 3 Maert 1761. Zy es wader uyt verhuystden 2 
Miey 1775. Memento Mori. U. V. S. 

Hier leyt begraven het lighaam van Cornelius Vanderveer. 
Geboren den 5"= Deo 1731 O. S. Overleden den 13 de Feb. 
1801 oude zynde 72 jaaren 1 maand en 21 dagen. 

Hier leyt Begraven het lighaam von Jannetie Wyckoff, Huys- 
vrouw von Cornelius Vanderveer overleden den 31 Oct 1774 
oude zynde 73 jaer .... [illegible]. 

Tot Gedachtenis van Fenimetia Vanderveer Overleden den 
3'' June 1801 oude synde 79 jaaren 7 maanden en 8 dagen. 

Hier leyt begraven het Lichaam von Cornelius Vanderveer 
Overleden de 22'"' Jan, anno 1782 Oudt zynde 85 jaren .... 

Hier leyt het lighaam von Gilijam Cornel geboren den 23"" 
Augustus 1679 Gestorven den 1"" Augustus 1754 Oude zynde 
74 jaren 11 maanden en 9 dagen. 

Tot gedachtenis von Jacobus Van Deventer overleden den 
14"" Nov. 1799 oude zynde 67 jaaren 5 maanden en 24 daagen. 

Hier leyt begraven het lichaam von Michael Stryker geboren 
den 1 March 1725. O. S. overleyden den 26 September 1807 
oude zynde 84 jaaren 6 maande 21 daagen. 

Hier leyt begraven het lighaam von Johanna Stryker huys- 
vrouw von de overleden Michael Stryker geboren den 13 Feb. 
1733 O. 8. overleden den 1 Oct. 1807 oudt zynde 74 jaaren, 7 
maanden, en 18 daagen. 

Hier leyt begraven het lighaam von Femmetia Schenek huys- 
vrouw von Peter Stryker geboren den 29 July 1740 Overleden 
den 14 Dec 1814 oude zynde 75 jaaren 4 maanden en 16 


Hier leyt begraven het lighaam von Peter Stryker geboren 
den 22 December 1730 overleden den 14 December 1814 oud 
zynde 84 yaaren 1 1 maanden en 22 daagen. 

Hier leyt het lighaam von Seytie Suydam huysvrouw von 


de overleden Evert Hegeman overleden den 11 July 1802 oude 
76 jaaren 9 maanden en 13 dagen. 

Hier leydt het Lichaam von Jan LeiFertse Jun. overleyden 
den 28 October, Anno 1776 oude zynde Iff jaer 10 maanden. 13 

Hier rust het lichaam van Jan Leflferts in den Heere ont- 
slaapen October 20 1776 oude synde 57 jaaren 7 maanden en 4 

Hier est begraven het lichaam van Sara Martense huysvrouw 
van Jan Leflferts overleden in het 36 jaar .... [illegible]. 

Hier leyt het Lichaam van Peter Lefferts overleden den 13 
March 1774 oude zynde 94 jaaren. 

Hier rust het lichaam van Peter Lellerts geboren Dec 27. 
1753 in den Heere ontslapen Oct 7. 1791. Voorbeeldig in syn 
leven heest by de welvoort van Landt, en Kerk bevorderd : en 
in syn laaste uuren (die by met lydzaamhfeyd heest vervulc) syn 
geist Godt aaubevolen in de hope van een; saUge opstandinge. 

The following is the inscription upon the brown 
stone over the grave of Dominie Rubel : 

Tot gedachtenis van Job' Casp' Kubel V. D. M. Geboren 
den 6 Maert 0. S. 1719. Overleden den 19 Meii 1797. 

In " Furman's Notes " we read that there is in this 
graveyard a tombstone of some Helen Vanderbilt, the 
wife of a Martense, which cost £10, a sum at that time 
equal to the year's salary of the county clerk of Kings 
County. We have found nothing that answers to this 
description, unless it be the following : 

Hier leyt het lichaam von Hilletie VanD'Bilt, huysvrouw 
van Leflfert Martense overleden den 26 Sep' Anno 1779 oude 
synde 58 jaar. 

This is, however, only a neat granite headstone, with 
nothing to indicate that it was costly, unless it might 
be that, at that period, gray granite slabs were rare. 
All the old tombstones are of bro^n stone ; some of 


the older ones slowly disintegrate, so that it is difficult 
to trace the letteiing ; others split lengthwise. Time 
has set his strongest workman here ; the winter rain- 
drops lodge in the crevices, and the hammer of tlie 
frost king enters after them. These old memorials will 
not much longer withstand the defacement ; they are 
yielding to Time the conqueror, more slowly, but none 
the less surely, than those whose names they vainly 
strive to commemorate. We give a few inscriptions in 
English of a later date. 

There are four large white marble tombs in this old 
graveyard, two of which are over the graves of John 
Vanderbilt and his wife, and two are over the graves of 
his daughter and son-in-law, N. R. Oowenhoven. 

On the tomb of John Vanderbilt, who died in 1796, 
in the fifty-seventh year of his age, is the following in- 
scription : 

He was a merchant of distinguished probity, a real patriot, 
an affectionate relative, a sincere friend, and a worthy man. 
Blessed with affluence, he displayed a spirit of munificence in 
promoting the interests of his country, of religion, and virtue. 
The moderation and conciliatory disposition which accompanied 
and conducted his virtues secured him through Ufe an esteem 
almost unrivaled, and rendered his death a great loss to the 
public, and to his family irreparable. 

On the tomb of N. R. Cowenhoven is the following 
inscription : 

Sacred to the memory of Nicholas R. Oowenhoven, Esquire. 
Born April 14, ITeS. Departed this life Aug. 26, 1809, aged 
41 years, 4 months, 11 days. 

Oalm conscience first his soul surveyed 
And recollected toils endeared his shade, 
Till Nature called him to the general doom, 
And Virtue's sorrows dignified his tomb. 


Beside this is the tomb of his wife, on which the 
following is inscribed : 

In memory of Catharine Oowenhoveti, the beloved wife of 
Nicholas R. Oowenhoven, of Brooklyn, by whom her earthly 
remains are here deposited. She was born Oct. 3, 1768. Ami- 
able in manners, gentle in deportment, affectionate to her rela- 
tives, and kind to all, her virtues acquired her universal esteem. 
She long and patiently endured a complication of bodily in- 
firmities, and exchanged a mortal existence for an immortal 
life Aug. 23, 1801. 

Here lies the body of Philip Nagle, Esq. Born 1" January 
O. S. 1717, and died the 11 of May N. 8. 1797, aged 80 years 
and 4 months. 

Behold and see as you pass^by, 
As you are now so once was I. 
As I am DOW you soon will be : 
Prepare for death and follow me. 

The name of Philip Nagle appearfe frequently in Dr. 
Strong's history ; there are none of 'that name at pres- 
ent in Flatbush. 

To the memory of John Hegeman, who departed this life the 
16" of Sept. 1769, aged 66 years. This stone was erected by his 
friend Andrew Gautier as a testimony of his regard. 

Explanatory of the above, we remember to have 
been told, when a child, that John Hegeman was never 
married, and left his property to his friend Gautier, 
who, however, only reserved sufficient to erect this stone 
"as a testimony of his regard," and returned the re- 
mainder to the brothers and sister^ of the deceased, 
who were, he thought, in need of it. It was an unselfish 
act, to which we would pay the tribute of this notice. 

Beyond the western boundary of the graveyard, 


separated by the high fence, is a small inclosure not 
much larger than the grave itself, where lies buried a 
colored woman by the name of Flora, who lived to a 
great age in the family of Mrs. A. L. Loyd. The fol- 
lowing inscription is upon the tombstone : 

Sacred to the memory of Flora, a colored woman, who died 
Jan. 5, 1826, aged 104 years. Strong faith . . . trusting in her 
Saviour . . . [Illegible]. 

Two other colored persons, Diana and Oato, are 
buried in this inclosure, who were also domestics in the 
same family. 

A small building, known as the guard-house, for- 
merly stood on the northern boundary of the grave- 
yard. Near the close of the last century, or about the 
beginning of this, some of the graves had been dis- 
turbed in this and the neighboring villages, and in con- 
sequence great excitement had prevailed ; and an act of 
the Legislature was passed in 1796, authorizing the in- 
habitants of Flatbush to establish a night watch. For 
this reason a building was erected, in which watch was 
kept for a time over new-made graves. 

In some of the adjacent towns, instead of a guard- 
house, such as was built in Flatbush, a structure was 
erected which required a dozen men in order to raise 
it, and this was placed in turn over each newly made 

After a time all cause for alarm in this direction 
abated ; the guard-house was then diverted from the 
use for which it was originally constructed, and used to 
hold the bier on which coffins were carried. 

Some aged colored people, who were supported by 
the town, were at one time allowed to live in this build- 


ing, there being no almshouse in Flatbush until 1830. 
It would seem a melancholy fate to live in a church- 
yard with a bier in the house ! 

Subsequently it was converted into an engine-house 
for the protection of the first Flatbush fire-engine, be- 
fore the present house of the company was built. 



Although, like most other country towns in this 
State, there are seasons when cases of fever and ague 
occur in Flatbush, yet it would be difficult to find a 
town of the same size in which so inany persons have 
attained a great age. In 1876 there were five aged 
couples living south of the church, each individual 
being over seventy years of age; these had always en- 
joyed good health, were all born in Flatbush, and had 
always lived there. One old gentleman and his wife 
living in this town had each of them i attained the age of 
ninety-four years, when the wife died, apparently of old 
age ; the old gentleman is still vigorous. 

Looking back through many years, we can not recol- 
lect a family in which we do not remember an aged per- 
son as being one of its members. 

"We can recall by name forty-nine persons whom we 
knew personally, each one of whom reached the age of 
seventy years, and many of them were more than eighty 
years old at the time of their deat.h. They were all 
old residents of the town, and were born, lived, and died 


The physicians in practice some 'fifty years ago were 
Dr. Adrian Vanderveer and Dr. John Zabriskie. These 
were succeeded by Dr. John L. Zabriskie, son of Dr. 
John Zabriskie, Dr. H. L. Bartlett, and Dr. T. Ingra- 
ham. The adjoining towns were included in their prac- 
tice, there being for many years no resident physician 
except in Flatbush, this village being central in the 
county and also most thickly populated. 

In Kevolutionary times and after that period the 
physicians were Dr. Samper, Dr. Van Buren, Dr. Sage, 
and Dr. Schoonmaker. Among a file of old papers we 
find some bills, which we give as being curious, and 
showing what was paid for professional skill at the dates 

The bills were evidently those of physicians sent 
for from New York in consultation with the village doc- 
tor. As the country road was at the date of visit un- 
paved from Fulton Ferry to the village, and as the wide 
river running between was crossed in a skiff or a row- 
boat, the bills for professional services were certainly not 

Mr. , Deceased, his heirs, 

To Dr. Benjamin Lindner, Debt. 

£ «. d. 

1767. Feb. 28th. To Visiting to Flatbush 2 10 

April 23. Received the above sum in full by me, 

Benjamin Lindner. 

Feb. 28th, 1767. 

Mr. ^ , Dr. 

To Dr. Peter Middleton, New York. £ «. d. 

A visit to Flatbush 3 40 

Received the above in full of all demands, 

Peter Middleton. 



To A. Bainbridoe, Dr. 
Sept. 1779. 

Visiting your husband, and consultation with £ «. d. 

Doctor Samper 1174 

Madam : Above you have your account, hope it will prove 

1 am yr Humble Servt, 

A. Bainbkidgb. 

A bill for medicine and attendance from August 14, 
1789, to April 17, 1790, in which twenty-eight items 
and visits are mentioned, amounts to £4 95. 

The date of each visit and the amount due on each 
mark the difference between the custom of the medical 
faculty at the period in which this old time-stained bill 
was presented and that of the brief summing up of the 
bills "for professional services" to-day. There seems 
to have been no regular price for each visit, but the 
amount charged was regulated by the requirement of 
the occasion. It is also in marked contrast to the pres- 
ent treatment of diseases that this bill is principally 

made up of items such as this : 

£ «. d. 

To bleeding in the arm 2 

To a purge 2 

To an emetic 2 

Etc., etc. 

Not only are the healthfulness of the village and the 
longevity of the inhabitants noticeable, but the moral 
sentiment of the community is such as conduces to the 
prevalence of virtue and good order. Great crimes in 
the past were unknown. There is no record of a single 
instance of deliberate murder, or oj homicide, among 


the old settlers in Flatbush or their descendants, through 
a period of a hundred or a hundred and fifty years,* 

Filial love and obedience have always been shown, 
and the family life has been peaceable and harmonious. 
The standard of domestic virtue has been so high, and 
the marriage relation so honored and respected, that we 
can not recall one single instance of separation or legal 
divorce, and we know of no record of such through the 
annals of the past century. 

Between man and wife there has been the exhibition 
of love and respect, the display of mutual confidence 
and kindness, and that deep sympathy for each other 
in all the cares and anxieties of life which makes the 
marriage relation a reaUzation of what God intended 
man and woman should be to each other. 

* Says Thompson, in his " History of Long Island," published 1843, 
speaking of Kings County : " In 1786 a man was hanged in this county 
for forgery, and w4a the last person executed in a community so popu- 
lous, which, considering the mixed character of the inhabitants, and 
their proximity to one of the greatest commercial cities in the world, is 
quite a phenomenon in the history of morals, while the more distant 
and prorerbially peaceful county of Suffolk hjis exhibited five capital 
executions in the same period." 

The writer of a historical sketch, published 1840, says: "E. Hub- 
bard, Esq., of Flatlands, states that he has held the office of justice of 
the peace therein for more than twelve years, and during that period 
has transacted most of the judicial business for Flatlands, Flatbush, 
New Utrecht, and Oravesend, and during the whole time he has scarcely 
had a dozen trials, and only two suits at law in which a jury was de- 
manded ; that another gentleman held the office of justice in the town 
of Graresend for eight years, and during that period there was but one 
trial by jury, and even in the case alluded to the difference was com- 
promised by the parties before the jury had delivered their verdict into 
court. Such a peaceable disposition in the people is highly creditable 
and honorable to them." 

healthfuln:^8s of FBATBUSH. 173 

It speaks well for the religious and moral sense of 
the community that entire peace and harmony in the 
household were taken for granted ; it was the normal 
condition of things. The reverse would have been com- 
mented upon as something of unusual occurrence. 

There have been aged couples who have lived to- 
gether through their silver to the date of their golden 
wedding whose love and tenderness for each other have 
been beautiful beyond expression ; there is even an ele- 
meiat of pathos in their feeble endeavors to assist each 
other in the feebleness of old age, and a protest against 
the charge of fickleness when such a feeling can thus 
outlive all outward change. 

The business men of the town have been character- 
ized by honesty when intrusted with public funds, and 
fidelity in the discharge of their duties, together with 
that steadfastness of purpose, that stability, and that 
strict adherence to what they consider right, which were 
characteristic of their Holland ancestors. Their char- 
acter was made of strong material and it has worn well. 

As in every country town there have been feuds be- 
tween separate families, and party feeling has at times 
raged to an extent altogether disproportionate to its 
cause, yet it has never culminated in violence, and by 
those not immediately interested it has been the subject 
for a smile rather than for reproof. 

In this emphatic statement of the morality of this 
people, and of their freedom from the commission of 
any crime for more than a hundred years, we have ref- 
erence solely to the descendants of the Dutch settlers. 

The old Dutch Church has reason to rejoice over the 
impression she has made upon the religious sentiment of 
the community, and the training which has led her chil- 


dren into the ways of honor and virtue through so many 

If there are those who think that this assertion of 
the morality of the Dutch is from one who is strongly 
biased in their favor, we would say in reply that it is 
substantiated by the characteristics Recorded to this na- 
tion for two hundred years. 

Says Brodhead, speaking of the Putch in the Neth- 
erlands in 1648 : " The purity of mtfrals and decorum 
of manners for which the Dutch have always been con- 
spicuous may, perhaps, be most justly ascribed to the 
happy influence of their women. 

"... With all their economy and thrift, the Dutch 
were neither mean nor sordid. . . . The wealth which 
their industry gained was liberally expended in acts of 
humanity and charity. ... Of all the moral qualities 
which distinguished the Dutch, the most remarkable 
was their honesty," etc. 

We take pleasure in recording the statement of this 
historian as to the character of the Dutch as a race, for 
it corroborates what we have said 0f them as a com- 



NEARiiT all the landed proprietors in Platbush are 
those to whom the titles of their farms have been trans- 
mitted for several generations, dating in many cases 
from the settlement of the Dutch on Long Island. 

ISTow the land is passing out of the hands of its 
former owners, the old names are disappearing, and the 
descendants of the first settlers are comparatively few. 
As long as it was possible to do so, the landowners re- 
tained their farms as such ; they were not anxious to cut 
up their beautiful fields into city lots, or to widen the 
green lanes and country roads into dusty avenues and 
wide boulevards. 

The southern borders of Flatbush bound the towns 
on which the ocean waves measure the rise and fall of 
the tides ; toward the north lies the ridge of hills that 
long kept back the ebb and flow of the tide of human 
life in the adjoining city. In past years Flatbush slept 
as quietly between the two as if the waves of the one 
could no more reach it than could the waves of the 
other. But the separating hills have been leveled, and 
the village has been awakened by the noise of approach- 
ing voices. The tide of increasing population within 
the city boundary has risen higher and higher, and has 


swept hitherward in larger and ever-increasing circles. 
The first ripple of this rising tide has touched our 
borders, and before long the sudden -rush of some great 
wave will sweep away every trace of .village life. 

Anticipating these changes, we pj-opose to show what 
the size and appearance of the village are at this present 
time, and to measure its growth since 1843, the time 
at which Dr. Strong's history was .written. The map 
attached to that history gives us the streets and houses 
at that date ; following down the course of the main 
street through its whole extent, we shall be enabled to 
note the changes which have taken place. 

We will also give such information as we have been 
enabled to obtain relative to the original ownership of 
the farms. 

Beginning at the southern boundary of Flatbush, the 
first change we meet is that in the ^highway itself. In 
1877 the road at the boundary between Flatlands and 
Flatbush was straightened, and the avenue was extended 
down to the bay. 

The irregular curves upon an old road may not be 
convenient for business purposes, but its picturesque- 
ness as it winds among grain-fields and orchards is en- 
tirely lost when it is converted into a straight, broad 
avenue, with nothing to relieve the monotony of its 
barren, dusty expanse. The level extension of the 
fields in southern Flatbush and Flatlands is very favor- 
able to agriculture ; when these highly cultivated farms 
were seen through the trees by the wayside, they formed 
a pleasant rural landscape. This effect is almost lost in 
the change recently made \ it may have been necessary, 
but, remembering the quiet beauty of the old road? we 
hesitate to call the change an improvement. The straight- 


ening of the road also changed the door-yards of those 
liying near it. At present both the old road and the 
new are open to travel ; sometimes the two run parallel, 
sometimes they blend, and sometimes they cross each 
other or are separated by the rough and unsightly hum- 
mocks left by the removal of the dividing fences. 

The land called on Dr. Strong's map " The Little 
Flat " contained two dwelling houses ; that on the east 
side of the road is marked as the residence of J. Antoni- 
des : it has since been pulled down to give place to 
the modern structure which was built by the son of the 
occupant of the old house. This family are descendants 
of the Rer. Vincentius Antonides, who was sent out 
from the classis of Amsterdam, Holland, to preach in 
the Dutch towns on Long Island in 1704. After this 
generation this old and respected name will become 
extinct in Platbush, as the present Mr. Antonides is 
the only male representative of the family. 

On the west side of the road the old-fashioned farm- 
house is still standing which was occupied by Mr. All- 
geo when Dr. Strong wrote his history. His father, old 
Mr. AUgeo, was a cabinet-maker by trade. The making 
of coffins was at that time part of a cabinet-maker's 
work, and it is said that many years before his death he 
made his own coffin and placed it in the loft of his work- 
shop. This act was significant of the fact that deatli 
had no terror for him, and that he was in every sense 
prepared for the change wliich came to him at the end 
of a long and peaceful life. The lojig, snow-white hair 
of Mr. Allgeo, and a certain peacefulness in the expres- 
sion of his countenance, reminded one of the pictures of 
Charles Wesley. Mr. Allgeo was born in 1766, of Eng- 
lish parentage, in the city of Montreal. He married a 


daughter of Mr. Antonides, and settled in Flatbush. 
His grandson, Mr. William Henry Allgeo, still lives in 
this house and works this farm, which is the property 
of the heirs of the late Hon. John A. Lott. 

On the same side of the road, north of this farm, 
stands a large house which was built by Mr, David John- 
son. After the death of Mr, Johnson, his widow, a 
lady who was much respected in the village, removed to 
Brooklyn. She sold the property to Mr. Robert Fox, 
who afterward purchased Fisher's Island, in Long Island 
Sound, and the land again changed owners. It is at 
present the property of Mr. Giroux, president of the 
Lafayette Insurance Company. 

Adjoining the garden of Mr. David Johnson was the 
residence of his father-in-law, old Mr. Parmalee, after 
whose death it was sold, and has since had various 

Newkirk Avenue was opened in 1868 upon this prop- 
erty, running from Flatbush Avenue westerly to the 
Coney Island road. 

On the corner of this and Flatbush Avenue Mr. 
Charles Baxter, of Brooklyn, erected a neat dwelling- 
house in 1870. 

North of this is a house upon the farm of Mr. Henry 
S. Ditmas, which has been through successive years 
rented to various persons. 

Adjoining is the pleasant homestead of Mr. Henry 
S. Ditmas. It stands with the gable-end to the road, 
and, judging from its appearance, it must have been 
built in or before the year 1800, as it had before altera- 
tion many of the characteristics of that period. The 
front door was divided into an upper and a lower sec- 
tion, with the circular glasses known as " buUs'-eyes " 


Born March I4,'"i850. Died September 3, 1894. 


in the upper half to light the broad hall. The slope of 
the roof also marks it as one of the Dutch houses of that 

The Ditmas family are the descendants of Jan Jan- 
sen, from Ditmarsum, in the Duchy of Holstein, who 
came to this country at an early period — about, or pre- 
vious to, 1647. His wife was Aaltje Douws. This farm, 
originally the property of Douwe Ditmas, extended 
southward, embracing the land on which Mr. David 
Johnson built his house, before referred to ; northward 
it extended to the farm of the Suydam family. We 
have been informed that the former homestead of the 
Ditmas family was an old stone house, south of the pres- 
ent residence of Mr. Henry S. Ditmas. 

The antiquated appearance of the house on the ne^t 
farm north, the home of Mr. John -Ditmas, proclaims 
at once its age. There are very few dwellings of this 
style still remaining in this county. This is a long, 
low house with a heavy roof and no front windows in 
the second story. 

We look upon these venerable .houses with respect 
akin to that which we entertain for old friends, particu- 
larly when, as in this case, and the residence of Mr. 
Henry S. Ditmas, these have been the homes of those 
who, through many generations, have been prominent 
in the church and respected in the town. 

This house was formerly the homestead of the Suy- 
dam family. The farm, after the death of Jacobus Lott, 
an early settler, was purchased by Hendrick Suydam. 
The late Mrs. John Ditmas was the daughter of Mr. An- 
drew Suydam. Hendrick Rycke, the ancestor of the 
Suydam family, emigrated in 1663 from Suytdam, or 
Zuytdam, in Holland. He married Ida Jacobs, and set- 


tied in Flatbush. Mr. Johu Ditmas built houses for 
two of his sons adjoining his own : that at the south for 
Mr. Abraham Ditmas, that at the north for Mr. Henry 

Returning to the southerly extremity of the village, 
on the east side of the old Flatbush j-oad, we find upon 
Dr. Strong's map the large adjoining farms of Mr. Ger- 
ret and Mr. John C. Vanderveer. These were both 
elderly gentlemen when Dr. Strong wrote his history, 
and they furnished him with much information in re- 
gard to the War of the Revolution. They were broth- 
ers, and were wealthy and prominent men in this town, 
and both reached an advanced age. Mr. Gerret Van- 
derveer had no sons. His daughter was the wife of Mr. 
Simon Cortelyou. The old farm and homestead have 
been sold for division among the heirs, and none of the 
descendants of this family now live upon the place. 

The Vanderveer family still occupy the house of Mr. 
John C. Vanderveer, and cultivate the farm upon which 
their ancestors settled. The present head of the fam- 
ily is the son of the old gentleman mentioned in Dr. 
Strong's history. In May, 1878, he celebrated his gold- 
en wedding, and is still happy in being able to say that 
not a death has ever occurred in his 'family of children 
and grandchildren. 

Adjoining this venerable homestead, on the south, 
is the house built for his son ; on the north is the house 
built by Mr. Henry Vernon Vanderveer, also a grand- 
son of old Mr. John C. Vanderveer, and son of Dr. 
Adrian Vanderveer. 

The Vanderveer property extended over a large tract 
of land, and the family were among the oldest settlers 
in Flatbush. They are the descendants of Comelis 


Janse Vanderveer, who emigrated to this country from 
Alkmaar, a free city on the North Holland Canal, in 
1659. He bought a farm of Jan Janse in Flatbush, and 
settled there. 

An old mill formerly stood on this farm in sight 
of the road. It was recently destroyed by fire. We 
give the history of it from the newspaper account pub- 
lished at that time. 


" Last Tuesday night [March 4, 1879], about a quarter be- 
fore seven o'clock, a fire broke out in the ' Vanderveer Mill,' 
on the farm of Messrs. John Vanderveer & Sons, between 
Oanarsie Lane and Pardaegat Pond. The spectacle of its de- 
struction was such as has rarely been witnessed, and, mingled 
with the many people of the town who had gatljered, were 
those who had been attracted for miles by the flames which lit 
the sky. The strong oak timbers stood up until the very last, 
while the shingles which covered it fell away, sending up showers 
of sparks, which, against the sky, looked like gold-dust sprinkled 
on a cloth of blue. Still the flames burned on till nothing re- 
mained but the bare timbers raising gaunt arms appealingly 
against destruction ; but the element did its work, and after a 
couple of hours had passed, that which it had taken years to 
build, and which had stood time's ravages for three quarters of 
a century, was laid in ruins. 

" It was the first windmill erected on Long Island. It was 
completed in 1804, having been begun about three years before 
by John C. Vanderveer, father of the present owner. It was 
of immense strength, the main timbers being twenty-eight feet 
high and two and a half thick, hewn from trees grown on the 
farm. The carpenter was Abijah Baldwin, Joseph Mead being 
the millwright. John Oakey, Sr., father of the present Assist- 
tant District Attorney, worked on it as an apprentice. It was 
four stories high, with a stone foundation of about three feet. 


The arms and saila were twenty-six feet long, and it had three 
run of stone. The sails were first hlown off in the famous Sep- 
tember gale of 1821, and repaired by Baldwin. About ten years 
after the sails were again blown off, since which time they have 
not been repaired, the building being used as a storehouse for 
hay, etc. It was full at the time of the tire. Wlien it was 
working, farmers came from the adjoining counties with their 
grist for the famous mUl. The view from the upper windows 
was very fine, including Coney Island, the Narrows, Jersey, and 
Rockaway, and all places within a radius of twenty miles. Dur- 
ing tlie draft riots of 1863 it was a refuge for the colored peo- 
ple of the village, and they will hold it in grateful remem- 

Opposite to the road leading eastward to Canarsie is 
the road leading to New Utrecht called "the little 

The property between this "little lane" and the 
farm of Mr. John Ditmas was the property of the 
late Mr. Jeremiah Lott. This gentleman was for 
many years the leading, if not the only, surveyor in 
Kings County. He is spoken of as such as early as 

We here give the copy of a manuscript written by 
Mr. Jeremiah Lott in 1858 by request. It is the gen- 
ealogy of the large and influential family of which he 
was a member : 

" Peter Lott, from whom all the families of that name in this 
country have descended, emigrated from Europe in the year 
1652, and settled in Flatbush on Long Island. He was one of the 
patentees named in the patent granted by Lieutenant-Governor 
Dongan in 1685 to the inhabitants of Flatbush. It is the gen- 
erally received opinion that the family came originally from 
England, but by subsequent intermarriages soon became fully 
identified with the Dutch. His wife's , name was Gertrude : 


neither the date of their birth nor their marriage is known. 
They both died in Flatbush, and the death of tlie wife occurred 
in 1704. 

" Engelbert Lott, their eldest son — my great grandfather — 
was born in December, 1654, in this country, and was settled 
at New Oastel, on the west bank of the Delaware River, about 
tliirty-five miles below Philadelphia. He was united in mar- 
riage with Cornelia De la Noy, the daughter of Abraham De la 
Noy, who was of French extraction and a resident of the city 
of New York. At the time of his marriage he owned a con- 
siderable tract of land and marsh on Christiana Creek, in New 
Oastel County, and two lots in the town of New Castel. This 
property he continued to hold for several years subsequent to 
his removal to Long Island, but he eventually disposed of it by 
deed, September 1, 1707, to Abraham Santford, John Harba- 
dink, and Jane Tuttle. Toward the close of the year 1682, 
New Castel, with the adjacent territory, became united with 
the province of Pennsylvania, under William Penn. Shortly 
after this union was eiFected, he took the oath of allegiance 
and promising fidelity and lawful obedience to William Penn, 
the Proprietor and Governor of that province, in compliance 
with an act passed at Chester by the Oplonial Legislature of 
Pennsylvania. He was on terms of intimacy and friendship 
with Governor Penn, who held out strong inducements for him 
to remain at New Castel ; but the unhealthiness of the place 
and surrounding country, together with an ejectment suit 
which had been several years depending before the Court of 
Sessions, then held at Gravesend, in the West Riding of York- 
shire, on Long Island, in which Deriok Jansen Hoghlant was 
plaintiff, and his father, Peter Lott, defendant, caused him to 
remove. In 1682, with his wife Cornelia, he came to Flat- 
^ bush, on Long Island, with a view to make it his permanent 
residence, and purchased a honse and about two acres of land 
situated on the easterly side of the road and a short distance 
south of the Erasmus Hall Academy, near the property of Tunis 
J. Bergen. In the month of December, in the same year of his 
removal, he and his wife Cornelia were admitted on certificate 


as members in fall communion of the Reformed Dutch Ohnrch 
of Flatbush, then under the pastoral charge of the Eev. Oas- 
parus Van Zuren. In 1688 he hired for farming purposes from 
the church of Flatbush a tract of land situated on the south 
side of the road leading to New Lots, and north of the land of 
John Stryker, with the salt meadows thereto appertaining, for 
the term of seven years, at the yearly rent of two hundred and 
twenty-five guilders, payable in sewant, or in wheat, to be de- 
livered at Brooklyn Ferry at the current price. In 1709 he dis- 
posed of his house and two acres of land, and purchased from 
Daniel Polhemus and Neltje, his wife, the southerly one third 
part of the farm of the Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemus, 
the first minister of the Reformed Dutch churches in Kings 
County. In 1698 he was appointed high sheriff of the County 
of Kings by Richard, Earl of Bellamont, Governor of the Prov- 
ince of New York. He lived on bis farm until the time of his 
death, which I am inclined to think occurred in the 3'ear 1728, 
at the age of seventy-four years. Engelbert Lett left two sons, 
Abraham and Johannes. 

"Abraham was born in Flatbush, Sep'tember, 1684. In the 
early part of his life he went several voyages on board of a 
trading vessel to the West Indies as supercargo, and probably 
part owner. In 1709 he was united in marriage to Catherina 
Hegeraan, daughter of Elbert Hegeman, of New Lots, and from 
that time lived with and cultivated the texja of his father, En- 
gelbert Lott, in Flatbush. Oatharina, his wife, was born No- 
vember 11, 1691, and died November 19, 1741. 

"At his father's death he became the owner of his father's 
farm, which he had previously cultivated. This farm was by 
him afterward devised to his son. Jacobus Lott, who held it 
during his lifetime, and upon his death it was sold to Hendrick 
Snydara, and is now in possession of Sarah Snydam, the wife 
of John Ditmas. In May, 1730, Abraham Lott obtained by 
purchase from the widow and children of Daniel Polhemus, 
then deceased, the northerly two thirds parts of the Polhemus 
farm, and by this purchase, with the previous devise to him of 
his father's farm, he became possessed of all the land, wood- 


land, and meadows originally patented by Governor Stuyvesant 
to the Rev. Johtones Theodorus Polhemus. 

"In the year 1743 he was elected a representative from the 
County of Kings in the Colonial Legislature of New York, and 
served in that capacity one legislative term of seven years, and 
upon his reelection commenced another term, but did not live 
to see its termination. He died July 29, 1T54. He left three 
sons, Jacobus, Engelbert, and Abraham, and one daughter, 
named Cornelia, who was married to John Vanderveer, of Ren- 
ter's Hook. 

" Jacobus Lott, his eldest son, married Teuntie De Harte, the 
daughter of Simon De Harte, and lived in Flatbush on the farm 
purchased by his grandfather, Engelbert Lott, of Daniel Polhe- 
mus, and died in possession of the same, leaving several sons 
and daughters. 

"Engelbert Lott, his second son and my grandfather, mar- 
ried Maritje Ditmas, daughter of Johannes and Helena Ditmas, 
and lived on the farm purchased by his father, Abraham Lott, 
of the widow and children of Daniel Polhemus, deceased, leav- 
ing children as hereinafter mentioned. 

" Abraham Lott, his youngest son, married Gertrude Ooey- 
man, daughter of Andrew Ooeyman, and commenced mercan- 
tile business in the city of New York, which he carried on for 
many years. He occasionally officiated as Clerk of the Colonial 
Assembly, and was subsequently appointed Treasurer of the 
Colony of New York, which office he held until the year 1776. 
He died in New York at an advanced age, leaving one son, 
named Andrew, and four daughters. Andrew married a daugh- 
ter of Peter Goelett ; Catharine was married to Colonel Wil- 
liam Livingston, and Cornelia to Comfort Sands. The two 
other daughters died unmarried. 

"Engelbert Lott, the son of Abraham Lott, my grand- 
father, was born in Flatbush, May 17, 1719, and lived with his 
father, who, when he purchased the northerly part of the Pol- 
hemus farm, removed with him thereon and continued to culti- 
vate it during his father's lifetime, and Upon the death of his 
father he became the owner thereof. December 4, 1742, he 


was united in marriage with Maritje Ditmas, daughter of 
Johannes and Helena Ditmas, who was born January 8, 1723, 
and died April 27, 1797. He was at one time the principal 
land surveyor in the County of Kings, and also held the office 
of one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas in the 
county. During his lifetime he conveyed to his son, Johannes 
E. Lott — my father — his farm in Flatlands, which he, with his 
father, had purchased of Aert WiDemse, and by his last will and 
testament devised to my father the residue of his real estate. 
Ho died in Flatbush, November 17, 1779. He left three sons, 
Johannes, Abraham, and Engelbert. His son Johannes E. Lott, 
my father, upon his first marriage removed to the farm in Flat- 
lands purchased of his father, Engelbert Lott, leaving children 
as hereinafter mentioned. Abraham E. Lott and Engelbert 
Lott, his two remaining sons, were merchants in New York, 
and continued the mercantile business until the commencement 
of hostilities between this country and Great Britain in 1776, 
and returned to Flatbush a few months previous to the landing 
of the British army in that year. Upon the capture of Long 
Island by tlie British forces under General Howe, the greater 
part of the inhabitants of Flatbush left their homes and went 
into Queens Ootmty. In this flight Abraham E. Lott and En- 
gelbert Lott were pursued and overtaken in Flushing. Engel- 
bert was taken prisoner and brought back to Flatbush, then in 
possession of the British army, and confln,ed in Flatbush church, 
but was soon set at liberty on his parole. He remained in Flat- 
bush and attended to the public business of the town and 
county, and was occasionally engaged in surveying and convey- 
ancing. While engaged on public business at the tavern of 
Dr. Hendrick Van Beuren, he was suddenly attacked with 
apoplexy, and died there, November 29, 1779, in the twenty- 
sixth year of his age, and only twelve days after the death of 
his father, Engelbert Lott. 

" Abraham E. Lott, the remaining brother, escaped from his 
pursuers by secreting himself in a cornflold, aad when they 
had abandoned the'r search he went to the shore and crossed 
Long Island Sound to the Westchester side. Thence he pro- 


ceeded through the city of New York, and, on his journey meet- 
ing with the late Elkanah Watson, they both went south to 
Edenton, North Carolina. At that place he carried on the 
mercantile business under the firm of Lott & Payne. After 
the termination of the war he was about making preparation.** 
to leave Edenton for New York, but was suddenly cut oflP by 
death before his designs were accomplished. He died in Eden- 
ton, at the house of Mr. John Green, March 4, 1785, in the 
thirty-seventh year of his age. 

"Johannes E. Lott, the eldest son of Engelbert Lott, my 
father, was born in Flatbush, September '1, 1746. During his 
minority he lived with his father and assisted in the cultivation 
of his farm, having previously received such education as the 
country schools at that time afforded. May 3, 1766, he was 
united in marriage with his first wife, Adriantje Voorhees, 
daughter of Adrian Voorhees, and moved on the farm in Flat- 
lands which he then purchased of his father. Adriantje Voor- 
hees was born September 4, 1746, and died October 21, 1773. 
By this first marriage he had one son, named Engelbert, and a 
daughter named Phebe. His son Engelbert on his marriage 
was settled on a farm in New Utrecht, near the Bath House, 
where he died, leaving a widow, four sons, and three daugh- 
ters. His daughter Phebe died unmarried. After the death of 
his first wife, Adrianlge, he was again united in marriage, Janu- 
ary IS, 1775, to Catharine Vanderbilt, daughter of Jeremiah 
and Sarah Vanderbilt. Catharine was born February 13, 1767, 
and died October 33, 1840, aged eighty-three years. 

" He lived in Flatlands, on his farm there, until the death of 
his father, Engelbert Lott, in 1779, when he removed to the 
farm of his father in Flatbush, which his father had devised to 
him by will. He was chosen one of the six delegates from the 
county of Kings to attend the Provincial Congress held in the 
city of New York in the year 1776. In the year 1784 he was 
chosen a member of Assembly from tliis county. He was ap- 
pointed the first Surrogate of the County of Kings under the 
Constitution of the State of New York, which he held with 
that of the oflSce of one of the Judges of the Court of Common 


Pleas, until his appointment to the office of First Judge of the 
Court. He held the office of First Judge from the year 1793 
until his resignation in 1801. From that time he attended to 
his domestic duties, and died August 13; 1811. By his wife 
Catharine he left three sons, Jeremiah, John, and Abraham, 
and two daughters, Maretje and Sarah. Jeremiah Lott and his 
wife and children are hereinafter mentioned. 

" John Lott, the second son, after receiving his education at 
Erasmus Hall Academy, was brought up as a farmer, and, on 
his marriage with Elizabeth Garretson, the daughter of Samuel 
Garretson, of Gravesend, in 1799, settled on the farm in Flat- 
hush purchased by his father of the heirs of Philip Nagel, de- 
ceased, and of which he became fuUy possessed on his father's 
death. John Lott died in February, 1858, in the eightieth year 
of his age. He had two sons, John I. Lott and Samuel G. Lott. 
John I. Lott died previous to his father. The other son, Sam- 
uel G. Lott, is still living, and resides on his farm in Flatbush, 
purchased of Abraham Vanderveer. 

"Abraham Lott, the third son, was also brought up and 
educated Uke his brother John, and on his first marriage, with 
Maria Lott, the daughter of Jeromus Lott, of Flatlands, in 1805, 
settled on the farm in Flatlands, of which he became the owner 
on his father's death. 

"By this marriage he had one son, John A. Lott, who, after 
receiving a collegiate education, was bred to the law, and which 
profession he diligently followed nntil he was elected one of 
the Justices of the Supreme Court. 

"Upon the death of his first wife, Maria, Abraham Lott 
married a second time, Jane Voorhees, the widow of Lawrence 
Voorhees, deceased, and daughter of Samuel Garretson, and 
then purchased the farm on which she lived of Van Brunt 
Magaw and Adriana Voorhees, his wife, and on which he then 

" Upon the death of his second wife he was again married 
to Lavinia Betts. He died November, 1840. 

" Maretje (oldest daughter of Johannes E. Lott) was born 
October 10, 1781, and was married to Jacob Van Pelt, of New 


Born February II, 1806. Died July 20, 187S. 


Utrecht, August 19, 1802. She died In 1852, leaving one son, 
John L. Van Pelt, and a daughter, Gertrude Van Pelt. 

" Sarah (youngest daughter of Johannes E. Lott) was born 
October 10, 1795. She was married February 10, 1817, to 
John Vanderbilt, and lived on the place in Flatbush where her 
mother, Catharine Lott, was born. Her husband, John Van- 
derbilt, died in 1842, leaving her a widow with three sons and 
two daughters : John, Jeremiah Lott, Abraham L., Catharine, 
and Sarah. 

" Jeremiah Lott, eldest son of Johannes E. Lott by his sec- 
ond marriage, was born October 14, 1776. At the age of 
twenty years he commenced the business of land surveying and 
conveyancing, which he followed for about thirty-live years, 
and was at one time the only county surveyor. In 1801 he was 
appointed Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of the County of 
Kings, and held that appointment uninterruptedly for a period 
of forty-two years. In the year 1814 he was the member of 
Assembly representing this county in the State Legislature. 
In the years 1821, 1822, and 18.39 he served in the same capacity. 
He held the office of surrogate, to which he was appointed in the 
year 1814, successively for the period of nineteen years. In the 
War of 1812 with Great Britain, be hel4 a OHptain''s commis- 
sion in the Flatbush company of militia. In September, 1814, 
he was called with his company into the United States service 
under Brigadier-General Johnson, and stationed at Fort Greene, 
in Brooklyn. During this time he lived on and cultivated the 
farm in Flatbush on which he now lives, and which was de- 
vised to him by his father, Johnnnes E. Lott, and which is the 
same farm which his great-grandfather, Abraham Lott, obtained 
by purchase from the widow and children of Daniel Polhemus 
in 1730, having been owned and occupied by four successive 
generations in direct lineal descent. 

