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Early Settlements Early Churches



Early Settlements

In 1609, at the close of the first religious war, of forty-two years, between Spain and the United Netherlands, Hendrick Hudson, with his adventurous voyagers in the Half Moon, landed on Manhattan Island, discovered the North River and called it the Hudson. Soon after this more Hollanders came and began a settlement on the island, and a village soon sprang up on the Southern extremity, which they called New Amsterdam. A fort was built there in 1614 called Fort Amsterdam, and an Indian Trading Station was established. During the early arrivals of the Hollanders, they were accompanied by the Norwegians from Bergen, many of whom were of Holland descent, and some of them but recently from Holland.

The Amsterdam settlement was extended to Long Island and to the Jersey shore, which they called Bergen and also up the Hudson, along which forts were built and settlements made at Wyltwick (Kingston) and at Fort Orange (Albany). These settlements soon extended into the surrounding country, then a vast wilderness, and inhabited by the Iroquois Indians. From Kingston the settlement followed the Rondout to Mombaccus, in Ulster County, and through the Mamakating Valley to the Neversink, thence down the Neversink to the Delaware river, and both sides of the river to the Walpack bend and the Water Gap.

In their previous explorations, the Hollanders had discovered a copper mine in Walpack, now Pahaquarry, nearly opposite Bushkill, Pennsylvania, and about 1650 a road was built along this route from Kingston to the mine, afterwards called the "Old Mine Road," over which copper ore was transported on wagons to Kingston. This road from Kingston to Machackemech (Port Jervis) was the first public highway connecting the Hudson and the Delaware, and parallel with it the Delaware and Hudson Canal was afterwards built and extended to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. This road was eventually extended to Easton, Philadelphia and Washington, and was the first public thoroughfare from the East to our National Capitol, over which journeyed in carriages and on horseback the notable men of the Nation during the early days of our Republic.

It is said that John Adams traveled this road from the East and made it a stopping place at the stone residence of Colonel Abraham VanCampen, still standing in Pahaquarry, a few miles below the Delaware bend at the place now called "Shoemakers Ferry. " (Everett & Peck’s History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey). The first settlement made on the Neversink, in Orange County, was at Fort DeWitt, now Port Clinton, where Governor DeWitt Clinton was born, ten miles above Port Jervis. Its beginning was about 1690, and the lower settlement at Hugenot a little later. Prior to 1700 a settlement was commenced at Port Jervis, and at "Minissink", eleven miles below, and very soon the log houses of the white men appeared among the wigwams of the Indians to the Water Gap. Walpack then extended from the New York State line to the Water Gap in Morris county, Sussex being set off from Morris in 1753, and Warren from Sussex, 1824.

The name Walpack is derived from the Indian name "Waelpek," — a whirlpool in the bend of the river. At the "Minissink settlement," on the Old Mine Road, at the little stream crossing the highway and running to the Bennekill, which stream at the road is now the division line between the townships of Sandyston and Montague, once stood the village of Minissink, the first village in Sussex County. A fort, called Fort Nomenock, was built on Minissink Island, and a flouring mill on the little stream. A "tavern," or hotel, a blacksmith shop, a school house, church and parsonage and other dwellings were also built there, and there lived the pastor of the four churches of the Delaware Valley erected in 1737.

At Minissink were baptized many of the children of the early settlers whose descendants are now living in the far West. "Minissink" is the name given to the Delaware Valley by the Leni Lenape or Delaware Indians, who claimed to be the most ancient of all the tribes, the original tribe from whom all others came, "Leni Lenape" signifying "the original people. " Their tradition was that they originally lived in a cave beneath a lake west of the Mississippi. Emerging from their underground home, they discovered the light and the deer both of which they found to be good. Having an idea of a land of plenty toward the rising sun, they took up their journey eastward, crossed the "big waters" and came to the Delaware, when the valley from the Water Gap to the Lackawaxen was flooded with water. Eventually a break in the mountain took place at the Water Gap and drained the valley above, hence they called it Minissink, signifying "drained land," or "where the water is gone. "  Everett & Peck’s History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey.

