With these books an effort has been made to present the history of the whole of Long Island in such a way as to combine all the salient facts of the long and interesting story in a manner that might be acceptable to the general reader and at the same time include much of that purely antiquarian lore which is to many the most delightful feature of local history. Long Island has played a most important part in the history of the State of New York and, through New York, in the annals of the Nation. It was one of the first places in the Colonies to give formal utterance to the doctrine that taxation without representation is unjust and should not be borne by men claiming to be free-the doctrine that gradually went deep into the hearts and consciences of men and led to discussion, opposition and war; to the declaration of independence, the achievement of liberty and the founding of a new nation. It took an active part in all that glorious movement, the most significant movement in modern history, and though handicapped by the merciless occupation of the British troops after the disaster of August, 1776, it continued to do what it could to help along the cause to which so many of its citizens had devoted their fortunes, their lives. This is volume two out of three, covering the history of Kings County, Brooklyn and Queens.
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A History of Long Island
From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time
A History of Long Island 2, Ross/Beck
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
KINGS COUNTY.. 1
CHAPTER XXV. KINGS COUNTY.. 1
CHAPTER XXVI. FLATLANDS.4
CHAPTER XXVII. FLATBUSH.13
CHAPTER XXVIII. NEW UTRECHT.28
CHAPTER XXIX. BUSHWICK.37
CHAPTER XXX. GRAVESEND.60
CHAPTER XXXI. CONEY ISLAND.79
CHAPTER XXXII. THE STORY OF BROOKLYN VILLAGE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT.87
CHAPTER XXXI. BROOKLYN.99
CHAPTER XXXIV. THE VILLAGE OF BROOKLYN.104
CHAPTER XXXV. THE FIRST CITY.. 116
CHAPTER XXXVI. CHURCH DEVELOPMENT.136
CHAPTER XXXVII. THE ERA OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1865-1870.156
CHAPTER XXXVIII. INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL LIFE.168
CHAPTER XXXIX. THE CIVIL WAR.179
CHAPTER XL. THE DEATH GRAPPLE OF THE STRUGGLE.188
CHAPTER XLI. THE SPLENDID CLOSING RECORD.199
CHAPTER XLII. "THE END OF AN AULD SANG.". 209
CHAPTER XLIII. QUEENS. 236
CHAPTER XLIV. FLUSHING.244
CHAPTER XLV. NEWTOWN.256
CHAPTER XLVI. JAMAICA.267
CHAPTER XLVII. LONG ISLAND CITY.. 292
CHAPTER XLVIII. SUMMER RESORTS.304
CHAPTER L. FREEMASONRY ON LONG ISLAND.313
Kings County in its beginning was essentially a Dutch community. Gravesend, of course, was English, but its existence does not change the fact of Dutch pre-eminence, for it was permitted to be established by the authority of a Dutch Governor, and was at first as completely under Dutch laws and Dutch protection as was any other settlement on the island. When Col. Nicolls made his memorable descent upon New Netherland and forced the surrender of New Amsterdam and the abdication of the lion-hearted Peter, and wiped out the authority of "Their High Mightinesses," he formed the towns in what is now Kings county, with Newtown, Staten Island and part of Westchester into one of the Ridings — the West Riding — of his then newly created Yorkshire. That was in 1664. The reconquest by the Dutch under Governor Colve was too brief an interlude to permit much of a change in geographical nomenclature, or such frivolous things as territorial divisions, and so the West Riding of Yorkshire may be said to hold good for the west end of the island until 1683, when the present county of Kings was formed along with those of Queens and Suffolk. It had an area of some 70,000 square miles, and was divided into six towns, — Brooklyn, Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Utrecht and Gravesend. These towns, with the exception of Gravesend, "just grew," — that is, they were not definitely settled at first with the idea of becoming towns and rose into that pre-eminence simply because local conditions attracted settlers to given points, and also because it was necessary that the settlers should have rallying places for defense. Gravesend on the other hand was settled at first as a town colony. Over the territory included in these townships, and indeed over all the territory west of Oyster Bay, the authority of the Dutch rulers of the New Netherland was nominally supreme until Capt. Nicolls' upheaval sent Stuyvesant into retirement to his "Bouwerie," and not even