"January 17, 1805, he was united in marriage with Lydia 
Lloyd, the daughter of Bateman Lloyd, formerly of Woodstown, 
Salem County, West New Jersey. 

" His eldest daughter, Catharine L. Loft, was born October 
17, 1807, and was married February 16, 1829, to her cousin 


John A. Lott, the son of Ahraham Lott, deceased. Their chil- 
dren are Ahraham, John Z., Jeremiah, Ahhy, and Maria. 

" Abby Lefferts Lott, the second daughter, was born April 
12, 1811, and was married October 13, 1830, to John B. Za- 
hriskie, son of the late Rev. John L. Zabrisliie, of Millstone, 
New Jersey. Her husband, Dr. John B. Zahriskie, died Febru- 
ary 8, 1848, leaving her a widow with five children, John Lloyd 
Zahriskie, Jeremiah L., Nicholas Lansing,- Harriet Lydia, and 
Sarah Berriea. 

" Jeeemiah Lott. 

" Flatbush, June 1, 1858." 

Mr. Lott lived to be eighty-five years of age, and to 
the time of his death he was active and vigorous. 

On the east side of the road, noi^th of the road lead- 
ing to Canarsie, is the house in which Mr. Cornelius 
Duryee lived at the time Mr. Strong's history was pub- 
lished. Mr. Duryee was in the New York Custom- 
house for many years, and so punctual was he in his 
movements that, as his gig was seen driving leisurely 
homeward in the afternoon, it was considered as surely 
the signal for the hour of four as if the clock had 
struck. This house is said to have been at one time 
the residence of Lord Stirling ; portions of it are very 
old, but the additions of after-years Jiave taken from its 
exterior appearance the characteristics of an old Dutch 

The house of Mr. Jacob Duryee was next to that 
of his brother Mr. Cornelius Duryee, toward the north. 
It was sold for division of property, and passed into 
possession of the Brooklyn City Railroad Company. 
The car stables of the Flatbush Avenue line are built 
here at the terminus of the road. This house is very 
old, and fast falling to decay. It was the old homestead 


of the Van Beuren family, none of whom are left to 
represent the name in this town. 

Dr. Strong in his history tells us that north of the 
house of Mr. Jacob Duryee once stood a public brew- 
ery. This brewery was divided into shares which were 
apportioned to the seTeral farms, and gave the possessor 
tlie right of brewing in the establishment. 

Upon the southerly corner of Vernon Avenue and 
Flatbush Avenue stands the Willink House, a hotel 
built by two ladies, Mrs. Willink and her sister Miss 
Ludlow. They proposed to make this an agreeable 
summer residence, but it was never an attractive place ; 
pecuniarily and in every way it proved a failure. 

Retracing our steps to the "little lane" on the west 
side of the road, we find upon this corner a house for- 
merly occupied by Mr. Teunis Bergen ; at his death it 
was purchased by Mr. Jeremiah Lott. 

Next northward is the comfortable, old-fashioned 
dwelling-house of the late Mr. Jacobus Schoonmaker, 
who died in 1877 at an advanced age ; his widow sur- 
vived him but two years. Their throe sons still occupy 
the old homestead in happy demonstration that the old 
adage which says that "no house is large enough for 
two families " is not always true. This is a pleasant, 
home-like Dutch house, with the gable-end to the road. 
Dr. Strong says that the timber with which this house 
was built was that taken from the court-house which 
was pulled down in 1793. The house was moved a short 
distance southward in 1879 to allow for the opening of 
a street north of it. 

The Schoonmaker family on Long Island are descend- 
ants of Rev. Martinus Schoonmaker, who was in 1785 
placed over the united congregations of Kings County. 


Joachim Schoonmaker and Antje Hussey, his wife, of 
Kingston, New York, were the parents of Joachim, fa- 
ther of Martinus Schoonmaker, who was born March 1, 
1737. He married Mary Basset, 1761, and died in 
Flatbush at an advanced age. 

Next northward is the property at present owned by 
Mr. William Matthews ; the house is rented and occu- 
pied by Dr. T. Ingraham. This waS formerly the farm 
of Mr. Samuel G. Lott. Mrs. Lott was the daughter 
of Mr. Theodorus Bergen ; she died of yellow fever, 
caught while unselfishly devoting herself to the care 
of her brothers and sisters at Gowanus during the preva- 
lence of that fearful epidemic in the autumn of 1856. 
Mr. Lott died some few years after. An old stone 
house stood upon this spot in earlier times ; it was 
pulled down to give place to the modern house at 
present standing, which was built for Mr. Lott ; the 
stone house and farm belonged to Mr. Abraham Van- 
derveer, and extended southward toward the little lane 
leading to New Utrecht, the southern portion of the 
farm being the share of the sister of Abraham Vander- 
veer, Charity, wife of Stephen, and mother of the late 
Jacobus Schoonmaker. 

Mr. Theodore Lott, son of Mr. Samuel G. Lott, re- 
sides in the pleasant dwelling-house south of what wai 
formerly his father's place. The extreme neatness of 
the house and grounds makes this a cheerful and at- 
tractive spot. 

Waverly Avenue runs westward ftom this point, sep- 
arating the land which once formed the farms of Mr. 
Samuel G. Lott and Dr. A. Vanderveer. 

The house indicated on the map as belonging to Dr. 
Vanderveer was an old-style, cozy-looking house, and 


Born December 21, 1796. Died July 5, 1857. 


stood so close upon the road that the front door yard 
formed an ellipse upon the sidewalk. 

This house was standing during the Revolutionary 
War, and was one of the oldest in the village. It was 
formerly the property of Dr. Schoonmaker, a son of old 
Domine Schoonmaker, from whom the house, with 
about five acres of land, was purchased for Dr. Vander- 
veer by his father. 

Eev. Dr. Livingston, at some period previous to 
1794, either owned or rented the house, and lived here 
for many years. 

Dr. Adrian Vanderveer, one of the sons of Mr. John 
C. Vanderveer, before alluded to, sold this property on 
the west side of the Flatbush road to Mr. Henry Lyles, 
and built for himself a large house on Vernon Avenue, 
with greenhouses and graperies attached. Being very 
fond of arboriculture and horticulture, he devoted much 
time to the cultivation of his grounds. He planted a 
great variety of trees, and the shrubbery about the house 
was selected with great care. 

Two of the sons of the Doctor, Mr. John and Mr. 
Adrian Vanderveer, have erected neat and tasteful 
houses upon Vernon Avenue, which they at present oc- 

Near the site of the old house last occupied by Dr. 
Vanderveer, Mr. Henry Lyles, Jr., built a large and 
comfortable house. After this the old landmark, which 
had antedated Revolutionary times, was pulled down. 

The well-kept lawn in front of Mr. Lyles's house 
has been planted with fine trees, and it presents a pleas- 
ant appearance. 

Mrs. M. C. Lyles was the only daughter of Mr. Sam- 
uel G. Lott. Mr. Lyles recently held the responsible 


position of president of one of the largest savings banks 
in New York. 

The house on the north side of Vernon Avenue and 
on the east of the Platbush road is the property of Mr. 
Edwin Garvin. This house, which was built by Mr. 
David Johnson, has been greatly enlarged and improved, 
so much so that it could scarcely be recognized as the 
same building. Like the march of improvement in oth- 
er directions, the old has given place to the new, with 
comforts, conveniences, and appliances which were un- 
known in earlier days. 

Before Vernon Avenue was opened this was a Van- 
deventer farm. It ran back eastward a long distance to 
the farms of Mr. Michael Stryker and Mr. Suydam. 

The old house of Mr. Jacobus Vandeventer stood 
close upon the roadside. South of it was a large pond. 
There were formerly many of the name of Vandeven- 
ter in Flatbush, but it has now entirely died out. 

North of and next to Mr. Garvin's place is the old 
house marked "E. Crommelin" on the map of Dr. 
Strong. This house is now rapidly going to decay. It 
was owned by Mr. John Hess through his wife, who 
was a Miss Van Beuren. 

It was purchased for a parsonage in 1711, and used 
for that purpose when there were two ministers, Eev. 
Mr. Freeman and Rev. Mr. Antoflides, preaching in 
the Dutch towns on Long Island. For a long time 
it was in possession of Domine Lowe. This house 
was built on a portion of the front of the Vandeventer 

The late Mr. Teunis J. Bergen erected a large house 
on his property, adjoining that in which his family had 
formerly lived for many years. That house he then sold 


to Dr. II. L. Bartlett. Afterward it passed into the 
possession of Mr. Joseph Gray, who is still its owner. 

This land, formerly owned by Mr. Tunis Bergen, 
also that on which the new house still owned by 
his heirs now stands, was at an early period the prop- 
erty of Mr. Adrian Hegeman, for piany years school- 
master in Flatbush, and afterward County Clerk in 

Grant Street is a new street, opened 1876, leading 
easterly to that portion of the village called the "Eng- 
lish Neighborhood. " This locality was thus named be- 
cause the land was purchased and cut up into lots by 
some English mechanics, who built small houses and 
settled there with their families. 

On the westerly side of the road -next adjoining the 
grounds of Mr. Lyles is the old house marked "J. C. 
Bergen" on Dr. Strong's map. There is every rea- 
son to believe that this house wais built by Domine 

Stiles, in his " History of Brooklyn," says : " In 1735 
he (Domine Freeman) purchased seven acres of land in 
Flatbush, and built a house which is still standing, al- 
though altered. . . . His only child, Anna Margaretta, 
married her cousin David Clarkson." 

The Clarkson family, during and before the War of 
1776, lived in this house, and it is probable that it came 
into their possession through their mother, the daugh- 
ter of Rev. Mr. Freeman. 

This house is referred to on page 144 of Dr. Strong's 
history. It was here that during the War of the Revo- 
lution the British soldiers found the costly wine which 
had been stored under the eaves by Mr. Clarkson. 

This, which is one of the oldest "houses in Flatbush, 


has the low ceilings and the heavy cross-beams charac- 
teristic of the houses built by the early settlers, and 
probably few have been left so entirely free from mod- 
ern improvement. 

The heirs of Mr. J. C. Bergen have had the good 
taste to leave the house as it was built, without attempt- 
ing to modernize it. ' 

Although this was the homestead of the Clarkson 
family, the name was subsequently transferred to the 
land north of the church, on which they (the heirs of 
the Clarkson family) at present reside, by the marriage 
of one of the sons to the daughter of Hon. John Van- 
derbilt, so frequently mentioned in Dr. Strong's his- 

The ancestor of the Bergen family on Long Island 
was Hans Hansen Bergen. He was a native of Bergen, 
in Norway ; he went to Holland, ^nd from thence to 
America in 1633. 

The ancestor of this family was Cornelius, born 
1761 ; married April, 1785, Gertrude, daughter of Hen- 
driok Suydam of Platbush, and resided on the farm his 
wife inherited from her father. 

The handsome new house next adjoining this old 
time-honored place was built by the heirs of Mr. John 
C. Bergen ; it is at present occupied by his son-in-law 
and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. William Story. 

The house marked on the map " D. Wiggins " was at 
that time a public-house. At the death of Duryee Wig- 
gins, the property was purchased by the late Hon. John 
A. Lott, and the house was remodeled for his eldest 
son, Mr. Abraham Lott, to whom it at present belongs. 
Mr. Abraham Lott married the second daughter of Mr. 
Bergen, whose land adjoined his own. 


This property was formerly known as "the court- 
house lot." Here stood the county court-house and 
jail, which was burned down in November, 1833. 

In November, 1693, the Court of Sessions for Kings 
County ordered that each town in the county should 
have "a good pair of stocks and a good pound," and 
that " the clerk of the court should issue a warrant to 
the constable of every town, requiring them to see this 
order complied with at their peril." 

On this lot, in front of the Jail, stood the stocks and 
whipping-post. It is thus described by a gentleman 
who still remembers it : 

" The tall post on one end was the whipping-post ; 
from this extended a horizontal beam in which were 
semicircular excavations graded from larger to smaller 
circumferences, to fit larger or smaller limbs ; the other 
half of this horizontal beam, rising upon a hinge when 
lowered in its place, fitted exactly over the lower half, 
and, when fastened down, secured the prisoners' legs in 
the rings thus formed." 

It is probable that the stocks and whipping-post 
were destroyed when the jail was burned ; there is no 
record made of it. 

The first county court-house was built in Graves- 
end in 1668. In 1686 the courts were removed to Flat- 
bush, where a court-house was erected, which was in 
1758 replaced by one which was burned down in 1833. 
The county court-house after this was removed to 
Brooklyn. This had been long desired by the inhab- 
itants of that place, and there had been for some time 
previous much dissatisfaction at the location of the 

In an old newspaper called the "Long Island Pa- 


triot," "published every Thursday at 99 Fulton Street, 
near Sand Street," we find, in a number issued March 3, 
1835, a memorial to the Legislature, "showing the pro- 
priety of erecting a new court-house,' and naming Brook- 
lyn as the only desirable location." The arguments for 
the removal occupy two columns of the newspaper, and 
it is probable that there was much excitement occa- 
sioned. We copy a few lines from the " Memorial to 
the Legislature " in favor of the removal : 

" A remonstrance against the removal of the court-house 
has been circulated in the county, in which it is stated that 
Flaibush is nearer the center of the county. The fact we ad- 
mit ; but we think the center of population of infinitely more 
importance than the center of territory — it being the people 
who attend court, and not the acres of land; and that in a 
county extending but eleven miles the center can be of little 

In 1826 a law was passed by the Legislature that 
henceforth the Courts of Common Pleas and General 
Sessions of the Peace should be held alternately at the 
Court-house at Flatbush and at the Apprentices' Li- 
brary, Brooklyn. 

In 1829-30 a law was passed empowering the Board 
of Supervisors to raise by tax a sum of money to devote 
to the purchase of lots in the villq,ge of Brooklyn, to 
erect a suitable building thereon for tlie accommodation 
of the courts of the said county. 

But in 1832, the old jail being burned, an end was 
put to any complication which might have arisen from 
conflicting interests. In the next year another law was 
passed to the eifect that the court-house and jail in and 
for the County of Kings should be erected in the village 
of Brooklyn. 


After this, as we have stated, theJand was sold,'and 
" the court-house lot " finally came by purchase into 
possession of Judge Lott. 

Near this spot is where the old Van Beuren tavern 
stood, kept as such afterward by Mr. Simon Voorhees 
for many year^. All these inns have now given place 
to family homes. The residences of Mr. Abraham Lott 
and of Mr. John Z. Lott, with neat gardens and adjoin- 
ing lawn, kept with so much taste and care, present a 
delightful contrast in their present aspect as compared 
to that which they presented when Dr. Strong wrote 
his history. 

On the easterly side of Flatbush Avenue, comer of 
Grant Street, stands the new and beautiful chapel of 
the Reformed Church, completed in 1871. It occupies 
nearly the site of the old house marked "J. Vander- 
veer " on Dr. Strong's map, near the blacksmith-shop ; 
both the house and the shop were pulled down some 
years ago. The property at that time belonged to the 
Antonides family. 

The chapel is used as a Sunday-school room and 
also for prayer-meetings. It was a costly building, and 
has been much admired. A large and graceful elm 
shaded it when first built ; unfortunately, this tree died 
and was cut down in 1877. 

Erasmus Hall Academy stands next north of the 
chapel. It is the third oldest academy in this State. It 
was built in 1786, and was incoiporated by the Eegents 
of the University in 1787. 

We here copy the subscription list for the building 
of Erasmus Hall as it is given by Dr. Strong ; it shows 
that many well-known persons, non-residents of Flat- 
bush, were interested in it : 



John Vanderbilt £100 

Peter Lefferts 60 

John Vanderbilt 50 

Gerret Martense 60 

M. Olarkson 50 

Joris Martense 60 

Aa Giles 50 

Jacob Lefferts 60 

Johannes E. Lett 50 

Cornelius Vanderveer .... 50 

James Duane 15 

Richard Variok 10 

Brockholst Livingston. ... 10 

Alexander Hamilton 10 

William Duer . . 15 

Walter Rutherford 10 

Carey Ludlow 10 

Edward Livingston 10 

William Wilcocks 10 

D. C. Verplank 10 

McCombe 10 

The money thus raised was not sufficient to defray 
all the expenditure, and the following plan was adopted 
to increase the fund. 

There was at that time a tract of land called Twillers 
and Corlear Flats, held by the inhahitants of Platbush 
in common. Consent was obtained for the sale of this 
land. The founders of the Acadeniy agreed that their 
respective proportions should be applied toward paying 
the debt. The land sold at sixteen dollars per acre. 
Fifteen hundred dollars were given toward the Academy. 
The remainder was divided among tjie property owners 
who would not relinquish their claim in behalf of Eras- 
mus Hall. Subsequently the remaining part of the 
commons was sold, and the money applied to liquidate 

Adriantie Vorhies £30 

Hendrick Suydam 26 

William B. Gifford. ...... 20 

Philip Nagle 15 

Peter Cornell 15 

Johannes "Waldron 5 

George Clinton, for any 

place in Kings jOounty. . 15 

John Jay 15 

Robert R. Livingston 15 

John Slo^s Hobart 5 

James Giles 5 

John H. Livingston 5 

Comfort Sands 20 

Samuel Franklin 10 

Francis Childs 5 

Richard Piatt 10 

W. Edgar 5 

Sampson Fleming 5 

Aaron Burr 10 


the debt, but it was not fully accomplished until 

The above account is taken from Dr. Strong ; he 
says, also, that at this time it was proposed to locate here 
the theological seminary of the Keformed Church. It 
is much to be regretted that Flatbush was not selected, 
instead of IJew Brunswick, as the site of the college and 
seminary buildings. 

In an old leather-bound book, published in Boston 
in 1791, we find the following allusion to this Academy : 
" In this state [New York] there are several academies. 
One of them, Erasmus Hall, is in the delightful and 
flourishing village of Flatbush." Coming from the 
source whence it does, the recognition of this venerable 
seat of learning, without mention made of the rest, im- 
plies some degree of celebrity. 

North of Erasmus Hall is the house formerly used 
as the parsonage of 4he Dutch Church ; this was built 
for Dr. Strong. He lived here when he wrote his his- 
tory of Flatbush. 

The land on which this house stood, however, bcr 
longed to the public school. It was sold, and when the 
old parsonage next to the church was pulled down, a 
new building, the present parsonage, was erected upon 
that land ; then this lot was purchased from the trus- 
tees of the public school by Mr. Richard L. Schoon- 
maker, youngest son of Mr. Michael Schoonmaker. He 
died in 1876. Miss S. Ella Schoonmaker, his daughter, 
now owns the house and land. 

This lot of ground is referred to in Dr. Strong's his- 
tory. He says it was a triangular piece of ground, on 
which stood three distinct buildings, joined together, 
but evidently erected at different times. In this build- 


ing the village school was held until the year 1803. Dr. 
Strong says that the oldest portion of this building was 
of stone, the subsequent additions being of wood. We 
infer, from his description of this building, that this was 
the first village school-house erected by our ancestors in 
Flatbush. As Dr. Strong gives the list of schoolmasters 
from the year 1659, we are also led to belieye that this 
old stone school-house may have dated back to that 

When this school-house was pulled down, the lot 
of ground remained vacant until, during the last war 
with Great Britain, the Government erected a gun-house 
upon it. 

About the same time, the old s'tore, still standing, 
was built by Mr. Michael Schoonmaker, and in the year 
1833 the house was built which, during the early por- 
tion of Dr. Strong's ministry, was the parsonage. 

Next adjoining the old store, a new building was 
erected by Mr. Richard L. Schoonmaker, the second 
story of which was intended for use as a public hall. 
Until the erection of the town hall, this room was used 
for purposes of entertainment, business assemblages, etc., 
and was found very useful for any public gathering. It 
was known as Schoonmaker's Hall. 

The upper story of this building'has for many years 
been rented as a Masonic lodge to the large and highly 
respected body of Freemasons in Flatbush. 

On the east side of the road, near the corner of what 
is now called East Broadway, formerly stood one of 
those long, low, old-time houses such as we have already 
alluded to as being in the Dutch stylg of architecture of 
the past century. 

There were half-doors, with round glasses in the up- 


per half to light the room into which the front door 
opened. A large linden-tree stood upon the sidewalk 
before the door, shading the long stoop. A side view of 
this house may be had in the picture of the Dutch 
Church taken for Dr. Strong's histofy. 

This house, soon after the settlement of Flatbush, 
belonged to the Waldron family. The last of the name, 
being an old bachelor, left it to his nephew, John Fish, 
who married a daughter of Peter Strycker, from New 

Mrs. Fish's sister, another of the Strycker family, 
took her niece to live with her. This niece, to whom 
she left this property, married Mr. Michael Nefus. The 
descendants of this family have left the village, and the 
house has since been partly taken down and partly con- 
verted into an addition to the large store built upon the 
corner of this street by Mr. Kandolph, who at one time 
held it as a large grocery store. It has now been rented 
as an apothecary shop. There are one or two smaller 
shops between this and the building known as " Schoon- 
maker's Hall," so that this corner of the street does not 
present a vestige of its former appearance. 

The liberty-pole, near the site of a former one which 
was erected at the close of the war, may also be seen in 
the picture of the old Dutch Church, where the two 
roads cross each other. 

This liberty-pole was raised when Henry Clay ran 
for President. It was taken down some years after, to 
prevent accident in case of its falling, as it was in a de- 
cayed state. 

To return to the west side of the street : next, south 
of the two houses built for his sons, stands the late resi- 
dence of Judge John A. Lott, in which his widow still 


resides. It is spoken of in Dr. Strong's history as being 
at that time (1842) a new house, built on the spot where 
once stood the " long, gloomy, but time-honored house 
of Barent Van Deventer." 

On this same lot at one period was a building erected 
by Abraham Vanderveer, and used as a grocery store 
and post-office. 

Judge Lott died here in the summer of 1878. We 
here insert a sketch of his life, takeri from the " Chris- 
tian Intelligencer" of July 25, 187& : 

" John A. Lott was born February 11, 1806. His preparatory 
education was obtained at Erasmus Hall Academy, in Flatbush, 
and when about twenty years of age he entered Union College, 
from which he graduated with high hohor. He studied law 
with Henry E. Warner, Esq., of this city, at the time a distin- 
guished member of the bar. After practicing a short time in 
this city he formed a partnership with the Hon. Henry 0. Mur- 
phy, and transferred his office to Brooklyn. Judge John Van- 
derbilt was afterward admitted to the firm, which became the 
leading one in the city and county. The firm, Lott, Murphy & 
Vanderbilt, was well known throughout the country among the 
profession, and was held in the highest esteem. It was for 
many years a famous office, and one of the chief centers of local 
political movements, and also influential in State aflfairs. In 
those days, when there was not, as at present, a body of irre- 
sponsible, vicious voters, who could be bought, sold, and deliv- 
ered, the political conflicts in the State were campaigns in a war 
of giants. In those conflicts this powerful firm was often con- 
spicuous, and for many years the chief combatants. Their legal 
business was very large, and included cases of the highest im- 
portance. Judge Lott applied himself wijh untiring energy and 
devotion to the business of his profession, and soon took his 
place among the foremost lawyers of the State. His great 
knowledge of the law and his strict integrity led to his election 
as County Judge in 1838, an office which was held for four years, 


during a part of which time, in 1841, he fras also a member of 
the Assembly. In 1842 he was elected to the State Senate, in 
which he served for four years with great ability. He then re- 
turned to the practice of his profession, to which he devoted 
himself with great earnestness and assiduity, and became one of 
the leaders of the bar, especially in cases involving large inter- 
ests and requiring the most profound and accurate knowledge of 
the law. He was a great lawyer. In 1857 he was elected a 
Judge of the Supreme Court, to fill the unexpired term of Judge 
Kockwell, and when the four years of the term had passed, so 
general was the confidence of men of all parties in his integrity 
and ability, that he was reelected without opposition for a full 
term of eight years. In 1869 he was elected a Judge of the 
Court of Appeals, the highest court of the State, to fill an unex- 
pired term, and not long after, when a Commission of Appeals 
had been authorized to clear away the enormous accumulation 
of cases in this court, he was made the Chief Commissioner, an 
office which was held until 1874 or '75, 'wlien the commission 
expired by limitation. In the election of 1869 signal proof of 
the popular confidence was afforded in the remarkable fact that 
he ran ahead of his ticket, when usually the vote for a judge is 
smaller than that for other candidates, the interest in such ap- 
pointments being less general, 

" Within a short time Judge Lott resigned as a director of 
the Atlantic Bank, Brooklyn, and at the time of his death was 
President of the Long Island Bible Society, a trustee of Rutgers 
College, a member of the Board of Domestic Missions of the 
Reformed Church, the president of the Long Island Safe Deposit 
Company, the president of the Flatbush Gas Company, presi- 
dent of the Village Board of Improvement, director of the Nas- 
sau Insurance Company and of the Long Island Insurance Com- 
pany, a director in the Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad, of 
which he was president during its construction, a work that 
was completed without a single lawsuit in connection with the 
purchase of the right of way, all concerned accepting his judg- 
ment and relying upon his integrity. He was also a trustee and 
the treasurer of the venerable Erasmus Hall Academy. Although 


beyond three score and ten years, the duties of these various re- 
sponsible positions were performed by him regularly, promptly, 
and vigorously. Indeed, at every meeting he was a source of 
life and movement. 

" During this long and eventful career Judge Lott was dis- 
tinguished for intellectual power, thoroughness, decision, but 
especially for integrity and industry. His application was won- 
derful ; it was a devotion to the work in hand, prompted and 
maintained by a conscientiousness of remarkable strength and 
constancy. Judge Lott was a great man, a great lawyer, a great 
judge, whose decisions will stand unchallenged, but he was espe- 
cially great as a man of the highest integrity in thought, pur- 
pose, and action. His was the greatness of goodness. This led 
him to put his whole strength upon any work intrusted to him. 
A sense of duty, a consciousness of the responsibility resting 
upon him, impelled him to master all the facts and all the law 
of any case, however trivial, committed to his care. As a judge, 
though sometimes brusque and even harsfi, he was noted for the 
dispatch of business. He made the attorneys work hard, but he 
worked harder than any of them. So strictly upright himself, 
he had no patience with those who were untrue, or unfair or 
given to tricks, and sometimes on the bench manifested his con- 
tempt for lawyers guilty of sach faults. But to men of charac- 
ter and sincerity, though sometimes abrupt, he was always fair 
and respectful, and often helpful. About twenty-five years ago 
Judge Lott became a member of the Reformed Dutch Church of 
Flatbush, by a profession of his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 
He was at the time in the height of his ability, having a vigorous 
mind sustained by an equally vigorous body. The conviction of 
such a legal mind is a proof of the powenof the truth. Before 
that one of the best of men, he had since been becoming more 
and more estimable in character. The Gospel softened asperi- 
ties, set free more and more the large and generous heart which 
had been in a degree repressed. He became active in the service 
of the Church, and in various capacities and gratuitously gave 
her work the benefit of his ability and experience. His generosity 
is too well known to need repetition here. AH the charities and 


all the institutious of the Church received liberal gifts again and 
again from his hand. He loved the Ohurch with an intelligent, 
hearty, and self-denying love, and was keenly alive to her suc- 
cesses or disasters." 

North of and adjoining the garden of Judge Lott 
once stood a little country inn, which was a favorite 
resort for families driving out from New York and 
Brooklyn during the summer, at a period when an af- 
ternoon's drive and a country tea took the place of the 
present excursion hy steam or by rail. The house is 
still standing, although it is no longer an inn as for- 

The sign, which swung between two high poles in 
front of the door as late as 1843, bore the English coat 
of arms, the same which had been there since the old 
colonial times. Although so blackened by time and 
dimmed by age as to be scarcely distinguishable, yet 
there the lion and the unicorn were fighting for the 
crown until Time, the conqueror of all things, impar- 
tially reduced them both to indistinctness. 

Where the present parsonage of the Dutch church 
now stands, there was previously an old house which 
probably from about 1711 had been the parsonage 
for all the Dutch towns ; subsequently Flatbush, by 
purchase, came into the sole possession of the prop- 

It was a long, low building, without front windows 
on the second story, and with a steep, heavy roof, after 
the pattern of the first Dutch houses. 

Dr. Strong says of this old house : " It is proba- 
ble that about the year 1698, when the first church 
was pulled down, in which there lvas accommodation 
for the minister and his family, the first parsonage 


was built. This is the south p^rt of the present 

The "present building "of that period has given 
place to the large and roomy parsonage where Dr. 
Strong lived at the time of his d6ath, and where his 
successor, the present pastor, Dr. Wells, resides. 

Dr. Strong was the pastor of this church for a pe- 
riod of thirty-nine years. As a ndinister he had the 
respect of the church ; as a true and firm friend he was 
beloved by his people ; as a Christian gentleman he was 
remarked for his courteous manners and the quiet dig- 
nity of his deportment. In time of trouble he was ever 
ready with sympathy, and the cordiality with which he 
met those who sought him for pastoral instruction 
served to bind him to them in affectionate regard. 

After the death of Dr. Strong the pulpit of the 
Dutch Reformed Church was temporarily filled by Rev. 
Mr. Howard, an English clergyman, who was at that 
time principal of Erasmus Hall Academy. 

Rev. C. L. Wells, D, D., soon after accepted the 
call to the place left vacant by the death of Dr. Strong, 
and has since 1862 been the occupant of the parson- 

Rev. Dr. Wells was preaching in Jersey City at the 
time of receiving the call, and from that to the present 
time he has been the stated preacher of the Reformed 
Church in Flatbush and a zealous guardian of its inter- 
ests. In 1878 the title of Doctor of Divinity was con- 
ferred on him by Rutgers College. 

The old consistory room, standing between the 
church and the parsonage, was built ni 1830. It was 
formerly used for the Sunday-school, for prayer meet- 
ings, and lectures. 


After the chapel was built, on the corner of Flat- 
bush Avenue and Grant Street, the use of the consistory 
room for such purposes was abandoned, and it is now 
only occasionally required, and is beginning to show 
signs of falling into decay. 

The street running east and west, and crossing Flat- 
bush Avenue here at right angles, is known on the 
east as East Broadway and on the west as Church Lane. 

At the easterly extension of this street, and of those 
parallel to it, lie some large and iinely cultivated farms 
belonging to the old Dutch families of Schencks, Suy- 
dams, Williamsons, Remsens, and Kouenhovens ; some 
of these farms extend into Flatlaijds. The ancestors 
of the Kouenhoven family (variously spelled by the dif- 
ferent branches) came from Amersfoort in the Nether- 
lands in 1630. 

The Suydams were descendants of Hendrick Rycken, 
from Suytdam, who settled in Flatbush about 1663. 

The Schenck family were descendants of Johannes 
Schenck, who settled here in 1683. The family history 
has been published recently by Dr. P. L. Schenck ; it 
is a work of much interest, and contains facts of impor- 
tance relating to the early settlement. 

Fronting southward on the corner of Flatbush Ave- 
nue and Church Lane formerly stood the house of Dr. 
Zabriskie, which was pulled down in November, 1877. 
This was one of the old landmarks ; there were none 
who could furnish a record of the time when, or by 
whom, it was built. In its heavy, sloping roof, its 
long, narrow front stoop, and the low ceilings of its 
roomy first floor, it showed the characteristics of the 
houses which were built at an early period. 

It was almost with a feeling of pain that we saw 


this old homestead pulled down ; this, that had been 
the happy home of generations dead and gone. With 
every other sign of age, even yet its hospitable roof 
showed no visible mark of decay, as if, stanch and firm, 
it would fain show itself to be faithful to the end. 

The old tree referred to in Dr. Strong's history as 
the one under which Major Lenox parted from his 
brothers stood on this corner, opposite the gable-end 
of Dr. Zabriskie's house. " When asked by his brothers 
to abandon the American cause, although the tears were 
in his eyes, he replied with Roman firmness, 'I will 
never do it.'" 

It is quite remarkable that this old tree, an English 
linden, stood erect until the centennial celebration of 
the freedom of which it had witnessed the dawn. A 
dead or dying branch was the only sign it gave of capit- 
ulation to Time, the great conqueror, until the full 
century of freedom was completed ; then, upon a quiet 
day when there was scarcely a breeze to account for its 
fall, it slowly yielded to the power pf decay, and, as if 
of its own consent, without the compulsory power of 
the external elements, it gave up it$ life and fell to the 

When Dr. Strong's history was written. Dr. John 
Zabriskie, father of the present Dr. John Lloyd Zabris- 
kie, was the head of the family in this venerable house. 
He was a man of fine physique and noble appearance. 
His tastes indicated refinement and intelligence, for he 
devoted his leisure from professional duties to the cul- 
■ tivation of music and to books. Fond of reading him- 
self, he was ever anxious to encourage young people to 
study, and he endeavored to promote a love of learning 
in the village. He was in the habit of lending out 


Born August 26, 1831. Died November 11, 1895. 


books from his private library, and was ever willing to 
direct the course of reading among his young friends 
and the children of his neighbors. 

At one of the windows in the easterly gable-end of 
the old house of Dr. Zabriskie, we distinctly remember 
seeing the grandmother of Mrs. Zabriskie, old Mrs. 
Lloyd. This was her favorite seat. She lived to a 
great age, and used to vary her daily reading and knit- 
ting by cutting pictures of fruit and foliage, which she 
frequently handed out to the school children as they, 
passing her window, stopped to say "Good morning." 
We have still in our possession a specimen of the old 
lady's skill. It was cut in her eighty-third year, and 
represents a neatly outlined tracery of twining leaves 
and branches, and is pasted upon one of the leaves of 
the old linden-tree which shaded her window. The 
motto upon it and the date — "We all do fade as a 
leaf, 1839 " — is the more impressive as the passing 
years have in their changes seen the old lady borne to 
her grave, the tree fall from age, and the house in which 
she lived leveled to the ground. 

Next to the old house, on this corner, was the store 
which was built by Mr. Bateman Lloyd in 1805 from 
the timber of the first school-house. 

We can not say if the school was held continuously 
in the same building, but it is probable that it was, and 
if so, then this timber must have been felled somewhere 
about 1660. The first school building was removed in 
1803, Erasmus Hall Academy being then the school 
which the village children attended. 

The store built from the timber of the old school- 
house was pulled down in 1825, and was converted by 
Dr. Zabriskie into a barn. 


A large and handsome house was erected by Dr. John 
L. Zabriskie, in 1876, northwest of the old homestead 
pulled down in 1877. 

Adjoining this, and within the inclosure of the same 
lawn, is the tasteful and comfortable residence of his 
mother, Mrs. A. L. Zabriskie, widow of the late Dr. J. 
Zabriskie. This house was built in 1865. 

The property on the west side of the road, from the 
Dutch church on the south to what is now East New 
York Avenue on the north, was once held entirely in 
the names of the Leflerts, Martense, and Vanderbilt 
families. Beginning at Church Lane, the present prop- 
erty of Dr. Zabriskie, as far as Mr. Clarkson's lawn, 
was in the Leflerts family. Mr. Clarkson's was the 
Vanderbilt place. From Caton Avenue to the boun- 
dary line north of the residence of Dr. and Mrs. J. M. 
Ferris was the Martense farm, one of the largest, if not 
the largest, in the village. Next was another Leflerts 
farm, and adjoining that the Vanderbilt farm extended 
as far north as the present residence of Mr. J. Lott Van- 
derbilt. The property adjoining, north of the Vander- 
bilt farm, was owned by a Leflerts family. 

No male representatives of these families at present 
hold this property, except in the case of Mr. John J. 
Vanderbilt and Mr. J. Lott Vanderbilt. The Zabriskie 
family, through Miss Abby L. Zabriskie, are the lineal 
descendants of the Leflerts family who once held that 
place. The Clarkson family, through Mrs. Clarkson, 
represent the former owner of the Vanderbilt property. 
The children of General Crooke, through their grand- 
mother, and the heirs of Judge Martense, Mrs. Ferris 
and Mrs. Wilbur, represent the Martense farm. 

The handsome lawn and grounds of Mr. Matthew 


Clarkson were, in the early settlement, the property of 
Senator John Vanderbilt. Dr. Strong says of him that 
he was a man of "great nobleness of mind, of liberal 
views, and of enlarged public spirit." He was among 
the deputies from Kings County who met in New York 
in convention, April 10, 1775, for the purpose of choos- 
ing delegates to the first Continental Congress. 

The large and showy mansion in which Mr. Matthew 
Clarkson and his family reside was built about 1836. 
The beautiful lawn surrounding it was carefully planted 
under the supervision of the late Mrs. Matthew Clark- 

For the extent of its grounds, the handsome trees, 
and the situation and size of the house, this is consid- 
ered the finest place in Flatbush. 

When the house was completed in which the family 
of Mr. Clarkson still reside, the old house was sold and 
moved by Captain Story across the street. It has under- 
gone so many alterations and improvements as to be 
scarcely recognized by those who remember its former 
appearance. A printing-office, owned by Mr. Riley, 
formerly stood on the north side of what is now Mr, 
Clarkson's lawn. 

It was occupied by soldiers in the War of 1813. It 
was subsequently pulled down and carried to Brooklyn, 
where it still forms a part of the present "Mansion 
House," in Hicks Street. 

The property of Mr. Clarkson has been separated 
from that of General Crooke on the north by the open- 
ing in 1876 of a street called Oaton Avenue, from Flat- 
bush Avenue to Coney Island road. 

We now return from the west to the east side of the 
street, beginning from the cross-road running from east 


to west beside the church. This road has of late years 
been called East Broadway, but at an earlier period it 
was known as Cow Lane, probably from the fact that 
there was much pasture land in this portion of the 

The store at this northeast corner still remains very 
much the same in appearance as it did some twenty 
years ago, except that toward the east its length has 
been extended by useful if not ornamental additions. 

An old brewery formerly stood liear where the cor- 
ner grocery now stands, upon the Stryker property. 
The Stryker homestead was a long, low, brick house, 
close upon the road. The date upon the front was 
marked in colored brick as 1696. This venerable house 
was pulled down to give place to the cottage in which 
Mr. Garret Stryker now lives. 

Mr. Peter Stryker and his wife Mrs. Maria Cornell 
Stryker, who lived in this old house, had no children. 
They perpetuated their name by giving the Stryker and 
Cornell scholarships to Rutgers College, New Bruns- 
wick, New Jersey. 

The Stryker family were among the earliest settlers 
in Flatbush. Their ancestor, Jan Stryker, came from a 
province of Drenthe, in the Netherlands, in 1652. His 
son Peter resided in Flatbush, and was one of the paten- 
tees named on Dougan's patent. 

Old Mr. Garret and Mrs. Anne P. Stryker formerly 
lived in the house next to this, which was also at one 
time the property of the Stryker family, and stood upon 
the large tract of land formerly in their possession. 

It was sold in 1840 to Mrs. Helen Martense, who 
occupied the house for some time, and then gave it up 
to her son, Mr. Jacob V. B. Martense. 


Mrs. Helen Martense and her daughter, Miss Esther 
Martense, removed to the residence of her son-in-law, 
Mr. J. D. Prince, where they lived until the death of 
Mrs. Martense, which occurred in 1875. 

Mr. J. V. B. Martense still resides with his family 
in this house. His wife was a daughter of Dr. Adrian 

The Martense family in Platbush are the descend- 
ants of "Martin de Boer," or Martin the Farmer, so 
called because he owned so large a tract of land in the 

This farm extended somewhat as follows : From 
Caton Avenue as the southern boundary to the northern 
boundary on the limits of the propei"ty of Mrs. L. Wil- 
bur and Mrs. J. M. Ferris, heirs of Judge Martense, 
deceased ; and from Flatbush Avenue westward to an 
irregular line extending as far as the boundary of the 
town of New Utrecht. 

The homestead of " Martin de Boer " was situated 
on what is now the Parade Ground. 

A small dwelling also stood on this farm, near where 
General Crooke's house now stands, which was pulled 
down when that house was completed in 1800. 

The division of this large farm to the sons was as 
follows : Kem, the father of George Martense, inherited 
the farm on which General Crooke's house now stands, 
extending from Caton Avenue on the south to Franklin 
Avenue on the north. Gerret inherited the farm from 
Franklin Avenue to a point where the toll-gate now 
stands, or nearly opposite Hawthorn Street. The west- 
erly division descended through Adrian Martense to 
the heirs of the late George and Helen Martense. The 
remainder descended to the famil;^ at present repre- 


sented by the heirs of Mrs. Story, a daughter of Mrs. 
Deborah Martense. 

The birth of the three sons of Martin Adrianse, 
who, according to the custom of the age, reversed the 
name of their father and were called Martin's sons, or, 
as it has now become, Martense, is thus recorded in the 
Dutch Bible, still in possession of the family of General 
P. S. Orooke : 

Rem Martense es geboren en et jaar 1695 der 12 Dec. 
Grerret Martense es geboren en et yaer 1698 der 24 Oct. 
Adrian Martense .... 24 Oct 1707. 

Then appears the record of the death of their pa- 
rents as follows : 

1723 den dertigste April es overladen Sara, huysvronw von 
Marten Adrianse en es begraaven den tweede dagh von Mey. 