Early Churches

The first Reformed Church of New Amsterdam, said to have been the first Protestant church established in America, was organized in the upper part of a one-horse power flouring mill, near the Fort, 1628. Meetings were held there prior to that time, conducted by readers of the Scriptures called "Consolers of the sick. " but, in 1628, the first ordained pastor, Reverend Joseph Michaelius, arrived from Holland and organized a church, preaching there till 1633, when he was succeeded by the Reverend Everardus Bogardus, second husband of Anneke Jans, and a plain wooden church building was erected the same year by the side of the East River, on the present location of 33 Pearl Street.

In 1642 a new church building of larger dimensions was erected called the St. Nicholas Church. In 1664 the British wrested New Amsterdam from Holland and changed the name to New York, and during that year was preached in New York by the Reverend Dr. Laidlie the first sermon in English. In 1687 was built in Garden Street, now Exchange Place, a brick church with the first church organ of the city, and 1769 the " North Church " at William and Fulton Streets having the first church bell of the city, cast in Amsterdam. During the Revolution this church was occupied by the British and used as a hospital and a prison, but before they took it the bell was taken down and secreted till after their departure. In this church the first noon-day prayer meeting was established in 1857, and is still continued near there in a chapel.

In 1872 was erected at Fifth Avenue and 48th Street the present imposing gothic church containing the memorials of the New York Memorial Churches; a library, church records, etc. , it being the edifice of the first Reformed Dutch Church of New York — (New York Weekly Tribune, May 13, 1895). In the latter church are undoubtedly the records of the marriage of "Herman Hendrickszen to Magdaleen Dircks," March 3, 1657, and the baptism of his son Alexander, April 12th 1661. In 1660 a Reformed Dutch Church was built at Kingston, then a village of forty-five dwellings.

In 1661 "Harmon Hendrix Rosenkrans" was a resident of Kingston and taxed twelve guilders toward building a parsonage and "Magadalena" his wife was received into the church. In 1734 four Reformed Dutch Churches were erected in the Delaware Valley, one at Port Jervis, New York; another at Minissink, New Jersey; the third at Lower Walpack, and the fourth at Upper Smithfield, Pennsylvania. Prior to the erection of these Churches occasional preaching had been secured in the Delaware region since 1716, by pastors from Kingston; first by the Reverend Petrus Vas, and afterward by Reverend George Wilhelm Mancius. The first pastor over these four churches, 1737, was the Reverend John Casparius Freyenmuth, afterward written Freyenmote.

The grounds for a school house, and burial place at Minissink were deeded in 1731 by Johannis Westbrook, who lived on the adjoining farm still occupied by the Westbrooks. The grounds for the Lower Walpack church were donated and deeded to "the Christian people" of that vicinity, by Thomas Brink and Nicholas Schoonhoven February 1st, 1777 (see deed Major Benjamin Rosenkrans 47. ) Those two Walpack churches at Minissink and Lower Walpack were the two first built in Sussex County. All the early settlers had their children baptized and the pastors kept a record of the Baptisms and marriages. These church records of New York, Kingston, Port Jervis, Lower Walpack and Upper Smithfield have mostly been copied into the histories of the city and the counties and as most of the early members of the Rosenkrans family settled along this line of settlement much family information has been obtained from these records, and from "Church Life," where they have been reproduced by the noted family historian, William H. Nearpass, of Port Jervis. But the church records of the Albany settlement, which has been extended into the surrounding counties in Eastern New York, have not been reproduced by Mr. Nearpass in "Church Life," nor investigated by the writer, consequently there are in Eastern New York many of the Rosenkrans name probably descended from Harmon Hendrick, whose names are not included in the genealogy, and who are especially noticed at its close.



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This page was last updated on February 26, 2007 .
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