Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"My Ears Are Bent"
True stories of a 1930s NYC newspaperman
For one thing, you'll learn what 'hot squats' and 'dry dives' are.
ppb. (NY, Vintage Books, 2008)Original publication – 1938
Friday, April 23, 2010
Former resident Adriaen van der Donk's A Description of New Netherland.
The Dutch West India Company rules that Jews be allowed to remain in
Manhattan tavern keeper Wolfert Webber accuses neighbor Judith Verleth - and her sister Susan - of appearing at his business and beating him, as a result of their court case last year. The Verleths claim it was Webber that appeared at their place and attacked them. Both parties are told to return the next day with proof of their accusations.
Apparently Webber is found to be playing with the truth, as he’s ordered to pay a $12
stiver fine for fulminating lies in court.
The Dutch from New Amsterdam, under Peter Stuyvesant and a force of
600-some men oust the Swedish settlersin the Delaware River Valley,
capturing Fort Christina and Fort Casimir from New Sweden governor Rysingh.
Several thousand Hudson River area Indians go on a three-day rampage
in the city, as well as on Staten Island and in New Jersey (triggered by
the killing of a Wappinger Indian woman who took a peach from one
of the Dutch orchards) - the Peach War. Over a hundred Dutch settlers
are killed; more than 150 kidnapped. Many homes are ransacked.
The city is surveyed and its streets are straightened. ** Lady Deborah
Moody is allowed to vote in town meeting. ** Stuyvesant denies Jews
the right to serve in the military. ** Orphans and other poor children
arrive from the Netherlands, in an effort to boost population. **
The approximate date Nicholas Jansz Visscher publishes a map of New
Netherland, correcting the 1650 map (until 1988 assumed to be dated
1651) by Jan Jansson. Son Nicholas probably inserts an etched view of
New Amsterdam into his father's previously published map. ** The first
African slaves arrive in the city. ** The Burgomasters name Dick Van
Schelluyne the first High Constable. Ludowyck Post is named Captain
to the Burgher Provost, in charge of police rounds. ** Reformed Protestant
Dutch minister the Reverend Johannes Megapolensis writes to the Classis
congregations in Holland, expressing his fears that the recently-arrived
Jews might chose to remain in New Amsterdam. ** The citys' first Jewish
cemetery is established (site now unknown). ** Jewish immigrant Abraham
de Lucena, ancestor of the city’s Nathan family, arrives. ** Stone Street
is named as it becomes the city's first paved street, laid with
The local Canarsie Indians are wiped out by the Mohawks. ** The Dutch
East Indies Company grants a monopoly on salt manufacturing at Gravesend
to merchant Dick de Wolf. Local farmers destroy the saltworks and threaten
De Wolf and his foreman. Stuyvesant, ordered to send soldiers to restore the
salt works, delays several months. ** New Utrech founder Cornelius van
Werckhoven dies. His children’s tutor Jacques Cortelyou takes over the
colony, which now numbers 18 settlers.
Lower Manhattan innkeeper Jan Vinje catches young Jacob Clasen and some friends
stomping around his pea patch. Vinje spanks the boy.
Vinje sues the boy’s father, schoolmaster Frans Clasen for damages. The court assigns
arbitrators to draw up a report.
When the arbitraor's report is read the court decides that since Vinje had already beaten the boy
he is owed no further recompense.
Governor Pieter Stuyvesant has the first map of the city made and sent
to the Netherlands. He grants the future Jamaica land on Long Island to
the English. The West India Trading Company complains that the
streets are too broad. The first census is also made. It shows 120 houses
and about 1,000 inhabitants. ** Brewer Michiel Jansen sinks a well in
Bevers Graacht and opens a tavern, after his previous business in
Pavonia (today’s Jersey City, New Jersey) was burned by Indians last year.
** A market stand is built at Broadway and Battery Place near the northeast
corner of the fort. ** Thirty-year-old Sarah Rapalje declares
herself, correctly, the "first born christian daughter of New Netherland.
** A bell is hung on top of city hall to be used as a fire alarm, for summoning
magistrates and announcing proclamations. ** Rhode Island Baptist cobbler
William Wickendam arrives to preach the gospel. Sheriff William Haslett puts
his own home at Wickendam’s disposal, all of which enrages Peter Stuyvesant,
who orders the preacher and Willet banished.
Dutch sea captain Jan Martense Schenck builds a brick-and-lumber house in
Amersfoort (Flatlands, after 1664), from materials imported from Holland,
for himself and his young bride.