1754, Oct 30 es onze vader Marten Adrianse overladen ende 
begraaven de erst dagh von November. 

The house adjoining that of Mr. J. V. B. Martense, 
and also the one next to that, are the property of the 
heirs of Mrs. Deborah Martense, deceased. 

The house owned and occupied by Mrs. Story, 
widow of the late Captain Story, formerly stood on the 
opposite side of the road, and is the house to which 
allusion has already been made as having formerly be- 
longed to Mr. Clarkson. 

A small farmhouse, owned by Judge Gerret L. Mar- 
tense, stood near the street on this property ; this was 
sawed into two and moved to the rear, forming barns 
for each of the two houses. It is said that Lord Stir- 
ling lived for a short time in this house during the 
Revolutionary War. 


Born February 20, 1825. Died December 16, 1881. 


A wide street called Linden Boulevard has been 
opened north of this property, running eastward from 
Flatbush Avenue. 

North of this street, on the property adjoining, 
stood the house once occupied by Mrs. Anne Stryker, 
widow of Gerret Stryker. 

This house at one time stood close upon the road, 
and was used as a hotel by Duryea "Wiggins. After- 
ward it was moved back from the road by Mrs. Stryker, 
and occupied for a time by herself and her daughter. 

It has passed through various hands, and at present 
it is owned by Mr. Voit, a German gentleman. 

The small house opposite Caton Avenue was for 
many years the property of Wilhelmus StoothofE. Pass- 
ing successively into the ownership of various persons, 
it at present belongs to Miss S. Ella Schoonmaker. 

The printing-office of the "Rural Gazette" is upon 
what was formerly the farm of Mr. John Lott. The 
building itself was at one time an inclosed summer- 
house, built by Mr. Willink within his grounds at the 
north end of the village. After the Willink place was 
sold, the editor of the " Rural Gazette " purchased and 
removed this summer-house to its present locality, 
where it has formed the nucleus of several additions 
which have since been made to it. 

The first number of the " Rural Gazette " was issued 
in April, 1872. It has the largest circulation in the 
rural towns of any newspaper except the "Brooklyn 
Eagle." The editor is Mr. Egleston ; the assistant edi- 
tor is Mr. Green. 

Diamond Street, a fine, wide street, with an as- 
phalt pavement, was opened eastward from this point 
in 1868, 


Mr. Westfall has erected a large and showy dwelling 
upon this street, near the corner of Flatbush Avenue, 
and east of the Methodist church Mr. Eust has also 
built for himself a neat and tasteful residence. 

The Methodist church was bui,lt upon' this street 
after the congregation had outgrown the small church 
in East Broadway in which they first worshiped. 

The first dwelling-house erected upon this street was 
that of Mr. Furman Nef us, son of Mr. Peter Nefus, of 
New York, 

Opposite the junction of Diamond Street and Flat- 
bush Avenue is the residence of General Philip S. 
Crooke. It is marked on the map as the house of Mrs. 
Caton. This was originally part of the large Martense 
farm, Mrs. Caton was a daughter of Mr. George Mar- 
tense, mentioned in Dr. Strong's history. This house 
was built about the year 1800 ; it has undergone some 
alterations, but not such as to materially alter its style. 

The large tree in front of the do;or is the last one of 
the four English lindens of which Mr. Strong speaks in 
his history as being venerable trees at that time. He 
says of these : "One stood in front of the house which 
was taken down to make room for the present dwelling 
of Judge John A. Lott. About the period of the Amer- 
ican Revolution a limb of this tree became broken, and 
Colonel Matthews, Mayor of New Yprk, who then lived 
on the premises, had it leaded up, ^nd it grew again. 
But after a while it was split by the wind, and he then 
sent to New York for riggers, who bound it up with 
ropes and so preserved it." 

The second linden stood opposite the Dutch church, 
on what is now the corner of Flatbush Avenue and East 
Broadway. The third was the one we have referred to 


as standing at the eastern galble of Dr. Zabriskie's house 
which fell in the summer of 1876. This, in front of 
General Orooke's house, is the last Of these four vener- 
able trees. It has been hooped and banded with iron in 
various places to strengthen and preserve it, but it be- 
gins to show signs of age. 

Clarkson Street and Franklin Street have been opened 
westward from Platbush Avenue, through the farm for- 
merly owned by Mrs. Caton, which extended at that 
time in unbroken length to what is now Franklin Street. 

Several fine houses have been erected in this vicinity, 
in the western part of Flatbush. One of these was built 
by Mr. William Matthews, who was born in Scotland. 
It presents an imposing appearance at the approach 
from Ocean Avenue, and is a picturesque feature in the 
landscape, as seen, inclosed in trees, from the south side 
of Prospect Park. Mr. Matthews's eldest son married 
Miss Gertrude Prince, a descendant of the first settler, 
Marten, the large landed proprietor who, in 1646, 
owned the farm upon which Mr. Matthews's house now 
stands. A cottage was also built on Irving Place by 
Mr. Matthews for his daughter, Mrs. Mackenzie. 

Mr. Wall, Mr. John H. Bergen, and other gentle- 
men have built cottages in this part of Flatbush which 
are now pleasantly shaded by elms and maples, so that 
for the quiet and seclusion of summer residences this 
is the most desirable part of the town. 

Mrs. John H. Bergen is a daughter of General 
Crooke, and through her mother a descendant of the 
Martense family who originally owned this farm. 

Mr. Longmire, living upon Irving Place, married a 
granddaughter of Mr. Henry S. Ditmas, to whose old 
homestead reference has been made. 


Mrs. William Robinson, on Franklin Street, was a 
member of the Duryee family, settlers in the southerly 
side of Flatbush. 

The rectory of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal 
church is situated pleasantly in this portion of the 

The land on the east side of the road, from opposite 
Caton Avenue to Clarkson Street, was the farm pur- 
chased by Johannes E. Lott, in 1799, from the heirs of 
Philip Nagle. There are no longer any of the Nagle 
family living in Flatbush. The long, old-fashioned 
house, still standing, has all the characteristics of the 
houses built in or about the year 1800. 

The genealogy of Mr. John Lott, for whom this 
house was built, is included in that of the Lott family 
given by his brother, Mr. Jeremiah Lott. 

This farm was sold for division of the property about 
1865. It was afterward cut up into lots, some of whicli 
were sold, and the pleasant rural appearance of this 
part of the town was in consequence lost. Heavy brick 
stores, red and warm-looking in summer and scarcely 
more attractive in midwinter, loom up upon the corner 
lots. They are the harbingers of the changes which in 
time must come, but which might have been for some 
years deferred. The owners of these stores have an- 
ticipated a future in which they maiy be needed rather 
than a present in which they are. 

A large brick building stands at the south corner of 
Diamond Street, and other stores, including the post- 
office, stand at the southeast corner of Clarkson Street, 
upon what was once this beautiful stretch of level farm- 
ing land. 

From the south corner of Clarkson Street to the 


south corner of Winthrop Street was a farm owned, 
probably, by Jan Aertsen Vanderbilt, about the year 
1730. The old house stood near the spot where Mr. 
Prince's house now stands. The 6rst portion of this 
sold was the twenty-five acres at the north corner of 
Flatbush Avenue and Winthrop Street, on which was 
built the old house recently occupied by Dr. Robertson. 
The remainder of the land fronting on Flatbush Av- 
enue was first sold to William GifEord, and by him to 
Charles Clarkson, father of Mrs. Matthew Clarkson, 
and, passing through various owners, has at length come 
into possession of its present proprietors. The southern 
half now belongs to Mr. J. D. Prince, the remainder to 
Mr. William Brown. The house owned and occupied 
by Mr. Prince was built by Mr. Peter Nefus, and the 
house owned and occupied by Mr. Brown was built by 
Mr. Robert Crommclin. 

On the corner where Mr. Prince's house now stands 
was formerly an old house kept as a tavern or stage 
house. In the rear of it was Crommelin's mustard fac- 

Frederic and Richard Orommelin married the 
daughters of Teunis Bergen, who lived in a house (since 
burned down) corner of Flatbush Avenue and the "lit- 
tle lane " leading to New Utrecht. 

Mr. J. D. Prince is a grandson of Dr. John Duffield 
and Margaret Debevoise, a descendant of Carel Debe- 
voise, first settler of that name in Brooklyn. 

Mrs. Prince was a daughter of Mr. George Martense, 
a descendant of "Martin de Boer," or the farmer, of 
whom mention has been made ; Mrs. Helen Martense 
was a descendant of Rutger Joesten Van Brunt, who 
emigrated from the Netherlands in 1653, and was among 


the first settlers in New Utrecht in 1657. Mrs. Mar- 
tense was public-spirited and generous, taking an active 
part in whatever tended to the public good and to the 
cause of benevolence. 

Mr. William Brown owns and occupies the house ad- 
joining that of Mr. Prince. The grounds of these two 
gentlemen are exceedingly ornamental to the village. 
The separating fences have been removed and the gar- 
dens thrown into one, an act significant of much 
friendly feeling and neighborly intercourse. 

Upon the land which was sold by the heirs of Mrs. 
Caton Mr. Geoi'ge Stillwell erected a neat and pleasant 
house on the northwest corner of Clarkson Street. Mrs, 
Caroline Stillwell was a daughter of Mr. Jeremiah Van- 

The small but neatly kept house of Mr. J. Smith ad- 
joins that of Mr. Stillwell. 

At the southwest corner of Franklin Street and the 
Flatbush Road stands a house built by the late Mrs. 
Jane Rhodes. Mrs. Rhodes was a daughter of Mr. 
Peter Leake, one of the old inhabitants of Flatbush, who 
lived for many years on the " church lane." 

Her eldest son, Mr. John Rhodes, studied for the 
ministry, but ill health compelled him to resign his 
work, and he died soon after. 

Upon the completion of Prospect Park, Franklin 
Avenue, opened, widened, and planted with shade-trees, 
became one of the handsomest streets running westward 
from Flatbush Avenue. This street was named after 
old John Franklin, along whose property it ran. John 
Franklin and Charity, his wife, were members of the So- 
ciety of Friends. This property was formerly part of 
the Martense farm ; the house was built by the grand- 


father of the late Judge Martense, and was sold to 
John Franklin ; it remained in pdssession of his heirs 
until a comparatively recent date, when it was pur- 
chased by Dr. Norfolk, who has made some altera- 
tions and improvements in the house ; he still owns 
it, and has made it for a few years past his place of resi- 

Opposite the junction of Franklin Avenue is one 
of the oldest houses in Flatbush ; it belonged until re- 
cently to Dr. John Robinson. It is pleasantly situated 
some distance from the road, and is approached through 
a handsome walk overshadowed by pine-trees. These 
pine-trees are of comparatively recent growth. Before 
the Eevolution it is probable that the house could be seen 
from the street more plainly than it is at present. This 
house belonged during the War of the Revolution to 
Colonel Axtell, and is frequently referred to in Dr. 
Strong's history as a great resort of the Tories of New 
York. It was an unusually large and convenient house 
for one built at that period, and is not in the old Dutch 
style of architecture. It contained hidden closets and 
rooms almost inaccessible of approach in ordinary ways. 
Colonel Axtell himself was obliged to remain secreted 
in some of these hiding-places, so that there came in 
time to be an air of romance about the place, and it 
got to be looked upon as the haunted house of the 

There is no house in Flatbush which has had so 
many different owners as this, and none of which so 
many fanciful stories have been told. 

The real history of the place is ;this : This was the 
remainder of the twenty-eight acres 'forming part origi- 
nally of a Vanderbilt farm to whieh we have already 


referred. This portion of it was purchased by an Eng- 
lishman by the name of Lane. 

In 1749 he built what was, for that age, a large and 
showy house ; it had a greenhouse at the rear. The 
cornices in the drawing-rooms were gilded, the rooms 
wainscoted, and the halls wide. The grounds were laid 
out in flower-beds ; beyond the garden was a handsome 
lawn. Mr. Lane was an Englishman of a good family 
who was banished from his home on account of the wild 
life he led. He had married a woman of low parent- 
age, and they lived here on an annuity which ceased at 
his death ; after that she could not support the style in 
which they had lived, and the house was offered for 
sale, and purchased by Colonel Axtell. 

This gentleman was a Tory, and inost of the friends 
whom he entertained — the Mayor of New York was one 
— were kindred spirits, and drank toasts to the King 
and success to his army. 

It is said that Colonel Axtell built some of these 
secret closets for the concealment of his Tory friends ; 
they were just the dark corners in which ghost stories 
take their rise. 

Colonel Axtell liked gay and convivial guests, as did 
the young Englishman who had lived there before him. 
The ghosts said to have haunted the house gave no 
sign as to which family they belonged, but long after 
the War of the Revolution no one liked to venture after 
dark within the haunted premises. But time quiets 
even ghosts, and when the old people were all dead who 
had seen the apparitions that made the mysterious in- 
terest of this locality, then the ghosts too began to dis- 

They say that human remains, bones, hair, and mill- 


tary buttons have been found on digging upon the 
premises, but we spoil the mystery by explaining that 
it was known that some English soldiers who died during 
the war were buried here. 

Mrs. Axtell, who was said to be a very haughty 
lady, brought with her to this house a poor, pale, 
sickly-looking child ; it was her sister or her niece, 
who, they used to say, was always crying with home- 
sickness and longing to go back, but was never allowed 
to go. . 

She was taken very ill, and the neighbors came in 
to assist in watching at night beside her. Her heavy 
masses of beautiful hair were wet from the dew of death 
upon her forehead, and she turned her dying eyes upon 
Colonel Axtell, they said, and not toward her sister. 

Her gravestone was never put up at the head of her 
grave ; it lay for years resting against the churchyard 
fence, with this inscription: "Sacred to the Memory 
of Susannah Shipton, who died Sept. 9th, 1793." 

Another sister lived with Mrs. Axtell, and she was 
of a different mold. She could bear up against what- 
ever burden may have been placed upon her shoulders. 
She was wooed and won by General Giles, of the Amer- 
ican troops ; he was forbidden to en^er upon the domain 
of Colonel Axtell, but the lady met him at the gate, 
beyond which, upon the open highway, the Colonel's 
rule could not extend, and one day they ran away and 
were married. 

By strange poetic justice, or by what has been called 

by some one the "irony of fate," when the estates of 

Colonel Axtell were confiscated at the close of the war, 

they became the property of General Giles, and the lady 

who had forbidden the young American ofiBcer to enter 


her doors was now obliged, if she entered at all, to come 
as his guest. Colonel Axtell died in England, 1795, 
aged seyenty-five. 

Mrs. Mowatt, at one time an actress upon the stage, 
but better remembered in the village as a young and 
beautiful woman, the daughter of Mr. S. G. Ogden, of 
New York, lived in this house. She frequently alludes 
in her autobiography to this village, in which she spent 
many happy years. She was very graceful and fascinat- 
ing, and shone like such a bright figure upon the som- 
ber background of the old house, that perhaps it was 
her presence that came, like the sunshine, to dispel the 
shadowy visitants. 

The property has since passed through many own- 
ers, but none have held it so long as its recent propri- 
etor, the late Dr. John Robinson, a physician who prac- 
ticed medicine for many years in New York city. He 
finished his course of study in Duhlin University, and 
coming to this country settled in 1844 in Platbush, 
upon this property, where he lived -^vith his family until 
his death in 1879. 

North of Dr. Robinson's place a street was opened 
in 1831 which has been recently called Winthrop Street. 

The Cortelyou farm lies north of this street. It for- 
merly belonged to the Hegeman family. When, in 
1794, John Cortelyou, of New Utrecht, married Catha- 
rine Lefferts, her father, Peter LefEerts, purchased this 
farm for her as a wedding gift. Isaac, only son of John 
and Catharine, lived on this property with his family 
until his death. It was at a later period offered for 
sale, to effect a division of the estate. The house, with 
a few lots of ground, was retained by Mrs. Cortelyou ; 
after her death this place was purchased by her oldest 


daughter, Catharine, wife of Mr. William K. William- 
son, of Flatlands. 

Mr. Isaac Cortelyou, the father of Mrs. Catharine 
Williamson, was a descendant of Jacques Cortelyou, a 
Huguenot, who came to this country in 1652, and set- 
tled in New Utrecht in 1657. 

Opposite Winthrop Street, on Flatbush Avenue, west 
side, lies a portion of what was formerly the large Mar- 
tense farm, of which we have already given the outlines. 
Mrs. Ferris and Mrs. Wilbur hold this portion of the 
property, being direct descendants o'f the rich farmer 
who first settled here. 

The handsome house of Mr. Lionel Wilbur, com- 
pleted in 1878, is highly ornamental to this section of the 
village. Mrs. Wilbur is the only grandchild of Judge 
Martense ; Mrs. Ferris, his daughter, lives in the house 
built by her father, and is the only one of his children 
now living. 

Judge Martense pulled down the old house of Revo- 
lutionary memory, referred to in Dr. Strong's history, 
after building the present mansion to which his family 
removed, and where his daughter, Mrs. Ferris, still 

" This very ancient house of Leffert Martense," as 
Dr. Strong called it, stood facing southward, with the 
gable end to the road. It had two front doors opening 
upon the long front stoop. The projecting roof ex- 
tended over the front, but at the tear the steep slant 
extended to some five or six feet from the ground. The 
fireplaces were large, and tiled in chocolate and blue. 

Had it been possible to preserve this house as a relic 
of pre- Revolutionary times, it would have been curious 
and interesting ; but, apart from the graduaTdecay con- 


sequent upon its age, it was much injured in the Battle 
of Flatbush, standing as it did upon the very borders 
of the fight. Many bullets were picked up upon the 
grounds afterward, and were kept as relics. 

North of this house stands the cottage which Judge 
Martense erected for his eldest son. 

Next, southward on the map, is marked the house 
of J. Birdsall. This house still stands, although much 
out of repair and fast falling to decay. It was built 
about the year 1800. This farm, in the early settle- 
ment of Flatbush, belonged to LefEert LefEerts. The 
old house was burned down during the Battle of Flat- 
bush, and the present building was erected upon the 
same site. Passing through the hands of various own- 
ers, it has not for many years been occupied by descend- 
ants of the family by whom it Was first held. The 
farm originally comprised the land between the farms 
of Judge Martense on the south, and Mr. Jeremiah Van- 
derbilt on the north. It was owned for some time by 
the family of Mr. Murphy. 

Next, northward on Dr. Strong's map, is marked 
the house of Mr. Jeremiah Vanderbilt. The old Van- 
derbilt homestead stood where the house next on the 
map is marked as that of Mr. John Vanderbilt. This 
old homestead was burned down during the battle of 
Flatbush, and the family remained in this house of 
Mr. Jeremiah Vanderbilt until the new house, built in 
its place, was finished, which was about the year 1800. 
Upon the marriage of the oldest son, Jeremiah, to Ann, 
daughter of Mr. J. C. Vandeveer, he moved to this 
house, which bears his name on Dr. Strong's map. 
Here he lived with his family until his death ; some years 
after, the house and a portion of his farm were sold. 


The old house, since it has gone out of the possession 
of its first owners, has not been kept in repair, and it is 
at present scarcely habitable. 

The oldest son of Mr. Jeremiah Vanderbilt, Mr. 
John J. Vanderbilt, erected a pleagant dwelling-house 
next north of what was formerly the residence of his 
father, where he and his daughter. Miss Charlotte S. 
Vanderbilt, still continue to reside. 

The house and grounds are neatly kept, and glimpses 
of the garden in the rear give evid,ence of a taste for 
flowers on the part of the proprietor. Some fine elms 
on the sidewalk are ornamental to this place, and give it 
a pleasant summer shade. 

Upon the spot where the old homestead was burned 
in the Battle of Flatbush the present house was built, 
which was occupied by Mr. John Vanderbilt, who died 
in 1842. His widow, Mrs. Sarah L. Vanderbilt, who 
was a daughter of Mr. Johannes E. Lott and sister of 
Mr. Jeremiah Lott, died in 1859. .Since her death the 
house has been rented to various persons. It is at pres- 
ent occupied by Rev. Robert Q. Strong, son of Dr. 

An old paper, bearing date 1661, conveying the farm 
on which he lived to Jan vande Bilt, signed by Govern- 
or Stuyvesant, is still in possession of the family. 

The pleasantest portion of the original Vanderbilt 
farm is now inclosed within the boundaries of Prospect 
Park. The highest point there was formerly known as 
Vanderbilt's Hill. It commands a more extended view 
than any other spot in, the Park. The hill next, on 
which is the carriage-drive or Concourse, was also a 
portion of the Vanderbilt farm. 

This family are descended from Jan Aertson Vander- 


bilt, or Jan Aerson from the Bild or Bilt. This, accord- 
ing to Mr. T. Gr. Bergen, was a manor in the proyince 
of Friesland, in the Netherlands. The family tradition, 
however, is to the effect that this dncestor came from 
the Baltic — Jan van de Belt having that signification. 
This is strengthened by the fact that his first wife, An- 
neken, whom he married February 6, 1650, was from 
Bergen in Norway. 

We now retrace our steps, and return as far back as 
Winthrop Street. 

The large farm of Mr. John Lefferts was unbroken 
by streets at the time that Dr. Strong's map was made. 
It then contained three hundred acres, stretching from 
the Cortelyou farm on the south to the Clove road on 
the north, and from the Flatbush road on the west be- 
yond the road leading to Canarsie on the east. 

Mr. Lefferts sold some lots on the southwest corner 
of his farm to Mr. Jeromus J. Johnson, who built there 
the handsome house of Milwaukee brick standing south 
of Fenimore Street. This property again changed 
owners, and, passing from one person to another, finally 
was purchased by Dr. Homer L. Bartlett, in whose pos- 
session it still remains. 

Dr. Bartlett has a good practice as a physician, and 
is a gentleman of cultivated taste. Mrs. Margaret S. 
Bartlett, his wife, was a niece of Dr. Strong. Coopers- 
townj New York, was her native place, and when the 
street next to their house was opened, it was she who 
gave it the name of Fenimore Strpet, after the great 
novelist Fenimore Cooper, who was an intimate friend 
of her father. 

Close upon the road in front of where Dr. Bartlett's 
house now stands, there once stood one of the earliest- 


Born August i3, 1826. Died April 18, 1893. 


built houses in Flatbush. It was burned down during 
the Battle of Long Island. It would have been a curi- 
ous relic of the past could it have been preserved, as it 
was built of brick, and was up to that time in an excel- 
lent state of preservation. The surbase in the principal 
rooms was tiled to match the fireplaces ; the heavy beams 
above crossed the ceilings. It had two front doors open- 
ing upon the long stoop in front ; indeed, all the char- 
acteristics of the old Dutch houses were peculiarly 
brought into prominence. The furniture would have 
been no less curious than the house itself, as some of it 
came from Holland. This house is mentioned in Dr. 
Strong's history. It is also spoken of by Mr. T. W. 
Fields, in his allusion to the Battle of Flatbush, as 
" the heavy old Dutch structure built in the ponderous 
style in fashion among the Dutch colonists." 

Had it been still standing, it would have descended, 
as did the land on which it was built, to Mr. John Lef- 
f erts, through his grandmother, Mrs. Femmetia LefEerts, 
who was born in this house in 1753. 

Upon Fenimore Street Mr. Lefferts built a large 
and convenient house, which he sold, together with a 
few lots of ground surrounding it, to Mr. Doremus, of 
New York City, in whose possession it remains, and who 
occupies the house. 

The house next south of Mr. Lefferts's present resi- 
dence was enlarged from an ordinary farmhouse and 
altered to its present size for Mrs. Cynthia Lefferts, who 
resided here until her death. 

It is at present occupied by Mrs. Spofford, formerly 
of New York, widow of Mr. 0. N. Spofford. Through 
her long residence in this village, this lady has formed 
a large circle of warmly attached friends. Hon. John 


Oakey married her eldest daughter, since deceased. 
Her second daughter is the wife of Mr. Charles Walden, 
grandson of Mr. John Franklin, from whom Franklin 
Street, Flatbush, was named. Her third daughter is 
the wife of Mr. LefEerts Vanderbilt. 

Mrs. Maria L. LefEerts, whose i^ame and residence 
appear next upon the map of Dr. Strong, lived in this 
old homestead until her death, which occurred in 1865. 
Her son, the present owner, Mr. John LefEerts, has not 
modernized the house, although many of the present 
improvements and conveniences have been introduced. 
This is one of those long, low, heavy-roofed houses 
which were built prior to the War of the Kevolution. 
It was burned at the Battle of Flatbush, but not wholly 
destroyed, and it was rebuilt subsequently upon the 
old timbers, so that the form of it remains as before. 

The LefEerts family are descendants of Leffert Pieter- 
sen, who came to this country from North Holland in 
1660. . The name sometimes appears as Leffert Pietersen 
van Haughwaut, referring to the town whence he came. 
The large farm on which this house .stands has been in 
possession of the family since 1661, as. is stated upon the 
parchment deed, which is signed by Governor Peter 
Stuyvesant. This family, like many others in Flatbush, 
have lived upon the same estate for more than two hun- 
dred years. 

On the west side of Flatbush Ayenue, opposite the 
old homestead of Mr. LefEerts, Mr. J. Lott Vanderbilt 
built a house in 1876, upon his share of the front of his 
father's farm. 

The very neat appearance of the grounds and garden 
reflects great credit upon the taste and care of their 


Mrs. Elizabeth Vanderbilt, wife of Mr. J. L. Van- 
derbilt, was a granddaughter of ]V(r. John Lott, who 
owned the farm corner of Olarkson Street. 

Next to the farm of the late Mr. John Vanderbilt, 
who died in 1842, lay a strip of land belonging to the 
heirs of Elsie Gerretsen, dai^ghter of LeflEert LefEerts. 
This land was known in old records as the "Compie," 
and was purchased by the late Judge Vanderbilt about 
1840. On this property he built the house in 1847 in 
which his family now reside. He subsequently added 
by purchase to the land in the rear, which extended 
northward and westward some distance into what is now 
Prospect Park. When this house was built by Judge 
Vanderbilt, neither Ocean Avenue nor Bast New York 
Avenue had been opened, so that on the north the prop- 
erty adjoined the Willink place. Judge Vanderbilt had 
been paralyzed for some years previous to his decease, 
which occurred May 16, 1877. 

We copy from the " Brooklyn Eagle " the following 
notice of his life : 

"the late judge JOHN VANDERBILT. 

" The death is announced to-day of John Vanderbilt, who, 
twenty years ago, was County Judge of Kings, who was after- 
ward elected to the State Senate, who was then nominated for 
Lieutenant-Governor with Amasa J. Parker running for the first 
place, and who, for many years before and after these honors be- 
fell him (and during the entire period of the honors as well), was 
the junior partner in the distinguished and very representative 
law firm of Lott, Murphy & Vanderbilt. The mention of John 
Vanderbilt's name would at any time start many thoughts in 
the mind of any Brooklynite whose memory or whose reading 
takes hold on the men and metliods of this county in the times 
preceding the war between the States. The announcement of 


his death to-day will revive and intensify those memories, and 
to a very large number of the younger inhabitants of Brooklyn 
be as much a surprise as it is a matter of news, because the 
departed gentleman's retirement from aifairs and general society 
for years was so complete as to render him as little thought of 
by the mass of men as if he had long since ceased from the 
world, instead of merely ceasing from its activities and obser- 
vation. He occupied, however, too large and too busy a place 
in the life of Brooklyn, and, indeed, in the life of the State, not 
to have left a deep mark upon the history of both. The older 
readers of the ' Eagle ' have hardly required the reminder 
which the announcement of ex-Judge Vanderbilt's death is, to 
enable them to recall the days and the deeds when he was easily 
the most popular and one of the most considerable men at this 
end of the Empire State. The time seems long since then, and 
by any calculation of the life of men and of the epochs of poli- 
tics it is not short. Yet the painridden, aged-looking, helpless 
gentleman who has just exchanged worlds died at fifty-eight, 
and had won more recognition before forty than most men 
attain at all, though their days extend beyond the limit of the 
Psalmist, and beyond the period when philosophy would rate 
' life not worth living for.' Moreover, the suffering, decrepit, 
and feeble gentleman who had long preferred solitude to so- 
ciety, and whose movements, voluntarily limited to his grounds, 
had been dependent on crutches for years, was in the prime of 
his energy certainly the most vigorous and handsome man in 
public or private life in this county, if npt in the State. His 
strong, manly beauty mated with and "was the exponent of 
qualities of mind and heart as attractive as his gifts and graces 
of person. In a time when rings were unknown he was a 
Democrat ; in a time when sectionalism was hardly an appari- 
tion and when the State had its full rights, whether it was 
weighed or counted as a factor, he was a patriot, and one who 
gloried in his whole country ; in a time when shysters had not 
been evolved, and when pettifoggers were limited to a satirical 
stage or a sarcastic literature, he was a lawyer ; in a time when 
gentlemen were as dominant in politics and scholars as domi- 


Born January 28, 1819. Died May 16, 1877. 


nant in council as they now are not, he was a scholar and a 
gentleman. His rapidity of public development, his activity in 
aSairs, Ms not surpassed qualities of good-fellowship, the mag- 
netism of his mind and manners, and the impressive appeal 
which he could address to the people, early made him and long 
kept him what he was fondly called, ' Kings County's Favorite 
Son,' when that appellation was forcible by its rarity, signifi- 
cant in its meaning, and when it had not been vulgarized by its 
application to the politicians by profession and to the place- 
hunters by occupation. 

" It will be well remembered by those familiar with Brook- 
lyn politics and society that in the better led but less 'or- 
ganized ' years of the local Democracy, the law firm of Lott, 
Murphy & Vanderbilt was as thorough a political as it was an 
eminent legal power in this county. These three gentlemen 
named, of whom the youngest has died first, brought into local 
politics the principles of statesmanship, and to civil service the 
habits of fidelity, independence, and diligence, and that grade 
of culture, force, and knowledge which have made their public 
records a bright part of the history of their country, just as 
their private careers have been a most honorable part of the 
social and intellectual history of their city. In the times when 
Democracy was responsive to itself, and when the measure of 
his influence on the party was dependent on the character and 
brain of the individual Democrat, Henry 0. Murphy, John A. 
Lott, and John Vanderbilt became leaders without difiBculty, 
and by the very necessity that made leaders in politics out of 
the same elements which wrought influence in every other 
department of society. The people demanded their service as 
well as their direction. They raised Mr. Lott to the highest 
judicial positions in their gift. They retained Mr. Vanderbilt 
in this county, but insisted on his appointment to the judge- 
ship of the county, and they sent Mr. Murphy to represent 
them in Congress, being afterward themselves honored in the 
honor the nation conferred on him in sending a scholar and 
statesman of his ability to represent this republic at the court 
of the country whose people founded this city, and whose sturdy 


virtues are, to this day, the hest characteristic and bulwark in 
one of its life. Of the legal eminence of the firm in those days 
it is not needed to speak at length. That eminence is attested 
by the high station its members attained when the bar was the 
school of statesmen and the preserve which yielded fit men for 
fit functions. At the same time the records of our courts his- 
torically show that in every case of magnitude, and for every 
institution or person of influence, the firm were counsel by a 
principle of natural selection or conceded leadership." 

There was much woodland northwest of the place of 
Judge Vanderbilt at the time he built his house. 

This woodland, north of "the Compie" and adjoin- 
ing it, was divided into sections among different owners- 
Going northward toward Brooklyn, the house of Mr. 
Lefferts was, as late as 1843, the last in Flatbush, on the 
east side of the road, with the exception of a small house 
rented to the tenant who worked part of the farm. 

Where now Bast New York Avenue crosses Flatbush 
Avenue the old Clove road to Bedford branched off to 
the northeast, and the Flatbush turnpike curved toward 
the northwest. The triangle formed by these roads was 
an inclined plain sloping southward. It was at that 
date a beautiful pasture-field, cro^^-ned at the crest, 
where now Malbone Street runs, with a dense wood. 
Here were noble hickories, gum-trees, and oaks, with 
an undergrowth of dogwood and clumps of hazel. It 
was surrounded with a mossy post-and-rail fence with 
a stone foundation, tangled with running blackberry 

Here the sheep and cows grazed, resting at noon- 
day under the shade of the row of beautiful locust-trees 
that formed the southward boundary of this sloping 
pasture-land. How peaceful and quiet it seemed ! the 


very picture of rural and pastoral life ! This was at the 
time Dr. Strong closed his history in 1843. 

Can anything be in greater contrast than the scene 
which this locality now presents ? It was then the 
most secluded and quietest portion of the village, now 
it is the most noisy. 

The cars of the Franklin Avenue and those of the 
Nostrand Avenue line stand here day and night at the 
terminus of their route. The Flatbush Avenue cars 
stop here to gather in the multitudes of pleasure-seekers 
from Prospect Park, and to the shrieking locomotives 
of the Brighton Beach troop the still more numerous 
pleasure-seekers to and from Coney Island. Carriages 
of funerals to the cemetery of the Holy Cross turn off 
in long lines toward Ocean Avenue or to Flatbush Av- 
enue, and the heavy cars from Hunter's Point thunder 
past without stopping at the depot for additions to their 
long and crowded trains. 

Streets and avenues have been opened, and innumer- 
able lines of small houses are dotted all over the once 
peaceful fields. 

At the time in which Dr. Strong's map was made, 
the quiet of this retreat had only begun to be broken ; 
but as yet there was no possible sign from which the 
busy future could have been predicted. Only three 
small houses had then been built on the curve of the 
road before reaching the place now called the Battle 
Pass, in Prospect Park, this side of the bowl-shaped 
hill where the old toll-gate stood. 

Opposite to these, on the west side of the road, there 
was still the natural and unbroken growth of forest. 
The woods here were particularly beautiful because clear 
of undergrowth, and through the tall trees the western 


sun fell across the quiet country road in oblique lines 
all through the pleasant summer afternoons. 

Washington Avenue now cleaves this once beautiful 
slope of pasture land through the center. The prop- 
erty, as an undivided whole, had belonged to the estate 
of Mrs. Elsie Gerretsen, daughter of LefEert Lefferts. • 
When it was offered for sale by her heirs, it was divided 
into lots, and thus became built up with a class of 
small, cheap houses. 

At the time of sale, Judge Vanderbilt purchased the 
southern terminus of the property and built a house 
there, which he afterward sold to Mh Benjamin S. Nel- 
son, who opened it as a hotel. It was, however, quiet 
and orderly, and caused no disturbance to the neigh- 
borhood. This hotel was moved farther easterly, to 
give room for Washington Avenue when that street was 
opened, and it now stands directly upon what was once 
the old Clove road. After the death of Mr. Nelson it 
was closed as a hotel. His widow, Mrs. Nelson, a daugh- 
ter of Mr. Elsworth, still continues to reside here. 

East New York Avenue, Washington Avenue, Lef- 
ferts Street, and Malbone Street are the highways al- 
ready opened on the east side of Flatbush Avenue, 
where once no open road led eastward after passing the 
Bedford road until reaching what is now Atlantic 
Avenue ! This was an unbroken stretch of wood and 
farming land. 

We now return on the west side of the road to Bast 
New York Avenue. The opening of this street west- 
ward to Ocean Avenue separated the lawn of Judge 
Vanderbilt from the Willink property, which had pre- 
viously extended in an unbroken line to what is now 
^called the Willink entrance of Prospect Park. 


The house once stood on a hill where the depot of 
the Brooklyn, Flathush, and Coney Island Railway now 
stands. It was built in or about 1835. The lawn sloped 
down pleasantly toward the south and east, and a high 
and expensive fence, with gates always locked, kept off 
those who might be inclined to trespass upon the premises. 

Mr. Willink was not one of the early settlers. The 
mother of Mrs. Willink in her girlhood spent her sum- 
mers here. The story of their residence in Flatbush is this : 

Before the War of the Revolution, Mr. Van Horn, a 
wealthy gentleman from New York, whose winter resi- 
dence was opposite the Bowling Green, hired for many 
summers a small house at the north end of Flatbush, 
which stood on what is now the farm of Mr. John LefEerts. 

Mr. and Mrs. Van Horn were of the old Dutch set- 
tlers in this State. They possessed great wealth, and 
moved in the first circles of New York in those days. 

They had a large family of daughters, otie of whom 
married Mr. Ludlow. Slie seemed to have kept alive 
pleasant memories of the days she had spent as a child 
in this little rural retreat, and after her widowhood she 
was accustomed to drive through the village from time 
to time on bright spring afternoons, often alighting from 
her carriage to rest on the smooth, grassy sidewalk, lean- 
ing on her gold-headed cane, as the infirmities of age 
rendered such support necessary. 

She may have talked with the daughters who accom- 
panied her of the summers of her happy childhood, when 
she went skipping through these woods, or rambling to 
the hilltop that overlo,oked the village, or of an occa- 
sional sleighing party in midwinter when, with the 
young girls of her own age, she went to the Steenbak- 
kery, on invitation of the American o.fEcers, who beguiled 


the tedium of the days in which they were kept prison- 
ers* on parole with sliding, skating, and sledding par- 
ties on that pond. 

Be that as it may, there were lingering memories 
that drew the old lady toward Platbush in her declining 
years, and induced her family to drive out in that direc- 
tion. When, therefore, the round-topped hill, the most 
southerly of those which marked the dividing ridge be- 
' tween Flatbush and Brooklyn, was purchased by her 
son-in-law, and a house was erected there, the old lady 
was pleased, and told her neighbors that she should be 
glad to renew the acquaintances she had made there in 
her youth. 

But old age can not always effect its plans, any more 
than can impetuous youth ; though it seemed a natural 
thing that she should desire to visit those whom she had 
known as young girls in her own youth, her daugh- 
ters had decided upon a different plan of life. They 
desired entire seclusion ; except in business relations, 
they wished for no communication with the outer world. 
Whether it was merely a freak which became afterward 
a habit, no one can tell. 

The result, from whatever cause, was an entire with- 
drawal from society. No retreat could have been more 
closely guarded against the intrusion of visitors ; whether 
acquaintance, friend, or relative tapped at the door, the 
rebuff was always given, and no one passed beyond the 
portal of that stately mansion after once the carpenters 
had left and the four elderly persons who comprised 
the family took it as their home.. 

The windows were never opened. The furniture, 
great crates of which stood in the parlors, was never un- 
packed. The silver service on which had been given 


the hospitable and stylish dinners of earlier times was 
consigned to a vault in the cellar. In the basement 
were kept great bull-dogs fed on raw meat, to guard the 
premises at night, for it was whispered about that they 
had such stores and hoard of silver. 

The old lady did not live very long. She had al- 
ready reached great age, and from the home in which 
she thought to Spend some happy days she was taken 
to the better home above. 

Her son-in-law, Mr. Willink, was in the decline of 
life as well as herself, but strong and vigorous despite 
his gray hairs. He boasted that his father, a wealthy 
banker in Holland, had i-eached great age, and that he 
came of a long-lived race. But neither age nor death 
can be defied, and there are other means than the wear- 
ing out of this mortal frame to cut short life. 

The old gentleman, as the one pleasure he allowed 
himself, was fond of gay horses. They ran away with 
him one day. The vehicle in which he rode was entirely 
inclosed with glass in front, as if even when out on the 
street he would have something between himself and 
the outer world. He could not control his horses under 
this disadvantage. He was thrown out of his carriage 
and picked up dead on the road just before the house of 
his overseer. 

After this the two remaining members of the house- 
hold, Mrs. Willink and Miss Ludlow, secluded them- 
selves from society more than ever, if that were possi- 
ble. They went from time to time to Trinity Church, 
Kew York, where they occupied their old family pew. 
Miss Ludlow herself attended to the management of 
their large estates or gave instructions to her lawyer. 

She was a tall, gaunt woman. She must have been 


fine-looking in younger days. She would hare been 
a stately-looking lady still, had she not rejected every- 
thing that was tasteful in dress, and assunied the most 
austere and rigidly plain style of garments. 

She had almost an attorney's knowledge of the law, 
and a shrewd, keen business tact, that enabled her to 
keep as sharp a lookout over her property as if she had 
had a fortune to earn instead of to spend. 

What they did spend indeed was very little, except 
in cases where unbounded generosity seemed at sudden 
times to burst its ordinary bounds and flood some special 
object. Many a time some peddler was surprised by 
the purchase of his entire stock ; a church charity 
would have a gift of some thousands, or a munificent 
sum would be expended for some favored individual. 
But this overflow was like the spring torrent of some 
mountain stream that all the rest of the year leaves its 
stony bed parched and dry. 

One would expect even the employment, the amuse- 
ments, and the recreations of two beings so unlike the 
world around them to be different from those of other 
people ; we know not under which of these heads, if 
under either, to class the building of a hotel at the 
south end of the village. They had purchased some 
property there ; it was unremunerative ; ' then they 
undertook the building of the Willink House upon 
it. They built, furnished, and gave a public recep- 
tion at the opening. The landlord found that in keep- 
ing the hotel he was constantly restricted by the old 

The terms were very liberal on which he rented the 
house, but even on such terms the hotel could not be a 
success, from their constant interference. 


So it was locked up, and they kept the key in their 
pocket. Feebler and more feehle grew the elder sister, 
Mrs. Willink, until at last she also died, and the family 
vault in Trinity churcjiyard was opened again. 

Now Miss Ludlow was left alone. One would almost 
irreverently like to draw aside the veil and see if there 
were ever tears on that stern face. Was she ever sor- 
rowing and mourning and crying, like weaker women ? 
Now that she stood alone in the world, did her heart 
yearn for the love which even the poor share with each 
other ? She gave no sign if it did. 