the claims of Connecticut acting under its charter of 1662, which awarded it territorial jurisdiction over the whole of Long Island, could change the allegiance of the sturdy Dutch farmers, there was nothing to gain by the change, and they understood their rules, although the paternal rule of such men as Kieft and Stuyvesant was sometimes felt irksome. Of Long Island outside of the towns in Kings County it can hardly be said that the rule of the West India Company was ever secure with the exception of Hempstead, Jamaica and Newtown; but these towns, like Gravesend, were permitted to choose their own officers and to manage their own affairs subject to review and approval by the Governor, a right that was rarely exercised. Oyster Bay, too, the boundary town, was another English settlement over which the Dutch claimed sway, but it finally was' yielded up to Connecticut. In the Dutch towns of Kings county (to use the best-known name for the territory) the rule of the Governor in New Amsterdam was supreme. It used to be the boast of the old chroniclers that the Dutch honestly bought from the aborigines — and honestly paid the stipulated price — all the land in what afterward became Kings and Queens counties. In this claim they are perfectly justified by the record, although it seems to us that they drove a pretty hard bargain on their part, while, so far as the Indians went, it was a question of either sell or fight, for the white man had come to stay and the time had come for the native to go west in search of new lands, or remain and accept the virtues or the vices of the new order of things. Most of them remained; most of them, nay all of them, it might be said, the exceptions were so few, accepted the vices of the white man; and gradually, but surely, disappeared from the face of the earth. The Dutch Governors, as we have seen, were autocrats; but autocracy is inseparable from a system of paternal government. They were loyal, except perhaps Minuit, to their task of building up the province over which they ruled, or making the people happy and contented and as comfortable in surroundings and wealth as possible, — always, however, remembering the paramount claims of their High Mightinesses and the success of the West India Company's venture. Every effort was made to build up Long Island — or what they could see of it from the New Amsterdam shore of the East River or could discover of it in a day's journey. By order of the company a settler could easily get a patent for a piece of meadowland, more indeed than he could cultivate, on a scale of payment little more than nominal and which would have made the modern phrase of "easy terms" to seem extortionate. To some farmers, indeed, free passages from Holland were given, and there is no doubt that the company did its best to people the territory. Large estates were even given to enterprising capitalists who promised to induce settlers, and patents for land were freely given at times to all who had interest with the Governor and Council or could show a probability of their turning them to some use. A few of these people held the land simply for speculative purposes, much as property is similarly held in our day. But the bulk of those who crossed the East River with a patent went there to stay. In this way was the territory of Kings County first built up, but the process was naturally a slow one, and its early difficulties and dangers were many and serious.
The leading event in the history of Kings county is the Battle of Brooklyn (or Battle of Long Island, as it is generally and incorrectly called); but as that is fully narrated in one chapter, and the story of the British occupation told in another, there is no need of recurring to it here beyond this scanty mention. The part which Long Island played in the war of 1812 is also told — and these practically exhaust its story — with the momentous change which took place on Jan. 1, 1897, when, as the result of the vote of a majority of its inhabitants, it became part and parcel of the Greater New York, although still retaining its standing as a district county. A forecast of this great amalgamation was seen in 1857, when an act of the Legislature turned the counties of New York, Kings, Westchester and Richmond into a single police district, under the designation of the Metropolitan district, under the direct control of the State. This innovation did not last long, nor can it be said to have been in any way a success, although it seems to have proved beneficial to the police administration in Brooklyn.
