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, September 02, 2014

More Research on the First "Indian Deed" Reflecting the Dutch Purchase of Lands that Included Today's Pelham

Readers of the Historic Pelham Blog know that I have struggled for nearly fifteen years to locate an actual copy of, or reliably-transcribed text of, the elusive first "Indian Deed" reflecting the sale by local Native Americans to the Dutch of the lands that included today's Pelham.  It seems that Dutch authorities instructed Cornelis Van Tienhoven to acquire the lands in 1640, but no acquisition occurred until 1649 -- though I CONTINUE to be unable to establish the accuracy of these oft-asserted propositions.  To read more about this quest, and about the 1654 "Indian Deed" reflecting the sale of these lands to English settler Thomas Pell, see:

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.

There have been recent references to the purported Dutch purchase of these lands.  None seems to shed any light on a meaningful source, primary or reliable secondary source, for the assertion.  

"CONFLICT, 1640-1645

Although hindsight shows that the first seeds of discord had been sown early, relations between Indians and colonists were generally amicable, at least superficially, during the first decade and a half of intensive colonial settlement on and around Manhattan.  Signs of serious tension appeared only after English settlers moving west from New England began approaching Indians to purchase lands on the still-unsurveyed eastern border of New Netherland.  New Englanders began looking to acquire land beyond the borders of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Connecticut during the late 1630s.  In late March 1638, for example, Connecticut government emissaries met near Norwalk with a gathering of 'old [Indian] men and captains from about Milford to Hudson River' to talk about extending their colony's authority over their lands.  They told the assembled sachems that they had been sent to establish a protectorate over 'the Indians along the coast from Quilipioke [Quinnipiac; today's New Haven] to the Manhatoes.'  After consulting among themselves, the sachems reached consensus and agreed to place themselves, their people, and their lands under Connecticut protection.  

Within two years, English colonists from Connecticut were purchasing their first tracts of land from Indians around Norwalk.  News of these purchases alarmed Kieft and his council in New Amsterdam.  On April 19, 1640, Kieft dispatched his second-in-command, [Page 31 / Page 32] Cornelis van Tienhoven, to the Norwalk Archipelago with an order 'to purchase the adjacent lands there; to set up the arms of the Lords States-General; to take the Indians under our protection, and to prevent any other nation from committing any usurpation on our limits and encroaching further on our territory.'

Van Tienhoven failed to purchase any Indian land at Norwalk.  Instead, he appears to have spent much of his time trying to confirm rumors that other men from Connecticut and New Haven (separate colonies at the time) were founding settlements on Long Island, on land placed under Dutch authority the previous year.  Sailing across Long Island Sound from Norwalk to Hempstead Harbor to meet with Penhawitz, Van Tienhoven found that the rumors were true.  Kieft immediately dispatched troops, who succeeded in evicting the English homesteaders."  

Source:  Grumet, Robert S., First Manhattans A History of the Indians of Greater New York, pp. 31-32 (Norman, OK:  Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2011).

The assertion that Van Tienhoven "failed to purchase any Indian land at Norwalk" set forth above is at odds with other secondary sources that likewise fail to cite primary sources for their assertions.  For one example, see footnote 1 on Page 9 of the quoted excerpt from the History of Norwalk immediately below:

"[Page 8]



Of the meadows and uplands adjoininge, lyinge on the west side of Norwake River.

'An agreement betwixt Daniell Patrick and Mahackem, and Naramake and Pemenate Hewnompom indians of Norwake and Makentoub 3 [Footnote 3 reads:  "3 Seemingly the name of an Indian clan"] the said Daniell Patricke hath bought of the sayed three indians, the ground called Sacunyte napucke, allso Meeanworth, thirdly Asumsowis, fourthly all the land adjoyninge to the aforementioned, as farr up in cuntry as an indian, and all trees, can goe in a day, from sun risinge to sun settinge; and twoe Islands on the east side to the middle of the River of Norwake, and all trees, meadows, waters and naturell adjuncts thereunto belonginge, for him and his forever; for whith Lands the sayed indians are to receive of the sayed Daniell Patricke, of wampum tenn fathoms, hatchetts three, howes three, when shipps come; sixe glasses,, twelfe tobackoe pipes, three knifes, tenn drills, tenn needles; this as full satisfaction for the aforementioned lande, and 

[Page 8 / Page 9]

for the peaceable possession of which the aforementioned mahachemill doth promise and undertake to silence all opposers of this purchase, if any should in his time act, to witnesse which, on both sides, hands are interchangeably hereunto sett, this 20th of Aprill, 1640. 1  [Footnote 1 reads:  "1  The day before this transaction, viz:  April 19, 1640, Ponus or his successors, had granted to the Dutch West India Company all the lands from Norwalk west to the Hudson River.  It should be borne in mind that the Patrick purchase extended on the west to Five Mile River, and that the Runckinheage lands lay within this purchase.  Probably the territory covered by the Partrick deed was originally the domain of Naramake 1st, a predecessor of Naramake 2nd, who signed the Partrick paper.  This second Naramake returned finally, it is believed, to the Mohawks."]."

Source:  Selleck, Charles M., Norwalk, pp. 8-9 (Norwalk, CT:  Published by the Author, 1896).  

I have transcribed these additional resources as part of the ongoing research (and quest) to locate the initial "Indian Deed" to the lands that became today's Town of Pelham and surrounding areas.

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