Now she went again regularly, iSabbath after Sab- 
bath, to the family pew in Trinity Church. That tall 
woman in a poke-bonnet and waterproof cloak moved 
among the velvet-draped ladies of that wealthy church 
like a ghost of the former century. They may have 
mistaken her for a beggar, or perhaps the story of her 
eccentricity was whispered to them ; or those who were 
left of the old families there may have known she was 
one of their number, " so eccentric, you know, and so 
rich." What attentions she accepted she paid well for, 
and her liberality to the rector was unbounded. But 
the doors of her house were not opened ; and no one 
seemed to find the key of her heart any more than 
of her house. There may have been painful mem- 
ories associated with that great bleak house on the hill- 
top, with its windows boarded up, and the watch-dog's 
bark echoing through the empty rooms ; for she did 
not remain there so constantly as before. Now she 
spent much time at the hotel, taking possession of a 
suite of handsomely furnished rooms. 

She may have felt a coming shadow, and if she did 
not long for human sympathy, at least it seemed, more 


like living as other women did to have a cheerful room 
furnished and carpeted. 

One day an employee spent the evening with her, 
making up accounts and handing in bills. They could 
not finish the work. " Come to-morrow morning," 
she said to him, as she closed the door upon him. " I 
will come early," he replied ; but ]!)eath came earlier, 
and was there before him. 

In the morning she was found dead in her bed. As 
she had lived, so she had died — alone. 

That was a strange funeral in Trinity Church the 
day she was buried : a velvet-covered coflBn, beautiful 
music, an impressive service, but no mourners — not 
one even to simulate grief. It seemed a cause for tears 
that there were none shed. It was depressing that 
there was no one even to counterfeit sorrow ! Had this 
woman, gifted with such intellectual power, and hold- 
ing such wealth in her hand, no capacity to draw any 
heart to hers ? 

The vault in Trinity churchyard was opened now 
for the last of the family, and the passing crowds in the 
street paused a moment to peer through the iron rail- 
ings that separate that graveyard from Broadway, as the 
coffin was lowered to its place among her kindred dead. 

The house that had been so jealously closed was 
now thrown open to the inspection of the world. As 
if it had been a vault, the long festoons of dust-covered 
cobwebs depended from all the ceilings. 

There were hoarded things of no possible value, with 
others of great cost. There were wardrobes stocked 
with antiquated clothing, crates of furniture which 
had never been unpacked, boxes of books, new baskets 
purchased by the dozen from traveling venders, new 


brooms — dozens of them — none of which had ever been 
used upon those dusty walls. There were bottles of 
wine so old that the decaying boxes fell to pieces as 
they were carried from the wine-room. 

As they had hoarded, so it seemejd almost as if Time, 
so long defied, was now avenging itself in the scattering. 

No one had been allowed by them to enter yonder 
door ; now every stranger foot had the right to climb 
the staircase. No one should see the treasures, whether 
valuable or otherwise, they guarded ] now there was no 
secret drawer, no closet, that was not opened, for the 
house was now to be sold. Perhaps no gates were ever 
kept more sedulously locked against the public, and no 
lawn had ever been more strictly kept free from tres- 
passing feet than the beautiful lawn about this house, 
and never has one been more entirely free to the public 
than that spot is now. 

The very earth that formed the sloping hill has been 
carted away ; the hill has been leveled, and thousands 
of footsteps now pour daily through what Was once the 
locked entrance to the Willink place ; for here on this 
now level plain stands the depot of the Brighton Beach 
Railroad, and the great, white, ghastly-looking house 
that stands where Ocean Avenue is lost in Flatbush 
Avenue is the remodeled frame of the house which once 
stood proudly perched upon the hill, seeming to have 
no more sympathy than did its reserved inmates with 
the village at its feet ; but leveling years have done 
their work ; Death in his turn took , the key and, turn- 
ing it upon them, has opened to the world the gates of 
what was once their guarded possessions. 

We make no apology for dwelling so long on this, 
one of the few romantic histories of our village, for has 


not every old town its bit of romance ? And why 
should not such be recorded along with other annals ? 

Every word of this is veritable history, and it needs 
not the adornment of fiction to give it interest. 

Northward from the Willink property great changes 
have been made in the road, and in consequence the 
course of the old turnpike has became entirely obliter- 
ated. Formerly this road curved slightly westward, 
and, passing through a toll-gate which stood at the city 
limit, it followed circuitously the line of the little bowl- 
shaped hill, possibly called for that reason China Hill, 
through the Battle Pass ; on the westward side was a 
sandpit ; the denser shade of the valley caused this 
spot to be called the Valley Grove ; a secluded little inn 
stood at the junction of the Flatbush turnpike and a 
narrow, stony road leading to Gowanus, called the Port 
road. The Port road * turned westward and the turn- 
pike turned eastward, winding around between the hills. 

This Valley Grove House was an old, topple-down inn, 
and stood in the lowest part of the road ; in a damp even- 
ing one seemed to feel the chill of the heavy air in turn- 
ing toward it on the way from Brooklyn to Flatbush. 

Ascending the hill, there was a ;house to the right 
that had never been finished. It had a lonely, dreary 
look ; the willow that stood in the dooryard still re- 
mains on the same spot in the Park, and serves to mark 
the locality of the house as well as to help us recall the 
line of the old road. 

* The name " Port road " is said to be derived from an expres- 
sion in the old deed or agreement between Goremor Lovelace and five 
Indian chiefs for extinguishing the Indian claim in 1670 ; it is spoken 
of as a boundary to a certain parcel of land to which this cleft through 
the hills was " the port or entrance thereof " 


There were some pleasant rolling hills to the left on 
which horses and cattle were generally grazing — those 
on the brow of the hill outlined against the sky, for 
there were no woods or shrubbery upon these pasture 
fields. This was the southerly boundary of the Polhe- 
mus farm. 

The next curve in the road brought in view beautiful 
glimpses of the bay of New York with the wooded 
heights of the opposite shore. Here was a cluster of 
pleasant country residences. Mr. Anthony Kerr's house 
is still standing, also two houses built by Mr. Van 
Antwerp, and, still farther on, the place of Mr. Levi 
Hart. At the highest point were two hotels ; the most 
prominent was kept by Mr. Vonk, and was a great re- 
sort for men with racehorses and the owners of " fancy 

Only a few families lived here permanently, as this 
locality was subject to malarial fevers, although one of 
the highest points in the county. There were numer- 
ous ponds in the hollows of the hills, and from these 
arose miasmatic damps, poisoning the air of this beau- 
tiful spot, which would otherwise have been so desirable 
for private residences. 

The view from this height was more beautiful then 
than that from the plaza of Prospect Park is now, for 
the city of Brooklyn was farther off, and was separated 
by intervening meadows and shrubbery ; it was thus 
softened by distance and framed in by woods. 

This old road to Brooklyn was at an early period 
known as "the King's Highway" from Flatbush to 
New York Terry ; it is called so in an old release dated 
1748, quoted by Stiles in his "History of Brooklyn." 
It is strange that a portion of the Gravesend road should 


be, 'even at this present time, known still as " the King's 
Highway. " 

With the assistance of those now living whose mem- 
ory reaches farther than we can recall, we might con- 
tinue a description of this while it was yet a country 
road almost to Fulton Ferry, But, as we desire to con- 
fine ourselves to matters pertaining to Flatbush, we will 
not attempt to trace the changes which time has made 


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It is not probable that slavery ever exhibited its 
worst features on Long Island. 

A kindly feeling existed between the owner and the 
slave. For the protection, the simple fare, and the 
homespun clothing, which, in accordance with the cus- 
tom of the age, the master provided, the slave returned 
generally a cheerful obedience and a reasonable amount 
of labor. 

We do not credit our Dutch ancestors, in this re- 
spect, with being more humane or wiser than the age 
in which they lived ; but there are certain conditions 
under which slavery assumes its most cruel aspect, and 
these conditions did not exist in Kings County. 

If a slave was dissatisfied with his master, it was 
very common for the master to give him a paper on 
which his age, his price, etc., were written, and allow 
him to go and look for some one with whom he would 
prefer to live, and who would be willing to pay the 
price stated. When the slave found a purchaser, the 
master completed the arrangement by selling his dis- 
contented slave to the person whom, for some cause 
best known to himself, he preferred. It may not have 
been from ill-treatment or neglect that the negro de- 


sired to change masters, but because of greater attrac- 
tions elsewhere. 

Valentine, in his " History of New York," says that 
slaves had been held in that city from the earliest period 
of the Dutch settlement. 

Riker, in the "Annals of Newtown," tells us that 
slavery "originated in the scarcity and consequent high 
price of white labor, and extended not only to the negro, 
but to the free-born Indian brought hither from the 
South." He also confirms the statement that they were 
treated with much humanity. 

Judge Benson in 1816, speaking of negro slavery, 
says : "A milder form of it than among the Dutch of 
New Netherlands is scarcely to be imagined." 

Furman says that they "were much attached to 
the families in which they were owned, and where they 
would remain from generation to generation." 

O'Callaghan says: "Slaves [in New York] consti- 
tuted, as far back as 1638, a portion of the population. 
The introduction of this class was facilitated by the estab- 
lishments which the Dutch possessed in Brazil and on 
the coast of Guinea, as well as by the periodical capture 
of Spanish and Portuguese prizes, and the circumstances 
attendant on the early settlement of the country. The 
expense of obtaining labor from Europe was great, and 
the supply by no means equal to the demand. To add 
to these embarrassments, the temptations held out by 
the fur trade were so irresistible that the servants, or 
'boere knechts,' who were brought -over from Holland 
were soon seduced from the pursuits of agriculture. 
Farmers were consequently obliged to employ negroes, 
and slave labor thus became, by its cheapness and the 
necessity of the case, one of the staples of the country." 


In confirmation of what we hai^e said in regard to 
the condition of the slave here, compared to what it was 
later in other parts of the country, he adds : " The lot of 
the African under the Dutch was not as hopeless as his 
situation might lead us to expect. He was a chattel, it 
is true, but he could still look forward to the hour when 
he too might become a freeman." 

Sometimes the slaves were given their choice of a 
home among the married children of their master. In 
a will in possession of the writer, dated 1759, the fol- 
lowing clause appears : "If any of my slaves shall after 
my decease have a mind [preference] to live with 
any of my children, then it is my will, and I do order, 
that the rest of my children shall consent to it, and 
that he, or they, shall have him or her for a reasonable 

This is by no means a solitary instance of provision 
made for allowing the slave to have his choice as to his 
home ; it was frequently done. Although this does not 
seem to us with our present views of slavery to exhibit 
much generosity, yet it certainly did abate the evils at- 
tendant upon his condition, and give him the opportu- 
nity of choosing the home he preferred. 

Stiles, in his " History of Brooklyn," says : " Slaves 
were as a general thing kindly treated and well cared 
for ; but, after all, the institution of slavery was one 
that commended itself to the Dutch mind rather as a 
necessity than as a desirable system." Speaking of a 
public sale of slaves in 1773, he adds : "It was even at 
that time considered an odious departure from the time- 
honored and more humane practice which then prevailed 
of permitting slaves who wished to be sold, or who were 
offered for sale, to select their own masters." 


The slave spoke the language of the family. Dutch 
became the mother tongue of the Kings County negroes. 
There are at present a few of the old colored people still 
living who not only understand Dutch, but who speak 
that language to each other when they meet. 

In the newspapers published previous to 1833, about 
the period of emancipation, in advertisements offering 
a slave for sale, it was customary to state as a peculiar 
advantage that he or she could speak English as well 
as Dutch. 

We find in the "New York Gazette" for February 
22, 1773, an advertisement for a runaway slave, which 
states, after giving a personal description of the man, 
that he " can speak both English and Dutch, but sounds 
mostly on the latter. He is very strojig and nimble, and 
does not want for wit. He can pl^ well on the violin 
and is fond of company." 

Another advertisement, bearing date May 6, 1776, 
gives the following curious description of a runaway 
slave : "... he speaks good English and middling good 
Low Dutch ; is a pretty likely f ellowy apt to drink, wears 
his own hair tied behind. Had on when he went away 
an old, blue coat, lined with woolen check, the sleeves 
partly torn off, a new striped flannel jacket, a streaked 
woolen shirt, and a pair of superfine broadcloth breech- 
es, mixed woolen stockings, half-worn beaver hat with 
a silver loop and button." 

The first slaves in Kings County were sent here by 
Governor Stuyvesant in February, 1660. They never 
increased rapidly in numbers on Long Island, as they 
did in a more congenial southern climate, for the vari- 
ableness of the weather and the extreme cold by which 
some of our winters are marked were not favorable to 


them. They easily succumbed to consumption, and had 
very little power of resistance when attacked by disease. 

The first public record of the number of slaves ap- 
pears in 1698. 

At that time there were 296 in Kings County. They 
were distributed as follows : In Brooklyn 65, Bushwick 
53, New Utrecht 48, Flatlands 40, Gravesend 17, Flat- 
bush 71. 

From this it will be seen that the largest number of 
slaves was owned in Flatbush. 

In following the census of the slave population 
through successive periods, as we gather it from the 
"Documentary History of New York State," we find 
the returns in Kings County to be as follows : 

1698 296 1749 783 

172.3 444 1756. 845 

1731 492 1771. . 1,162 

1737 564 

The names given the slaves were a curious mingling 
of the nomenclature of the old Latin heroes with queer, 
twisted nicknames. 

The men were known as Cajsar, Nero, Cato, Pom- 
pey, and Plato. Flora, Diana, and Juno were the god- 
desses whose names were most frequently assumed b} 
the women. 

With these were mingled names which might have 
come with them from the far-off native land of their 
ancestors : Mink, Syne, Bass, Jaf ta, Roos, Kouba, Yaft, 

All these appear upon the census list of 1755. 

We find also such nicknames as these : Claes, Judey, 
Gin, Peg, York, Cuffee, Prance. 


The name CufEee, which was at one time quite com- 
mon among the colored people, was probably Indian, 
for there was an Indian preacher of the Shinnecock 
tribe, born in 1757, whose name was Paul CufEee. He 
labored among the Long Island tribes in the year 1800, 
and was said to be eloquent and possessed of much in- 

There is a name which has been in use among the 
colored people of Kings County for at least one hun- 
dred and twenty-three years. It appears upon the cen- 
sus of 1755, and it is still borne by more than one per- 
son now living. This name is Comnienie ; it is said to 
be an Indian name. We have never known of its being 
used except among -the colored people. 

O'Callaghan says that in 1646 the price of a negro in 
New York averaged between one hundred and one hun- 
dred and fifty dollars. 

It may be curious to know what was once paid 
for a slave on Long Island. We give some veritable 
bills of sale, from which we only omit the names of the 
parties : 

Flatbtjsh Aug \Uh 1763 

Recv'' of Mr. the sura of one hundred and ten 

pounds in full for a negro man Csssar. 

Sold him this day. Which negro I oblige myself my heirs 
Executors and Administrators to warrant and defend against 
all persons whatsoever. 

Aa witness ray hand 

In a similar bill of a few years later a less sum is 
given : 

April 23, ms. 

Rec'd of Mr. — ^ the sum of sixty three pounds Ten 

Shillings in full for a negro man named Mink. Sold him this 


day. Which Negro I oblige myself my heirs Ex" Adm' to war- 
rent and defend against all persons whatsoever. 

As witness ray hand 

From several old bills still preserved we find that it 
was customary to have the account for the making and 
mending of shoes for the slaves paid yearly. One of 
these bills, from August 14, 1817, to June 13, 1818, 
amounts to £8 17s. Qd. The bill runs through a long 
sheet of coarse-grained, yellowish paper, peculiar to 
that age, as follows : 

s. d. 

To mend a pair of shoes for Brom .... 2 

" " " " " " Oato...., 3 6 

" " " " " " Flora 3 

To make a pair of shoes for Nan 5 

" " " " " " Dick 16 

etc. etc. 

The physician's bill for professional services ren- 
dered for the slaves is also somewhat of a curiosity, not 
only as being a bill of items, but as showing that the 
slave and the master had the same medical adviser. As 
is here shown, the medicine prescribed by the physician 
is also furnished by him : 

■ Esq. to Dr. M D'. 

1789 £ s. d. 

Aug 14'" To an Emetic for Brom , — 9 — 

Oct 6'" To bleeding in the arm Dick — 2 — 

Nov 6"" To an aperient for Flora's child — 2 — 

Nov 24" To extracting a tooth for Miss Sally . . — 2 — 

Dec S* To extracting a tooth for Ben — 2 — 

Dec 19"" To an Emetic for Mrs. ... — 9 — 


Feb 1"' To dressing a wound on his lip and 

ointment & attendance for Brom. . . — 9 — 
etc. etc. 


For sixteen visits, the dates of which are given, and 
for the medicines needed, the amount of the bill is 
£10 14s. 0«Z. 

Among other items for the slaves is the bill of a 
cabinet-maker : 

May 7'" 1817 

To making a coffin for Flora , |2 — 

In the State of New York manumission of the 
slaves was effected by the slow enactment of laws which 
gradually gave them their freedom. 

In 1781 a law was passed by which freedom was 
given to such able-bodied men as served in certain regi- 
ments for three years or until regularly discharged. 

In 1788 a law was enacted to the effect that when 
the owner of a slave under fifty years of age, and of 
sufficient ability to provide for himself or herself, 
should be disposed to manumit such slave, that previous 
thereto he, She, or they should procure a certificate 
signed by the overseers of the poor of the city or town, 
and of two justices of the peace of the county, certify- 
ing that such slave appeared to be under fifty years of 
age and of sufiicient ability to provide for himself or 
herself; and when such a certificate of manumission 
was registered, that the slave should be adjudged to be 

A number of slaves were freed in Platbush under 
this law. 

To show the form of manumission, we copy some 
of these from the old records : 

I Stephen B. Schoonmaker of the Town of Flatbush, Kings 
County, State of New York, Do hereby certify that I have 


manumitted and set free my negro man named Harry aged 
twenty-eight years. Given under my hand this 16" day of 
AprU 1814. 

Stephen B. Sohoonmakek 

NioH' Sohoonmakek 
William W. Stoothoff 

Overaeera of the poor. 
Signed in presence of 


Jacob Dttkyee. 

We the subscribers being Overseers of the Poor for the said 
Town of Flatbush Do hereby Certify that an application to us 
made by Stephen B. Schoonmaker of Flatbush to approve the 
manumission of a negro man named Harry and it appears to us 
that the said Harry ia under the age of fifty years and of suffi- 
cient ability to provide for himself we do hereby approve of said 

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this 
19" day of April 1814. 

I, John Vanderbilt have manumitted and set free a certain 
female slave named Isabella, April 10" 1822. 

(Signed) John Vanderbilt. 
8ealed,and deliiiered in presence of 

Gbbbet Mabtense. 

She appears to be under the age of forty-five years and of 
sufficient ability to provide for herself and her children Cor- 
nelius and Thomas. 

Adkian Vandkevkee 

Johannes Eldert. 

On the same day, April 10, 1823, John Vanderbilt 
manumitted his slave Frances Young. 

John Lefferts, August 17, 1833, manumitted his 
slave Susan. 

A law was passed to the effect that every child born 


of a slave within this State after July 4, 1799, should 
be free, but remain the servant of the former master 
until the age, if a male, of twenty-eight years ; if a 
female, until twenty-five years of age. 

It will thus be seen that great care was taken lest 
the slaves should become a public charge. The town 
authorities were not willing to accept any liabilities by 
which they might be obliged to support those who ought 
to be supported upon the private me^ns of their former 

In order to secure the rights given them by this law, 
it was necessary to have the date of birth of every one 
applying for freedom thoroughly established ; this was 
attended to by the town authorities. Among the town 
records we find a large number of these notifications of 
birth. We give a few as samples of the rest : 

I Lawrence Voorhees of the town of Flatbush do hereby 
certify that a female child named Sawr aged three months waa 
bora of, a slave belonging to me 

Witness my hand this 
21" day of Feb 1801. _ 

I Abraham Ditmas of the Town of Flatbush, yeoman, do 
certify that a female child named Sook aged eight months was 
born the fifth day of July last of a slave belonging to me. Wit- 
ness my hand March 5, 1803. . T^ 

' Abbaham Ditmas. 

I, John Van der Bilt of the Town of Flatbush in Kings Co. 
do hereby declare that on the 15'" day of Dec. last a male negro 
child was born named Will. 

In witness my hand this 29'" day of May 1802 

JoBN Van der Bilt. 

The dawn of greater freedom was, however, rapidly 
approaching, and even the right to the services of the 
children was being abandoned : 


Sir, I do hereby notify you that I abandon my right of ser- 
vice to a female child named Nancy, born Jan 20"" 1803, which 
said child you have got on record in your office 

Elsie Gerbetsen. 
May 6, 1S03 
To the Town Clerk of Flatbush. 

Sir 1 do hereby notify that I abandon my right of servitude 
to a female child named Bett, which said child you have on 
record in your office 

Hendbiok Yandebtebb. 
To John C. Vandeeveer, Town Clerk. 

Flatbush Aug i 1800 
Sir This is to certify that I abandon all my right of servi- 
tude to a negro child named Will, born Aug 5"' 1799. 

Lbffeets Mabteitsk. 
To Mr John C. Vanderveee 
Town, Clerh. 

The early settlers on Long Island were not, howeyer, 
bound to slave labor exclusively ; there were also inden- 
tured apprentices and laborers. Advertisements for run- 
away apprentices appeared in the New York papers as 
well as for runaway slaves. 

An indenture paper, bearing date June 8, 1758, by 
which a young girl from Queens County was bound out 
to a family in Flatbush, is still extent. The terms are 
very much like those of an indenture made for a child 
bound out from an institution or by the county super- 
intendent of the poor at this present time, except as to 
the remuneration due her for her services at the expira- 
tion of her term of indenture. In that respect they dif- 
fer as widely as do the customs and knanners of the cen- 
turies in which they were written. " The master shall 
give unto the said apprentice," says this old document, 
"a cow, a new wrapper, calico, at five shillings per 


yard, a new bonnet, a new pair of shoes and stockings, 
two new shifts, two new petticoats, two caps, and two 
handkerchiefs and her wearing apparel" — this last 
probahly referring to the clothing she had been wearing 
previous to the limited outfit with which she was sup- 
posed to start out in life. 

We have also a copy of an indenture made in the 
early part of the following century, in which no mention 
is made of a cow, but a more generous provision of cloth- 
ing is imperative in the terms of the indenture. 

The girl at the age of twelve is indentured, volun- 
tarily and with consent of her parents, until she reach 
the age of eighteen. 

During all of which time [thus quaintly reads this old, 
time-stained paper] the said Lydia her said master faithfully shall 
serve, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere readily 
obey : she shall do no damage to her said master nor see it done 
by others, without letting or giving notice thereof to her said 
master. She shall not waste her said master's goods, nor lend 
tliem unlawfully to any: she must not contract matrimony 
within the said term : at cards, dice, or any unlawful game she 
shall not play whereby her said master may have damage : she 
shall neither trafiSc with her own goods or the goods of others, 
nor shall she buy or sell without license from her said master. 
She shall not absent herself day nor night from her said mas- 
ter's service without his leave, nor haunt ale houses, taverns, or 
playhouses, but in all things behave herself as a faithful servant 
ought to do during the term of service aforesaid. 

The date of this indenture is "the nineteenth day 
of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
eight hundred and fourteen, and in the thirty-eighth 
year of American Independence." 

"We copy the following as a sample of an indenture 
of an apprentice to learn a trade : 


This Indenture, made the 22d of July, a. d. 1695, is to cer- 
tify to all and every one whom it may concern that Jonathan 
Mills, senior, of Jamaica, in Queens Co., and Jacob Hendrioksen 
of Flatbush, in Kings Co., smith, are agreed and have made 
covenant in manner and form following : 

Imprimis, Jonathan Mills, Jr., son of' the above-named Jon- 
athan Mills, senior, is bound to serve his master, Jacob Hendrick- 
sen, of Zuyt dam, above said, the time and space of three years 
begun the 5th day of June last, to expire the 5th day of June, 
1698, in which time the said Jonathan Mills, Jr., is to serve his 
said master duly and faithfully, principally in and about the 
trade and art of a smith, and also sometimes for other occa- 

Secondly, Jacob Hendricksen, of Zuyt dam, abovesaid, is 
bound to said Jonathan Mills, Jr., to find washing, sleeping, 
victuals, and drink during said time of three years, and also to 
endeavor to instruct said Jonathan in said art and trade of a 
smith during said term of three years, and also that said Jona- 
than may have the liberty to go in night school in the winter, 
and at the expiration of said time his master is to give him a 
good suit of clothes for Sabbath-day, and- also two pair of tongs 
and two hammers, one big and one small one. 

In Testimony and performance whereof we have set here- 
unto our hands and seals the day and year above written. 

Jonathan + Mills 
Jacob .Hbndrboksb, , 

von Zuyt dam. 

Johannes Van Ekelbn. 

In an indenture made by the overseers bf the poor 
in Kings County at a later period, there seems to be 
nothing given to the girl when her time of indenture 
expires except a Bible, which was rather a mockery if 


she did not receive with it the just wages which the Bi- 
ble enjoins should be given. This girl, Suzanne, born 
1801, is indentured to Jacob Ryerson of the town of 
Brooklyn as a servant. 

He shall [says the indenture] cause her to be instructed in 
the art of housekeeping and also of spinning and knitting. She 
shall also be instructed to read and write, and at the expiration 
of her time of service shall give unto the siiid Suzanne a new 

In 1812 there appears on record an indenture more 
liberal as to its terms for the young girl : 

Jane White [indentured as before] is to receive one new 
suit of holiday clothes of the value at least of $5, and two other 
good suits for everyday wear and one new Bible. 

Intelligence offices for procuring domestics were es- 
tablished in New York some time before slavery was 

That they were a more reliable dependence than 
the establishments of the present day, we should judge 
from the fact that premiums were offered — not to those 
servants who were constantly returning to the offices — 
but to those who remained a long time with the same 
employer. Perhaps this method would be a relief to 
the housekeepers of this age. We find the following 
in a newspaper of May 13, 1809 : 

waenb's bstablished and equitable office foe sbbvants, 

No. 2 Robinson Street, first door from Broadway, where fam- 
ilies are supplied with servants of every description, and it 
being the sincere wish of the proprietor that they would con- 
tinue a long time in their places, both for the comfort of fami- 
lies and themselves, he offers as an inducement to this laudable 


end the following Premiums, which extend to such servants 
only as are registered for that purpose at this ofiSce : 

$6. Every servant that lives three years with one family ob- 
tained at this oflSce, shall, on having a good character from the 
said family, receive the ahove Premium. 

$7. Every servant living five years with one family, obtained 
at the said office, shall on producing a good character receive the 
above Premium. 

$10. Servants that live seven years in one place obtained as 
aforesaid shall, on having a good character from the said family, 
receive ten dollars. 

Also a gift according to merit to sober, industrious, civil, 
and cleanly boys and girls, who live twelve months in one place. 

The children of deserving poor parents shall be provided 
with places free of expense, and also entitled to a gratuity on 
the aforesaid conditions. 

'.It being a common practice at many offices to take sums of 
money from servants, exclusive of their first charge for provid- 
ing them with places; Mr. Warne assures servants that no more 
than one shilling first paid (unless for a lucrative situation) will 
be permitted to be taken at this office. 

The proprietor is happy in having it in his power to relieve 
servants who have a long time labored under great hardships by 
falling into the hands of unprincipled persons who keep offices 
in different parts of the metropolis and strip them of their all 
under false pretenses. 

Travelers, Taverns, Coffee-Houses, and Publicans supplied 
with servants agreeably to their orders. 

It is probable that there were few, if any, foreigners 
employed as domestics in the family or as laborers on 
the farms in Flatbush previous to 1822, the year in 
which all traces of slavery ceased to exist. 

At that time those who were formerly slaves, and 
their descendants, still found employment in the fami- 
lies of which they had once formed a part. They felt 


a certain claim upon the master and mistress undei 
whose roof they were born ; this claim, if not legally 
recognized after this period, was at least so far acknowl- 
edged in the higher realm of duty that a kindly over- 
sight was extended to the families of their former slaves, 
and they were provided for in cases of sickness and des- 

As there was no almshouse in Kings County until 
1830, when the county supervisors purchased the poor- 
house farm at Flatbush, those who needed help, or were 
upon the town, were boarded and lodged in the private 
houses of individuals at the public expense. 

To show how the poor were provided for, we here 
insert some bills which were foun^ among some old 
papers : 

The Overseers of the Town of Flatbush 


For medicine & attendance on blk man named 

Wall from Jan 6" until 13, 1813 £2 5 

Jan. 19, 1813. Rec" Pay' 


of Mr Lefferts one of the 
overseers of the poor 
of aforesaid Town. 

FL4TBUSH Fth 10th 1813 
Overseers of the Poor of the Town of Flatbush 

To Stephen B. Sohoonmakee Dr. 
For boarding and lodging a Negro man named 

Wall, a pauper to the State, 9 days. $4.50 

Rec" Feb 12"' 1813 the above in full 

for Stephen B. Sohoonmakee 
OoBN' Dttbybb Jk. 


Overseers of the poor of the Towff of Flatbush. 

To WiEUAM Alsbo D' 
Jan 12" 1813. 

For making a coffin for Wall a state pauper $3 . 25 

Received the above in full of John LeflFerts 
one of the overseers of the poor of the 
town of Flatbush. 

William Alqbo. 

In some of the colored families on Long Island 
there was a mixture of Indian blood with the African. 
It was very plainly traceable in their straight hair and 
in their lighter complexion ; but this mixture of the 
two races was not an improvement upon the character 
of the negro. The pure-blooded African was more 
kindly in his nature, more cheerful in disposition, more 
gentle and teachable. Those marked traits of the In- 
dian character, the brooding over an injury with a view 
to retaliation, vindictiveness, and vengeful temper, cloud- 
ed the good-natured hilarity of the African and made 
him unwilling to work, lazy, shiftless, and morose. 

There is a strong tendency to superstitious belief in 
the African race. Strangely enough, it may be found 
to coexist with the acceptance of the purest Christian 
doctrine, and in those who lead an exemplary Christian 
life. It appears like some weed which is so natural to 
the soil of a garden that no amount of cultivation will 
wholly uproot it. They accept most readily not only 
the little superstitions which are always afloat as to 
dreams and signs and premonitions of coming events, 
but they are very credulous as to the power of charms 
and their antidotes. They believe in spells and poisons, 
and in the power and control which some persons may 
obtain over others, even when widely separated from 


them. They believe in the noxious power of certain 
charms hidden in the ground which may aflEect the 
passer-by, and in the potency of sp.ells exercised upon 
each other, to help or to harm, as either may be in- 

In times gone by, they were a kind-hearted, quiet 
people, fond of amusement, always looking upon the 
bright side of things, never worrying over coming mis- 
fortunes, but content to live in abiding faith upon a lit- 
eral rendering of that Scripture which says : " Take no 
thought for the morrow. Sufficient unto the day is the 
evil thereof. Take no thought^ saying, What shall we 
eat ? or, What shall we drink ? or. Wherewithal shall 
we be clothed ? " 

Thus it happened too often that want came, and im- 
providence brought with it many misfortunes ; and they 
have begun to dwindle away and disappear before the 
rugged industries in which neither their taste nor their 
physical strength enables them to take a share. 

In some instances colored families continued after 
their manumission in the employ of those to whom they 
had once belonged, and always found employment when 
well and assistance when sick from their old master and 

Scarcely twenty-five years ago traces of this, the 
only pleasant phase of that institution, still existed in 
Flatbush. There were elderly persons who were always 
called "old Mis'es" or "old Master" in certain colored 
families, and the allegiance was not that compelled by 
law, but tendered by affection. 

If relief was needed in any one of the old colored 
families who had been brought up in the town, they 
knew at once where to find it ; if they applied elsewhere. 


they were sure to be referred back to those with whom 
either themselves or their parents had been reared. 

Thus it happened that the miscellaneous appeals for 
assistance which now come from every quarter for the 
poor were in earlier days unknown. The foreign ele- 
ment in our population which now preys so lai'gely upon 
our pity and our purse had not then come to our gates. 
The housekeeper knew just who would apply at her 
kitchen-door for help, and just how much would be re- 
quired. She might be willingly blinded, and give more 
or less than was necessary ; but she could not be igno- 
rant of the amount that was needed, for their circum- 
stances and the number in their families were as familiar 
to her as those of her own household, of which they had 
once formed a part. 

It was considered in times gone by rather a sign of 
a well-to-do farmer to have a large family of colored 
people in his kitchen. The elder members of these fam- 
ilies had been so thoroughly drilled in the work required 
of them, that they were aliftost invaluable to the mas- 
ter and mistress as cooks, coachmen, and farm-hands. 
There were always small boys of every age to do the 
running of errands to " the store," bringing home the 
cows from the field, and calling the reapers to their 
meals, and such other work as required swift running 
and young feet. There were little colored girls of every 
age to help or hinder, as the case might be, in the vari- 
ous household duties. In most of the old Dutch houses 
there were small kitchens in which these families of col- 
ored people lived. They were not so far from the house 
as the slave-quarters on a Southern plantation, but the 
building was a separate one, annexed to the main kitchen 
of the house. 


As a race, the colored people have strong religious 
feelings. They are excitable and demonstrative under 
the enthusiasm of a thoroughly aroused interest in re- 
ligious duties ; but these feelings are variable, and apt 
to fade out when the exciting cause is removed. There 
have been, however, such noble examples among them 
of strong and abiding faith, characterizing a long and 
unspotted life, such steadfast adherence to duty amid 
temptations and discouragements, that they have proved 
themselves capable of reaching high Christian attain- 
ment and of illustrating the strength and beauty of 
Christian character. 

This race for more than a century and a half formed 
part of the family of every Dutch inhabitant of Kings 
County. Speaking the same language, brought up to 
the same habits and customs, with many cares and in- 
terests in common, there existed a sympathy with and 
an affection between them and the white members of 
the household such as could scarcely be felt toward the 
strangers who now perform the same labor under such 
different circumstances. 

We have given so much space to this subject, because 
a history of the social life of our ancestors would be in- 
complete if it did not include these people, who were so 
closely associated with the family, aiid who formed as to 
numbers so large a part of the household. 



The head of every family in Flatbush, with few 
exceptions, was a farmer, until within the last thirty 
years. They cultivated their land in the most careful 
manner, and were among the best farmers in the State. 
It was rarely that one saw old and dilapidated outhouses 
or broken fences. The barns, wagon-houses, and hay- 
ricks were kept in good repair, and all the outhouses 
were covered with a heavy coat of dark-red paint. In 
the southern section of the town gtones were scarce, 
so that the fences were post and rail. Only along the 
central ridge, which has been called the "backbone of 
the island," could stone be procured for walls to divide 
the farms. It has been asserted thoft there are no rocks 
south of that ridge. 

There was formerly a stone wall running on the 
easterly side of the road that led from Bedford south- 
ward toward Canarsie, north of where the county build- 
ings now stand. Little red chipmunks might be seen 
skipping over and through the interstices of this wall, 
for it was then a quiet nook, and the cultivated fields, 
shut in from the cold winds by the woods at the north- 
east, were always rich with the beauty of waving grain 
in the various stages of growth as the season advanced. 


Here the running blackberry vines twined and inter- 
laced themselves in arabesque figures across the stone 
wall, their prickly stems and the toppling stones serving 
to protect the enticing fruit. High stalks of the golden- 
rod in the autumn, and celandine and wild roses hid 
their roots in the soil, kept damp by the fallen stones, 
under which numerous bugs might be at housekeeping, 
or from beneath which a family of ants would scatter if 
their homes were unroofed. 

Here the children clambered among the nettles for 
blackberries in the summer, and under the great nut-tree 
which stood midway the field they w'ent nutting in the 
autumn. It was a pleasant, peaceful scene ; the robin and 
the thrush, or meadow-lark, as it was called, here made 
their nest, and sang their morning song in the apple or- 
chards near ; crows flapped their heavy wings and cawed 
from the tree-tops as they watched in the distance the 
farmer dropping the corn. Fresh and green the fields, 
with an almost imperceptible slope, rolled southward, and 
from this, the dividing line between Flatbush and Brook- 
lyn, the Flatbush farmers had an unbroken and beau- 
tifully cultivated expanse of farming land to the limits 
southward of the village. Upon this northern border 
of the town, which was once so fair a picture of agri- 
cultural prosperity, the change into a city suburb has 
begun. To the northeast fences are thrown down, the 
old stone wall is leveled, the sickly-looking cows of the 
city milkmen endeavor to graze upon the short and dried 
grass ; pigs and dogs and goats, rough men and dirty 
women, scold and scream and bark in mingled confu- 
sion from the shanties of the squatters that have taken 
possession of the open commons. I;t is sad for us who 
have been so fond of this country life to think that 


this may be a precursor of the change which shall slowly 
creep onward in advance of the city; growth. 

The cultivation of grain was found by the Long Isl- 
and farmers to be less remunerative when the canals 
and railroads opened up the competition of the Western 
agriculturist ; then the increased demand for the prod- 
uce of the market gardener by degrees changed the 
whole character of the farm work on this island. Flat- 
bush farmers, being so near to the city, began to raise 
those vegetables which were to supply the markets of 
New York and Brooklyn. 

Where formerly wheat, rye, buckwheat, oats, corn, 
flax, and barley were the products of the farm, with only 
so much of cabbage, peas, potatoes, and turnips as were 
necessary for the family use, all this is now reversed ; 
only so much hay and grain as the farmer needs are 
raised, while he depends upon his market produce for 
remunerative sales. 

Under this system of cultivation the farms are not 
so picturesque as they were when the fields were wav- 
ing with the gi-aceful growth of grain. The market 
gardens and the great fields of potatoes and cabbage 
show signs of industry and thrift, but the farms are not 
so beautiful as they were before this change took place. 


The barns of the Dutch farmers were broad and 
capacious. The roof, like that on their houses, was 
very heavy, and sloped to within eight or ten feet of 
the ground. There were holes near the roof for the 
bam swallows that flitted in and out above the rafters, 
surging to and fro in long, swift circles around the 
barnyard. Through the chinks of broken shingles the 


rays of the sun fell across the darkness as if to winnow 
the dust through the long shafts of Jight, or, where the 
crevice was on the shady side, the daylight glittered 
through like stars, for there were no windows in these 
barns ; there was light suflScient when the great double 
doors, large enough to admit a load of hay, were open. 

There were beams across the second story, support- 
ing poles on which the hay was piled. What great hay- 
mows they were, choice romping places for the chil- 
dren ! Just the spot in which to hiint for hens' nests, 
or from which to jump to the soft bedding of hay 
thrown down on the lower floor ! And then what bois- 
terous laughter followed the leap, as the frolicsome lit- 
tle ones were almost buried by the downward plunge 
into the fragrant clover hay ! 

The hens were sure to select places for their nests 
in the farthest corners of the mow or in the mangers, 
and many a hatful or apronful of fresh, clean eggs the 
children would find and carry exultingly into the house. 
If by mistake they frightened a setting hen from her 
nest, what a noisy cackling was heard, followed by the 
unnecessary advice from some of the farm-hands to "let 
that hen alone ! " 

The granary was usually boarded off in one corner. 
Opening the door suddenly, there was apt to be a scam- 
pering of mice and rats. If the pet dogs of the fam- 
ily were the companions of the children, chase was 
given at once. At it they went, scattering the threshed 
grain upon the floor, tumbling down the wooden grain- 
shovel and half -bushel measure, leaping over the wheat- 
bags ready for the mill, and sliding down great heaps 
of shelled corn, until the mischief was arrested by call- 
ing off the dogs and closing the d,oors, leaving these 


hunting-grounds to those more careful hunters, the 

The stable for the farmer's horses formed part of the 
barn ; it was entered by a smaller door at the side. 
There were several pairs of horses and generally a pair 
of mules owned by every farmer ; if oxen were kept, 
there was a stable for their use on the opposite side. 

In these huge barns the cereal wealth of the farmer 
was stored. Reaping and threshing machines were not 
in use at the time that the land 4n Flatbush lay in 
cultivated farms, and the process of separating the 
wheat and chaff was more tedious than it is now. 

The grain to be threshed was spread in a circle upon 
the barn-floor. It was trodden out by the feet of the 
horses which were driven round and round upon it, 
the driver standing in the middle^ and his assistants 
keeping with their wooden forks the grain in its posi- 
tion, if it happened to be displaced by the horses. Rye 
was threshed out by the flail, a sound that one never 
hears now ; then, on many an autumn or winter day, 
one might liear from the open barn-door the regular 
thump, thump ! thump, thump ! of the flail as the 
farmer and his men threshed out the grain for winter 
use preparatory to taking it to the mill. 

The cobwebs, begrimed with dust, in tattered fes- 
toons, ornamented with hayseed, hanging from tlie 
beams ; the horses, stretching out their long noses from 
their stalls ; the rough rope harness,; the detached bits 
of wagons, board seats, tongue, or shaft ; the farming 
implements, the bags of grain, and beside them the 
iron-rimmed half-bushel measure ; the old knife or 
broken scythe stuck in the shingled sides of the barn ; 
the black bucket of tar for the wagon-wheels ; the ac- 


counts chalked on the doors, and, above all, the sweet 
smell of hay pervading the place — how these things 
come back to memory as we recall the old barns in the 
days when all the village was tilled g,s farming land ! 