Kings County and the Borough of Brooklyn are coterminous in their boundaries; but for administrative purposes the county administration is maintained, — that is, there is a distinct set of county officials in Kings, — sheriff, county clerk, public administrator, district attorney, etc., — the county administrations of the component parts of Greater New York not having been altered in that respect by consolidation. The County Courts are also maintained, and the general Government appears in its arrangements to have ignored the great fact of consolidation altogether. Kings County may be described as occupying the entire southwestern end of Long Island and to be bounded on the north and west by the county of New York: on the west by New York Bay; on the south by Gravesend Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and by Jamaica Bay, and on the east and north by the county of Queens, including all wharves, piers, docks and basins lying southerly and easterly of the center line of the East River.
The history of Kings County is simply a history of its townships and that history we will now proceed to relate.
By a narrow margin of a few months the old town of Flatlands could claim, in fact did claim, when the claim was worth anything, priority over Breuckelen and the other towns of Kings county. The first recorded purchase of land in the old' town was dated June 16, 1637, when Andres Hudden and Wolfert Gerretse Van Couwenhoven bought from the Canarsie Indians "the westernmost of the three flats (prairies), called by the sellers Kaskutenu." On July 16th in the same year Gov. Van Twiller secured by patent another of the flats; and Jacobus Van Curler (or Corlear), who in 1638 was a teacher in New Amsterdam, secured a patent for the third flat. The two latter transactions seem to have been in the nature of land speculations, but Hudden and Van Couwenhoven bought a place on which they might settle and earn their living. Their holding they called Achtervelt. In 1639 Hudden gave up, or sold, his interest in the plantation to Van Couwenhoven, although they appear to have continued for some time in partnership as regards other lands which they held in the neighborhood, and removed to New Amsterdam. Hudden seems to have been a politician, an almost continuous office-holder. Such was the beginning of Flatlands. In an inventory taken in 1638 it seems the owners of Achtervelt "had a house set around with long, round palisades, the house being twenty-six feet long, twenty-two feet wide, forty feet deep, with the roof covered above and around with plank; two lofts, one above another, and a small chamber at their side; one barn forty feet long, eighteen feet wide, and twenty-four feet deep; and one bergh with five posts, forty feet long. The plantation was stocked with six cows, old and young, three oxen and five horses."
It was not long before the plantation became the center of a settlement. Peter Stuyvesant had a Bouwerie there which was farmed for him by Peter Wyckoff, who worked it, apparently in connection with sixty acres he had bought from Van Couwenhoven. Hans Hansen or Jansen, the ancestor of the Van Nostrands, also bought a tract of land, as did Elbert Elbertse, the ancestor of the Stoothoffs. Elbert appears to have had the land fever quite strong, for he not only kept steadily adding to his purchases on shore but became the possessor of Bergen's Island and Barren Island. In 1673 Governor Colve appointed him Captain of a company of militia, with Roelof Martense as his lieutenant and Derrick Janse as his ensign. He became the possessor of Achtervelt by marriage with the widow of the pioneer Couwenhoven's son and assumed the care of her young family. This Elbert faithfully performed, for he appears to have been a most honorable and upright man. By the time he thus came into prominence, Flatlands had become quite a settlement, and the Strykers, Van Sigelens, Romeyns, Ammermans and a dozen other families were located around the palisadoed mansion of the original settler, a mansion that was so arranged as to be a stronghold to which the people might readily fly for refuge should Indian or other dangers arise.