New Amsterdam passes an ordinance against depositing trash anywhere other
than near the gallows, near City Hall, or near Hendrick the Baker’s. Violators
will be fined three florins for a first offense, with increasing fines for repeat
offenders. The orders are mostly ignored until fines are levied for dumping in
the canal ditch.
A petition, signed by 24 parishioners (including 16 Germans) - to have
Lutheran pastor Johannes Ernestus Gütwasser remain in New Amsterdam
- is circulated. Among the signers is cobbler Jochem Beeckman.
After Quaker missionaries arrive from England and Henry Townshend of
Flushing is fined by the Dutch under a new law, for entertaining Quakers,
his neighbors rally, sign the Flushing Remonstrance, declaring for freedom
of religion. They will soon bow to pressure and withdraw their support
The approximate date of construction of Peter Stuyvesant's mansion,
Whitehall, in lower Manhattan. ** Thatched roofs are prohibited, as a
fire safety measure. ** The approximate year Stone Street is built,
between Broad Street and Hanover Square. ** Following the mother
country's much earlier example, the right of the burgher class
(Burgher-recht) to engage in professions or crafts, is introduced in the city.
** The West India Company sends Stuyvesant silkworm egss but they have
rotted during the voyage. He's later instructed to borrow worms from
the English but ignores the order, saying the trees will be difficult to
cultivate. ** Stuyvesant grants Jacques Cortelyou and other settlers
permission to found New Utrecht, in Brooklyn’s future Fort Hamilton area.
Stuyvesant bans tennis during church service hours and also prohibits
“pulling the goose.”
Stuyvesant establishes the town of Nieuw Harrlem, in the northern half
of Manhattan, on land first developed by brothers Isaac and Henry DeForrest.
New Amsterdam gets its first police force — the eight-man Ratelwacht
(Burgher Guard, or rattle watch), using rattles rather than whistles.
The council bans kolven, a forerunner of golf. ** The council outlaws
privies with street level outlets. The order is pretty much ignored.
** Failing to sustain a ban on loose pigs in the street the council orders
them at least ringed through the nose, to make them easier to catch.
** The city considers digging a public well north of the wall; nothing
is done. ** Dutch immigrant Gerritt Remmersen arrives in Amersfoort
(Gravesend, Brooklyn) Long Island. ** A new schoolhouse is built.
Alexander Carolus Curtius (Cursier) opens a Latin School, the first
in the city. ** The city orders 100,000 bricks and 12,000 tiles from
Holland. ** More orphans and other poor children arrive from the
Netherlands. ** Merchant-poet Jacob Steendam describes Manhattan’s
waters. ** Willem Gerritsen, his wife Mary, and two sons, Willem, 8, and
Cornelius, 3, arrive in Amersfoort (Flatlands, Brooklyn) Long Island,
from Bermuda. **
The approximate year London-born Deborah Dunch (later Lady Moody), the first female landowner in the New World, dies, possibly at Gravesend, Brooklyn, in her early seventies. She may be buried in the old (now landmarked) cemetery there in an unmarked grave.
Under 500 Metoac Indians remain on Long Island.
Howell's English Proverbs refers to the wisdom of the men of “Gotham”.
© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte
Not to be too morbid, but death, as ever, was at the center of many stories in 1922. One, dating back a few millennia, was confirmed in November as archaeologists discovered the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamen in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.
Some deaths would remain shrouded in mystery, even into to our own time. In Hollywood, film director William Desmond Taylor was found murdered. And closer to home, in Linden, in western New York, 72-year-old Frances Kimball was battered to death in her home. Two years later, in 1924, three other people were murdered in the same small hamlet. None of the four crimes was ever solved.
Giovanni Martini had cheated death once, by not being in the wrong place at the right time. But Martini, George Armstrong Custer's orderly at the Little Bighorn forty-six years previously, died in Brooklyn this year.
There were other, relatively serene deaths. The literary world lost several leading figures. In Paris the semi-invalid Marcel Proust passed away at the age of 51. William Henry Hudson, born in Argentina, also died this year. Most of the public would remember him not as the naturalist he was by profession, but by his one novel and its central character, Rima, the Bird Girl, of Green Mansions .