There are not many of these old barns left ; here and 
there one may still be found in Flatbush. Even in the 
outskirts of Brooklyn, where the city has suddenly over- 
grown an old farm, there are one or two standing. We 
feel as if they were out of place in the unaccustomed 
whirl in which they find themselves, for they belong not 
to the living, busy present, but to St different order of 
things that can never come back to us from the past. 

Near the barn stood the wagon-house of the farmer, 
in the loft of which were sheltered the wheelbarrow, the 
grindstone, the plows and harrows, 'the rakes and hoes. 
Corn-cribs, filled during the winter with cobs of golden 
corn, formed the outer compartments of this building. 
The farm wagons were in the open central space. Even 
these wagons have changed in form during the last fifty 
years ; those then in use were wholly without springs 
and were painted red ; the sides weje loose, and could 
be separated from the rest of the body so as to unload 
the more easily ; they sloped up both to the front and 
to the back, but were highest behind. There are none 
of this style of vehicle in use on the farms at present in 
Kings County, but the traveler may find them in Hol- 
land at the present day. 

It may be interesting to know the money value of 
cattle raised by the old Dutch farmers. An old bill of 
sale, bearing date 1767, having been preserved among 
other and more valuable papers, its age has now given 
it a value which it did not once possess. We give it 
just as it was written : 


Zeven beeste [seven cows] : £25 

Vif jong beeste [five young cows]. 12 

Vier kalveren [four calves] 6 


Before the invention of labor-saving machines, the 
time of harvest was one of immense labor to the farmer. 
The men who were useful with scythe and cradle were 
all engaged in advance at good wages. The rich golden 
grain was a beautiful sight, falling before the regular 
and graceful sweep of the scythe as the mowers ad- 
vanced in rows, marking their progress by long swathes, 
while before them, with the slightest ripple of summer 
breeze, the ripened wheat swayed gently, bending itself 
like the lengthened undulations of the sea. As the reaper 
whetted his scythe, and stood resting a moment to wipe 
the perspiration that stood in beads on his forehead, his 
red flannel shirt gave the bit of color the artist loves in 
a picture. 

At the bars let down in the lane his coat was thrown ; 
under a bunch of fresh cut hay to keep it cool stood the 
pail of drink for the thirsty reapers, and the tin cup. It 
was watched by the dog that lay beside it, his tongue 
hanging out of his mouth, panting from the heat, and 
snapping lazily at the insects that buzzed about his head. 

The men turned the hay over with long forks before 
it was ready for the barn, and after that it was put up 
in haycocks. If a heavy black cloud loomed up from 
the western horizon, threatening a shower, then the 
utmost haste was necessary to secure shelter lest the hay 
should be wet, and the wagons were driven rapidly to 
and fro between the barns and the hayfield. The men, 
with their long forks beside them, rode high on the 


top of the load. With the help of one man stationed 
above and one below, the fragrant hay was pitched rap- 
idly into the mow. 

A framework, consisting of four heavy corner posts 
and a thatched straw roofing, which could be raised or 
lowered upon these corner posts, was called by the farm- 
ers a barrack. 

One or more of these barracks was in every farm- 
yard for the straw and hay, and served to relieve the 
overcrowded barns in seasons of a bountiful harvest. 
There were also rows of haycocks of salt hay from the 
meadows, of which every farmer owned a certain share, 
and which was highly valued. This was harvested in 
the months of September and October. 

In the late autumn long rows of cornstalks were 
stacked higher than the fences for the use of the cows 
in the cattle-yard, and the great golden pumpkins which 
grew between the rows of corn were* laid along the sun- 
ny sides of the corn-crib to ripen. 

Thus on all sides there were signs of peace and plen- 
ty. The returning seasons rarely failed to bring the 
farmer an abundant return for the labor he had bestowed 
upon his land. The smooth fields, under the careful 
cultivation of their respective owners, were never un- 
duly taxed so as to exhaust their fertility. They were 
judiciously planted with a view to changing crops, and 
they were enriched as the experienced eye of the farmer 
saw what was needed. 

Though the life was quiet and unostentatious, yet 
the farmer had a peaceful, happy hoihe, undisturbed by 
the cares which to-day make the life of the citizen so 
full of turmoil and disquiet. 



The Dutch travelers who visited Long Island at the 
time of its settlement, and to whom allusion has al- 
ready been made, say of the peach-trees that they 
" were so laden that one might doubt whether there 
were more leaves or fruit on them." 

This statement is corroborated by what the old peo- 
ple tell us of the enormous quantity of peaches raised 
even as late as 1776. At that period, and subsequently, 
peaches were so abundant in Flatbush that they lay un- 
gathered under the trees. The supply was greater than 
the demand, and after the animals in the barnyard had 
been abundantly fed on them, the remainder lay rotting 
in the sun. 

The reverse of this is true at this present time. For 
some twenty-five years it has been impossible to culti- 
vate successfully this delicious fruit upon the soil of 
Flatbush. A worm or some disease attacks the tree, 
and before they are in full bearing they look as if blight- 
ed, turn yellow, and die. 

The peach-tree continued to grow and bear fruit in 
some of the adjacent towns long after it had ceased to 
repay its cultivation in Flatbush. 


Flums and cherries were once very abundant ; the 
trees were healthy and the fruit large and fine ; but 
with these, as with the peach, some disease attacking the 
tree, they were blighted, and the fruit, if the trees con- 
tinued in bearing, was poor. 

Grapevines were not so generally cultivated as they 
are at present. The Isabella grape Was the variety pre- 
ferred, as being the most hardy. 

Of the small fruits, there were currants, gooseber- 
ries, strawberries, and raspberries ; but there were none 
of the large varieties of these plants, such as are now the 
result of careful selection and cultivation. Mulberry- 
trees were once abundant, but this very sweet fruit is 
now rarely seen. 

Pears live to a great age on this soil. There were 
trees standing in 1855 which are known to have been in 
full bearing in 1776. Pears were formerly as abundant 
as were peaches, and the trees being .more hardy contin- 
ued longer in bearing. 

The first of this delicious fruit which led the contin- 
uous procession of gradually ripening pears from Au- 
gust to November was what was called the " sugar pear." 
This was a small, yellow, sweet pear which ripened just 
at the close of harvest. It was very nice when first ripe, 
but apt to become mealy and decay if kept long after 
being gathered. 

Another variety of this pear was called the "sugar- 
top. " These were very nice, being more juicy than the 
sugar pear and a little larger. 

The "bell pear," named from its shape, was a rich, 
juicy pear, and bore very abundantly. 

A pear called "the Engelbert Lott," probably named 
after the cultivator, was an excellent 'pear, and bore well. 


The last of the crop was gathered in October or 
November; this late variety was called the "pound 
pear," from its great size. They ripened in the house 
after being gathered, but were used chiefly for sweet- 
meats. The Dutch housewife valued these pears, be- 
cause she could preserve them at her leisure during the 
winter, as they were not apt to decay even if kept until 
almost spring. Flavored with orange, lemon, or ginger, 
they made very nice preserves. 

There was a prolific bearer among the pear-trees called 
the " Comelis Scooter " (we do not vouch for the correct- 
ness of the spelling). Every farmer had a number of 
these trees. The fruit ripened in the early autumn ; 
they were juicy, but not highly flavored. The children 
brought them to school in their dinner-baskets, for as 
long as they lasted they were very abundant, but they 
could not be kept late in the season. 

There were a number of fine apple and pear orchards 
in the village. Some of these, set out at an early period, 
have ceased bearing ; but many of the old residents paid 
great attention to the cultivation of these fruits, and 
there was not a farm without its choice orchard. Some 
forty years ago these were in full bearing, and the fruit 
ripened to greater perfection than it has done for the 
past thirty years. 

Every family had apples enough for winter use and 
for cider-making. The surplus was sent to the New 
York market ; for at that period the markets were 
chiefly supplied from the produce of the Middle and 
Eastern States. 

" Bough apples " began to ripen in harvest-time, and 
they were followed by a regular succession of ripening 
varieties until, latest of all, the russets were gathered. 


What beautiful fruit, and how abundant it was in 
the orchards upon every farm ! Great yellow apples 
peeped from under the glossy green leaves ; bright red 
apples shone from beneath gnarled boughs of old trees ; 
Newtown pippins fell dead ripe upon the stubble of the 
wheat-field, and swarms of bumble-bees and wasps and 
golden-winged flies feasted on the ripehed and decaying! 
fruit that had burst the mellow rind in falling. There 
were "sheep apples," in shape like flattened cheeses, 
that grew in the pasture-lots on low trees just high 
enough to entice the boys to climb after them ; there 
were great yellow apples streaked with red, the embroid- 
ery of the sun ; there were " guelderlengs," beautiful to 
look upon ; and there were many others, like the fruit 
in the garden of Eden, "good for food and pleasant to 
the eyes," but without the ban placed upon the apples 
in Paradise, for as generously as they yielded, so freely 
all partook of the enticing fruit. The very shape of 
those old apple-trees was suggestive of a bountiful Na- 
ture ; for even where the fruit was high up beyond the 
reach, the tree stretched downward its sloping limbs as 
if inviting the children to shake the'boughs ; willingly 
the response came ; plump the fruit fell, sometimes, as 
if enjoying a practical joke, upon the very heads of the 
little ones, whose upturned faces were scarcely prepared 
for the sudden response. The pleasant sound of bees 
humming among the pink-streaked apple-blossoms in 
the springtime seemed to find its cohtrasted quiet under 
those trees in the autumn, when only the stillness was 
broken by the fall now and then of the ripened fruit 
which hid itself under the clover or the nettles, or rolled 
into the ridges of the plowed ground. 

Even when the apple-tree has been blown down, it 


will continue to bear if it has any connection with its 
root for the supply of sap. Was there ever an old apple 
orchard that did not have one or more trees in a recum- 
bent posture, easy and inviting, for the children to 
climb ? Under such circumstances, it seems almost 
impossible that they should still blossom and bear fruit, 
so gnarly and sapless the boughs seem to be ; and yet 
there are well-authenticated instances of these gnarled, 
recumbent trees in full bearing for ndany years. 

An old apple-tree in an orchard of Mr. John Lefferts 
blossomed and bore fruit in 1878, two years after it had 
fallen to the ground, and was only connected with the 
root by a small portion of the trunk. What made this 
case remarkable was the fact that this tree was the last 
of a large orchard which was full grown in lYTB. 

The holes in the decaying trunks of fruit-trees from 
which large limbs have been twistesi by sudden gusts 
have always been favorite resorts of owls, from which 
through the long summer twilight they hoot in reply to 
each other, from orchard to orcha,rd. Here also the 
squirrels love to secrete their winter store of nuts, es- 
pecially if these orchards be close upon the line of forest 
from which they secure their food. 

There was a severe gale in the year 1821, known as 
the "September gale," which the old people used to 
think, we can not say with how much of foundation for 
the belief, was the cause of the destruction of many of 
the old orchards. "At least," they would say, "the 
fruit has never been so abundant since," for in that se- 
vere and long - remembered storm the salt spray was 
found upon trees far inland, and the south side of trees 
turned black. Indirectly it may have had that effect, 
but, on the whole, we incline to think it a mere coinci- 


dence, and that there has been a constant and regular 
decadence in the fruit orchards of Flatbush. 

After the apples were gathered and assorted, cider- 
naaking was part of the farmer's work. The cider- 
presses were usually placed along the farm lanes, near 
the orchards, and every farmer made from one to ten 
or more barrels of cider. It was in. almost daily use on 
the dinner-table during the winter season, and in the 
following summer was often diluted with water, sweet- 
ened, and flavored with nutmeg, as a pleasant drink in 
warm weather. 

It formed the common beverage of the men in the 
harvest field, and, as it was the pure and unadulterated 
juice of the apple, without any of the doctoring which 
it is to be feared it receives from retail dealers of the 
article at the present day, it was doubtless a wholesome 

The vinegar used in the family was this cider in its 
later stages of fermentation, so that pure "cider vine- 
gar " was not the doubtful material which often appears 
now under that name. 

Vegetables grew in abundance on the rich soil of 
Long Island. Asparagus, peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, 
beans, cabbage, parsnips, sweet-corn, turnips, cucum- 
bers, squash, pumpkins, and potatoes were to be found 
in the kitchen garden of every farm. Egg-plant and 
tomatoes are the only vegetables of comparatively re- 
cent introduction. Tomatoes first came into use upon 
the table somewhere about 1840. 

Spinach was covered with salt hay, to be cut for table 
use in the winter. A narrow-leaved variety of dock 
was used as "greens" when vegetables were scarce. 
Pursley and dandelion were gathered in the spring 


from the fields by those who had no vegetable gardens. 
Melons were easily cultivated in localities where there 
was sandy soil ; they could be purchased at a moderate 
price through August. 

While the revolving seasons brought an abundance of 
fruit and vegetables to the tables, yet there were times 
when the farmer was almost without them, for there 
were then none of the foreign fruits which are now sup- 
plied by every incoming steamer to complement the 
period when the native varieties are out of the market. 
Oranges and pineapples were rare and expensive ; ba- 
nanas were not to be had ; lemons were not as abun- 
dant as now. Raisins, dried currants, prunes, and figs 
were by no means as cheap as they are at present ; white 
grapes were only purchased for the sick or for special 
entertainments. All the luxuries which steam naviga- 
tion brings to the householder to-day formed no part 
of the bill of fare of the farmer, who fifty years ago was 
confined to the produce of his own farm. 



There is a fashion even in the cultivation of flowers. 
The greater or less demand for the propagation of dif- 
ferent plants, or the ready sale for particular varieties, 
brings certain flowers into prominence at one period 
which a few years after are neglected for some newer 

There was a time when most exorbitant sums were 
offered in Holland for the single bulb of a favorite tu- 
lip. Now tulips hold a comparatively low place in the 
estimation of the florist. 

At one time the beautiful garden lily known as the 
Annunciation lily was considered a common flower, al- 
though it held its place by its hardy growth in our gar- 
dens. Now these lilies, forced from their natural July 
flowering to bloom at Easter, are cultivated by garden- 
ers with the greatest care. 

New varieties of roses bring large prices, and pre- 
miums are paid for novelties in all kinds of plants, so 
that, according to the gardener's estimate, plants are 
valued not so much because they are beautiful as be- 
cause they are rare or now. 

There are many plants now cultivated in every gar- 
den which some fifty years ago had not been iutro- 


duced ; some of these were even unknown in our green- 

The dahlia was brought into theUnited States from 
Mexico. At first it was highly prized as a rich and rare 
plant ; every variety was eagerly 'sought and propa- 
gated with care. Forty years ago our gardens were 
planted with dahlia poles almost as soon as the bulbs 
had sprouted ; these were anything but ornamental, 
even when the long stalk stood like a twin growth 
at the side ; but when the velvety petals began to un- 
fold, and all the varieties of crimson, scarlet, yellow/ 
and purple unrolled their regal robes, they received un- 
bounded admiration. At every agricultural fair there 
was rivalry as to who should exhibit the greatest vari- 
ety. But the cultivation of this flower no longer claims 
attention from the florist, and the neglect is not to be 
regretted, for it was a coarse flower, without odor, and 
ungraceful in growth upon its straight, stiff stalk. 

When the fuchsia was first introduced it was called 
lady's eardrop, and the elongated, slender shape justi- 
fied the name by its likeness to the long, pendent ear- 
rings which were fashionable at that time. They were at 
first crimson and blue ; cultivation has given us many 
varieties both as to color and form, but none are as 
graceful and pretty as those long crimson ones with 
their blue centers from which the first were propagated. 

Many plants are now successfully cultivated in this 
country which were natives of China or Japan. These, 
although at present we can scarcely call them new, were 
not common here some thirty years ago ; among such 
we can name the camellia Japonioa, the pyrus Japo- 
nica, dielytra, deutzia, wigelia, etc. 

All the varieties of beautiful colored leaves — coleus — 


were unknown in the horticulture pf fifty years ago in 
Flatbush. Now they form a very large part of the bril- 
liant decoration of every garden spot. Whether varie- 
gated, shaded, or the blending of one or more harmon- 
izing tints, they are all so beautiful that they form a 
rich and valuable addition to our flora. 

There are many flowers to which protection is given 
in the winter in the greenhouse that in the summer 
give variety to our gardens ; these were wholly wanting 
years ago, for the reason that there were fewer public 
hothouses and conservatories, and only solitary speci- 
mens of these plants found their way to the lover of 
flowers. They were not, as now, for sale in the spring- 
time at every street-corner. We never saw growing 
in our gardens some thirty years ago heliotrope, abu- 
tilon, salvias, begonias, bouvardia, verbenas, calceola- 
rias, pelargoniums, etc., flowers which now make their 
summer home in the beds with our native hardy plants. 

The wisteria is also a stranger which has come to 
feel at home with us ; its rich clusters were not seen 
once as they are now, climbing from trellis to window. 

The madeira-vine was then unknown. The trum- 
pet-creeper, matrimony, woodbine, honeysuckle, and 
climbing roses were the only vines which clustered over 
the porticoes and clambered up the trellis. 

But the memory of the pretty gardens throughout 
Flatbush rebukes even the intimation that we were 
without flowers ; and those which we had were quite 
as diligently cultivated, perhaps more lovingly, than 
the abundant beds which bloom in such luxuriance 
around our houses to-day. 

We iised to have an abundance of what are now 
called old-fashioned flowers. 


Lilacs, white and purple, bloomed along the hedges. 
How delicious their perfume, how beautiful their color, 
how graceful their form ! Theirs was no scant and 
penurious flowering ! They gave so abundantly of their 
beautiful treasures that, even in the poor man's cottage, 
one might find great bunches of them on the mantel- 
piece in the spring-time ; children gathered them un- 
restricted ; wayside pedestrians leaned over the paling 
and broke off great stalks unrebuked, for no one 
thought it stealing. They have been called common, 
but they are so generous, so beautiful, so fragrant, that 
they will ever be associated with sweet memories of plea- 
sant things. 

Syringas were also very abundant, and their per- 
fume filled the air with fragrance in the latter part of 
May and first of June. 

Honeysuckles overhung many a trellis. The green- 
ish-white snowball, that finally the sun bleached, as it 
grew into fitness to its name, recalling the drifts of 
January, had its place among the shrubbery. 

Red peonies, huge and florid, thrust themselves for- 
ward in every corner of the garden ; those more deli- 
cately tinted did not come to our notice until a later 
period, when the pink-and-white peony divided the 
attention which had been given to the earlier and 
deeply colored specimens of that hardy bulb. 

The flower-de-luce, known as the blue flag, and 
later as the fleur-de-lis, also formed a thicket with its 
sword-shaped leaves, but the varieties in color which 
may now be found were then unknown. 

Pansies were abundant, but. they were very small, 
and, under the common name of "jump-up Johnnies," 
crept out from the garden-bed to the grass-plot unno- 


ticed and almost uncared for. The huge velvet petals 
and exquisite shadings of their successors were develop- 
ments unthought of in connection with the simple pan- 
sies which hid themselves under the box bordering or 
crept under the shadow of taller plants. 

There was a species of rose which was very hardy 
and bloomed early in the season, called a May rose ; in 
the Eastern States it bore the name of cinnamon rose ; 
the leaf was small, and the rose itself, crimped and 
curly, did not unfold its leaves as fully as did the later 
and larger varieties. This opened the season to the suc- 
cession of beautiful roses which followed. 

The pink monthly rose bloomed, as its name indi- 
cated, all the season through, although the flowers were 
most perfect in June and October. The color was ex- 
quisite, the petals being somewhat the tint of the pink 
in the sea-shell. 

There was a bush of this species of " monthly rose " 
which held its place in a well-known garden in Flat- 
bush for fifty years, the young shoots renewing the 
bush from the same root as the old stalk was trimmed 

June roses of all shades of pink, dark-red, velvet- 
leafed roses, great cabbage-roses, little yellow Scotch 
roses, and small white roses were very abundant through 
the summer. 

There was a white climbing rose which was pe- 
culiarly fragrant, having somewhat the odor of new- 
mown hay ; it only bloomed in June. 

All these were so far hardy that they only required 
some little protection to live out in the garden all win- 
ter ; they were generally thatched with straw or bent 
down and covered with earth or compost. 


We had tulips, chiefly red and yellow ones ; they 
grew up without much care, often coming up year after 
year in the same bed, even if it had been sodded and 
no longer used as a garden. Crocuses and hyacinths 
came also with the May sunshine, and lilies of the val- 
ley strung their pale bells upon their slender stalks and 
gave notice of their presence by the sweet odor which 
rose up from their leaf-hidden flowers. Daffodils and 
jonquils came as harbingers of the long procession of 
the season, and the little pink roses of the flowering 
almond held a conspicuous place in the early blooming 
shrubbery. Pinks were abundant in June, and in that 
season also the honeysuckle filled the evening air with 
its luscious perfume. 

In July the tall phlox — rocket, as it is sometimes 
called — sent up its bushy-headed spires of purple or 
white, favorite hiding-place for great humble-bees. 

Eagged-robin made its appearance then, and sweet- 
william, bachelor's buttons, the red balm of Gilead, 
spiderwort, and yellow coreopsis made the beds gay 
with their bright colors. 

Tall stalks of white lilies rose up from the bed of 
leaves at their feet, their stamens balancing the little 
puff of yellow pollen which was ever ready to play its 
innocent practical joke upon any unwary nose that ven- 
tured to steal the perfume from its chalice. 

Morning-glories ran in riotous profusion over any 
tall object within their reach ; here poppies flaunted 
their red petals, there was the purplish foxglove with 
its uncanny flowers ; ice-plant, valerian, and bright- 
hued four-o'clocks grew abundantly. There were beds 
of lady's-slipper of many colors, larkspurs, prinde's 
feather, and perhaps near these a few favorite sweet 


peas. Cockscombs held up their ugly stiff flowers, and 
none the less stiff were the tall spikes of Canterbury 

Hollyhocks stood in groups, generally near the 
fence ; they were pink, lemon-color, and maroon, tall, 
coarse flowers, but they had an honest way of trying to 
do their best to make the garden look gay. 

Marigolds of all shades, from the brightest orange 
to the darkest maroon, stood in great, bushy plants, 
and mourning-brides, hydrangea, and loye-in-the-mist 
showed the contrast of more quiet colors. 

Later in the season the stockgillies bloomed, and the 
fragrant wallflowers, and in the autumn a great vari- 
ety of chrysanthemums — artemisias, as they were then 
called — a plant that not all the spring sunshine nor 
summer heat could coax into bloom ; only when all beau- 
tiful things were on the wane, it came as if to throw 
a garland of flowers upon the graves of its kindred. 

There were other plants which were transplanted to 
the garden after being sheltered during the winter, 
such as geraniums, the fragrant Cape jessamine, a 
glossy-leavfid plant bearing a bright-red fruit known as 
"Jerusalem cherry," and wax-plant; but, as we have 
been recounting the glories of the garden, we have only 
named the flowers which could stand the climate, and 
which grew freely in the open air, The addition to 
the summer glory which the house-plants might offer 
was quite insigniflcant then, and was lost in the abun- 
dant bloom of the hardy garden flowers. 

Every careful matron valued the bed of herbs which 
she cultivated for medicinal purposes in a secluded cor- 
ner of her garden. As many a human being possessed 
of useful homely virtues, but not particularly attractive 


to the eye, gets pushed aside to make room for gayer 
creatures, so these plants with their healing and health- 
giving properties, useful as they might be, were not 
beautiful to look upon, and therefore were confined 
within the limits of the beds along the garden fence, or 
where the huge beds of feathery asparagus marked the 
boundary between the flower and the yegetable gar- 

There were bunches of tansy, rue, motherwort, 
southernwood, catnip, boneset, worinwood, and penny- 
royal. These formed the domestic pharmacy which 
was the reliance of the family, and which was perhaps 
quite as effective as the contents of the vials which serve 
to run up the long bills of the apothecary. 

In companionship with these medicinal herbs grew 
others for culinary purposes : thyme, sage, sweet mar- 
joram, mint, and summer savory. A corner of the gar- 
den was reserved for the cultivation of mustard. To 
prepare it for table use, the seed was thrown into a large 
wooden bowl, within which a cannon-ball was dexter- 
ously rolled round until the seed was pulverized. 

The close-shaven lawns, such as now present a beau- 
tiful velvety appearance, would have been almost an 
impossibility for us before the invention of the lawn- 

The whetting of the scythe might occasionally have 
been heard during the season, though the grass was 
not often cut. Clover, both red and white, grew rich 
and abundant, as it would not be allowed to grow now. 
It was intermingled with buttercups and daisies. It 
swayed under the breeze like the undulations of the 
sea ; yellow-jackets and humble-bees rocked themselves 
to and fro upon the clover-heads, and little butter- 


flies raised and lowered their pretty canary - colored 
wings as they rested themselyes upon the flowers in the 

At the time of mowing the air was sweet with the 
perfume of new-mown hay. Often in the second growth 
white clover came up abundantly, so that the grass looked 
as if sifted over with drifts of snow. This growth of 
white clover was even more fragrant than the red. A 
flower, called by its common name st'ariches (little stars), 
or known as star of Bethlehem, grew wild in many of 
the pasture-fields. Pretty as it was to look at when in 
bloom in the spring, it was persistently regarded by the 
gardener as his enemy, for where it once obtained hold 
upon the soil it was impossible to eradicate it. 

The dandelion was abundant in all the fields — beau- 
tiful, whether in its tiny mimicry of the golden sun, or 
in its gossamer state when, like a flower-spirit, it is 
about to ascend and lose itself in the upper air. 

Along the borders of the fields and in the woods 
there grew abundantly wild flowers qi every kind. 

Jack-in-the-pulpit preached from every southern 
slope in May ; the beautiful white bloodroot fluttered 
its tender leaves in the shivering spring wind ; anemo- 
nes were plentiful. Hepaticas looked up in little groups 
from between the mossy roots of old trees, and wild vio- 
lets, scentless but pretty, held up their heads amid the 
drifts of the dead leaves in the hollows. 

Later in the season the purplish-pink flowers of the 
wild geranium appeared upon their slender stalks. The 
fragrant pyrola, called sometimes wild lily of the val- 
ley, threw up its single stem from the little green plate 
of leaves below, and mitchella or partridge-berry mat- 
ted the ground with dark-green leaves and coral beads. 


Specimens of the Indian pipe have been found in the 
woods, but the plant is very rare with us. 

May-apple, or " Pinkster bloomitje," as the Dutch 
people called it, was abundant early in the season. 

The trailing arbutus (mayflower) neyer grows at 
this end of Long Island, although it is to be found in 
the eastern counties. 

In the autumn the gentian might be gathered in the 
woods, and in the swamps the brilliant lobelia cardi- 

Celandine grew along the fences, and the running 
blackberry added its tangle of prickly vines to the 
thicket. These running blackberries were known as 
dewberries, and were much larger and sweeter than the 
" bush blackberry," as, for distinction, those were called. 

The elder bloomed the first of July ; the flowers 
were beautiful — a close examination could only reveal 
how perfect the minute petals were — but the odor was 
not pleasant, and they withered quickly from the warmth 
of the hand in carrying them. The clusters of purple- 
stemmed berries ripened in the early autumn, and con- 
trasted with the brilliant yellow of the golden-rod which 
nodded from the same thicket. Its feather-like plumes 
were sometimes cultivated in the garden under the name 
of amaranth. 

Sumach, glossy-leaved and tough-stemmed, thrust 
itself wherever a stone wall or post-and-rail fence offered 
its protection from the farmer's axe, and held aloft stiffly 
its maroon fruitage. Bitter-sweet vines also grew in the 
tangle of unkempt hedges, and in the frosts of October 
and November opened their bunches of curious berries, 
which the housewife loved to mix with cedar twigs in 
her vases on the mantel-piece. 



There were formerly many locusts planted in the 
gardens and along the village roadside. But these beau- 
tiful trees with their delicate, pale-green foliage in 
the spring-time contrasting with their furrowed, mossy 
trunks, havfe no power to resist the wind, and are unsafe 
by reason of the broken limbs and the lodgment of dead 
branches among the foliage. This brittleness of stem and 
branch is the result of the depredations of a worm which 
infests the tree, and by its continuous boring weak- 
ens the strength of the limbs so that ihey fall under the 
slightest pressure of winter snow or .summer wind. It 
is feared that the locust will in time disappear entirely 
under the ravages of this worm. This is to be regretted, 
for the odor of the flower is almost equal to that of the 

There were formerly many sycamore (or button-ball) 
trees in Flatbush, but these have nearly all died, as also 
have the Lombardy poplars, of which Dr. Strong says 
there were many along the sidewalks when he first saw 
the town. 

In May the horse-chestnut hel(J up its pyramidal 
spires of pink and buff flowers ; but there were no^; many 
of these trees in the village. They are not among our 
trees of native growth, although we have no memory of 
the time when they were introduced. 

In midsummer the tulip-tree hides its green and sal- 
mon-colored flowers among its abundant leaves. 

The large and single althea — we used to call it the 
" rose of Sharon " — was to be found in every garden. It 
bloomed in August ; the flowers were large — some pink, 
others purple or white. 


Lindens and maples have always grown rapidly in 
Flatbush and have attained a great size. Until re- 
cently there were few, if any, elms. This beautiful tree, 
however, grows freely in this soil, and well repays the 
care in planting. 

Our woods were not without a full supply of nuts. 
Chestnut-blossoms spread their long green tassels upon 
their outer branches in June, the green balls slowly 
ripening until the frosts of October gave the watching 
and waiting children, the coveted treasures. 

Hickory-nuts might be gathered in the woods in al- 
most every direction. There was a nut-tree which grew 
on a line with, and directly north of, what is now the 
Almshouse. It bore nuts which were highly valued ; 
they were thin-shelled, and were a superior species of 
hickory-nut. They were called heart-nuts from their 
shape. The tree was on the farm then owned by Mr. J. 

Butternut-trees also grew in Flatbush : one was on 
the property of the Martense family, and stood about 
where Mr. Wilbur's house now stands. From a nut 
taken from that tree and planted, another grew in the 
grounds of Mr. John LefEerts. There were one or two 
in the south end of the town. 

Black-walnut trees were numerous. One, which is 
very old, still stands upon the property of General 
Crooke. A grove of them once stood upon the land of 
the late Mr. "Willink, but were cut down when the 
property was sold. 

The roots of this tree are said to poison the ground 
around them. Other trees die when their roots extend 
in the same' direction, possibly because the walnut ex- 
hausts the fertility of the soil. 


Hazelnuts were to b3 gathered in some parts of Flat- 
bush, but there were not many of these bushes. There 
were a number of persimmon-trees in the outskirts of 
the village. This fruit was called " messerples " by the 
old people ; the fruit was ripened by the frost, and was 
only fit to be eaten when the leaves had fallen from the 

The woods which formerly encircled Flatbush con- 
sisted chiefly of hickory, gum, chestnut, and oak trees ; 
hickory-trees predominated as to numbers. 

There was a long belt of woodland southward, the 
last remnant of which now lies just beyond the bound- 
ary line between Flatbush and Flatlands. To the west 
it extended from the line between Flatbush and New 
Utrecht, and took in the high ground in Greenwood, 
and the hill in Prospect Park, then known as Vander- 
bilt's Hill. It bounded the road for the distance be- 
tween Mr. Willink's house and the hill on the Polhemus 
farm upon the old road. 

On the east side of the old turnpike, the woods, un- 
touched by the woodman's axe, extended from the point 
opposite Mr. Willink's house both iiorthward and east- 
ward. The road known as the Clove road followed along 
the southerly side of the woods, parallel to where the 
Penitentiary now stands, to a point at which it was 
intersected by a road which led to Canarsie, and then 
continued in an unbroken line toward the north and 
east to the limit of the village. 

Thus Flatbush was pleasantly and picturesquely en- 
circled with woods ; its little group of houses surrounded 
by gardens and farms, its chimney-tops and roofs project- 
ing from among the trees, and the spire of its church 
forming the central object in the view, it presented a 


beautiful picture of rural life, of peace, quiet, and com- 

Looking down from the height of Vanderbilt Hill, or 
farther northward to what used to be Prospect Hill, but 
a few years ago it might still hare been entitled to the 
first name given it by the old Dutch settlers — Midwood. 

There were formerly beautiful walks about the vil- 
lage. The wood at the north had fine, large trees with 
a brook running through, and was without underbrush. 
The same might be said of the wood north of Mr. Wil- 
link's, now in the Park. There was no underbrush, and 
the grass was thick and soft. The most attractive walk 
was that upon the high hill, Vanderbilt's Hill, as it was 
called. The farm lane led round what is now the Plaza, 
near the restaurant, and gradually mounted the hill 
known now as Breeze Hill. From this spot an extent of 
country could be seen that could scarcely be excelled as 
a calm picture of pleasant farm-life. To the north ex- 
tended unbroken woods ; eastward, at the foot of the 
spectator, was a stretch of level and beautifully culti- 
vated farms ; here were fields of waving grain ; there 
the red clover wafted its perfume from acres ripening for 
hay ; cattle were grazing in pasture-fields ; horses stood 
under the trees along the fences, switching away the 
flies, now stooping to eat, now raising their heads and 
pointing forward their ears as the farmer's dog chased 
up the birds from the hedges, or the farmer held out 
to them some oats to decoy them within reach of the 

Perhaps the wagons, laden with hay, slowly wound 
along the narrow farm lanes ; or it might be that the 
plow was being guided up and down a field, making 
broad, straight furrows. From the.orchards below, the 


robin's song arose ; the thrush whistled his sweet, wild 
note ; the oriole, the bobolink, and the wren came out 
to the field to add their snatch of sdng. From distant 
tree-tops the crow flapped his wings, and with a loud 
caw went to seek his mates. 

A succession of highly cultivated fields stretched 
still farther eastward until the eye reached the faint sil- 
ver rim of the distant bays which, in irregular curves, 
bound the shores. Southward, the ocean glimmered 
under the sunlight, and the white sails of ships outward 
bound could be distinctly seen. Farther to the south- 
west the heights of Navesink loomed up faintly, and, 
after twilight, the twin revolving lights threw out a 
glimmering beacon from the lighthouse like the faint 
sparks from the opening and closing of a firefly's light. 
To the westward the woodland extended in an unbroken 
background of forest. Such was the view from this 
hilltop of the village, surrounded by woodlands inclos- 
ing with their green circlet the golden grain-fields of 
the farmers, like a ring of emerald lipon embossed gold. 



Some thirty years ago there were two or three miles 
of country road between Flatbush and Brooklyn, with 
farms, meadows, and woodland upon the roadside. 
Through all these years, however, Brooklyn has been 
throwing out vigorous branches in all directions, like 
the spreading boughs of trees that have rapid growth, 
and at last it has reached our very borders. Unlike the 
budding of tree and shrub, however, this mingling of 
urban and suburban presents an unsightly growth. 
The sunken city lot, with its encampment of shanties, 
its hummocks of refuse, its open, treeless commons, 
the resort of goats and geese, its rocks flaunting pla- 
cards for advertising quacks and speculators— all these 
are the ugly pioneers of the advancing city. 

On one side of the village these have been held in 
abeyance by the intervening green slopes and shrubbery 
of Prospect Park and their protecting barrier of hick- 
ory, oak, and elm trees. 

The distance between Flatbush and Brooklyn was 
rendered more noticeable by the limited means of in- 
tercourse in public conveyance between the two places. 


Most of the village residents kept their own carriages 
and horses. The old-fashioned gig, the red farm- wagon, 
the family barouche, and the time-honored stage-coach, 
each held undisturbed possession of the dusty turnpike. 
The old stage-coach, pleasantly associated with roads 
winding between green hills and shady woods, was the 
only means of public conveyance within the limits of 
Kings County. 

Until the year 1838 or '39 there were two regular 
stage-coach lines running between Flatbush and Brook- 
lyn. The oldest inhabitant well remembers Smith 
Birdsall, the proprietor of one line, leaving his house, 
which stood on what is now the corner of Flatbush and 
Vernon Avenues, at eight o'clock in the mornibg, and 
returning about four in the afternoon. 

A loud blast from a horn announced the coming of the 
coach. We can readily recall the picture, which now we 
only see in the most secluded country towns, of the stop- 
ping of the stage-coach, the door held open by friends to 
"speed the parting guest." The last words are spoken 
as the passenger leans over the half door ; the driver 
shouts " All ready ! " and mounts his high seat ; there is 
the waving of handkerchiefs, and the journey is begun ; 
the children are frolicking in the gateway to enjoy the 
excitement of the prancing horses, the cracking of the 
long whip-lash, and the prolonged blast of the driver's 

Soon after this stage had gone its way toward the 
distant city, but scarcely before the whirl of dust had 
altogether subsided, another opportunity was afforded 
the traveler to reach town that morning. 

The mail-stage came in at nine o'clock from Port 
Hamilton. This was more pretentious, if not more 


comfortable, than the first. It was drawn by four 
horses, and owned by Colonel Church, of New Utrecht. 
With a still louder blast upon a bugle, its arrival was 
announced as it turned the corner by the church from 
the post road to New Utrecht, and drew up before the 
little inn of the Widow Schoonmaker, opposite Eras- 
mus Hall. 

The mail-bag, not a very bulky one in those days, 
was taken over to the post-office, hearly opposite the 
Dutch church, and assorted by Mr. Michael Schoon- 
maker, and then it was flung back to the driver, and 
deposited under the boot at the foot of the driver's'high 

There was a prolonged snapping of the long whip- 
lash over the heads of the leaders, the stage rocked to 
and fro as the horses pranced hither and thither in the 
long, loose traces, and finally started off gayly under the 
inspiring flourish of a fresh blast and a final snap of 
the driver's whip. 

Then the village sunk into quiet, and the lookers-on 
proceeded to their ordinary work for the day. If any 
one through drowsiness, or for any other cause, missed 
this last nine-o'clock stage, the unfortunate individual 
must wait over until the next day, for there was no 
other opportunity to reach Brooklyn by public convey- 
ance for the next twenty-four hours. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon the first stage re- 
turned, and at five the mail-coach. Then the same 
bustle was repeated ; the friends who were expected from 
the city to visit in the country were looked for by these 
returning coaches, and the members of the family who 
had been to New York or Brooklyn for the day returned 
home, tired and hungry, and were met at the gate by 


the children who had been stationed there to await and 
announce the approach of the stage-coach. Father had 
brought, perhaps, the weekly paper at least ; he had the 
latest news ; and mother had been shopping in Maiden 
Lane or William Street. 

Until the year 1843 or '43 these stages were the only 
modes of public conveyance. They then gave place to 
an omnibus line. 

These omnibuses ran every hour, and as to conve- 
nience, in this respect they were certainly an improve- 
ment upon the stage-coaches. 

Flatbush Avenue was opened from Fulton Avenue, 
Brooklyn, to the entrance of the village in 1856. At 
first the cars ran to the city limits, and were there 
met by the omnibus, but when the whole line of rail- 
road was completed, the old omnibus line passed into 

It was a strange sight for us to see the cars from the 
city, associated as they then were with shops and city 
life, passing to and fro upon the country turnpike, to 
catch a glimpse of them through the shrubbery, and 
to hear the unmusical tinkling of the bells upon the 
car-horses amid suburban sounds. 


Before the railway tracks somewhat incumbered the 
country turnpike, the old road to Flatbush was a favor- 
ite summer drive for the citizens of Brooklyn and New 
York. As there were then no city parks for carriage- 
driving, and the country had not been so widely opened 
up for extended travel, the pleasant rural aspect of the 
village made it an attraction toward which the large 
majority of the people who lived down town in New 


York turned for an excursion on a summer afternoon. 
The shore road along the Narrows could be included, 
making a long and pleasant drive in the country 

The roads and sidewalks in this town have always 
been kept in order. Dr. Strong speaks of a time when 
there were low stone fences along the main street " sur- 
mounted by primrose hedges." These have all passed 
out of the memory of even the oldest inhabitant. About 
1840 the sidewalks were separated from the carriage 
road by a slight fence made of posts joined either by 
chains or by a top rail. 

At this time every farmer owned several cows, which 
were sometimes allowed to graze on the roadside, or 
loitered there on their way home from their pasture- 
fields. The cow-bell, tinkling on the neck of the leader, 
was a rural sound which was alwayfe heard at sunset in 
summer. These railings between the sidewalk and the 
carriage road served to keep the cows from annoying 
pedestrians, and were really a safeguard for children. 
They also gave a finished appearance to the sidewalk, 
as they were neatly painted and generally kept in good 


When the road to Brooklyn was a turnpike, the care 
of the road was paid for from the money collected at 
the toll-gate. This, in or about 1843, stood near where 
Flatbush Avenue forms the terminus of Hanson Place, 
or between Hanson Place and Lafayette Avenue. Af- 
terward it was removed to what is ,now called Atlantic 
Street, somewhat easterly of the present intersection of 
Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue. Next it was 
placed near the Battle Pass, south of the Valley Grove 


Hotel, on the old road. After this it was placed 
opposite the Willink property. Finally, it was re- 
moved within the limits of the Tillage, and at present 
stands on the avenue between Fenitaore and Winthrop 




There are seven churches in Flatbush. In their 
order of erection, they are as follows : The Reformed 
Dutch Church, St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal, the 
Methodist, the Roman Catholic, the Mission Church, 
the Baptist, and the German Reformed. 

The name of the Dutch Church was first officially 
given in the memorial which Domine.Selyns, of New 
York, and his consistory offered to Governor Dongan 
in 1688. It was confirmed by a charter which Gover- 
nor Fletcher granted to the metropolitan corporation 
in 1696, under the title of " The Ministers, Elders, and 
Deacons of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in 
New York." This is the oldest religious corporation in 
this country. 

