THE EARLY HISTORY OF STATEN ISLAND
1524 - 1776
Before European settlers arrived
Before European setters arrived, the Algonquins lived in the New York area. Three tribes in the area were the -Tappans, Hackensacks, and Raritans. Indian villages were found all over Staten Island including Tottenville,
Holland's Hook, Green Ridge, Giffords, and North West Brighton. Most recently Indian artifacts have been found in Woodrow.
Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian navigator working for the King of France and captain
of his ship the Dauphine (the Dolphin
) discovered The Narrows (waters between present day Staten Island, Brooklyn, and
Manhattan). He wrote that he had come upon "two prominent hills" at the "mouth of
a very great river".
Esteban Gomez, a Portuguese explorer sailed into the narrows and left.
September 11, 1609
Henry Hudson (Englishman sailing for the Dutch) sailed into the narrows on his boat
De Halve Maen
(or the Half Moon
.) stopping briefly at Staten Island and then up the river that now bears his name.
On his way back from the river he stopped at the Island again and called it Staaten Eylandt
in honor of the States General of Holland. But the Indians gave him trouble so he
left for Holland. The Dutch claimed the whole territory as theirs, naming it New Netherland
Dutch East India Company establishes a trading post in Fort Orange (now Albany)
The New Netherland Company (part of the Dutch East India Company) built a storehouse
at the tip of Manhattan Island to trade furs.
Spring of 1623
The Dutch West Indian Company's first permanent settlers landed in Manhattan from
the ship New Netherland
Most of the earlier settlers decided not to settle on Staten Island, but they often
stopped at the north-east tip of Staten Island called the "Watering Place" to fill
their bottles with fresh water from a stream.
Director-General Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for 60 guilders
worth (about $24) of trinkets and cloth.
The Dutch West Indian Company (in charge of running the colony) saw that there were
very few people coming to New Netherland. So they came up with the
to get more people to come.
The Patroon System works by one person getting a huge piece of land. The land was
called a patroonship
, the person was called a patroon.
The patroon had to get 50 people to come to settle in New Netherland. The patroon
was lord of his land.
Staten Island Patroons
Patroon # 1
Michael Pauw (a wealthy director of the Dutch West Indian Company) was the first
patroon. His patroonship included all of Staten Island, and parts of New Jersey
(Bayonne, Jersey CIty and Hoboken). He did not settle a colony on Staten Island,
There is a street in New Brighton on the North Shore named after Staten Island's first
patroon, Pauw Street
. The street is only one block long between Jersey Street and York Avenue.
August 13 1636
David Pieterszen De Vries (also a director of the Company) asks to take over Pauw's patroonship.
January 5 1639
De Vries lands at the "Watering Place" (today it is Tompkinsville) to build Staten
Island's first colony. Many farms were started.
THE PIG WAR
Hogs owned by the patroons were stolen . The settlers blamed the Raritan Indians,
attacking and killing some of them.
September 1, 1640
The Raritan Indians retaliated, killing many settlers and burning all the buildings
down. Staten Island's first settlement was wiped out.
Cornelius Melyn became the third patroon. De Vries agreed to give him the entire
Staten Island , except the De Vries plantation. Melyn's settlement was also destroyed
by Indian during the whiskey war.
THE WHISKEY WAR
The Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam named Kieft asked Melyn to build America's first
Whiskey distillery in what is known today as New Brighton. The settlers taught the
Indians to drink whiskey, but when the Indians got drunk the settlers took advantage
of them . The Indians got angry, killed almost all the Dutch farmers and burnt the
homes down . Melyn fled to New Amsterdam.
Melyn returned to Staten Island and built farms again. Peter Stuyvesant replaced
Kieft as Governor.
THE PEACH WAR (1655)
There was a man named VanDyke who lived on Manhattan Island. One day he looked out
his window and saw an Indian lady steal a peach from his tree. He shot the lady.
The Indians got mad and started the peach war. Melyn's colony was destroyed so he
left Staten Island and returned to Holland.
Van der Capellen was Staten Island's last patroon, but he never went to live on his
lands because of the damage caused by the Peach War.
August 22, 1661
Pierre Billiou (a Walloon) and Walraven Luten requested permission to build colonies
on Staten Island. This colony, which was set up on the south shore, was the first
permanent settlement on Staten Island.
A Walloon is a french-speaking person of Celtic descent who lived in Southern Belgium and
The next settlers to Staten Island were mainly French people who were looking for
religious freedom. For example the
were French Protestants who settled in the middle and southern parts of Staten Island,
in what is now known as Huguenot, New Springville, and Green Ridge. They built a
church at Green Ridge
, and a store and a court house and jail as well. This was the beginning of a government
on Staten Island. The Dutch and Huguenot settlements were peaceful.
We can still see the influence of the Dutch and Huguenots in the names of many locations
on Staten Island, for example, Great Kills, Fresh Kills, Huguenot , Achter Kill (known
as Arthur Kill), Kill van Kull, and Robbens Reff (known as Robbin's Reef) and Eylandt street. . Several streets are named after the Dutch settlers too. They are
Billiou street, Luten Avenue, Pauw street, Stuyvesant Place, and Stuyvesant Avenue.
Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor in New Amsterdam, was forced to surrender to
the British who attacked from the sea. New Amsterdam and Staten Island became part
of the English colonies, which was now called New York.
April 13, 1670
There was a new govenor that purchased Staten Island from the Indians for good. His
name was Francis Lovelace.
August 8 1673
The Dutch at war with the English recapture New York.
November 19, 1674
The Dutch and the English declare peace. The Dutch give Staten Island back to the
English. Edmund Andros becomes the new govenor.
Govenor granted all the Indians free.
Thomas Dongan becomes the new govenor of New York.
November 1, 1683
Staten Island became Richmond County.
Benjamin Fletcher becomes the new govenor.
The Revolutionary War
April 15, 1776
American soldiers attack British sailers at the Watering Place.
July 2 and 3, 1776
The British land 9,000 troops on the east shore of Staten Island.
July 9 , 1776
New Yorkers learn about the Declaration of Independence.
July 12, 1776
20,000 more British Troops land.
August 27, 1776
The Americans lose the Battle of Long Island against the British. The battle
actually took place in Brooklyn.
September 11, 1776
Benjamin Franklyn , John Adams, and Edward Rutledge meet with British Commander
Lord Howe to try to make peace between the Americans and the British. They met at
the Christopher Billopp house at the tip of British-occupied Staten Island (Tottenville).
The peace talks failed and the revolutionary war continued.
Morris' Memorial History of Staten Island New York, Vol. I by Ira K. Morris. New York:
Memorial Publishing Company, 1898.
Staten Island: Gateway to New York by Dorothy V. Smith. Gateway State Bank , 1970.
Staten Island: 1524 - 1898, Revised Edition by Henry G. Steinmeyer. Staten Island
Historical Society., Staten Island NY, 1987.
George Washington's Birthday February 22, 1976: An Almanac. The Staten Island Bicentenial