But while first as regards settlement — if it was first, for the old records are a little confusing — Flatlands was much slower than some of its neighbors in acquiring municipal rights. Gravesend and Flatbush secured such privileges ahead of it. The people were to a great extent more isolated than those in the other settlements and probably attracted little attention in New Amsterdam. It really needed little attention from the ruling powers. It was essentially a religious community, and in its earlier days the dictum of the Dominie and Elders at Flatbush was sufficient to settle all the little disputes which might arise. To a certain extent, too, when it required some decision at law, it had to arrange with the Magistrates at Flatbush to hold the scales of exact justice, and that was too troublesome a procedure to be invoked except on very grave occasions. In 1661 it assumed the dignity of possessing a local government, for it then was empowered to elect three Magistrates of its own, and the people chose Elbert Elbertsen, Pieter Cornelissen and Simon Jansen as the holders of this dignity — the old dignity of Schepen; and their successors were to be elected annually. It was not until the arrival of Col. Nicolls and the overturn of the Stuyvesant regime that the town was called into being with the full dignity of a charter; and in that document, which was dated Oct. 4, 1667, it is called "Amersfoort, alias Flatlands." The boundaries of the town were laid down so indefinitely in this charter that an amended one was issued February 3, 1668, by Gov. Lovelace, and yet another by Gov. Dongan March 11, 1685, but none of these proved clear enough to prevent litigations more or less bitter and acrimonious and tedious between Flatlands and Flatbush. In fact a local historian tells us that Flatlands in June, 1679, got a judgment against Flatbush for £10, and that the amount with interest is still due! In 1788 Flatlands was officially recognized as a town by the State Government of New York, and it continued its independent existence until Jan. 1, 1896, when the town was wiped out and its territory became the Thirty-second ward of the then Greater Brooklyn.
A list taken in 1687 gives the following as the names of those who took the oath of allegiance to the British authorities in accordance with the orders of Gov. Nicolls, and as the list is a valuable one for genealogical purposes we here give it in full:
Pieter Claes Wyckoff, 1636; Gerret Pieterse Wyckoff, Claes Pieterse Wyckoff, Hendrick Pieterse Wyckoff, Jan Pieterse Wyckoff, natives; Elbert Elbertse (Stoothoff), 1637; Gerret Elbertse (Stoothoff), Hans Janse (Van Nostrandt), 1640; Roelof Martense Schenck, 1650; Jan Martense Schenck, 1650; Jan Roelof Schenck, Martin Roelof Schenck, Derick Janse Ammerman, 1650; Jacob Stryker, 1651; Fferdinandes Van Sickelin, 1652; Christoffle Janse Romeyne, 1653; Ruth (or Rut) Bruynsen, 1653; William Davies, 1653; Jan theunis Van duyckhuys, 1653; Simon Janse Van Arts Daelen, 1653; Cornelius Simonen Vanarsdalen, Pieter Cornelius Luyster, 1656; Thys Pieter Luyster, 1656; Pieter Pieterse Tull, 1657; Jan Brouwer, 1657; Dirck Brouwer, hendrick Brouwer, Dirk Stofflese, 1657; Stoffle Dirckse (Langstraet), Adriaen Kume, 1660; Court Stephense Van Voorhees, 1660; Albert Courten Van Voorhees, Luycas Stephense (Van Voorhees), 1660; Jan Stephense (Van Voorhees), 1660; Abram Williamse, 1662; Johannis Williamse, 1662; Evert Janse Van Wickelen, 1664; theunis Janse Van Amach, 1673; Gerret Hansen (Van Nostrandt), Gerret Hendrickse Bresse, Wellim Gerretse Van Couwenhoven, Gerret Williamse Van Couwenhoven, Anthony Warnshaer, William Williamse Borcklo, Jan Albertse Terhune, Pieter Nevins, Pieter Manfoort.