The first church in Flatbush was built in 1654, by 
order of Governor Stuyvesant. He directed that it 
should be sixty or sixty-five feet long, twenty-eight feet 
broad, and from twelve to fourteen f under the beams ; 
that it should be built in the form of a cross, and that 
the rear should be reserved for the minister's dwelling. 
The Governor also directed that the morning service for 
Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Flatlands should be held at 
Midwout ; the afternoon service alternately at Brook- 


lyn and Flatlands. The first church was erected in 
Flatlands in 1663, in Brooklyn in 1666. The second 
church in Flatbush, on the same spot, was erected in 
1698. It was of stone, facing the east, with a steep, four- 
sided roof, in the center of which was a small steeple. 

The site of the present Reformed Church was, there- 
fore, that of the first church of any denomination in 
Kings County ; on this spot there has been preaching 
continuously since 1655, a period of two hundred and 
twenty-five years. 

The salary paid Eev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemus, 
the first pastor, was a sum equal to about four hundred 
and sixteen dollars. The Rev. Hienricus Selyns was 
sent over from Amsterdam in 1660, to have charge of 
matters ecclesiastical in Brooklyn, upon complaint as 
to " the difficulty of the road from Breucklin to Mid- 
wout." Domino Selyns returned to Holland in 1664. 
After the death of Domine Polhemus in 1676, the Eev. 
Casparus Van Zuren was sent over by the elassis of Am- 
sterdam, and installed in 1677 as pastor of the four 
churches, i. e., Breucklin, Midwout, Amersfort, and 
New Utrecht. He returned to Holland in 1685. The 
Rev. Rudolphus Varick was the next minister over the 
Kings County churches ; he continued in office until 
1694, and was succeeded by Domine Lupardus, who 
died in 1703. 

The church at Jamaica was now added to the num- 
ber, and there seems to have been a little disturbance 
upon the occasion of calling another minister. Some 
of the people were anxious to have a call given to Eev. 
Bernardus Freeman, of Schenectady ; others made a 
formal application to the elassis of A«isterdam, and, in 
response to their request, Eev. Vincentius Antonides 


was sent out and installed in 1705. Meantime Domine 
Freeman had also accepted the call, and party spirit ran 
high as to the claims of the respective ministers. The 
controversy increased in bitterness until the year 1714, 
when a more Christian spirit prevailed, and the churches 
agreed to accept both ministers and to lay aside their 
differences. The charge of the two ministers consisted 
of the churches of Breucklin, Bushwick, Flatbnsh, Flat- 
lands, New Utrecht, and Jamaica. Breucklin, Bush- 
wick, and Flatbush communed together, and Flatlands, 
Gravesend, and New Utrecht ; Jamaica had a separate 

The churches were, about this time, greatly agitated 
upon the question of ordaining ministers. One portion, 
called the " Osetus party," claimed that, in view of the 
inconvenience of sending for ministers from Holland, 
there should be a regular organization into classes and 
synods in this country. The " Conferentie party" be- 
lieved that the ministers should be ordained and sent 
out by the classis of Amsterdam. In 1746 the appro- 
bation of the classis of Amsterdam was given, and the 
first meeting of the new Csetus was held in September, 
1747, in New York City, this being the first judicial 
organization, higher than a consistory, established in 
the Dutch Church in America. 

Mr. Freeman died in 1741. Johannes Arondeus 
was appointed as his successor, but he does not seem to 
have shown a Christian spirit, and was not held in high 
esteem. He was deposed from his office, and Domine 
Curtenius was installed in 1755. Eev. Ulpianus Van 
Sinderin was called to fill the place of Eev. Vincentius 
Antonides, who died in 1744 ; his colleague was Johannes 
Casparus Eubel. 


Domine Rubel was a violent Tory during the Eevo- 
lution, and gave much offense for this cause. He had 
also faults which were very inconsistent with his Chris- 
tian profession. 

There was nothing charged against the moral char- 
acter of Mr. Van Sinderin ; but his ieccentricity and his 
advanced age made it desirable that he should withdraw 
from active duty. He was declared emeritus, and a 
stated salary was given him until his death, at Flat- 
lands, in 1796. Eubel was deposed from office, and 
his subsequent career proved that the people had acted 
wisely in doing so. 

Van Sinderin and Rubel were the last ministers sent 
to America from the classis of Amsterdam. 

The Rev. Martinus Schoonmaker^nd the Rev. Peter 
Lowe were the colleagues next placed over the six col- 
legiate churches of Kings County. The former preached 
in the Dutch language until his death, which occurred 
in 1834. At that time he was nearly ninety years of 
age. "He was," says Furman, "the last connecting 
link of the chain which had bound together the churches 
of Flatbush and Gravesend from 1654." It is said that 
Domine Schoonmaker never but once (in 1788) preached 
in English. With his death, in 1834, the regular and 
public use of the Dutch language in the pulpit ceased. 
Until 1793, however, all the church service was in 
Dutch ; at that date it was ai'ranged that Mr. Lowe 
should preach in English in the afternoon service at 
Brooklyn, Flatbush, and New Utrecht. The combina- 
tion of the six congregations composed of the towns of 
Brooklyn, Bush wick, Flatbush, New Utrecht, Flatlands, 
'and Gravesend continued until 1805. As these towns in- 
creased in size they gradually formed separate churches. 


Born April 28, 1797. Died June 14, 1861. 



After the death of Rev. Peter Lowe, Flatbush and Flat- 
lauds, the only remaining united cpngregations, called 
Rev. "Walter Monteith. In 1822, the Flatbush church 
called Rev. Thomas M. Strong, he being the first pastor 
settled over this church alone. The Rev. Dr. Strong 
died in 1861, and was succeeded by Rev. C. L. Wells, 
who is still the pastor. 

The present church is the third upon the same spot ; 
it was completed in 1796. The temporalities of the 
cliurch were judiciously managed by church masters for 
a period of one hundred and seventy years. The last 
of these church masters were John Vanderbilt, Isaac 
Snediker, and Johannes E. Lott. This church was the 
first on Long Island incorporated under the general act 
of the Legislature of the State in 1784. It continued 
under this act until 1804, when, under a special act 
providing for the incorporation of the Reformed Dutch 
churches, the title became that of the " Trustees of the 
Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the Town of 
Flatbush, in King's County." Dr. Strong says that 
much of the labor in building the present church was 
done by the congregation. So well did they love the 
house of the Lord ! The cost, exclusive of the work 
thus given, was £4,873 7s. td. The bell in present use 
was the gift of Hon. John Vanderbilt, who imported it 
from Holland. 

In speaking of the interior arrangement of the sec- 
ond church. Dr. Strong says : "The male part of the 
congregation were seated in a continuous pew all along 
the wall, divided into twenty apartments, with a suffi- 
cient number of doors for entrance, each person having 
one or more seats in one or the other of these apart- 
ments. The residue of the interior of the building was 


for the accommodation of the female part of the con- 
gregation, who were seated on chairs. These were ar- 
ranged into seven different rows or blocks, and every 
family had one or more chairs in some one of these 
blocks. This arrangement of seats 'was, called ' De Ges- 
toeltens.' Each chair was marked oh the back by a num- 
ber or by the name of the person to whom it belonged. 
The windows of this church were formed of small panes 
of glass ; those on either side of the pulpit were painted 
or ornamented and set in lead." 

The interior of the present church has been con- 
stantly modernized in accordance with the changes of 
fashion, and to keep pace with the appearance of sister 
churches in the adjacent city. At. first the aisles were 
not carpeted, but were scrubbed when necessary and 
sanded. Until 1836 the pew-doors were as high as, and 
on a line with, the back and front, so that the level 
pew-tops gave them the appearance of pens. The wood 
was grained and of a very dark color. The galleries at 
the north and south were never used;; the front of these 
was so high that a person sitting there could not have 
been seen from below. There was no gallery across the 
east side of the church. There were a few pews between 
the belfry and the side galleries which were given for 
the use of the colored people. There were no blinds on 
the windows. The pulpit, which was reached by means 
of winding stairs on each side, was made of mahogany, 
and was some five feet above the floor, supported on col- 
umns. The church was heated by two cast-iron stoves, 
but these were not sufficient to make the people com- 
fortable, and foot-stoves were provided by every pew- 
holder for the use of his family. These foot-stoves were 
boxes about a foot long, made either of tin or wood per- 


forated. Within this box was placed an iron cup con- 
taining hickory coals. The colored servants carried these 
foot-stoves to church. It was common to see a small 
colored boy or girl preceding the mistress with her stove 
and placing it in her pew. They were pushed from one 
member of the family to the next when needed, and the 
peculiar scratching noise upon the floor thus made was 
quite a familiar sound in church. Sometimes a careless 
child upset the stove, which occasioned some commotion 
in the pew. In 1836 the gallery front was lowered, as 
were also the tops of the pews ; a gallery was thrown 
across the east side of the church, and the woodwork was 
painted white. Back of the pulpit was a fluting of dam- 
ask, forming a crimson arch behind the minister. Two 
bronze lamps stood upon the desk. The next change 
made in the church was to paper it to represent stone. 
But this did not meet with general approval. Taking 
the flimsiest material to represent the most durable was 
not characteristic of the Dutch. In place of the crim- 
son satin arch, a painting representing a curtain looped 
back was inserted back of the pulpit. About this time 
blinds were placed upon the north and south windows. 
Unfortunately, the exterior of the church, although 
stone, was painted like the front, which was stuccoed. 
It was a great mistake, and has since been much re- 
gretted. Somewhere about 1864 the church was again 
renovated, and it still remains as it was at that time dec- 
orated. After this renovation a new church-clock was 
placed in the steeple, which has proved to be an excel- 
lent tinie-keeper. It strikes upon the old bell given in 
1796. The organ was purchased about 1860. Instead of 
the cast-iron stoves, large heaters are now used, which 
make the temperature very pleasant throughout the 


building. Furnaces such as require pipes laid below the 
flooring can never be placed under the foundation, for 
fear of disturbing the graves of those who were buried 
under the church. 

While the service was in the Dutch language the 
music was only vocal. Many of the old Psalm-books are 
still extant ; the music was on every page beside the 
words. The square notes look very. odd compared with 
the music of this age. The New Testament and Psalms 
were bound together, and the books ivere usually mount- 
ed and clasped in silver, and had small rings attached, 
through which chains or ribbons were passed, so as to 
hang the book, when not in use, on the back of the chair. 

The earliest recollection which we personally have 
of the singing during the church service is that of Mr. 
John Antonides as precentor or " voorzanger." He was 
an old man even then (somewhere about 1836) ; he was 
very tall, with a strong frame, -and a voice so powerful 
that it filled the church without an efl'ort. His place 
was in the corner of the elders' seat, for then, as now, 
the elders' bench was at the right side of the minister 
and the deacons' at the left. When the Psalm was given 
out he leisurely put on his spectacles, and, beating time 
with his hand once or twice on the top of the pew, took 
the proper key from his tuning-fork, and then slowly 
rose from his seat and led some of those old tunes which 
are now almost forgotten : Dundee, Lenox, Mear, Duke 
Street, and St. Martin. When he struck the keynote, 
the people all sang, not leaving the praise of God to the 
choir alone. 

At that time the metrical version of the Psalms was 
used ; the old tunes adapted to them have a peculiar 
power to recall vividly the past. How well are those 


old hymns remembered ! and how often they come to 
mind : " Teach me the measure of my days "; "0 God, 
our help in ages past"; "Sweet is the day of sacred 
rest" ; "Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear." They 
recall the memory of the beloved piinister whose lips 
shall no more speak the words, and of the chorister who 
has slept for more than a quarter of a century in the old 
churchyard with the congregation whose hymns of praise 
he led. 

Thus we have rapidly passed over a period of two 
hundred and twenty-six years. The fact that this ven- 
erable church was the first organization in Kings Coun- 
ty invests it with peculiar interest. Where now there 
are so many places of worship that our adjacent city has 
been called " the City of Churches," this one stands first 
in the line, and is the oldest in the sisterhood. On the 
very spot where the present building was erected, the 
Indian tribes of western Long Island first saw an assem- 
blage for worship in a house dedicated to God. 


There were at one time in Flatbush many colored 
children, the descendants of those who were once slaves 
on Long Island. The majority of them did not attend 
Sunday-school, and they were rarely seen at church. 

The month of February, 1856, was ushered in by a 
heavy fall of snow ; so severe was this storm that travel 
was impeded, and even after the higjiways were cleared 
it was almost impossible for those who lived off from 
the main streets to make their way through the drifts. 
At this time some of these colored children were gath- 
ered into a small building upon a hillside in what is 
now Prospect Park, but which was then the private 


property of Judge Vanderbilt. A little whitewashed 
room, about twelve feet square, in an unoccupied house 
built for the use of a gardener, was the primitive 
schoolroom. The school was opened with five scholars ; 
it met the need of the people, and the number rapidly 

In order to hold the money Jegally which was 
raised to build a schoolroom, a society was organized 
and duly incorporated under the general law. It was 
called the" Society for the Amelioration of the Colored 
Population of Flatbush," and was organized October 
27, 1858. 

The money raised through subscription by the man- 
agers amounted to $939.75. A lot of ground was then 
purchased, and a building erected at a cost of $1,000.76, 
leaving a debt of $G4. 12, which was subsequently liqui- 
dated by the managers themselves. 

The school-house was neat and comfortable, and the 
situation, on the old turnpike, was all that could be 
desired for quiet and seclusion. A Sunday-school was 
held here regularly, and at times public worship ; there 
were also occasional prayer meetings and temperance 
meetings, and, when necessary, the room was offered 
for funeral services. 

Another cause for anxiety soon disturbed the friends 
of this little mission. At the opening of Prospect Park 
the building was found to be within the park limits. 
Owing to the increased value of property in the vicin- 
ity, it was difficult to purchase desirable lots ; but for 
the strenuous exertions of friends, the work would have 
been abandoned. 

At a meeting of the society held iDecember 14, 1864, 
Mr. John Lefferts was authorized to transact the busi- 


ness in regard to the sale and purchase of the building 
and lots. He selected some land in Catharine Street, 
a small street running through the .center of what was 
then called the " Point lot." 

These two lots were purchased for $1,600. The 
■moving of the building cost $135, and to the Park 
Commissioners, for the repurchase of the same, was 
paid $250. A room for the infant department was now 
added at the cost of $1,600. There were many other 
items consequent upon the grading, laying gas-pipes, 
etc., which increased the cost to $3,877. 

To meet this, the funds in hand were $1,363, as the 
award for the land taken by the Park Commissioners ; 
$700, the result of a fair held by the ladies of the 
Reformed Dutch Church ; $500, a legacy from the 
estate of Mrs. Eliza J. Lefferts, and some donations 
from friends, the sum total being $3,084. There re- 
mained a deficit of $800, which was canceled by Mr. 
John Lefferts as a gift to the society. A bell was at 
this time kindly presented to the chapel by Miss Esther 
J. Martense. 

Upon the opening of Washington Avenue and Mal- 
bone Street, the successive assessments were paid for 
with the returns of fairs held for that purpose. 

At a meeting of the "Society for the Amelioration 
of the Colored Population," it was resolved to transfer 
the property to the Consistory of the Reformed Dutch 
Church. As it was entirely free from debt, and the 
building in good repair, it was a valuable gift. After 
this transfer was made the society was dissolved, having 
accomplished with a good measure of success the pur- 
pose for which, years before, it was organized. 

The Consistory of the Dutch Church had upon re- 


quest established regular church services in the chapel. 
The ministers who have successively had charge of the 
mission are : Kev. Mr. Gleason, Kev. E. Gr. Strong, 
Rev. V. B. Carroll, Rev. J. A. Gerhard, and Rev. C. 
S. Wright. On the first communion Sunday a neat 
service, consisting of two goblets, two plates, a wine- 
pitcher, and a baptismal bowl, was presented by Mr. J. 
Lefferts. A beautiful pulpit Bible was also presented 
"in memoriam" by Mrs. Eliza J. Zabriskie. 

In 1878 the chapel was found to be on the proposed 
line of the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Rail- 
way ; it was purchased by the company for $2,500. 

The Consistory of the Reformed Church appointed 
Mr. J. Lefferts to transact the business of moving the 
house once more. Lots were purchased, and the build- 
ing was removed to LefEerts Street ; for this and other 
expenses beyond the money in hand ($2,500) a debt 
was incurred, which was once more defrayed by Mr. J. 
LefPerts. The room was now newly furnished, a fine 
organ was presented by some friends, two pulpit chairs 
were given by Miss Mary J. Williams, and in July, 
1878, the chapel was once more thrown open for the 
use of the congregation ; it now presented a very neat 
and cheerful interior, and offered ample accommoda- 
tion for all in the neighborhood who might desire to 
assemble there for worship. 

St. Paul's Episcopal Church was built in 1836. The 
Christian courtesy of the Dutch church was shown in 
the fact that the first service preparatory to the organi- 
zation of the Episcopal church was held in the lecture- 
room, which was offered for that purpose by the Con- 
sistory of the Reformed Church. Dr. Strong says, 
alluding to this : " Although it was the first attempt 


to introduce the services of another denomination of 
Christians in the town, the kindest feelings were enter- 
tained and expressed, and such facilities were afforded 
to further it as Christian courtesy dictated on behalf 
of the officers and members of the Reformed Dutch 

The building first erected by this congregation was 
taken down some eight years since, and a smaller but 
picturesque and tasteful edifice was erected upon the 
same ground. 

The Methodist church was at first a wooden build- 
ing in the English Neighborhood. The congregation 
afterward selected Diamond Street as the locality upon 
which to build their new brick church. For want of 
funds it has not yet been wholly completed, service be- 
ing held in the lower story. The members of the 
Dutch church have contributed large sums not only 
toward the erection, but also toward extinguishing the 
debt. upon this church. 

The Roman Catholic is the largest church in Flat- 
bush. It is built of brick with stone coping ; the exte- 
rior is varied in outline and presents an imposing ap- 
pearance. The congregation is large, including those 
of this faith from an extended area beyond the limits 
of the village. 

The Baptist society have erected & small building to 
serve temporarily for their worship until their number 
and their funds render enlargement advisable. 

The German church is included in the South Clas- 
sis of Loiig Island, as one of the churches in its care. 
It was built for the Protestant Germans of this vicinity 
who could not understand the service in the English 


As we are limited in the general scope of our work 
to the subject of the Dutch settlers in this village, we 
are obliged to forego reference to .the other churches 
beyond the mere statement of their order of organi- 




The first Sunday-school in Flatbush was held Decem- 
ber 17, 1816, in a barn, for the benefit of the slaves. It 
was doubtless the philanthropic wo^k of some Christian 
heart, but the mere fact of its organization is all that is 
known of it now. It was probably of short duration. 

The Sunday-school of the Eefofmed Dutch church 
was organized in 1833, and was first held in the galleries 
of the church. In 1831 the consistory-room adjoining 
the church was built, and the Sunday-school was held 
there. "When the new chapel, corner of Grant Street 
and Flatbush Avenue, was completed in 1871, ample 
accommodation was afforded to the increased size of 
the school, which at present numbers about three hun- 
dred scholars, with an able and efficient corps of teach- 

Tract Society. 

As early as 1815 a society for the distribution of 
religious reading was organized, called "The Female 
Religious Tract Society of Flatbush and Flatlands," 
these villages being united in the work. In 1816 the 
society enlarged its work, and changed the name to 


" The Female Bible and Religious T^act Society of Kings 
County," and the surplus funds were given to the 
American Bible Society. 

We realize the changes of half a century when we 
read from the minutes of their meetings that in 1816 
they distributed 1,493 tracts in the following places : 
New Brunswick, Bergen, Allentown, Raritan, Millstone, 
Middlebush, Monmouth, the garrison at Fort Lewis, 
Hempstead Harbor, city of Hudson, N. Y. ; Cedar 
Swamp, Long Island ; Staten Island ;• Johnstown, N. Y. 

This society is still in existence, but its work is at 
present confined to the distribution of tracts and reli- 
gious newspapers within the limits of the village of 

Weekly Prayer-Meetings. 

During the pastorate of Dr. Strong, the prayer- 
meetings of the Reformed Dutch church were held in 
the homes of the members of the congregation. 

Bach house in turn was thrown open on Friday 
evening for this purpose. A year was necessary to go 
through the village, and no family, rich or poor, re- 
fused their rooms for this meeting, and none were 
omitted in their regular order of succession. At pres- 
ent all prayer-meetings are held in tjie chapel, the con- 
gregation being too large to have it otherwise. 

For twenty years, dating from 1833, a Sunday-school 
teachers' prayer-meeting was held weekly at the house 
of Mrs. Maria L. LefEerts. 

Catechetical Lessons. 
Until the conclusion of Dr. Strong's pastorate, it 
was customary to collect the children of the congrega- 
tion together once a week during the summer for cate- 


chetical exercises. On these occasions they were obliged 
to repeat the lessons they had corpmitted to memory 
from the Westminster and Heidelberg Catechisms. This 
was probably the last remnant of the custom, established 
as early as 1682, of having the children instructed "on 
every Wednesday and Saturday, in the common prayers, 
and the questions and answers in the catechism, to en- 
able them to repeat them the better on Sunday before 
the afternoon service." 




During the War of the Revolution Long Island was 
held by the British under military rule. After the dis- 
astrous Battle of Flatbush, Kings County was in a most 
lawless condition. It is almost impossible to realize the 
picture of devastation this village presented at that pe- 
riod. The cattle belonging to the farmers had been 
driven by command of the American officers into 
Queens and Suffolk counties, to prevent their falling 
into the possession of the invaders, and the grain, the 
produce of the year, was stacked in the fields and 
burned for the same reason. The houses of those in 
the northern section of the town were burned. In the 
line of march of the British, and ever the district of 
hills and woods which embraced or bounded the area of 
the battle-ground, were strewn the J)odies of the dead 
who had fallen either in battle or in irregular fighting 
in the hills and hollows, for there was no quarter given 
by the Hessians. It is probable that "Bonie of these were 
never buried, for bones were frequently found long after 
the engagement, and the superstitious avoided a locality 
said to be haunted. During that dreadful August many 
of the inhabitants fled from their homes, which were 
taken possession of by lawless adventurers. The sick 


and wounded were placed in the ckurch, and the want 
of attention to their suffering condition caused the 
whole air to be infected. In the autumn a camp fever 
became epidemic, and proved very fatal. The grass 
grew in the streets ; all business was. at an end ; the wet 
autumn which succeeded a hot sunimer added to the 
filth of the encampment, and the want of many of the 
common comforts of life caused almost constant ill- 
ness, even among those who escaped the fever. Amid 
all their sickness and poverty they were constantly har- 
assed by petty exactions from which there was no appeal ; 
their fences and even their farming utensils were used 
for firewood ; their horses were taken from before the 
plow ; their cattle were driven away or butchered ; 
their fowls were stolen ; and frequently small parties of 
soldiers on the march took temporary possession of their 
houses, driving out the owners if the room was needed. 
As a sort of practical joke, the feather-beds were some- 
times emptied into the wells. The dark cherry-wood 
cupboards were dismantled, and from the shelves the 
horses of the cavalry officers were fed. It was useless 
to seek redress ; none could be had. 

To make the scanty supply still more inadequate, the 
whole town was filled with soldiers. Some of these were 
of the roughest class. These were billeted upon the peo- 
ple without their consent, and often in opposition to 
their express wishes. For a regiment of Waldeckers 
no compensation was ever given. Even where Congress 
promised two dollars per week, there was very little 
prospect at that time that it would be paid ; and the 
Continental money, which was a legal tender, was much 

There was no safety from thieves. either day or night. 


but the loss of property was small compared to the 
danger to life and the constant feeling of personal in- 
security. A band of men of notoriously bad character 
constituted a company under the n^me of the " Nassau 
Blues," and were in possession of the Court-house. 
They not only helped themselves freely to the property 
of the inhabitants, of whom they were called the 
" Guard," but they were the terror of respectable people. 

Is it to be wondered at that under these circum- 
stances the people became disheartened, and that in 
their dispirited condition they considered further resist- 
ance as useless ? 

The inhabitants of Suffolk and Queens counties 
were comparatively safe in their resistance, but there 
was not a county in the State that suffered more than 
Kings, and there was not a town in Kings County that 
was more exposed than Flatbush. The people here, 
equally with the other colonists, resisted the encroach- 
ments and taxation of their foreign rulers ; they also 
at first had their meetings and expressed their sympathy 
with the general uprising. On April 5, 1775, a meet- 
ing was held at Flatbush, at which deputies were ap- 
pointed for choosing delegates to the Continental Con- 
gress to be held at Philadelphia in Mdy. From Flatbush, 
David Clarkson, Adrian Voorhees, Jacobus Vandeven- 
ter, and John Vanderbilt were appointed, and May 30 
the magistrates and freeholders met in Brooklyn to co- 
operate with the freeholders of the city and county of 
New York, and other meetings for a similar purpose 
were afterward held. 

There was a great change in the surroundings of the 
people after the Battle of Flatbush. The withdrawal of 
Washington's army left the inhabitants so entirely at 


the mercy of the enemy that there is no doubt that 
the majority of them considered the cause hopeless and 
further resistance useless. 

We differ from Mr. Stiles with regard to an assertion 
he makes respecting the county towns at this period. 
He says that " a greater degree of peace and order pre- 
vailed in the country towns than in Brooklyn " ; also 
that the farmers had " the twofold advantage of receiv- 
ing a high price for their produce and pay for boarding 
the prisoners," and that, " the inhabitants returning to 
their desolated and long-deserted homes, their first ef- 
forts were directed to the cultivation of their lands." 
As to the pay for boarding the prisoners, only 7s. per 
week for a room for officers, and Is. Ad. for privates, or 
$3 per week for board, was all that Congress promised. 
Food was very scarce, fuel still more so ; the negro ser- 
vants were in a state of insubordination ; no regard was 
paid to the disinclination of the people to accept these 
boarders, and no notice was taken of the protests of 
such as felt themselves unable to provide for them. 
" Boarding the prisoners " under such circumstances 
was neither desirable nor profitable. 

As to the cultivation of the land in Flatbush, it was 
conducted under great disadvantages. The horses had 
nearly all been stolen ; those that escaped detection on 
the part of officers or men were liable at any moment to 
be taken from the plow. The tools had been stolen 
or burned by foraging parties for kindling camp-fires. 
The farm laborer was scarcely to be had for hire, and 
the negro slave preferred the lighter work of grooming 
the cavalry horses, or following the brilliant red troops 
of his Majesty. 

Before the close of hostilities sopie of the inhabit- 


ants of Kings County were enabled to furnish the pe- 
cuniary aid which was so much needed to carry on the 
war. This was done at the risk not only of property 
but of life. 

Dr. Strong says that the amount of money lent to 
the State by the Whig inhabitants of Flatbush can not 
be fully ascertained, but it is supposed that, before the 
termination of the war, not far from $300,000 in specie 
had been furnished by the Whigs of Kings County. 



During the late rebellion the ladies of Platbush 
were active in preparing relief for the sick and wounded 
in camp and hospital. The following are some of the 
articles made by them and forwarded for use in the 
army : Havelocks, 1,100 ; haversacks, 313 ; night-shirts, 
105 ; flannel shirts, 97 ; cotton shirts, 500 ; dressing- 
gowns (double), 36 ; knit socks (woolen), 60 pairs ; draw- 
ers, 161 pairs ; handkerchiefs, 773. Towels, " house- 
wives," clothing (not new), lint, old linen, bandages. 

The amount handed in from the Kings County table 
at the time of the Sanitary Fair in Brooklyn has been 
estimated as follows : 

Kings County (country towns) amount of sale at table. $3,9T4 00 
Contributions in cash 2,988 03 

$6,962 03 

Prom newspaper accounts published during the war 

we find Flatbush credited with the sum of $3,543.99, 

and also, at a later period, with that of $3,188.05, as 

contributions in cash. 

Additional to the work of the ladies at their sewing 
society, there were also forwarded from Flatbush large 
quantities of stores and delicacies for the wounded in 
the hospitals. 



The Flatbush town-hall was erected in 18?'4-'75, 
under the supervision and according to the direction of 
the Board of Improvement. This Board consisted of 
the following gentlemen, residents of Flatbush : Judge 
John A. Lott, John J. Vanderbilt, Philip S. Crook, 
Jacob V. B. Martense, Abraham J. Ditmas, John Lef- 
ferts, and Dr. John L. Zabriskie. 

The town allowed the Board of Improvement forty 
thousand dollars for the purchase qf land and for the 
erection of a building suitable for the purpose. This 
money was put out at interest, and f pr this sum and the 
interest upon it the town-hall was btiilt. 

The Building Committee consisted of John Lefferts, 
John J. Vanderbilt, and Dr. John L. Zabriskie. The 
architect was John Y. Culyer, the builder William 

The land on Grant Street was considered a suitable 
site, and a handsome brick building was completed there 
in the autumn of 1875. It gave general satisfaction, 
and received much praise for its tasteful exterior and 
the convenience of its interior arrangements. 

The Board not only completed the building for the 
sum specified, but also, in addition, put in the gas-fix- 


tures and all the furniture which would be needed for 
use in the building. These extra expenses oTerran the 
amount allowed for this purpose. The town would 
have been willing to indemnify the Board for the extra 
sum expended, and the Board would have been perfectly 
justified m asking for it, as this furniture was a matter 
of necessity in the use of the hall ; yet these gentlemen 
were so disinclined to have any business committed to 
them cost more than the sum for which they had stipu- 
lated to have it done, that they refused to have this 
money refunded from the public treasury, and paid the 
extra expense incurred from their own private funds. 

Upon the occasion of transferring the completed 
building to the town authorities, the gentlemen on this 
Board of Improvement took an honest pride in know- 
ing that this hall had cost the towh no more than the 
forty thousand dollars (principal and interest) which 
had been given them to spend ; that it was well and 
substantially built ; and that the work had in no way 
been slighted, but had been done in the best manner, 
and the completed structure was in every way suitable 
for the purpose required. 



The old-time manners and customs are almost for- 
gotten ; it is right that that they should be, for they 
are not in accord with the life of to-day ; hut it is 
pleasant to recall what our fathers said and did in the 
long past. It is like wandering through a garden in 
winter, where we find the faded leaves of flowers once 
beautiful, but now dry and sere and never to be revived, 
let the sun shine on them ever so brightly. 

Have you ever wondered why our ancestors came to 
this country ? I have. The New Eijgland people came 
for religious liberty, and other settlers in the East or 
South sought civil advantages. But the Netherlands 
spared her people these excuses. They were not driven 
out by persecution ; nowhere could Hollanders have 
found more comforts than in that little triangular bit 
of earth which they called home. They had good 
schools for their children, freedom of worship in fine 
churches, social intercourse in comfortable homes. 

Note. — Mrs. Vanderbilt had intended to revise these articles 
(Chapters XXXI-XXXIII), which at the request of friends have 
been added to this edition, but weakness resulting from a seyere 
stroke of paralysis has prevented her from doing so. This 
accounts for the apparent want of care in their preparation. 


What induced them to brave the horrors of this wilder- 
ness ? We are glad they came here, but why did they 
come ? It was as if to-day you and I should declare our 
intention to take our families to settle in Patagonia, or 
to colonize Zululand. Even in that case we should find 
good steamers for our journey and many mitigating 
comforts on the way. But think of weeks and weeks 
tossing on the water in those old Dutch galleons, which 
must have rolled and pitched on the ocean swell and 
twisted about until the delirium of seasickness nearly 
crazed the tempest-tossed passengers. They had no 
tempting delicacies, no oranges, no lemons, no nice 
glass of jelly, no strengthening cup of beef tea after 
their days of sickening nausea. The conditions must 
have been dreadful. The salt pork and hard biscuit, 
and all the cold, crusty, hard, dried- up messes which 
they offered poor Janitje and little Seytje and home- 
sick Hans, and perhaps the groot-vader and groot- 
moeder as they lay moaning in their narrow berths. 
Think of those weeks of wretchedness, you who look 
forward to six, eight, or at most ten days of ocean life, 
with steward and stewardess propping you up on deck 
in your steamer chair, padding rough edges with cush- 
ions and rugs, and pampering your appetite with all 
sorts of tempting delicacies brought to you on deck 
upon a tray daintily spread with a pretty napkin- 
Well, well ! our good Dutch mothers and fathers 
never dreamed of such comforts. They were not to be 
had even by their high mightinesses von Orange and 
Nassau, nor even by the Heeren Staten General ! Much 
less by Claes and Hendrik, by Jannetje and Femmetje, 
and the hardy little children they brought with them 
from Amsterdam, Delft, Utrecht, and Leyden. Think- 


ing over why they came, we still find it quite unaccount- 
able under the circumstances. 

They did not decide thoughtlessly. Our people 
always acted after mature deliberation ; that was char- 
acteristic. I dare say they talked it over for weeks 
whenever they met in market or cliurch. Perhaps at 
the door of the Groote Kerk of St. Lawrence, in Eotter- 
dam, it was whispered that Joast and Jannetje, just 
married, were going in the next phip that sailed to 
settle along the great river that Hendrick Hudson had 
discovered. Or, awaiting the hour for service at the 
Cathedral at Utrecht, Claus said that the yefEvrouw had 
had a letter from her son Evert, who had journeyed to 
't eylant Nassau, a goodly place where rich farm lands 
might be had almost for the asking. The letter, in the 
peculiar script of that age, on coarse, yellow paper, was 
passed along from the Kouenhoveris to the Wyckoffs, 
the Lotts, the Van Wycks, the Verbrants, the Ten- 
broecks, the Van der Veers, the Van Warts, the Van 
Wickellins, the Van Brunts, and all the Vans in North 
Holland, until like a spent ball it buried itself along the 
canal at Amsterdam, doing a great deal of damage on 
its way, if that may be called damage which made the 
people eager to accept the inducements offered by the 
Dutch West India Company, and take up lands for 
farms in the New World. " Hope -springs eternal in 
the human breast " even in placid Holland, and fathers 
and mothers began to think that their little Annetje and 
Trintje and Brom and Dirk might have more room in 
New Amsterdam or in Fort Oranje or in the long clover 
reaches on the great river. 

So mother-love consented for the sake of the chil- 
dren (it is always so), and father counted out the pieces 


of gold and silver stored up in the great carved chest, 
and they took passage in the " Gilded Otter," the 
" Gilded Beaver," or the " Spotted Cow," these being 
the favorite ships of that time. What a different coun- 
try this must have seemed from that which they had 
left ! There work on canals and in windmills, mending 
dykes and fighting the menaces of the boisterous North 
Sea, fishing, boating and shipbuilding, and pumping 
out the water that forever threatened the land. There 
were always chances for going aroiind the world, and 
the life of the sailor was offered to any young man of 
energy who tired of the monotony of home life. 

In America this was all changed. The land which 
they had purchased must be cultivated if they wanted 
food. Their houses must be built, 4nd stockades must 
surround their little settlements if they would be safe 
from attacks of the Indians. Even if disposed to idle- 
ness, which very few were, the laws were rather arbi- 
trary in enforcing industry, for so long ago as 1659, by 
order of the "Noble and Right Honorable Lord and 
Director General and Counsel of the New Netherland," 
it was ordained that " every one of what condition or 
quality soever he may be should cultivate, build, and 
live on the lot he had obtained ... on penalty of for- 
feiture of his lot." 

I notice that when their settlements began, the old 
independent spirit, which had been nurtured in their 
long war for liberty, showed itself at an early date — to 
be exact, " in the year of our Lord one thousand, six 
hundred, nine and forty " — in an application to the 
" Noble High and .Mighty Lords, the Lord States Gen- 
eral of the United Netherlands, our Most Illustrious 
Sovereigns," against " the harsh proceedings " of the 


West India Company. They ask for a suitable Burgher 
Government, resembling somewhat " the Laudable Gov- 
ernment of our Fatherland." 

Now is not that characteristic ? They begin at once 
to protest against the slightest infringement of their 
personal liberty and the imposition of taxes of any kind 
by that somewhat despotic power, the West India Com- 
pany. And what think you is one of the motives urged 
upon their High Mightinesses ? " We pray and hope," 
they say, " that the name of New Netherland and the 
conversion of the heathen, which ought to be hastened, 
shall move their H. M. hereunto." From this you see 
that among the earliest of their public acts they write a 
petition to have theirs like the " Laudable Government of 
the Fatherland." There is patriotism for yon ! And 
they plead as an argument to this end the conversicTn of 
the heathen, and therein we find that spirit of missions 
which has ever characterized our Eeformed Dutch 


In 1604 proposals were first dra^n up for the estab- 
lishment of a West India Company. A little later dele- 
gates were sent by the States of Zeeland to consult with 
deputies from Amsterdam, Dordrecht, Delft, Rotterdam, 
Haarlem, Leyden, and other Dutch cities, to draw up a 
charter to be submitted to the States-General. The trade 
was to be for thirty-six years along the coast of Africa, 
from the Tropic of Cancer to the Cape of Good Hope, and 
to America from the Straits of Magellan to Terra Nova. 
This long sweep of coast line certainly gave unlimited 
opportunities for our amphibious Dutch ancestors to 
"follow the sea." But it was not until Hendrick Hud- 


son in 1609 steered the " Half Moon " along the " great 
North Kiver of New Netherlands " that public attention 
was called to the settlement of this part of the country. 
It was not until 1621 that the charter of the West India 
Company was obtained ; operations were begun two 
years later. 

The Walloons, who were French Huguenots, estab- 
lished a colony on Long Island in 1624. By intermar- 
riage they became so identified with the Dutch that it 
is only by the French names among our people and on 
our church records that we can trace them. I think 
that those of us who bear the names of Eappelje (with 
its various spellings), Messerole, Du Bois, Messereau, 
Duryee, Debevoise, De Forrest, and possibly Cortelyou, 
are descendants from this Walloon stock and their 
Dutch neighbors. 

In 1636 the island of Manhattan was purchased for 
the sum of sixty guilders, or twenty-four dollars. In 
1630 the colony of Killiaen van Rensselaer was planted, 
and a few settlements were begun soon after at Albany 
and along the river. The colony was at this time in a 
critical condition. The West India Company had 
shown such arbitrary power, alternating with neglect, 
that the settlers were discouraged and their number 
decreased. There were troubles as to the boundary 
lines of the colonies, and Indian depredations kept 
them in a state of constant alarm- Director Keift 
resorted to the highly impolitic measure of taxing the 
Indians, and a long and ruinous war was the result. 

A crafty Indian from Haverstraw had stimulated 
the savages to rise and massacre the Dutch. The Wap- 
pingers, from the river about half way between the 
Manhattans and Fort Orange, with whom the Dutch 


had never had any dispute, were the first to begin 
hostilities. Under these grievances the colonists made 
an appeal to the States-General. Their cry was pa- 
thetic. They say, " Our cattle are partly burned and 
killed and the remainder conveyed to the Fort, where 
for want of forage they must starve through the coming 
winter if not immediately slaughtered. The houses 
■have been, for the most part, fired and destroyed. 
Those yet standing are in danger of being also burnt. 
These Indians kill off our people one after the other. 
The corn and other produce is burnt and little or noth- 
ing saved ; not a plow can be put this fall into the 
ground. If any provisions should be obtained at the 
east from the English, we know not wherewith we poor 
men will pay for them." 

In another remonstrance to the Noble Lords they 
plead thus for help : " Daily have these barbarous sav- 
ages murdered men and women in our houses and fields. 
With hatchet and tomahawk they have struck little 
children dead in their parents' arms, or have taken 
them away into captivity. We wretched people must 
skulk with wives and little ones that^still are left in pov- 
erty together by and around the Port, where we are not 
one hour safe. We turn to you, supplicating for God's 
sake, to forward to us by the earliest opportunity such 
assistance that we may not be left a prey with women 
and children to these cruel heathen. We have left our 
beloved fatherland, and unless the Lord our God had 
been our comfort we must have perished in our 
misery ! " 

My brothers and sisters of Dutch ancestry, is not 
that pitiful ? 

The West India Company, bent upon making for- 


tunes in the fur trade, neglected the colonists. Great 
suffering was the result. It was not so much the pros- 
perity of the colony that was sought by the West India 
Company as it was profitable bargains with the Indians, 
and these were not slow to take advantage of the un- 
settled state of the colony. They even taunted the 
Dutch, seeing that their complaints were disregarded, 
by saying that "they had neither sachem nor chief," 
alluding to their country as being a republic. Now 
these people who are crying in their despair to the 
fatherland are your ancestors and mine ! 

It seems to me that we sometimes forget what our 
people suffered in order to prepare for us this goodly 
heritage. We sit in comfort and enjoy the prosperity that 
has come to us through their patient endurance. We 
look up at the beautiful spire of the forty-eighth Street 
church, New York, we admire the handsome interior of 
that and of the Twenty-ninth Street church. We praise 
our fine churches in Brooklyn, in the river towns, and 
in Albany and western New York. We are happy in 
our beautiful homes through the States of New York, 
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but we hardly realize 
that they have cost suffering and bloodshed and caused 
the pathetic appeals we have here recorded. It is ^e\i 
England historians who have written of the greatness of 
Holland and the heroism of the Hollander. Our people 
have almost seemed indifferent, so little do they say 
about it. The suffering and woes of Puritan and Pil- 
grim have been enlarged upon. We admire their 
heroism as we read of what they endured, and so we 
should, for they deserve it. But our people had suffering 
and showed patient endurance and heroism as well as 

those New England people who, Mrs. Hemans says, 


" sang amid the storm, on a stern and rock-bound coast, 
on the wild New England shore ! " 

Doubtless our people sang also on our coast. I do 
not see why they should not, although there has not been 
much said about it. They had voices to sing as well as 
the Pilgrims. 