One of the most mourned of those dying in 1922 was Mrs. Alexander P. Moore. She was winding down from a long and varied career when she died on June 6th. Her husband, her fourth actually, a Pittsburgh newspaper publisher and Republican stalwart, had just helped put Warren G. Harding in the White House. Mrs. M. had worked tirelessly on the campaign as well, and Harding did not forget. Woodrow Wilson’s Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer had recently arrested 6,000 U. S. citizens on the grounds of Bolshevik sympathies and deported close to a thousand, including Emma Goldman and Wobbly labor leader “Big Bill” Haywood. Anti-immigrant feelings were also running high in these post-war years. Harding decided to send Mrs. Moore to Europe to try and discover what compelled thousands to flee their homeland and sail to American shores. She labored mightily and came up with the unfortunate and simplistic conclusion that “Alien infiltration wrecked Rome.” Immigration should be curbed. Continuing to lecture even though weakened by a fall suffered on board ship while returning home, she soon wore herself out and was dead a few weeks later. It was in this rather bizarre scenario that the world lost one of its most colorful characters, a woman who had sent male hearts racing in a series of operettas, made audiences laugh in Weber and Fields vaudeville skits, and turned Come Down My Evening Star into the favorite song of thousands. To all of those thousands of fans Mrs. Moore, born Helen Louise Leonard sixty years earlier, was far better known as Lillian Russell.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
We’re going to have a pop quiz today (No, it’s not because Father’s Day is coming later this spring).
Of the following items, which one does not belong in the series:
Poet John Milton, General Philip Schuyler, Henry VIII, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Tyrannosaurus Rex, painter Winslow Homer.
Is this a trick question? Would I do that? Of course I would.
I’ll explain. We’ve all seen him. Wealthy, likes his food exceedingly well, uses a cane or walking stick on the few occasions he stands. He has a huge bandage on one foot which everyone manages to either hit, trip over, or drop things on. The sufferer of the gout has been familiar to us in cartoons and silent comedies and stage farces for hundreds of years. Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff cries out, “A pox of this gout! or, a gout of this pox! for the one or the other plays the rogue with my great toe.”
We hear the word gout and some of us immediately think of Henry VIII. Other famous people have suffered from this disease, including English clinician Thomas Sycamore Sydenham, who was the first to differentiate between acute rheumatism and gout, back in the 17th Century. The condition is caused by deposits of crystals of uric acid in body tissues, especially in bone joints, causing extremely painful inflammations. It was probably a contributing factor in the death of John Milton. Philip Schuyler, New York State general of the American Revolution had it.
In the religious wars in Germany during the 1540s, Charles V, suffering from the condition, hobbled all over Europe for several months, from Regensburg to Landshut to Ingolstadt to Ulm. Warming his aching limbs in a movable wooden room heated by a stove, he made his tortured way from Nordlingen back to Regensburg, then to Eger then, spending 21 straight hours in the saddle, to Muehlberg, where he finally accepted the surrender of the Landgrave Philip.
So how about our quiz?
Recently  the Democrat & Chronicle carried an item from Youngstown, Ohio’s Arthritis Center of Northeast Ohio, where Bruce Rothschild reported finding evidence that Tyrannosaurus Rex suffered from the gout. He did eat a lot of red meat.
As far as we know, Winslow Homer did not suffer from gout. So he’s our odd man out.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Immigrant Jan Aertsen Vanderbilt arrives from der Bilt, Holland. ** The
Jan Jansson map of New Amsterdamn, originally dated at 1655, will be
redated to this year in the late 1990s, by Jan van Bracht and Günter Schilder.
Burger Jorissen builds a gristmill at he future site of Queens Plaza.
Peter Stuyvesant receives the deed for a bouwerie (farm) previously belonging
to Wouter Von Twiller. ** The approximate date Jan Jansson’s manuscript
map of Belgii Novi (New Netherlands) is created. It has since disappeared.
The directors of the Dutch West India Company complain of the extravagant
land grants made to Wouter van Twiller and direct Stuyvesant not to make
any more grants unless the grantee acknowledged the authority of the company
and gave proof of their own ability to properly cultivate the granted lands.
England declares war against the Netherlands, the First Anglo-Dutch War.
Governor Peter Stuyvesant charters Flatbush, on Long Island, and issues a
patent for the Long Island village of Newtown (later Elmhurst), previously
known as Middleburgh. ** Englishman William Hallet, buys 1,500 acres
on Long Island along the East River from Stuyvesant. The Indians are
appeased with a blanket, beads, 7 coats, and 4 kettles. The community
becomes Hallets Cove (later Astoria). ** In an attempt to stimulate
colonization the West India Company reduces the fare from eight stuivers
a day to seven. ** The Dutch erect a timber and earthwork wall across
Manhattan at the settlement's northern boundary, for military protection.
It will provide the name of the future Wall Street.
