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.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The First "Indian Deed" Reflecting a Sale by Native Americans of Lands that Became Pelham

The mystery remains. . . . 

The story of how Pelham came to be includes the well-documented story of how Thomas Pell and Native Americans signed a deed on June 27, 1654 by which Pell acquired a vast swath of land including today's Pelham and much of the northeast Bronx.  Indeed, a copy of that deed believed to be in Pell's own handwriting was recently displayed at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum.

17th Century Copy of Pell Deed Signed by Thomas Pell
and Native Americans on June 27, 1654.  Believed to be
In Thomas Pell's Handwriting.

It appears, however, that there was an earlier deed .by which Native Americans sold the same lands as part of a larger parcel to others. . . . 

The Dutch purportedly acquired lands including precisely those acquired by Pell some fourteen years before Pell bought them.  I have spent more than a dozen years, however, trying to locate this deed or an actual transcription of its contents.  I have documented many of my efforts.  For example, see:

Mon., Dec. 26, 2005:  The Dutch Acquired Lands Including Pelham From Local Native Americans in 1640.

Tue., Dec. 5, 2006:  Where Is Evidence of the 1640 Dutch Purchase from Native Americans of Lands That Became Pelham?

 Tue., Nov. 6, 2007:  Is This Another Dead End in the Search for the Text of an Indian Deed to Lands that Included Today's Pelham Sold to the Dutch? 

Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes references to this supposed deed contained in the text of the 1881 edition of Bolton's History of Westchester County as part of my continued efforts to document my research in this area.  Immediately below is a transcription of the relevant excerpt, followed by a citation to its source.

"Like the greater part of Westchester County, [Pelham] formed originally a portion of the Indian territory of Wykagyl, as laid down in the Dutch carte of 1614.  Its early inhabitants were a clan of the Mohegans or 'Enchanted Wolf Tribe,' called Siwanoys, whose possessions extended, it is well known, from Norwalk to the neighborhood of Hell gate.  The latter place being their winter quarters.  From the Indians this tract of land, with others adjacent, passed to the Dutch West Indian Company in 1640, as appears by the following:  'In order to maintain the charter of this company, Kieft, the Dutch governor, dispatched Secretary Van Fienhoven [sic - Tienhoven], on the 19th day of April, 1640, with instructions to purchase the 'Archipelago' or group of Islands at the mouth of the Norwalk River, together with all the adjoining territory on the main land,' 'and to erect thereon the standard and arms of the high and mighty Lords States General; to take the savages under our protection, and to prevent effectually any other nation encroaching on our limits.'  These directions, we are assured, were fully executed; and the West India Company thus obtained the Indian title to all the lands between Norwalk and the North River. [Fn. "a"] [Footnote "a" at foot of the page reads "a Hist. State of N.Y., by Broadhead, 1st period, 1609-1664.  Alb. Rec. ii, 78, 147; De Lact viii; Hazard ii, 213; O'Call. i, 215."]  This sale was confirmed on the 14th of [Page 28 / Page 29] July, 1649, when the Director General, Peter Stuyvesant, in behalf of the same company, purchased 'WECHQUAESQEECK" -- which, like the former grant, comprehended much of the present County of Westchester -- from the three Indian sachems 'Megtegichkama, Oteyschgue, and Wegtakkockken.'"

Source:  Bolton, Robert, The History of The Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, From its First Settlement to the Present Time, Carefully Revised by its Author, Vol. II, pp. 28-29  (NY, NY:  Chas. F. Roper, 1881).  (Edited by C.W. Bolton).

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home