I have no doubt but that they got out their Dutch 
Psalm-books and sang the forty-sixth Psalm as it is 
there written. Or perhaps they expressed their faith 
in their old hymn, 

" Daar den top is von genade 
Hier 't begin von heeriykheyd 
Hier wy loven vroeg en spade, 
Daar in zaal 'ge eenwighheyd." 

And as they had good lungs, those old Dutch people, I 
dare say that " the stars heard and the sea " their Dutch 
music as well as the anthems of the Pilgrims, and that 
there was as much melody in the one case as in the 
other. But Mrs. Hemans did not sing about us as she 
did about the " band of exiles " who " moored their 
bark" and "sang their hymns of lofty cheer" where 
" the rocking pines of the forest roared," etc., and so 
we have not been made heroes of, and we should have 
been, and possibly would have been, had we made a great 
fuss about it. As it was, we went to work with patient 
endurance, and said comparatively little about our hero- 
ism, and that is what we Dutch people generally do. 


When our Holland ancestors reached these shores 
the selection and purchase of land doubtless filled them 
with anxiety. If Evart brought his wife and Gerret 


came with all hia children, and Harmanus with his 
grown-up sisters, it was a serious question where they 
had better settle. Along the Hudson our people were 
beginning to group together in small villages; Albany 
had advantages, so had New Amsterdam on the island 
of the Manhattans, and just across the river New Jersey 
had its attractions. There were also Dutch towns on 
Long Island with fertile soil and good farms settled 
by their own people from Amersfort, Utrecht, and 

A journal of New Netherlands, written in 1641-'46 
and published among the Holland documents, thus de- 
scribes the country : " New Netherlaiid, so called because 
it was first frequented and peopled by free Netherland- 
ers, is a province in the most northern part of America, 
lying between New England and Virginia. The ocean 
is confined along its whole length by a clean, sandy coast, 
very similar to that of Flanders or Holland. The air is 
very temperate, inclining to dryness, healthy, little sub- 
ject to sickness. The four seasons of the year are about 
as in France or the Netherlands. The character of the 
country is like that of France. ... In the interior are 
pretty high mountains, between which flow a great num- 
ber of small rivers ; in some places there are even some 
lofty ones of extraordinary height, but not many. Its 
fertility falls behind no province in Eijrope in excellence 
as in cleanness of fruits and seeds." Such was the land 
on which they were to settle. Father Jogues, a Jesuit 
missionary who explored the country about this time, 
says : " When any one comes to settle in the country, 
they [the Dutch] lend him horses, cows, etc., and give 
him provisions, all of which he repays as soon as he is 
at ease, and as to the land he pays in to the West India 


Company after ten years the tenth of* the produce which 
he reaps." 

This same Father Jogues says of the colony called 
Eensselaerswick : " Their houses are pierely of boards and 
thatched. There is no mason work except in the chim- 
neys. The forests furnishing many large pines, they 
make boards by means of their mills which they have 
for the purpose." 

If our Albany cousins built their houses after that 
pattern, probably those along the river and on Long 
Island were the same. This was somewhere about the 
year 1646. Those substantial brick'-and-stone dwelling 
houses, which we think of as being the earliest, were of 
a later date. But then we must remember that not very 
many of us came over quite as early as 1643. I find the 
following order given in 1650 to the settlers who take 
up lands in the New Netherlands;: "All who arrive 
must immediately set about preparing the soil so as to 
be able, if possible, to plant some Winter grain, and to 
proceed the next winter to cut and clear the timber. 
The trees are usually felled from the stump, cut up and 
burnt in the field, unless such as are suitable for build- 
ing, for palisades, or for posts and rails, which must be 
prepared during the winter so as to be set up in the 
spring on the new-made land which is intended to be 
sown, in order that the cattle may not in anywise injure 
the crops." 

Next the writer proceeds in this wise to speak of 
building houses : " It is necessary to select a well-located 
spot . . . properly surveyed and divided into lots. 
. . . This hamlet can be fenced in all round with 
palisades or long boards and closed with gates, which is 
advantageous in case of attack by the natives, who here- 


tofore used to exhibit their insolence in new plantations. 
. . . Those in New Netherlands, and especially in New 
England, who have no means to Build farmhouses at 
first according to their wishes, dig a square pit in the 
ground, cellar-fashion, six or seven feet deep, as long and 
as broad as they think proper, case the earth inside with 
wood all round the wall, and line the wood with the bark 
of trees to prevent the caving in of the earth ; they floor 
this cellar with plank and wainscot it overhead for a 
ceiling, raise a roof of spars clear up, and cover the spars 
with bark or green sods, so that they can live dry and 
warm in these houses with their entire families for two, 
three, or four years. The wealthy and principal men in 
the beginning of the colonies commenced their first 
dwelling houses in this fashion. ... In the course of 
three or four years they built themselves handsome 
houses, spending on them several thousands." 

The last named were probably the houses which we 
think of as the earliest Dutch houses, while, on the 
contrary, it is quite probable that when the first G-erret- 
sens and Williamseus and Petersens and Martensens 
and all the various Vans came over they had to prepare 
for the comfort of little Claus and Seytje and Janetje a 
house built " cellar-fashion," as this .writer calls it. 

As to the religious privileges of our people, even at 
this early period, they were not forgotten. Even be- 
fore the earliest of our preachers came over there were 
Krankbesoekers and Sickentroesters sent so that the 
sick and dying should be ministered to. 

The magistrates had orders at a very early date to 
see that the " Eeformed Christian religion, conformable 
to the Synod of Dordrecht, shall be maintained without 
suffering any other Sects attempting anything contrary 


thereto," and when instruction for the election of new 
magistrates was given in 1674 it was ordered that only 
such Burgomasters, Schout, and Schepens should be 
nominated as " were of the Keformed Christian re- 
ligion, or at least well effected toward it." 

Some of the laws by which the new settlements 
were governed must have been conducive to good order, 
and we might commend them to the notice of our mag- 
istrates to day : " All persons are forbid selling beer, 
wine, or other strong drink during divine service on the 
Sabbath, neither shall they allow it to be drunk in their 

" All persons are forbid selling it to servants after 
nine o'clock." 

" All persons are forbid selling strong drink to the 

" All fighting is forbid, drawing of knives, striking 
with the fists, and wounding." 

" All tavern keepers to be held liable for permitting 
fighting in their houses." 

" No person to create difficulties between Masters 
and servants nor induce servants to come and live with 

" No person shall race with carts and wagons in the 

" Those who hire Indians for money must pay them 

These short abstracts are from the edicts pf the 
Dutch governors, and were probably enforced from on 
or about 1647 to 1660. 

The following extract of a report on the state of 
trade in the province, made when the English rule had 
begun, is very suggestive in view of the events that 


happened a century later. It is probably the opinion 
of Lord Cornbury. He says: "All these Colloneys 
which are but twigs belonging to the main tree (Eng- 
land) ought to be Kept entirely dependent upon and 
subservient to England ; for the consequence will be 
that they who are already not very fond of submitting 
to Government would soon think of putting in Execu- 
tion designs they had long harboured in their breasts." 
His lordship forgets that the people of the Dutch colony 
at least were not accustomed to be " dependent and sub- 

The Dutch twig of that English tree grew to be a 
stout limb, and is flourishing still, and we are its 
latest growth. We speak English, but we are of Dutch 
ancestry, and we are not ashamed of that fact. We 
preach in English, but ours are Dutch Reformed 
churches still. We no longer sing the Psalms of 
David from the old Dutch Psalm-books on our library 
shelves, but we make selections from the beautiful 
hymns which are favorites with all Christian people, 
and so we keep step with our sister churches of other 
denominations. Our newspapers, "The Christian In- 
telligencer " and the publications of the boards of our 
church, compare favorably with those of other churches ; 
perhaps it is with a little excusable pride that we allude 
to them. 

Thus the " twig " of the old colonial days has 
shown luxuriant growth, and blends joyfully in songs 
of praise with the branches which spring up around it. 
Looking at our churches on the hilltops and in the 
valleys of this goodly land, we claim for them the 
realization of the prophetic vision of Isaiah when he 
said, " Ye shall go out with joy and be led forth with 


peace ; the mountains and the hills shall break forth be- 
fore you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall 
clap their hands." 


It is probable that most of our Dutch ancestors set- 
tled here between 1650 and 1700. We are led to this 
conclusion from documentary evidence and church 
records. They repeated the experience of all founders 
of colonies in new countries, and endured hardships, as 
we have said, from need of good food and home com- 
forts, from the dread of Indian warfare, and even from 
fear of wild animals. 

If you imagine pretty Trintje sitting at her spinning- 
wheel all day in the loveliest of short gowns and quilted 
petticoats placidly singing 

"Zoo rijden de Heeren 
Met de moije kleeren, 
Zoo rijden de Vrouwen 
Met de moije Mouen," etc. (American Dutch t), 

you are greatly mistaken, for pretty Trintje had hard 
work to do. 

If you think of the dear huysvrouw rocking little 
Claus in his mahogany cradle to the song of 

" Trip a trop a tronjes 
De varkens in de bonjes, 

with nothing else to think about, then you have no idea 
of life in the colonies. The work Qf to-day is child's 
play compared to the every-day labor of the women, our 
great-grandmothers, who toiled for the comforts we 
now possess. As to our great-great-grandfathers — well, 
they did not lead lives of ease and luxury. Let me 


copy for you from the laws of New York, passed in 
1703, "for the destruction of Wolves, Wild Cats, and 
other vermin." 

"... Whatsoever Person or Persons, Freeman or 
Slave, Christian or Indian, shall destroy or kill any Wolf 
or Wolves, or their Whelp or Whelps, any Wildcat or 
Wildcats, their Catling or Catlings, any Fox or Foxes, 
their Puppy or Puppies, any Squirrels, Crows, and 
Black-birds or their young ones in the Counties of Suf- 
folk, Queens County and Kings County ; shall have and 
receive as a Eeward for each Wolf so destroyed and 
killed the sum of Five Pounds current Money of this 
Colony." The amount is proportional for the " Cat- 
lings, Puppies, or Cubs," beside the " other vermin." 

This was for Long Island adjacent to Manhattan, 
which we might consider the center of civilized Amer- 
ica, apart from New England. But it was not on Long 
Island alone that wolves and wildcats roamed, for " Pro- 
vision for the like purpose" was made to take effect 
in Westchester, Albany, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, and 
Richmond Counties for the destruction of wolves and 
panthers. Farming under such circumstances must 
have been attended with difficulties, and I have copied 
from those old laws that you might see what they had 
to contend with. 

Did any of our readers ever hear old people speak of 
"keeping schemeravond ? " The word means twilight. 
Before the days of gas and when there were bright wood 
fires on the hearth, the family would gather around the 
fireside to talk over the events of the day, a neighbor 
sometimes dropping in to join the family circle ; that 
was keeping schemeravond. I have heard my old grand- 
mother tell of how they would " keep schemeravond," 


and I have thought how pleasant it must have been for 
the early settlers to be re-enforced by friends and rela- 
tives coming over from Holland and taking up land be- 
side them, for as they thus gathered around the hearth 
on the long winter evenings, how they must have en- 
joyed hearing the news from their former home ! After 
the telling about friends and relatives, about the canals 
and dykes and windmills and the stormy North Sea, I 
feel sure that they turned to the grand history of the 
past ; the good huysvrouw, rocking ;the cradle with her 
foot as she sat at her knitting, the children in open-eyed 
wonder listened as the newly-arrived guests talked with 
Groetvader and Groetmoeder about the blood shed at 
Haarlem and Zutphen and Alkmaar, the starvation at 
Leyden, the subsequent relief that was afforded, and the 
triumph that followed. 

The children could not but wonder at it all as they 
listened, scarcely daring to breathe lest their father, 
made conscious of their presence, should order them to 
bed. They were accustomed to crawl away into those 
little trundle beds at an early hour in the evening, but 
this was such an extraordinary occasion that they had, 
luckily for them, been forgotten, while the glories of the 
fatherland filled the minds of all present. The poor 
surroundings of the colonist were lost in the halo of 
those great deeds of stadtholder, burgomaster, and the 
plainest soldier, wrought in those wonderful wars that 
filled their minds with lofty thoughts to the exclusion of 
their common life of hard toil and the homely realities 
of their present surroundings. 

But we can not dwell very long on the mountain- top. 
We revert easily to accustomed things. ' So, after a pause 
in which the long pipes were smoked in silence, they 


turned to the present, and the older settlers began to tell 
their guests about the prospects of niaking a living in 
the New World. 

We do not doubt that they told stories about those 
wolves and wildcats, and whatever might be included in 
that phrase " other vermin," and then, not to discourage 
the more recent settlers, they would describe the won- 
ders of their new home, telling of the abundant fish to 
be had in the bays and rivers, of the clams and oysters, 
some of these oysters " not less than a foot long ! " And 
as to fruit — the peaches were so abundant that even the 
animals were fattened on them, and they fell from the 
trees in such quantities that " you could not step with- 
out trampling on them ! " Apples were large and plen- 
tiful, and cider made from them was kept in their cellars 
for constant use. A haunch of the finest venison, weigh- 
ing thirty pounds, had been bought for fifteen stuyvers 
(Dutch money). Wild turkeys and wild geese were ten- 
der and juicy, and could be bought for a small sum. 
Watermelons were abundant on Lofag Island, and were 
taken in boatloads to the market on " Nassau Island," 
for so they called it in 1693 with characteristic fidelity 
to their former leaders, for the rampant lion of Nassau 
formed part of the coat-of-arms of the Princes of Orange. 
So, after a time, as you see, the settlers began to have 
comforts in their new homes and to have food in abun- 
dance, as they had been accustomed to have it in the 

For a long time intercourse between the settlements 
was very limited, and the most visionary could never 
have dreamed of what we call rapid transit. Communi- 
cation between what is now New York and Brooklyn 
was at that period to be had only by means of small row- 


boats. When business transactions or friendly visits 
were interchanged, the ferry-master was summoned by 
the blowing of a horn hung for that purpose in a tree at 
the landing. 

When we next cross on the Brooklyn Bridge let us 
think of the fathers and mothers in our Dutch towns at 
that time, at whose call the row-boat was drawn up on 
the gravelly beach as they climbed in and were rowed 
over that primitive ferry. 

Contrast that with the intercourse between New 
York and Brooklyn now. The row-boat of that age and 
the majestic bridge of this emphasize strikingly the 
difEerence between the past and the present. Even the 
background of roaming wolves and wildcats scarcely 
heightens the difEerence when we are measuring it by 
the mighty span of that bridge, contrasted with the tiny 
boats in which our fathers rowed across the river. 


The old Dutch farmhouses which still stand along 
the Hudson, in New Jersey, and on Long Island were 
comfortable, home-like structures. They do not repre- 
sent style and elegance, but they indicate a home life of 
plenty, comfort, and the peaceful enjoyment of that 
which they have gained by honest industry. 

The heavy, sloping roof is characteristic of these 
dwellings. We recall but few which do not have this 
distinguishing feature. Sometimes there were dormer 
windows, which gave relief to the long slope and better 
ventilation to the upper chambers. In the very earliest 
Dutch houses that I can recall, or which have been de- 
scribed to me, there was no hall, but the front rooms 
were large, and each room opened upon the long, low 


front stoop. If there were wings to the house, the 
kitchen had its place in a wing. Basement kitchens 
were unknown. The huysvrouw, in overlooking her 
servants and in ordering and preparing the meals, would 
never have consented to spend thus much of her time 
underground. In early times there were slave kitchens, 
small buildings annexed to the main kitchen, which 
left that, in consequence, more entirely to the mistress. 

There were rows of shining tin pans hanging on the 
walls. The floors were sanded ; that seems strange to 
us now, but I have very clear recollection of the clean, 
white sand from the ocean beach scattered over the 
freshly-scrubbed kitchen floor. On the day following, 
this was swept into waves and curves, like the figures on a 
carpet. The broad fireplaces were large enough to hold 
a backlog of the entire boll of a tree — usually hickory. 
This was held in its place by andirons. In front of it 
were smaller logs, while the spaces between were filled 
in with hickory chips and corncois. When lighted, 
what a glorious fire it made ! The whole kitchen was 
aglow from the flames ! 

We read of the very small kitchens in which French 
people cook, reserving the rest of the house for com- 
pany. I have sometimes wondered if this might not 
be characteristic of the two nations. Our people made 
these cheery kitchens the gathering places of the fam- 
ily. It was a center of family life. Around these great 
fires they met in the twilight to talk over the events of 
the day, the neighbors coming in, the children chatter- 
ing in the chimney corner, and the father, and perhaps 
the " groetvader," smoking their long pipes, lighted by 
coals from the fireplace. Later in the evening the tank- 
.ard of cider would be brought in, baskets of apples, a 


basket of nuts for the children to crack, and the platter 
of fresh doughnuts. Here we would digress to say that 
we are quite sure the recipe for doughnuts (their love 
for which is shown by the New England people in their 
constant use of that cake) was first obtained from the 
Hollanders, among whom they sojourned, for the 
doughnut is not an English cake; it is decidedly a 
Dutch dish ; but their risitors took so kindly to it that 
ever after their settlement in New England they had it 
in use on their tables throughout the year. But the 
Dutch never made this cake during the spring or sum- 
mer, and not in the autumn until after the fall killing 
gave them fresh lard in which to cook it. But this is a 
digression. Now to go back to the pleasant memories 
of the old Dutch kitchens, we ought to explain that this 
use of that part of the house would -not have been pos- 
sible had there not been the kitchen for the servants 
of which we have spoken. There were a number of 
colored people in every family. They were slaves, but 
it was a light form of slavery. There was a kitchen 
purposely arranged for them, and, if not adjoining, it 
was only separated by a few feet from the main house. 
I do not remember these myself as being in use, but I 
know of several of them which are still standing. 

It is probable that all untidy household work was in 
that portion of the house, while the great kitchen, with 
its dresser of old Delft ware, its peWter dishes, its shin- 
ing tins, and its blazing evening fij-e, represented that 
portion of the home which in English homes was the 
sitting-room. The difference in the two is character- 
istic of the supervision of all the work by the huysvrouw 
herself, and also of the Dutch hospitality, of which eat- 
ing and drinking formed a promine^it part. 


I have sometimes fancied (perhaps it is only a fancy) 
that the Dutch kitchen was the last lingering represen- 
tation of the family life of a ruder age in Europe, when 
work was not below the dignity of the house-mother, 
and when paterfamilias, in primitive fashion and in a 
certain barbaric style, dispensed his hospitality and 
made merry in his rude baroniail hall. His great 
kitchen was the baronial hall of the Dutchman. 

The very low ceilings which we see in all of these 
houses tell the story of cold winters only heated by the 
open fireplace, the halls and chambers being icy cold in 
midwinter, and they suggest, none the less, the dim 
light only furnished by candles. We who in the present 
age revel in the comforts of furnace or steam heater, 
and in the light of gas or brilliant lamplight, can but 
faintly realize the discomforts that would have arisen 
had every room been built with a high ceiling. These 
^ Dutch people built houses for comfort, not palaces for 
show. They were a home-loving race. They loved 
their wives and their children, and the ties of kindred 
were very strong. Did you ever, in .reading over a list 
of Dutch names, notice how a tender diminutive forms 
part of every feminine name ? Those names have all 
disappeared. No mother would make her little daughter 
conspicuous by the giving of those names now, and yet 
only two generations ago they were general. Look over 
the old records, the old wills, the tombstones in the 
old graveyards around the Dutch churches, and in the 
family Bibles, and what names do we find ? Is it Ellen, 
Jane, Louisa that we see ? Still less, is it Gladys, 
Gwendolin, Maud, Edith ? None of these. It is An- 
netje (Anne), Jannetje (Jane), Elsje (Alice), Setje 
(Cynthia), Grietje (Margaret), Lentje (Helen), Ar- 


riantje (Adrianna), Femmetje (Phoebe), G-ertje (Ger- 
trude). The final je in all these names is the Dutch 
diminutive. It has in this connection a sort of tender, 
petting tone, as if representing something that must be 
loved and protected. You see there was a certain high- 
toned chivalry among these men, and they looked upon 
a woman with a blending of love and respect. Histo- 
rians tell us that the purity of anorals among the 
Dutch may be ascribed to the happy influence of the 

Now that we are speaking of names, observe also the 
difference in the names of men in past and present. On 
the old records we find Adrian, Barent, Brom, Dirk, 
Diederick, Evert, Gerret, Hans, Hendrick, Johannes, 
Joost, Lambert, Laurens, etc. These names, like those 
who have borne them, are no longer to be found. If 
any of us have been named in baptism after these old 
worthies, it is under the disguise of the English translation. 
It is right that this should be so, but while looking into 
the past, honor the names of those who have lived before 
you, for you have no reason to be ashamed of your 
Holland forefathers. 


On fine and expensive paper, with names beautifully 
engraved, you read your invitation to the wedding of 
the charming young lady who has been the belle of the 
season. The newspaper reporters, giving an account of 
it, say that the bride is descended from an old Knicker- 
bocker family of wealth and high social standing. 

(It is rather amusing that the name which Irving 
used in his ridicule of our people should be now con- 
sidered a flattering distinction, is it not?) 


Let us turn to the past and see how the forefathers 
of this " old Knickerbocker family " arranged matters 
on similar occasions. 

When Jannetje and Derick were to be married, if at 
that period they were of high social standing they had a 
large wedding. The Dutch believed in having large 
weddings. Everybody was invited, all the relatives, rich 
and poor. There was an abundance of food provided, 
for the preparations had taken days and days before the 
important day of the ceremony. I wish I could say 
that they were total abstainers. But that would be too 
far in advance of their time. Let us hope that at least 
they were temperate at the wedding feast in an age 
when to be the reverse was not considered sinful. 

Of course there were long pipes in abundance for 
the old people, and doubtless the young people danced 
with brisk steps and not the languid, gliding measure of 
the present fashion. We are sure there were no round 
dances. Doubtless violins supplied the music by which 
they danced, and their negro slaves were the musicians. 
(]Sr. B. — I do not give this bit of information as an 
historian ; it is only an inference from recollections of 
winter evening stories told by the dear old grand- 

We are more certain of the dresses worn on the 
occasion, that is, if we do not go too far back intg the 
past. The bride must be attired in a handsome satin 
petticoat, which formed the front of the overdress, 
which was of a different color. Knickerbockers, as now 
called, with knee buckles and shoe buckles and full 
dressy coats, such as we see in old pictures, was the 
costume of the men. The Dutch dominie probably wore 
the Geneva gown in oflBciating at the.ceremony, and the 


Yeffrouw was an honored guest. As to a wedding 
journey, we are doubtful if they went very far when 
the greater part of New York State was a wilder- 
ness, and the savages pounced down upon any one who 
went beyond the boundaries of the colony. My dear 
young friends, who just take a summer vacation or a 
bridal trip to Europe, your great-grandmother rode on 
a pillion to the next town, or thought she had taken 
quite a journey if she went from New York to Esopus, 
Claverack, Saugertiea, or Coxsackie, Or, if from Al- 
bany, she ventured as far as Schenectady. 

On a funeral occasion the gathering was almost as 
large as at a wedding, for every friend of the deceased 
was expected to be present. Because many came from 
a distance there was a table spread for the friends. 
They smoked their long pipes, and, I am sorry to say, 
they drank Holland gin. In these matters we find an 
improvement in the present age. The cofiBns were 
plainer than the elaborate caskets now in use. There 
was a regular sermon preached, but no singing, and 
probably no service at the grave. 

The pall-bearers were intimate friends of the de- 
ceased and as near as possible of the same age. To 
these pall-bearers were given black gloves, or black silk 
handkerchiefs ; sometimes, at the funeral of a prominent 
man, linen scarfs ; these were tied in a rosette bow on 
the shoulder and crossed under the opposite arm, as we 
sometimes see them on similar occasions now. In the 
old graveyards in the country around our Dutch 
churches we find the inscriptions in the Dutch lan- 
guage. They impress me as being solemn and dignified, 
far more so than the inflated epitaphs which we some- 
times read on old English tombstones. 


" In den Heere outslapen " (Sleeping in the Lord), 
they often say. Or we read, "Hier leyt begraven t' 

lighaani von (Here lies the body of) , geboren 

(date), (died) overleden (date)." In almost every 
instance you will see a desire to commemorate their 
belief in the immortality of the soul, so do their words 
emphasize the fact that it is only the body that 
rests below the sod. It is quite in contrast to the 
curt fashion in which we express it now — just a name 
with the dates of birth and death below it. There is a 
certain lingering over the inscriptions as our Dutch 
fathers wrote them, which is to me more touching. 
They seem to appeal to you, as they say tenderly, here 
we have buried the earthly frame of our dear one. She 
rests here. He rests here. They point us to heaven 
whence the soul had gone. 

We may not infer that they had greater faith than 
we have, but they loved to allude to it on their tomb- 
stones. They recorded the fact that the dear one whom 
they had committed to the grave died in the precious 
belief of " een salige opstandinge " (glorious resurrec- 

An old graveyard surrounding a church seems a 
more solemn resting place than amid the showy shafts 
of a modern cemetery. It seems right that where they 
were taught of immortality, there they should come to 
take their last sleep— there where the old church keeps 
guard over them. From the pulpit they were taught of 
life beyond the grave, and the inscriptions on the old 
brown headstones seem like a response to that teaching 
as they record the faith of those who sleep below in 
their quaint terms, hoping for " een salige opstandinge " 
(glorious resurrection). 



" You had better go up in the garret this morning 
and pack away your furs in one of the long chests. I 
will send Betty up presently to help you." 

Grandma's word was law to us children. I went 
reluctantly, but, reaching there, I was at once struck 
by the facilities afforded for rummaging. Grandma's 
was an old Dutch house, and of all the attics to which 
you may have access there are none so full of interest 
as those under the heavy roof of an old Dutch home- 
stead — a homestead in which members of the same 
family have lived and died for successive generations, 
entering them and leaving them through the portals of 
birth and death. 

It was there on that stormy March day that I learned 
about Miss Sally. As children find a picture of a pretty 
girl by putting together the dissected pieces from their 
box of toy blocks, so I put together the bits of informa- 
tion I found that day, and thus formed the history of 
Miss Sally. 

* Miss Sally is not an imaginary being. The bills here given 
and the list of articles purchased are in possession of the writer, 
and are given here in the hope that they may prove interesting 
to the young ladies of the present day, as showing the changes 
which one hundred years have wrought in the style of dress and 
requirements of fashionable society, 


Under the eaves I found a heavy, iron-hinged box 
full of old papers; there were wills, indentures, and 
accounts on coarse, faded paper witl^ jagged edges, much 
worm-eaten. I was about to withdraw my head from 
under the lid and let it drop down, when I was at- 
tracted by some writing. " Sally— ^inventory— estate — 

My name was Sally. Was this some ancestress of 
mine? The record was not in a good state of preserva- 
tion, but there was enough left complete to weave my 
little romance, enough blocks left to put together and 
form the picture of Miss Sally. 

Here is her birthday, February 8, 1766. She is the 
youngest child in the family and only daughter. Her 
oldest brother is her guardian, or in some way seems to 
have the care of her accounts ; she is evidently an or- 
phan. Her mother must have been kind to the other 
children, for the oldest speaks of his stepmother as our 
" beloved mother Lammetia." How odd that name 
sounds now, but it was very common among the Dutch, 
and it has the same signification as the English name 
Agnes — a lamb. The Dutch use it in the diminutive — 
a little lamb. 

I become interested in my treasure-trove and carry 
the worm-eaten account book to the oval window in the 
gable of the garret, and seating myself upon a decrepit 
spinning-wheel, through the medium of these faded 
pages I look back into the domestic life of more than a 
hundred years ago, careless of the cobwebs which catch 
in my hair and the stray wasp chasing angrily the splash 
of the rain-drops on the window pane. 

The book opens with an inventory of the estate. 
How unlike our present belongings ! Here is the enu- 


meration of the slaves : Bronx, Caesar, Cato, Dyne, Betty, 
Flora. They are valued at sums varying from £60 to 
£30 apiece ; the value of the cattle ; the standing grain ; 
the implements of agriculture and the household furni- 
ture are also given. Such a variety of brass kettles and 
andirons; Dutch cupboards and chests; "engraved 
spoons" and rolls of homespun linen; pewter plates 
and pewter dishes ! " A ryding chair " is valued at £14. 
Did you go to drive in it, Miss Sally, on the King's 
highway ? 

A silver tankard is valued at £22. Tankards were 
heirlooms, and were bequeathed to the oldest son. The 
number of feather beds, blankets, bed curtains, and 
woolen as well as linen sheets suggests days without 
stoves and furnaces, the water freezing at night in the 
sleeping room. The property left to Miss Sally and her 
brothers is all appraised here, and the list closes with 
the funeral expenses of the mother, Lammetia, £3 6s. hd. 
Every item in this bill marks the change in the customs 
of the age. There are scarfs and black silk handker- 
chiefs ; those were for the bearers. There are charges 
for pipes and tobacco, spirits and wine, bread, cheese, 
beef, etc. Paid the schoolmaster for attendance £1 12s. 
Orf ; that was the equivalent to sexton's and undertaker's 
fees, for it was the schoolmaster in that age who super- 
intended the digging of the grave and tolling of the 
church bell. There is an item £0 4s. 0(f. for ferriage, 
which means that relatives were brought over from New 
York in row-boats across the Breuklyn ferry. 

The estate can not be divided yet, Miss Sally not 
being of age. 

She now goes to school. Her bill amounts to £4 4s. ^d. ; 
she is charged for writing-paper and quills beside tuition. 



For a page or two there is no mention of Miss Sally 
in the household expenses. She is probably acquiring a 
knowledge of the foreign languages— English, for ex- 
ample, for we see among the tax bills that at this time 
the schoolmaster was required to teach English as well 
as Dutch. 

The accounts now indicate that Miss Sally begins to 
go out in company, for here is a bill which shows the 
price of " new gowns " in the last century : 

£. «. d. 

One silk gown 6 15 

" pair gloves 5 9 

" chintz gown .• 2 10 

" pair shoes 11 

" petticoat 3 8 3 

There are bills paid to the shoemaker who came once 
a year to the house and made shoes for the whole family, 
including the slaves, but Miss Sally gets " store shoes." 

Here follows another bill : 

£. s. d. 

A silk gown 8 

Stuff for a cloak 2 1 8 

Cash for sundries 7 9 4 

I hope that Miss Sally has a skillful " man tua- maker ! " 
Here are more purchases : She has a muff and tippet 
at £9 Os. Od. ; an umbrella, in the use of which she seems 
to be careless, for on the next page there is a bill for 
mending it, £1 Os. Od. I fear. Miss Sally, you are getting 
extravagant. Here is a bill for " a scarlet cloak," £4 10s. 
A bonnet with trimmings (?), £1 2s. id. ; a paper of pins, 
which at that period cost £0 2s. 6d. They had, of course, 
twisted wire heads, which were likely to come off ; it is 
probable that Miss Sally never saw a solid-head pin. She 


also selected a "gauze cap." It must have been very 
becoming to tempt you to the expenditure of £3 8s. 8d., 
Miss Sally ! Did you cross to New York in a small boat 
to do your shopping in the fashionable part of the city, 
Maiden Lane ? Of course. Where else should you go ? 
Meantime, in accordance with the industry of the 
age, Miss Sally has been spinning. The weaver sends in 
his bill " for weaving 108 ells of linen, £3 12s. Qd.'" You 
doubtless made a pretty picture going to and fro beside 
the wheel. Did you sing to its buzzing accompaniment 
the Dutch spinning songs : 

" Zoo rijden de Heeren, met de moije kleeren, 
Zoo rijden de vrouwen, met de bonte mouwen, etc." 

Of course I haven't got it quite right. It is old 
Dutch, as people speak of " old English." You in your 
century and I in mine. Miss Sally. Teople don't speak 
Dutch on Long Island now. Things have changed since 
your time. 

Here is an item of interest: "Mother Lammetia" 
has commended to the care of the family a superannu- 
ated slave who must never be allowed to want, and Miss 
Sally pays her share of the support. -She must have the 
most comfortable seat in the chimney corner, and her 
corncob pipe must be supplied with tobacco. 

Now there are more purchases, ag follows : 

£. «. d. 

A lutestring gown 6 3 

A silk cloak 8 

A Barcelona handkerchief 8 

A gauze cap •. 9 

Two pairs shoes 18 

And still more chintz, silk, and calico gowns and 
calico short gowns. 


Here it is stated that Miss Sally is allowed £4 Os. Od. 
for pocket money ; she goes on a journey, a long, peril- 
ous journey to— Pishkill ! Probably she went to visit 
her relatives, the old settlers of Tarrytown and Sleepy 
Hollow. Now I reach the end of Miss Sally's accounts. 
She is of age. The property is divided. The brothers 
sign their respective receipts, and so does she. But 
what is this ? She is no longer Miss Sally ; she is mar- 
ried. That going to Fishkill must have been her wed- 
ding journey ! 

I close the worm-eaten account book. The rain has 
been all the morning pattering on the roof, but now the 
sun breaks through as I sit thinking over the picture of 
the pretty girl at her spinning, young and happy, one 
hundred years ago ! There are steps on the garret stairs. 

"Is that you, Betty?" 

Betty 'wore a turban made of a Madras handker- 
chief, A chintz shawl is pinned across her breast, the 
corners held in place by the strings of her check apron. 

" Betty, do you remember that pretty Miss Sally ? 
Her mother died when she was young ; her brother kept 
her accounts. It was ever and ever so long ago." 

Yes, Betty remembered. 

" She was ever so pretty. Wasn't she very lovely ? " 

Betty seemed to be recalling past times, and answered 

" Well, yes, when she was young ; I don't know but 
that you favor her. Eyes as black as a sloe." Betty 
always speaks of dark eyes being " as black as a sloe." 
I thought for a long time it was some kind of animal, 
but she told me a sloe was a plum. That fruit, whatever 
it may have been, must have grown in abundance on 
Long Island in Betty's time. 


" Do tell me all you know about pretty Miss Sally. 
Who was she, Betty? I wish I had seen her." 

" She was your grandpa's half sis|;er. You have seen 
her often. She used to come down from Esopus once 
a year to visit your grandma when you was a little bit 
of a girl." 

" Why, Betty ! You don't mean old Aunt Sally, that 
ugly wrinkled old woman, without a tooth in her head, 
who wore a false front of rusty reddish hair, and who 
took snuff?" 

Betty nodded, but seeing the tears of disappointment 
coming to my eyes she patted me on the shoulder in her 
kind, loving way and tried to comfort me. 

" She was real pretty once. Pretty as you are now. 
Eyes as black as " 

" Betty, don't. I don't want to hear any more. 
You've spoiled it all. Let's go down stairs. Put back 
the spinning-wheel. Move this iron-clasped chest back 
under the eaves. I don't care about the old account 
book now ! " 

" What'll yer grandma say about the furs? " 

I had forgotten the furs. I was young ; this was my 
first object lesson on the relentless laws of Nature. It 
was in vain that Betty paused in shaking out the muff 
to assure me that Miss Sally was once beautiful, eyes 
black as a sloe. That only made it the worse. I was 
angry at Miss Sally for getting old and ugly. She had 
spoiled my pretty picture. I went to my own room 
and made myself miserable by crying, because 1 lived 
in a world where it is a natural law to grow old and 
fade and die. I might myself, some day, be like Aunt 

I was young then ; afterward I learned of a higher 


than mere physical beauty. I learned it from old Betty, 
the descendant of " Mother Lammetia's " faithful slave. 
When her wrinkled hands that had so willingly minis- 
tered to others were folded iu death, when her lips that 
had ever spoken loving words were forever closed, 
grandma, leaning over her coffin, said with tears : " All 
her life she has been so faithful to me and mine that 
there have been times when her face has seemed to me 
in my troubles like the face of an angel." 

Then I understood the higher beauty and sweetness 
that is expressed on the countenance of a Christian, and 
I learned a higher and a pleasanter lesson than had 
come to me through the faded beauty of Miss Sally. 


In time of war every day is not one of conflict and 
contending forces. The horrors of the battle field and 
the shock of opposing arms is not constantly presented, 
even in times of bitterest animosity and strife. 

There come days and weeks and months of quiet 
between, when the sky is unclouded by the smoke of 
cannon, and Nature looks on as sweetly unmoved as if 
no shock had been felt and no discordant echo had 
ever startled her hills and valleys. The flowers bloom, 
the grain fields ripen, and Nature betrays no knowledge 
that she has seen the contest, except that she tries to 
hide the battle field under a new growth of green and to 
cover with new grass the freshly-made graves of the 
soldiers. The birds sing, and the twitter of daily life 
goes on as usual. Men and women take up the custom- 
ary burdens they have borne, and march on as before 
to the ticking of the clock which measures their lives 
and tells the passing of time which never pauses, be the 
days bright or gloomy. 

"We propose, just now, to imitate Nature in this, and 
to tell you of what happened in time of war, and yet is 

* This article was written for and read at a meeting of the 
Daughters of the Revolutionj- As the event related took place in 
Flatbush, and at the period frequently referred to in this his- 
tory, we think it claims a place among other events recorded here, 


not of war nor of conflict of any kind, but is about the 
merry doings of, young people, like yourselves, and the 
sounds of mirth and laughter whichlcome so readily to 
youth because they can not take in the cares which shall 
be theirs in later life, nor realize that sorrows are await- 
ing them in future which may come to them all too 

I think you will in your innermdst hearts respond to 
this little episode, because young people like to hear 
something new about those in whom they take interest, 
and you do take interest in these young people, for they 
are your brothers and sisters — stay, I am a century 
behind time — they are your grandfathers and grand- 
mothers. Besides, we think that a keynote of joy will 
please you even in time of war, for although it is not 
wholly true, yet there is a great deal of truth in the 
little song that tells us : 

" Laugh and the world laughs with you, 
Weep, and you weep alone, 
For this brave old earth must borrow its mirth, 
It has troubles enough of its own. 

" Sing and the hills will answer, 
Sigh, it is lost in the air. 
The echoes bound to a joyful sound 
But shrink from voicing care. 

" Rejoice, and men will seek you. 
Grieve, and they turn and go, 
They want full measure for all your pleasure. 
But do not want your woe." 

Said a bright child to me, " I s'pose you were born 
before Fourth er July, 1776 ! " 
" Why ? " 


" 'Cause I don't see these things in my history book. 
Are your stories about the war all true ? " 

" All true," I replied, and then I tried to explain 
how these things were told at the fireside by those who 
had taken part in them, and how distinctly they were 
borne in mind because they were told in the most im- 
pressable time of a child's life. 

So you may ask of me as the child did, Are your 
stories of the war all true ? and I reply emphatically, 
" They are all true ! " 

And now to my story. 

There were many prisoners on parole in this (Kings) 
county during the early part of the War of the Revolu- 
tion. I am unable to give the exact> date of their being 
here, or the extent of their parole, or the limits within 
which they were confined. 

It is needless to say that time hung heavily on their 
hands. How could it be otherwise? There were few 
books comparatively, and few newspapers. " The Ifew 
York Gazette and Weekly Mercury," published by 
Hugh Gaine, printer, bookseller, and stationer in Han- 
over Square, might be obtained from time to time, or 
" Rivington's New York Gazetteer," or the " Connecti- 
cut, New Jersey, Hudson's River, and Quebec Weekly 

Or sometimes there was an odd number left of the 
" New York Journal," printed by John Holt, near the 
" Coffee House," and these papers were passed from 
hand to hand and read and re-read, and yet the time 
hung heavily on the hands of those who were accus- 
tomed to work and now had nothing to do. It was well 
that the sound principles taught by the old Dutch do- 
minies were so deeply imprinted that Satan, who ever 


finds work for idle hands to do, coulld not surprise these 
many idle hands into doing work for him. 

On one cold midwinter day a happy thought came 
into the mind of a young officer, and found immediate 
acceptance with those to whom he communicated it. 

The beautiful fields that they had roamed through 
all the summer, the woods in which they had gathered 
walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, and chestnuts, were 
now all draped in pure white snow. Icicles were pen- 
dent everywhere, and snow and ice wrapped everything 
in lines of beauty. The outlines of the fields were indis- 
tinguishable save where the surface drainage had made 
long ponds, and here on these shallow bits of ice the 
little children were at play, sliding on the glittering 
surface or dragging their little sleds across the frozen 

This gave to the young officer the happy suggestion ' 
on which he at once acted. Why pot have a carnival 
upon the ice ? 

On the northeastern portion of the Lefferta farm 
there was a large pond. At the settlement of the coun- 
try it had been formed by using the strata of clay for 
the manufacturing of bricks. It was known by its 
Dutch name, the Steenbakerie or Stone Bakery. It 
offered the irresistible attraction of several acres of clear, 
smooth, pure ice. 

The young officers went to the woods near by and 
cut down a tree. This they planted in the middle of the 
pond, leaving about four feet of it extending above the 
surface of the ice. At right angles to this they fastened 
the rest of the main body of the tree with an iron bolt, 
as I understood it, which would revolve very rapidly 
when moved by some one standing close to it. On to this 


crosapiece there were attached many little sleds with 
ropes of various lengths, and when one was stationed in 
the center to turn this crosspiece, the velocity with 
which all these sleds were whirled round and round the 
pond was very great. It was a sort of winter merry-go- 
round, and to this all the young people far and near 
were invited. Of course they all accepted the invita- 
tion and went, and a right merry time they had. The 
rotary motion communicated by the revolving piece to 
which the little sleds were attached was exhilarating. 
It might be accelerated at the will of the party who 
controlled the crosspiece, and there is no reason to 
doubt that the motion was retarded. 