The Dutch West India Company’s Cornelius Van Werckhoven, a magistrate
of Utrecht in the Netherlands, purchases land from the Nayack Indians,
agreeing to compensate the tribe with clothing and tools., establishes the town
of New Utrecht, with permission by Stuyvesant. ** Stuyvesant grants a town
patent to Midwout (the future Flatbush). ** The approximate date Pieter
Stuyvesant estate superintenent Pieter Claesen Wykoff builds a house in the future
Flatbush section. It will one day become the oldest surviving house in the state.
The Lords Directors of the Dutch West Indies Company in Amsterdam learn that
New Amsterdam has an abundance of mulberry trees, begin planning for a silk industry.
Peter Stuyvesant incorporates the city of Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam).
Manhattan resident Joost Goderis, son of a Dutch painter, is accosted while returning from
a fishing trip to Oyster (later Ellis) Island by Isaack Bedloo (Bedloe), Guliam (Gukyam) d’Wys,
Gyshert van der Donck, Jan Vinje, Pieter Werckhoen Harmanus Hartoogh, Cornelius Melyn
and Jacob Buys and taunted with being cuckolded by Allard Antony, supposedly loud enough
to be hard back on the Battery. Subsequently Goderis shows up at Bedloo’s house and slaps him.
Bedloo cuts Goderis on the neck.
The new government meets in Fort Amsterdam. Joost Goderis appears and accuses Bedloo
of last month’s taunting and wounding. A number of witnesses – including Antony - brought
in, refuse to testify against Bedloe.
Those who Goderis has accused are ordered to remain under house arrest and report back on
March 8th. The case will drag out for weeks, finally dropped by Goderis for insufficient evidence.
Word arrives in the colonies that England and Holland have signed a peace treaty.
Representatives from four Dutch and four English towns meet in New Amsterdam, to protest
against New Netherland's arbitrary government.
Stuyvesant convenes the colony’s first representative assembly, defies the opinions of “a few
The city acquires a city council and a town government, in protest to Stuyvesant's rule. **
The Dutch West Indies Company's tavern at Pearl Street and Coentes Alley is ceded to
the city for a city hall. The colony builds a wall across the island to the north, as a protection
against English colonies and Indians, from that direction. ** Merchant Jacob Krip is
appointed first city clerk of New Amsterdam. ** Immigrant builder Frederick
Philipse arrives. ** Politician and poet Nicasius de Sille arrives from Holland after his ship
battles with English vessels three times. ** Carpenter Claes Hendricksen exchanges his
homestead just to the north of the new wall, with Polish-born tavern keeper Daniel Litsche.
It will later be condemned by authorities as being too near the fortifications.
This year or next the New Utrecht Reformed Dutch Church Cemetery is begun. A church will
not be built on the site until 1700.
The directors of the East India Company write to governor Pieter Stuyvesant, informing him of a
New Amsterdam city seal to be forwarded.
New Amsterdam settler Teunis Tomasen sues Michael Paulisen for payment on a chimney Tomasen
had built for Paulisen. Tomasen wins his suit.
New England recruits setting out to attack New Amsterdam learn that the English and the Dutch have
Manhattan's Dominies Hook, on the North (Hudson) River between Duane and Canal streets, is acquired
by ground brief from Peter Stuyvesant.
The approximate date (possibly the 18th) the Dutch ship Peartree sails from Holland with the
New Amsterdam city seal.
Jacob Barsimon becomes one of the first Jews to settle in New Amsterdam, having arrived on the
Peartree. Solomon Pietersen may have come in the same vessel.
23 Sephardic Jews, including Moses Ambrosius (Lumbroso), Judicq de Mereda, Abraham Israel,
David Israel and Rycke Nounes, refugees from Brazil, arrive in New Amsterdam aboard the French
armed vessel St. Charles (the Jewish Mayflower). The ship’s captain claims he’s owed 1600 guilders
for the trip.
Manhattan tavern keeper Wolfert Webber is called before the Magistrates’ Court on charges his
dogs attacked several pigs – owned by Judith Verleth and a Mrs Stillen - that wandered on his
lands. Webber claims the hogs were damaging his seeds, but did not harm the pigs. He also
claims he’s been threatened with a beating by Mrs. Verleth. The court tells him to mend his
ways and make a complaint of his own if he’s threatened again.
English physicist Thomas Pell purchases over 9,000 acres in the Bronx from the local
Stuyvesant presents the city seal and accompanying signet to burgomeister Martin Crigier.
The Dutch settle Oostdorp (East Village), the future Parkchester neighborhood.
A wooden structure, the town’s first Dutch Reformed Church, is built in Flatbush,
under the direction of Peter Stuyvesant.
© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte