EARLY DUTCH EXPLORER
As early as 1609 Dutch explorer Henry Hudson was the first European
to pursue explorations in the new world. He was sent to seek America and arrived at the mouth of now Delaware Bay on the 28th of August of 1609. Hudson then sailed up the New Jersey coast and anchored off Sandy Hook on September 3. Nine days later he sailed through the Narrows into New York Bay, and entered the river that since has borne his name.
Favorable reports from Hudson's navigator immediately set in motion other expeditions to New Netherlands.
Before 1614, a fleet of Dutch vessels under the command of Captain Cornelius Jacobson Mey, arrived at Delaware Bay and two years later Captain Cornelius Hendrickson sailed up the Delaware and discovered the Schuykill , the site of Philadelphia.
The Dutch West India Company was chartered in 1621. In 1623 Captain May established Fort Nassau on the east shore just north of today's Wilmington, Delaware. Another settlement was made on the same east banks of the Delaware, but even by 1631 no white man had made settlement on the rivers west banks.
On the 12th of December, 1630, there came to Cape Henlopen , the southern capes, a party of colonists from Holland, under David Pietersson DeVries, of Hoorn, a bold and skilful seaman, and set up the finest personage settlement in America. A ship and a yacht bound to the Zudyt River, (South River), were sent from the Texel with a number of people and a large stock of cattle, the object being, to carry on a whole fishery in the region and to plant a
colony for cultivation of all sorts of grain, which the is well adapted to, and
tobacco. The colony was “Valley of the Swans”, or, Zwanendael, in the neighborhood of what is now the village of Lewes. A substantial building was erected, surrounded with palisades, a began a settlement.
After a few weeks the ship Walrus sailed on it's return trip to Holland with De Vries on board. The colony was left in charge of “Commisionary, Giles
Hosset. This colony was destined to be the most unfortunate and of short duration.
Back in Holland, DeVries, agreed to return to Zwanendael , fitted out two ships, and set sail from the Texel on 24 May 1632 in order to arrive in good time for the winter fishery. It was understood that whales come in the winter and remain until March. Upon his sailing, he received bad news, the colony had been destroyed by Indians, but proceeded with the expedition and on December 5, 1732, arrived at Cape Cornelius and found the report was all too true. The next day DeVries went ashore, found lying here and there the skulls and bones of people and the heads of horses and cows. There were no Indians visible so he returned to his vessel and had the gunner fire a shot or two to shore. The next day a group of Indians appeared.
Returning to shore, a conference occurred where DeVries received some
explanation of the disaster , which came about because of a misunderstanding. One of the party of Indians was induced to spend the night with the ship and rehearsed the story.
“ Commisonary Hosset had set upon a pole a sign of tin, with the Arms of Netherlands, as evidence of the its claim and profession, which the Indians mistook as “the purpose of making tobacco pipes”. The sign was destroyed by the Indians, and declared by the colony , an act of State, not larceny, and had the offender brought to him, excused by the colony, but executed by the tribe, which was blamed on the Dutch but other tribe members.
This was during the season when the men of the colony were engaged in cultivation of distant fields of crops and away from the palisade. The Indians took this advantage, entered the colony on a trade pretense and murdered Hosset and a sentinel, killing the stock and watch dog, then went to the fields and massacred every individual. DeVries did not blame Hosset nor did he chastise the Indians, and did not set upon them any punitive expedition, feeling more bloodshed would not heal the wounds already made. With the view to future fishing he exchanged goods with them and made an engagement of peace
The new year, 1643, 1st of January, DeVries set sail up the river and on the 6th arrived at Fort Nassau which was now deserted except by Indians of which he was suspicious, but traded with upon extreme caution. DeVries remained in the vicinity of Fort Nassau several days on alert and nearly fell victim here to betrayal of the natives who had directed him to haul his yacht into the narrow Timmerkill. convenient to attack.
DeVries had been warned by a female Indian and told of the crew of an English vessel from Jamestown, Virginia, which were murdered in the river the past September while exploring it. Returning to Fort Nassau he found it was filled with savages.
January 10th, he drifted his yacht off on an ebb tide, anchored at noon on the bar at Jacques Island and on the 13th rejoined his ship at Zwanendael . This island has been identified as Little Tinicum, opposite the Greater Tinicum, now part of
Delaware county Pennsylvania , the creek in which he lay was therefore Ridley Creek or perhaps Chester Creek , but DeVries was within the State of Pennsylvania.
That April DeVries returned to Holland, thus, after twenty five years since the discovery of the Delaware by Hudsom, not a single European remained on its shores.
Source: Abstract by Harrison Howeth, from 'The Indiana Gazette of Indiana, Pennsylvania,
Friday, December 7, 1923: Article “Pennsylvania History”, by
Frederick A Godcharles, Author, copyright 1823.