I can see them now — can not you ? The rosy cheeked 
Dutch girls from the village, their young friends and 
brothers; the prisoner ofiBcers, and perhaps one older 
person here and there to look on and see the fun ! I can 
just imagine how they looked each one clinging closely 
to his or her sled, shouting as they passed each other, 
shrieking as at times a sled was upset, laughing as each 
recognized the other in the swift whipl. 

Perhaps on some of the sleds there were two persons — 
all the more fun for the two — but tradition does not tell 
us that ; sometimes they went so swiftly as to be almost 
lifted from the ice ; round and round they flew, happy 
in their innocent merriment and enjoying it all, as only 
young people can. They kept it up through all the full 
moon, and even until the warmer breath of spring be- 
gan to weaken the ice. They were loath to leave it. The 
clear air was so invigorating, the motion so exhilarating, 
the companionship so delightful. Neither history nor 
tradition ventures to hint, but I myself think that 
there is not much risk in stating that some of the wed- 


dings which came off after the war might have been 
traced to the meetings on those mooYiIight nights in the 
frolics of the young people on the ice pond. 

I went past that spot quite recently. The dump cart 
of the city contractor was trying to fill up the pond, but 
there is a portion of it still left. The trolley cars of 
the Nostrand Avenue line pass it daily as they turn 
into Malbone Street to reach the entrance to Prospect 

If you go that way look across the Lefferts farm for 
what is still left of the old pond, and as you do so, recall 
the picture it presented one hundred years ago of the 
Americiin prisoners on parole and the young and pretty 
Dutch maidens snatching a short season of pleasure 
amid the uncertainties of war, and unconscious of the 
fate that might be awaiting them before the war should 
be brought to its close. 

The moon passing over may find a small portion of 
it even yet, but the city is creeping up to obliterate 
what is left of it just as surely as the green grass has 
covered from sight the soldiers' graves, which were then 
fresh, and forever effaced the lines of the battle field 
which then could be traced. 



[To give the younger readers of this volume some idea of 
home life in the village during the War of the Revolution, we 
append a fireside account of that period as it was told us by an 
aged lady who was in her sixteenth year when the incidents 
occurred which she related. She was a woman of great per- 
sonal courage and of remarkable intelligence, and we can vouch 
for this as being an unembellished account of what she herself 
saw and did; and therefore it has the merit of being strictly 
true. She died some forty years ago, being at that time in full 
possession of all her faculties, although more than eighty years 
of age.] 


The morning on which the British troops landed was one of 
the loveliest we had had that summer. The sky was so clear 
and bright that you could scarcely think of it as a day which 
was to bring so much sorrow. I was then just sixteen years 
old, and my sister was a little older. Father was very feeble — 
he died of consumption after the close of the war — and, as we 
had no brothers to protect us, when the news reached us that 
the army was advancing in the direction of our village. Mother 
concluded to leave the house and go to a cousin of hers who 
had a large farm some miles eastward. Accordingly, the great 
farm-wagon was brought to the door, and such articles of fur- 
niture as could be easily removed were placed on it. Our faith- 
ful old negro man, Oaesar, received instructions from Father to 
take his little grandson, Oato, with him, and to drive the cattle 


througt the farm lane to the woods beyond, while Mink, his 
son, who was a tall, strong, young fellow, was set to watch the 
premises, and, if possible, to protect the house. Before these 
arrangements were completed, the rumor reached ns that the 
soldiers were rapidly approaching. The whole village was in 
commotion. Nothing, as yet, was to be seen of our troops. 
Women and children were running hither and thither. Men on 
horseback were riding about in all directions. Farmers might 
be seen cleaning up their rifles, and half-grown boys practicing 
shooting at a mark. As I stood near our wagon, which was 
being loaded, I could see the old Dutch school-master open the 
door of the little red school-house. The boys rushed out with a 
shout ; it proved to be a longer holiday than they then dreamed 
of. The advancing army was just beyond the hills. There was 
an almost incessant firing in that direction. The whole care of 
the farm, and the management of everything, came upon Moth- 
er on account of Father's illness ; she was fully equal to any 
emergency, as many of the women in those days were, but her 
manners were very quiet and gentle, so that when we all be- 
came very much excited over the approach of the British troops 
she alone remained calm, and proceeded to make the necessary 
arrangements. General "Washington had placed General Greene 
in command of this part of Long Island, and fortifications had 
been thrown up in Brooklyn and Flatbush to guard the ap- 
proach to New York. An intrenohment was thrown up in Flat 
bush a little to the south of us, and a small redoubt, on which a 
few pieces of artillery were mounted, was put up at the north 
of us, on a spot which is now in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and 
is called the Battle Pass. From these arrangements we knew 
that the enemy was expected in the line of our house. As my 
father was ill, and my sister and self were two young girls more 
full of life and spirit than of discretion. Mother had resolved to 
seek our safety in flight. Not very brave, you say ? Well, per- 
haps it was not. But I think if any of you young girls were in 
the line of an approaching army of English and Hessian soldiers, 
your mother would do the same. 

I can bring before me as if it were but yesterday the scenes 


of our preparations for flight. Diana, the old cook, OsBsar's 
wife, stood with her hand on the crane, which she had turned 
on its hinge outward from the great open fireplace, ready to 
hang the iron pot upon the trammel when the mistress should 
give the order. But the mistress, in neat homespun short gown 
and petticoat, after the fashion of the Dutch farmers' wives, 
stood with her finger on her lip, silently planning before she 
spoke. Father, in his high-backed chair, sat leaning his hand 
on the cane he held before him, while my. sister and I were en- 
deavoring to extract a promise from Caesar that his care should 
be extended to our pets which we were holding up before him. 
We had killed a calf that morning. There were no butchers' 
shops in those days among the Long Island farmers. " You need 
not cook dinner to-day, Dian," said Mother. "Put all that is 
left of the calf on the wagon ; we must not be a burden upon 
our friends. OeBsar has harnessed up the farm-horses to the 
large wagon, and we will put in it such tilings as we can save. 
We shall go and stay for a while with Cousin Jacobus." 

Cousin Jacobus lived about two miles 'eastward. Just then 
old Betty came in ; she had brought some herbs for my father's 
cough. Betty was the wife of the last chief of the Canarsie In- 
dians, a tribe who had once owned land iathe west end of Long 
Island. I am sorry to say that both the chief and his wife were 
often the worse for liquor. Betty was very fond of my mother. 
The attachment had sprung up under the following circum- 
stances. In the course of a violent storm years before. Mother, 
looking from the window, saw a woman, without any protec- 
tion from the rain, seated on a rough stone wall that fenced ofi" 
our wheat-field from the public road. Touched with pity. Moth- 
er sent Cessar to bring the forlorn creature in the house and to 
give her a place at the kitchen fire. 

"Why, Betty, is it you? Why didn'tjyou come in?" asked 
my mother, as the object of her pity proved to be the old chief's 

" Because," replied Betty, " I wanted to know if I had any 
friends; so I waited to see who of the neighbors would call 
me in." 


" Why, Betty, you knew I was your friend," said Mother. 
" I thought so once — I know it now," said the old woman ; 
and from that day she was true to my mother's interest upon 
every occasion. Knowing that we should leave, she came with 
a supply of herhs for father and the news .that the British army 
was approaching. She told us that the American troops sta- 
tioned along the western shore were retreating over the hills 
toward Tlatbush ; that Lord Cornwallis : with the English sol- 
diers was on the march, and that the Hessian troops had land- 
ed. This last piece of information was incorrect ; the Hessians 
under General de Heister were daily expected, but they did not 
come to Flatbush until some days later. The constant although 
irregular firing in that direction gave weight to Betty's news, 
and, when the wagon was brought to the door, my sister and I 
were all excitement, rushing wildly about the house and bring- 
ing the most useless things to Osesar to put in the wagon. Moth- 
er coolly took out whatever did not seem to her necessary, re- 
serving space only for such household articles as were in her 
judgment best to save. The very first thing placed on the wagon 
was the great Dutch Bible with its huge brass clasps and brass 
corners. Then the little stand was brought on which this heavy 
Bible always rested. The old Dutch clock was carefully lifted 
in, and some one or two articles of furniture, and our clothing. 
The horses were getting very restive under the firing, which 
could now be heard distinctly from beyond the western woods. 
"Come, Femmetia," Mother called to me again, "you must 
drive. Where is Gertia ? " 

" Come, girls, come," exclaimed my father, somewhat impa- 
tiently ; but, even after we were all seated in the wagon, and I 
held the long whip over the heads of the horses, ready to give 
them the signal to go, he himself delayed us with the many 
parting admonitions he gave to Mink, who was to be left in 
charge of the barnyard. 

" Go as far as Yost Williamse's lane,^' said ray father. " I 
will leave word there as we pass how ranch farther you must 
drive them." 

I, sJmost unconsciously, had given the horses a tap on their 


ears with the point of my wliip ; it only i^eeded this in connec- 
tion with the constant sound of firearms to start them. 

" Hold on, Femmetia. How can you be so impatient ? Sey- 
tie," turning to my mother, " do keep that child quiet." 

"But, Father, it was you who hurfied us just a moment 

Mother shook her head at me. By this time the horses had 
stopped, and old Osesar had come up to uS again, and now stood 
listening to my father, with one hand upon the wagon side. 

" You know all our year's grain is stacked in the east lot, 
CsBsar ; if you can get them to spare it, it would be well. But 
I'm afraid it will be burned to save it from falling into the 
hands of the British. Oh, dear ! We never had a more plenti- 
ful harvest." 

" Never mind," said Mother hopefully, " we are not any 
worse off than our neighbors. You will bring on another 
coughing spell if you stay here in this dusty road. Let us go 
on. Whip up, Femmetia." 

" No, no ! " said my father, laying his hands on the reins, 
"hadn't we better stop at Axtell's and see if he can do any- 
thing about saving that grain ? " 

" We may have to seek greater favors than that of Colonel 
Axtell," said Mother. "Let us not begin already to ask for 
help. If it is best to burn the grain crop, let it go. Our people 
will not destroy it sooner than is necessary." 

0»sar turned toward the house, and we drove on. Father 
and Mother looked back at the old homestead with heavy hearts. 
There were tears in Mother's eyes, although she tried to speak 
cheerfully for Father's sake. 

It was late in the afternoon before ;we reached the farm- 
house of Cousin Jacobus. They welcomed us very kindly, and 
were anxious to hear all we could teU them about the landing 
of the British. I had a great deal to si^y about the patriotic 
things I was going to do, which made Mother anxious about me, 
and quite reconciled to having me out of the way in this quiet 

That evening a bright light, as of a large fire, shone west- 


ward against the sky, and the next morning a heavy smoke 
brooded over our village. Father took a^ stout cane to lean on, 
and ray sister and I helped him climb a little eminence which 
commanded a view in that direction. He looked very pale, and 
sighed ; his step seemed more feeble than ever. 

" I think the fire is directly in the line of our house," he 

Youth is very hopeful ; so we girls said many encouraging 
things, and would not believe in disaster. We were young and 
happy, the sky was bright, the birds were singing all around us, 
and we could not bear to think of anything gloomy. "We did 
not know then that to the westward, just in the woods beyond 
where as children we had played, there were heaps of dead and 

Father was probably thinking of what might be even then 
happening in the village, for he seemed unusually sad, and we 
.noticed that he trembled, as if he felt weak and feeble. I think 
that our merry tones jarred upon him. He could not bear to 
see UB so light-hearted, knowing the perils of our people, and 
the desolation even then threatening onr dear village. We 
were sure that the British had already been driven back to their 
ships. He shook his head sadly and said; "I am afraid the 
old homestead is burned down, children ! " 

Father was right. When, after the Battle of Long Island, 
we returned home, before we reached the village we could see 
the tall old trees that had stretched their arms so protectingly 
over our roof; they were all charred and blackened by the 
flames. Yes, Father was right ; the old homestead was burned 

Two of our neighbors' houses, as well as our own, were 
burned to the ground. This was done by order of Lord Oorn- 
wallis, because they offered a defense behind which the Ameri- 
can riflemen could reload, and from which they could discjiarge 
their firearms. 

When we returned to the village we were obliged to live in 
the house of friends who left when we did, but remained longer 
from home. What a scene of desolation met us on our return.' 


There had been a most reckless destruction and waste of prop- 
erty. What could not be used was broken and destroyed. 

Our church was used for the accommodation of prisoners 
and the sick, and the wounded soldiers were placed in the old 
school-house. Three of our neighbors who had left the village 
had their houses turned into hospitals for ;the American oflScers 
as the sickness increased. There had been very heavy rains all 
through the autumn of 1776, and an epidemic had broken out, 
arising from the effluvia connected with the British and Hessian 
encampment. Many of our neighbors and friends were taken 
ill with this fever, and very few of those 'who were seized sur- 
vived. Food was scanty ; even the little to be obtained by hard 
work we were likely to be robbed of att any moment by the 
lawless plunderers who had followed in the train of the army. 

Some of the houses seem to have been used indiscriminately 
as stables for horses and as barracks for soldiers. The fences 
were torn down, the gardens trampled on, the crops destroyed. 
The roads were so cut up by the passage of artillery wagons 
that, as it proved to be a very rainy season, they were almost 
impassable. There was scarcely a family in the whole town 
which was not visited by the camp fever. I was very ill, and 
poor Mother had the care of me during all that dreary autumn, 
as well as of Father, who seemed to be very much prostrated, 
and to cough more than ever. We were all depressed in con- 
sequence of the discouraging rumors which were circulated as 
to the general state of the country. The newspapers reached 
us rarely. " The New York Journal and .General Advertiser," 
printed by John Holt, near the Coffee House, was a very warm 
advocate of the American cause. It was sometimes brought to 
us by the prisoner officers who were billeted on the inhabitants 
after the capture of Fort Washington. This hopeful little sheet 
was handed from neighbor to neighbor, and it helped to cheer 
us up in those dull November days. Tiere were two other 
newspapers of which we often obtained copies from the British 
officers : " The New York Gazette and Weel?ly Mercury," printed 
by Hugh Gaine, and "Eivington's New York Gazetteer, or the 
Connecticut, Hudson's River, New Jersey and Quebec Weekly 


Advertiser " — such was its ambitious name.- The last mentioned 
of these papers left us in doubt about eVerything, except the 
loyalty due to the King of England. 

You may imagine how difficult it was for us to get the 
papers when 1 tell you that the Fulton Ferry, that great thor- 
oughfare of to-day, was then only crossed by occasional row- 

My mother was very active and energetic ; she was naturally 
of a cheerful disposition, and disposed to look upon the bright 
side of things. She would not allow us girls to sit down and 
mope over our discomforts, but insisted upon our sharing with 
her the support of the family. Old Csesar had managed to keep 
some of our cows hidden in the woods at the end of the farm 
lane. Mother set aside every morning as much milk as Father 
needed, but she would not reserve any for herself nor for us 
girls. She sold milk and butter to the British officers ; they 
paid a good price for it, and this was our main dependence that 
winter. We used to spin and knit a great deal, for Mother 
would not allow us an idle moment. I was very fond of read- 
ing, and I would hide away ends of candle to read by when the 
rest of the family were asleep. All my education was in the 
Dutch language ; I never went to an English school in my life, 
but I taught myself to read English, so that I would take up 
an English newspaper and read it aloud to my sister in Dutch, 
or, reading a Dutch book, I could translate it into English for 
the prisoner officers as rapidly as if it was written in English. 

It was useless to try and raise grain that year, for the fences 
were all destroyed, and our beautiful farm was laid waste. Our 
faithful Csesar managed, however, to pasture some of the horses 
of the cavalry officers in the wood-lots at the back of the farm, 
out of sight of the road, and that was very profitable. I must 
tell you of something in this connection which afforded us much 

We had a wood-lot at the north end of the farm, known 
familiarly as Nova Scotia. There was no undergrowth, and, 
as the grass was luxuriant, here the horses were pastured. One 
morning an English officer came in greati haste to Csesar, asking 


for his horse. Cassar, who had had no great opinion of British 
troops, seeing the trouble their coming had given, replied, 
without looking up from his work, that the horse was in Nova 
Scotia. "How dared you send my horse to Nova Scotia? " de- 
manded the Englishman, getting very red in the face. The old 
colored man looked up in surprise, but he merely said that 
" Master had ordered it to be. sent there." The officer stamped 
his foot in rage. " I tell you I want my 'horse ; I meant to use 
him this very day. What right had he .to send him away?" 
Caesar thought his conduct was certainly remarkable, inasmuch 
as there was no better pasture than Nova Scotia lot for miles 
around. In great rage the Englishman advanced toward the 
house. He was too much of a gentleman to be rude to a young 
girl who received him with politeness, and when I met him at 
the door the struggle between his anger and the desire to appear 
calm kept him silent. I invited him in, and, knowing him to 
be the owner of one of the finest horse's in the pasture-lot, I 
sent Mink to bring down "the Financier." The struggle to 
repress his pent-up indignation was ineflFectual. You may imag- 
ine his embarrassment when, in the midst of his reproaches, 
he looked up and saw his spirited horse come gayly cantering 
down the farm lane. He was a kind-h«arted man, and very 
much of a gentleman. He could scarcely forgive himself for 
being so rude, and he tried in every way to make reparation for 
his conduct. He was a fast friend of ours after that, and was 
enabled by his position to do us many an act of kindness, 
which in our defenseless state we certainlj needed. Caesar was 
not as reticent as we wished him to be, and when the officers 
got hold of the story, they joked him for months after about 
the disposition which the rebels had made of his horse. 

AE Mother's energies were now directed to gaining a home, 
so that she might make Father more comfortable. It was al- 
most impossible to get building materials. With the money she 
had saved she purchased some lumber from a neighbor, but it 
was not sufficient to complete the house. The room intended 
for my sister and myself was not floored all the way across. 
This was fun for me, but my sister di 1 not view it in that light. 


It is strange what diflferent dispositions may be in the same fam- 
ily, I looked on the bright side of everything, Sister on the 
dark side. I thouglit of our unfloored room as a good joke, she 
as a great misfortune. On the first night that we went up to 
our room, I skipped over the beams to the flooring as nimbly as 
a squirrel. While she stood trembling at 'the otiier side, in the 
doorway, insisting that she could not get over, I stood coolly 
combing out my long hair and teasing her. 

" I can never get over," she said dolefully. 

" Oh, yes, you can ; it is very easy. I like it. Mother wants 
to get a board laid from the door to the bed, but I sha'n't let 
her. It's better so. It's such fun. Besides, we have only to 
go to the edge, and we can look right down to the room below. 
I like it better than our room in the old house. If you don't 
come soon I shall put out the light and go to bed." She knew 
this was what I would be quite likely to do, for I was, I con- 
fess, fond of teasing her, 

"Oh! now don't; I shall break my neck, and then Mother 
will have the care of me as well as Father." 

" Oh, no, she wouldn't. That would be the end of you and 
all your troubles. Still, if you're going to be so serious, I sup- 
pose I must come." 

Then I skipped across to her, and, leading her just half way 
over, let go her hand. Of course she screamed, and Mother 
opened the door below. " Hush-sh-sh, girls! You'll waken 
your father." 

My sister appealed to Mother for help, but the door had 
already closed below. Before I had time to relieve my " pris- 
oner," as I called her, we heard the heavy bare foot of Diana 
approaching. She came to the room beneath and called up 
to us : 

" Dere's a hull lot of sogers jes come inter de barn. Spec 
dey'll kill all what's lef of de chickens." 

It was no new thing. We were constantly being plundered. 
There was no redress for the depredations daily committed. 
One pair of our farm-horses had been taken from the harrow, 
even while Cseaar was using them. I .remarked to my sister 


that this was a " harrowing case." She wouldn't laugh. I can't 
say whether she felt so disheartened at our loss that she did not 
appreciate my poor attempt at wit, or whether she understood 
so little English that she did not see it. We always spoke Dutch 
in the family. We only used English in speaking with the pris- 
oners who were billeted upon us, and to the British officers. To 
return to Dian, who was standing below, her arms akimbo, look- 
ing up at us : 

" You jes come down," she said. 

The hint was enough. I helped my sister to cross the room 
to the safe flooring, and rushed down stairs to Diana. Good, 
faithful soul, I was her favorite and her accomplice in all her 
attacks upon the enemy. Mother never knew how many scout- 
ing parties of two she and I formed that winter to watch our 
premises. She had concealed weapons at the kitchen-door — an 
old rifle and a broomstick ; with these we proceeded to the 
barn, dodging from the great walnut-tree to the corn-crib, and 
from there flitting behind the wagon-house, until we reached 
the shadow of the great barn. It was moonlight. I often won- 
der now that I could ever have been so fearless, but I was yonng 
and knew no danger or cause for alarm. Besides, I had perfect 
faith in my leader. Dian and 1 were fast friends, and she had 
never failed in any of our expeditions against the invaders of 
the poultry-yard. She had confided to me the plan she would 
have pursued had she been in Caesar's place when they stole 
the horses, and I had accredited her with the victory she might 
have gained. 

In this instance it was by stratagem that we were to con- 
quer. She had privately surveyed the field of action before call- 
ing me, and the moonlight had enabled her to recognize in the 
thieves some of the members of the company who were ap- 
pointed to protect (?) the town. Concealed between a corn- 
crib and the barn, she thrust her rifle through a hole in the side 
door, I at the same time flinging a stone against the barn to 
attract the notice of the parties within to the fact of their close 
proximity to the rifle. The moonlight fell upon the weapon 
pointed at them by unseen hands. It was enough ; we were 


left in possession of the field. Mother knew nothing about the 
raid until the next day, when Dian told her that we were to 
have roast fowls for dinner. 

We could not buy any nails for building, so that we were 
obliged to use those taken from the ruins of the burned houses. 
The prisoner officers used to meet with us and other young 
girls of our age, and help us straighten the nails there gathered. 
Thus the ruins got to be a place of fashionable resort. The young 
people collected there for an afternoon's chat, but Mother, who 
did not look with friendly eyes on the attentions of all these 
young officers, insisted that there was quite as much talking 
and flirting as there was work. The young girls of our age, of 
course, could not but sympathize with the prisoners, and as the 
officers had little to beguile their time, both parties had an ex- 
cellent excuse for meeting there, and boasted very much of 
their industry, as people are apt to do when work and pleasure 
are united. 

I have heard that four hundred prisoners were billeted in 
the southern towns of Kings County. The only regiment left 
in Flatbush after the Battle of Long Island was the Forty- 
second Regiment of Highlanders. 

There was little protection for property at this time ; appeal 
to law was impossible ; indeed, people acted as if there was no 
law. Everything in the shape of personal property was kept 
at the risk of the owner. The cattle were not safe unless 
watched vigilantly. Mother went on one occasion to our neigh- 
bor, Colonel Axtell, and submitted to him the fact that all our 
cows had been driven off in spite of ber remonstrance. She 
was a great favorite among her neighbors, and the Colonel lis- 
tened to her story. After conferring with his English friends, 
he sent us word that Osesar might go on a certain day to a 
place which he named, and from among the herd of cattle 
which he would find there he might point out those which be- 
longed to us. It was a great relief to see Oresar let down the 
bars, and turn the herd once more into; their accustomed pas- 
ture. From this you may see how insecure property was, and 
with what audacity we were plundered. Our household arti- 


cles of value we were obliged to conceal. Many persons hid 
boxes containing valuables in their fields and gardens. It has 
been asserted that some of this hidden treasure was never taken 
up, but this is very doubtful. 

Our spoons, tankard, and such pieces of silver tea-service as 
every Dutch housekeeper at that time possessed were placed 
in a box and hidden under the hearthstone. The insecurity of 
the hiding-place was made evident to us by Mink, who was not 
in the secret. He remarked in Dutch to his father, old Csesar, 
that some evil spirit must have taken lodging under the hearth, 
for it seemed loose and uneven. The negroes were so supersti- 
tious that the supposed presence of an evil spirit would have 
insured it from their examination, but we felt that it was inse- 
cure if it attracted any observation whatever, and with the as- 
sistance of Offisar, who was fully to be trusted, we found for it 
another hiding-place. 

A neighbor of ours related to ua her experience in this mat- 
ter. She had secreted a number of gold coins in one of those 
round, ball-shaped pincushions which the Dutch matrons some- 
times wore suspended by a ribbon at their side. A party of 
English soldiers, on entering the room, noticed this novelty (as 
it was to them) in the good lady's dress. One of them playfully, 
although not very politely, cut the ribbon with his sword, and 
the whole party had a boisterous game ;0f ball with the pin- 
cushion. Once or twice it bounced in the ashes of the broad, 
open firej)lace, from which it was snatched up and tossed again 
from hand to hand. To show any anxiety would have betrayed 
the value of the property, so that the owner was obliged to con- 
tinue her work unmoved, although, had they torn the cushion 
in their rough play, she would have lost all the money she Lad 
saved when the war broke out. 

Not only was our property insecure, but our homes were 
liable at any time to he invaded, and seclusion was almost im- 
possible ; there were at various times soldiers billeted upon us 
arbitrarily without our consent, and often without compensa- 
tion. A "Waldeck regiment, commanded by Colonel De Horn, 
was quartered upon our village in this manner, as were also 


some soldiers who had fought in Canada through the French 
war, and afterward a Saxon regiment. In addition to this, the 
quiet of our homes was invaded by companies of soldiers march- 
ing from place to place. I remember one evening that we were 
all, even sick Father, turned out of the house by a small com- 
pany of soldiers who took possession. Fortunately, they soon 
received marching orders, and they left as suddenly as they 

The American prisoners had our warmest sympathy. They 
were on parole, and were not guarded strictly ; they could go 
about where they (fhose. When the French fleet under Count 
D'Estaing was expected, these prisoners, went daily to see the 
vessels from the hill. 

I took no pains to disguise my sympathy for the American 
prisoners and my warm interest in the cause of freedom. My 
sister sometimes hegged me not to express my opinions so open- 
ly in the presence of the British, and Mother checked me often, 
telling me that I was acting unwisely. On one occasion a line 
of artillery wagons was passing. The foremost driver, to 
avoid a muddy portion of road, turned his horses upon the side- 
walk in front of our house. I was determined that the second 
should not do the same ; I rushed out to frighten the horses, 
and succeeded so well that they ovenurned the wagon. I was 
obliged to retreat precipitately, and Mother had to meet the 
storm I had raised. An old German doctor, who was a frequent 
visitor at our house, laughed immoderately at my heroic attack 
upon the artillery and my subsequent discomfiture. I can see 
him now as he stood giving a description of the whole scene to 
a tall Hessian officer. He turned to me, exclaiming between 
the paroxysms of laughter : 

"Oh, vat a heroine vas our leetle Femmetia! She attack 
dese big artillery-mon ! She attack him wis a gun ? Oh, no ! 
wis a broomsteek ! eh, Fem ! a broomsteek ! " 

Then he broke out afresh, and the contagion extended to the 
tall Hessian, whose name was so impressed upon me by the very 
vividness of the whole scene that I can recall it to this day, un- 
pronounceable as it is. When the old doctor saw me blushing 


deeply, mortified as I was at Lis description, his kind heart 
misgave him, for I was a great pet of his,' and, patting me affec- 
tionately on the head, he said : 

" Navair mind ; she's our brave leetle lady. Captain Bumb- 
bocbk, and een moije vrouw, eh ? " 

Tlie old doctor was very fond of a joke, and I knew that he 
was telling Father the story over again soon after, for I heard 
"his voice in Father's room, and he was .laughing as loudly as 

We were, as I have said, subjected 'to constant exactions, 
from which we had no means of redress. On one occasion, as 
old Caesar was plowing, in the almost hopeless endeavor to 
cultivate our vegetable garden, a soldier i^ame up and demanded 
the horses for the British service. Csesar, always true to us, 
promptly and indignantly refused to tak^ them from the plow. 
Little Cato, who was an interested spectator, ran to the house 
to inform Mother of the predatory design of the redcoat. Fa- 
ther overheard the child's account. He had a high fever, and 
had been ill in bed for some time. Under the excitement of 
anger and fever united, he rose and dressed himself. Taking 
his heavy cane, he went to the field, and with the aid of Caesar 
he administered such correction to the soldier that he sought 
safety in flight. Strange to say, the exertiqn cured Father of the 
fever. He broke out in a profuse perspiration, and, although he 
was much exhausted, he no fever afterward, and was able 
to sit up in his arm-chair for the rest of the day. 

Large sums of money were loaned by the inhabitants of Kings 
County for the advancement of the American cause. The agent 
for collecting this money was intrusted by Governor Clinton 
with blank notes signed by himself. These blanks the agent 
filled out with the sum given. The greatest secrecy was neces- 
sary in collecting this money, as it was attended with imminent 
danger to all concerned. Through her thrift, economy, and in- 
dustry, Mother was enabled to appropriate five hundred pounds 
to this object. This she gave in small sums at a time, and on 
one occasion, as she was counting out the money into the hands 
of the agent, she saw, on looking up, a British officer enter the 


door-yard. For the Major to escape from the house was impos- 
sible, and had he been seen his life would have been forfeited. 

"Femmetia," said my mother, " hurry' out to meet that offi- 
cer. Don't let hira come in this room as ^pu value your life." 

" Talk as fast as you can, Fem, and be as entertaining as 
possible," said the Major, looking anxiously toward the ap- 
proaching figure. 

" Let my sister come with me," said I, rather timid at ac- 
cepting so great responsibility. 

"No! no!" said my mother imperatively. "Too much 
depends on it. Don't fail us now, child ! " 

She looked sternly at me, and I felt she was right, for the 
consciousness of danger had already brought the color to my 
sister's face ; it must depend upon me alone to divert any sus- 
picion, should such be aroused, on the part of the Englishman. 

I hurried out of the room as they rapidly gathered up the 
coin they had been counting, and Mother went to look for a 
hiding-place for the M%jor, who was an old friend of ours. I 
could hear the doors opened and closed ; I could hear a word in 
Dutch now and then ; happily, our visitor could not understand 
it ; but I did my best to look unconscious, and I believe I suc- 
ceeded. I had been in the habit of expressing my opinions 
pretty freely, and, if I chatted on this Occasion more rapidly 
than usual, the officer probably thought that I was in good 
spirits, and would be rather more entertaining company than if 
he went in the next room to look for my father and mother. 
He staid what appeared to me an unreasonably long time, and 
left without a suspicion of who was under the same roof with 
himself, and of the treason being enacted almost within his reach. 

Never before nor since have I had such weighty reasons for 
striving to attract attention to myself, and this was the only 
time during the war that Mother ever expressed gratification 
that I had succeeded in entertaining an English officer. 


[The Dutch word for legend is "Een verzierde vertelling," 
or " gebloemd vertelling." As told to Children, in contradis- 


tinction to the real or probable, such legendary lore and gho^t 
Btorie8 were called " sprookjea." Flatbush, like every old town, 
has its legends. They grow as do the mosses on old houses or 
the lichens on tombstones, the gradual and undisturbed accu- 
mulations of time. We regret that more of these were not pre- 
served ; of some we have only the tattered fragments, too scanty 
and too much frayed to piece together. There are two legends 
which have been preserved, fortunately for us, as they were 
caught in the meshes of the printer before they escaped the 
memories of those who held them, and those we here oflfer.] 


Once upon a time — the true legendary date — there lived 
among us a sable son of Africa, who possessed, like most of his 
race, an intense love of music and wondrous skill upon the vio- 
lin. He was familiarly known as Pope's 'Joe, from his employ- 
er, who also gave his name to the narrow lane in which he lived, 
which led from Flatbush to the ancient settlement of Gowanus. 

It was on a sultry summer night that our modern Orpheus 
went forth to win his Ethiopian Eurydice from the Cerberus of 
daily toil ; but, owing to the oppressive heat, he seated himself 
by the wayside, not far from his master's gate, to rest, and 
drawing forth his violin began to beguile.his time with his be- 
loved instrument. Southward a great bank of cloud piled up 
in masses had gathered to itself with miserly avidity all the gold 
of sunset ; then, as the twilight had stolen its treasure, it grew 
black and glowered darkly on the panting earth below. Flashes 
of heat-lightning shimmered along the horizon ; more and more 
oppressive seemed the heated air. All was silent save our mu- 
sician ; he, all unconscious of cloud or heat, was spellbound by 
his own music, as if his instrument had been the very master- 
piece of Stradivarius. 

Suddenly, with thunderous sound and ;vivid flash, there stood 
before him a wild demon form. Before, Be played from love of 
the melody he evoked ; now he dared not pause, for his Satanic 
Majesty imperiously motioned him to play, and then began to 
dance in the wildest measure to which a musician was ever 


called to furnish music. The witches who lured Macbeth to 
destruction, the weird creatures who meet in conclave on the 
Harz Mountains, were tame in movement compared with the 
wondrous agiUty of this specter. Its motions were as if the 
heat-lightning played and flashed, and then, instead of going out 
into sudden darkness, continued to entwine and braid itself and 
twist its vivid length into flery contortions; now gliding in 
vivid convolutions, like wheels in a pyrotechnic display, and anon 
dropping its lithe limbs into kaleidoscopic variety of attitude 
and position. The wearied arm of the musician dared not fal- 
ter ; longer and longer he played, more and more rapid grew 
the movements of the dance, until a false note produced a sud- 
den discord that jarred upon the temper of the fiend. In angry 
passion, he stamped his foot upon a stone and disappeared in a 
blinding flash. 

The clear sun was shining upon the multitudinous raindrops 
on every bush and blade when the musician opened his eyes. 
The birds were singing their morning songs, and the sky was as 
blue as if no cloud had ever dimmed its serene height. 

There were those who had vainly striven to compete with 
the skill of this performer on the violin, and, when he related 
to his wondering listeners the story of his marvelous adventure, 
they attempted to impugn his veracity. In sheer envy they 
suggested that his ability needed the endorsement of such Sa- 
tanic approval. They even meanly hinted that he might have 
imbibed something from old Master's Cellar — perhaps it was 
apple-jack, or it may have been metheglin, a strong and heady 
drink much thought of in those times, and apt to produce dia- 
bolic appearances to the infatuated mortal who had contracted 
a love for the insidious beverage. 

Vain endeavor to rob the hero of that one laurel with which 
he sought to crown himself! Idle attempt to explain away the 
supernatural ! Nature had made herself his ally ; the very stone 
upon the highway has testified to his story and perpetuated the 
record ! ^ 

The imprint of the cloven foot of the evil one was stamped 
upon the stone before he vanished out of sight. There it re- 


mained long after the old musician had passed awaj, and he and 
his violin had become mute together. 

Is it not well that the haunted spot has become part of Green- 
wood, and the stone — the foundation-stone of the legend — has 
been lost amid the somber, ghostly shadows of that city of the 

We should not have ventured to point out the imprint of 
that cloven foot to the incredulity of this'.age. The hammer of 
science might have rapped too heavily upon our legend, and 
broken into the secret that for so many years it held up to the 
undoubting faith of a past generation. 


In the year 1746 the distance between Flatbush and Brook- 
lyn seemed greater than at present. The Qne town was not any 
more thickly settled than the other, and they were divided by 
long intervals of forest, broad farms, and a stony ridge of hills. 
Where now the cars roll by every few minutes, offering easy 
access from the shady village road to the busy streets of the 
city, then only from time to time a solitary wagon lumbered on 
along the sandy highway, or a horseman, with perhaps some 
Dutch vrouw on the pillion behind him, plodded wearily over 
the intervening hill. The house in whichMr. John Lefferts now 
resides was the last in the village, and marked the limits of 
Steenraap, as this portion of Flatbush was called in distinction 
from Dorp, which was more central. From this spot to what 
is now the very heart of Brooklyn, only here and there a lonely 
farmhouse, separated by tracts of woodland, cheered the soli- 

The Domine, accustomed to city life ifl Amsterdam, was in 
the habit of beguiling his spare time by friendly visits among 
the settlers at Brooklyn. Upon one of these occasions he be- 
came deeply involved in a discussion on the newly organized 
CsetuB, an assembly of ministers and elders subordinate to the 
Classis of Holland, then just established, being the first judica- 
tory higher than a consistory in the Dutch Church in America. 
He had himself been appointed by the Classis of Amsterdam as 


bearer of dispatches on this subject; ^'the appointment indi- 
cating," as Carlyle says of Sterling, " a man expected to do the 
best on the occasion." It was, therefore, natural that he should 
enter into the subject with a zeal which made him forgetful of 
the flight of time, and the solemn Dutch clock in the corner 
raised both astonished hands to warn him that midnight ap- 
proached ere he was recalled to the fact of the long, lonely ride 
before him. Hastily lighting his pipe, and bidding Mynheer 
his host good night, he rode out through the wide barnyard 
gate, which old Oato swung open for' him, into the darkness 

It was a moonless, cloudy night. The road was darkened 
by the over-reaching trees that seemed to nod to each other 
mysteriously overhead, and to whisper some secret across his 
path at the suggestion of the evening breeze. Through the nar- 
row opening cut by the road he could see the faint line of sky, 
but it gave no light down through this rift of the forest. As he 
approached the clearing of a settler, he could see the farmhouse 
outlined in the shadow, with, perhaps, a solitary candle lighted 
in an upper chamber by an anxious mother for a restless child. 
Then the fireflies seemed to beckon hiin oflF again into the un- 
certain darkness, and as he passed on the woods closed around 
him, and the night seemed darker than before. The hill crossed, 
he must descend where the road led through a low and marshy 
district. An uncanny spot was this which now lay before him ! 
Old legends place evil spirits and ghosts in such shadowy cor- 
ners. Even to this day a damper air strikes the traveler as he 
turns down to this hollow ; a darker shadow rests upon the road 
here, and a mistiness and dampness from the ponds beyond make 
the place miasmatic and unhealthy. 

As he approached this spot the Domine tightened the reins 
and strove to encourage his steed into some gait quicker than 
the usual pace of a ministerial horse. He thrust his pipe in 
his pocket, and, patting the neck of the animal, in grateful ac- 
knowledgment it started off into a brisk, trot. A pleasant breeze 
springing up at the same time, induced the traveler to hope that 
this haunted region might prove even an agreeable change from 


the stony hilltop. Suddenly he was startled hy a faint light 
which seemed to follow him at close and equal rate. Vainly he 
looked around ; no object was perceptible. A vigorous appli- 
cation of the whip roused the horse to increase his speed, but 
no diminution of the light proved that he had gone beyond its 

Away went the horse under application of whip and spur, 
but with increased rapidity the noiseless pursuer seemed to fol- 
low. The puzzled Domine looked over his shoulder, but the 
darkness of the road revealed no cause for the strange phenom- 
enon. The trees glided swiftly by ; the little round-topped hill, 
like an inverted bowl, was soon passed; the limits of this haunt- 
ed region seemed near, and yet brighter and brighter grew the 
light, and warmer and warmer its breath. The woods that un- 
til now had almost closed above his head began to disappear ; 
familiar trees here and there stood out in bold relief, and the 
distant crowing of a cook announced close proximity to the vil- 
lage. Presently he had left the swarapy hollow behind, but 
still in pursuit as swift, with its hot breath close behind him, 
the phantom followed. Vainly the Domino applied the whip: 
the swiftest pace of the tired animal could not increase the dis- 
tance between the pursuer and the pursued. 

The saints and monks of early date who record with evident 
gusto their battlings with supernatural visitors, and even with 
the foul fiend himself, were not taken at the same disadvantage 
as our hero. What cause for boasting had St. Jerome, St. Fran- 
cis, or St. Simon, who met the adversary in fair field and had 
only to say ao Ave Maria, a Paternoster, or to make the sign 
of the cross, and their grim opponent waS utterly annihilated? 
Such a stock of spiritual weapons was "utterly unavailable to 
one of the good Domine's faith. He would have refused to 
equip himself thus from the armory of Rome ; carnal weapons 
he had none, and he had professed utter disbelief in the whole 
battalion of ghosts, spirits, phantoms, and fiends which were 
marshaled in fearful array in the superstitious credulity of the 
age. It was therefore a malicious as well as an ungenerous on- 
slaught upon him, this pursuit in the darkness. It was not a 


chivalrous phantom that, instead of a bold faoe-to-face attack, 
would come upon him unawares and follow him unseen. The 
culpable neglect of all ghostly etiquette, moreover, was inex- 
cusable in his indefatigable pursuer. Had not the ghost-haunted 
hollow been left behind, and yet the phantom not been exor- 
cised ? Had not the cock crowed, but the ghost had turned 
deaf ear to the warning ? 

Now he reaches the village; house after house flies by him 
unnoticed, for he knows that home is near. Utterly exhausted, 
he no longer urges on his weary steed ; he is unequal to any 
further effort, and the horse, by his own instinct, turns in at 
the open gate and stops at the back stoop of the low-eaved 
house, where the negro boy Tom, finding his excuse in the late- 
ness of the hour, has lost, in the oblivion of sleep, all conscious- 
ness that he was stationed there to await his master's return. 

The candle of the JuflErouw reveals the fact that the volu- 
minous garments then so generally worn had suffered severely 
from contact with fire. The half-extinguished pipe thrust 
hastily in his pocket might account for the result ; but let us 
scorn such a subterfuge from incredulity. It is well known that 
ghosts are opposed to knowledge as deadly to their very exist- 
ence ; and as the old Domine was a very learned man, we see 
good reason why they should be particularly exasperated against 
him. We therefore take a bold stand, and, agree with those who 
at the time did not hesitate to assert as their belief that the 
Domine was pursued with vindictive zeal by a fiery phantom 
from the Olove in the Hollow.