Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fascinating 1728 Map of Northeast Coast Showing Pelham Area

An English sea chart published in London in 1728 provides a fascinating glimpse of the area that includes today's Pelham.  Immediately below is a detail from the map, followed by an overall image of the same map with an arrow indicating the area from which the detail was taken.  Beneath the images are bibliographic information and a discussion of the significance of the map as it relates to the area that includes today's Pelham.

Detail from 1728 Sea Chart by Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley.

1728 Sea Chart by Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley.

Below is bibliographic information for the sea chart:

A Chart of the Atlantick Ocean from Buttons Island To Port Royall by Map Makers Nathaniel Cutler and Edmund Halley (London:  1728) (23 x 20 inches; sea chart "Atlas Sheet" originally included in the Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis).

The detail from the map shows the area around New York City.  North of the Throggs Neck area to the right of the "Bergen Co." reference is "Wasquaskeck".  This is a fascinating reference that harkens back to the mid-17th century.  Early Dutch and English records indicate that the Dutch and English referred to a Munsee-speaking band or group as "Wiechquaeskecks".  The group seemed to range in an area on the mainland north of Manhattan from the Hudson River to the Long Island Sound, well north toward today's Connecticut border and, perhaps, a little beyond.  The area included most, if not all, of the lands acquired by Thomas Pell in 1654.  I have found more than fifty different spellings of the label used in early records for this Munsee band.  I follow the custom of more recent scholarship including that of Dr. Paul Otto by referring to the group as "Wiechquaeskecks".

Immediately beneath the "Wasquaskeck" reference on the sea chart are a number of references that read, from left to right, as follows:  Frodam [Fordham], Col. Morris [likely a reference to Col. Lewis Morris who received the land grant that became Morrisania and surrounding areas], Westchester, East Chester, Stonebrook [Stony Brook, the stream that separated Thomas Pell's Manor of Pelham from the lands of John Richbell of Mamaroneck], Mamereck [Mamaroneck] and Rye.

In the Long Island Sound beneath these references, today's City Island is clearly visible.  Next to the island is the reference "Spectacle".  This seems to be a somewhat confused reference.  At the time, City Island was most commonly known as "Greater Minneford Island".  Next to it lies today's Hart Island.  At the time, Hart Island was known as "Lesser Minneford's Island" or, occasionally, "Spectacle Island" because it originally was two mounds separate by an isthmus. 

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