The date appended to some of these names indicate those in which were of foreign birth and show when they settled in the country. Of course such a list is not a complete census. The Rev. Dr. Du Bois prepared the following list from church and other records of those who resided in the town in 1687 and previously:
Gerret Seerjersy, Hendrick Freemensen (here in 1670); Gerret Gerretsen, Abram Joeresy (Brinkerhoff), Jan Cornelis, Jan Barrentsen (Van Driest), Albeirt Albertse (Terhune), died 1672, and Vaereyck Flieksen, all here in 1672; William lobbertse, Wm. Williamise (Wyckoff), Gerrrt Remers, Barent Jureyaensy, Thunis Helebrantsy, here in 1673; Klaes Kornelesen, Barent the Tailor, Sawaern Jans, Hans Janse (Van Nostrandt), Hendrick Hermanze, Widow of Frederick Ebbcott, here in 1674; Widow of Gerraen Keest, Willem Gansen Van Barkelo, Klaes Smit, Widow of Geromus Boeck. Willem Kuyken, Jan Snedeghyer, here in 1675; Abraham Jorissen (Brinkerhoff), Fookie Hansen, 1679; Cornelius Barentsen, Simon Jansen (Romeyne), Simon Jdrisen, 1680; Albert Terhune, Jr., Lawrence Koeck, Hendrick Aswerus, 1682; Jan Hansen (Van Nostrandt), Johannis Machgilssen, Jan Manfordt, Vis Homes, Jammes Wilier, William the Shoemaker, De Fris the tanner, Jacob Fardon, Jan Albert Terhune, 1685; Rut Joosten (Van Brunt), Cornelis Simonsen Van Arsdalen, Joost Rutjen (Van Brunt), Johannis Holsa, Jan Kilement a mason. Master Toon, the Doctor, here in 1687; also 1677-1685; Bruno Hendrickse, Rutgert Brunoos, Tjelletje Reimers (Wizzelpfinnig), Pieter Tull, Jan Poppe, William Stryker, Gerret Remmerts, Jan Kiersen, Dirckye Roelffsen, Pieter Hendricksen, Albert Steven (Voorhees), Steven Coerten (Voorhees), Martin Pieterse (Wyckoff), Luykas (Voorhees), Teunis Jansen, Swaen Jansen, Adam Michilse, Dierckie Williamse, Lourens Cornelise, William Hulett.
A census taken in 1698 showed a total of 40 men, 39 women, 130 children and 40 negro slaves. The name of the heads of families are given as follows, the first figure after the name (when two are given) being the number in the family and the second the number of slaves:
Gerret Elbert Stoothoff, 7, 4; Jan Teunis Dykhuys, 5, 5; Roelif Martense (Schenck), 6, 4; Coert Stevense, 5, 2; Gerret WyckofiE, 5, 2; Hendk Wykof, 2, 2; Dirk Jans Amerman, 9; Adriaen Kenne, 8; Dirck Langstraet, 5; Jans Kiersen, 2, 1; Alexander Simson, 10; Jan Hansen, 5; Pieter Nevins, 9, 1; Jacob Tysse Lane, 6; Helena Aertsen, 5; Simon Jantz Van Aersdaelen, 5, 1; Cornelis Simontz Aersdaelen, 8, 1; Willem Gerrittz Van Couwenhoven, 8; Aernont Viele, 2, 2; Jan Albertz ter hennen, 8, 2; Jan Brouwer, 8, 1; Thunis Jantz Amack, 7; fferdinando Van Sigelen, 7, 4; Claes Wykof, 8; Jan Wykof, 4, 1; Willem Bruynen, 7, 4; Adriaen Langstraet, 1; Lucan Stevense, 12, 4; Pieter Pieterse Wyckoff, 1; Hendrick Brouwer, 1; Albert Amerman, 1; Pieter Van Couwenhoven, 4; Martin Schenck, 5, 2; Jan Stevense (Voorhees), 12, 1; Pieter Monfoor, 8, 1; Steven Caerten (Voorhees), 5; Rutgers Bruyn, 9.
According to a census taken in 1738 the population consisted of 195 whites and 42 negroes, so that there was evidently no land boom or other excitement to disturb the even tenor of the place during these pre-Revolutionary years. In fact, outside of a scrap or two with Flatbush the annals of Flatlands were of the quietest description possible and centered round the story of the local church. The good people claimed that their religious history began with 1654, as they had an equal interest with Flatbush in the church then built, there, and whose history had been already told in an earlier chapter. Certainly the structure at Flatbush was legally their religious home. The Governor said so. They contributed $48 toward the cost of its erection; and Dominie Polhemus, they held was their pastor as much as he was the spiritual director of their neighbors in Flatbush and Brooklyn. Indeed he was pretty regularly in Flatlands, preaching in barns and private houses until 1663, when they finished the construction of a church building in their midst.
It was a quaint little structure, according to our ideas, but doubtless Dominie and the people were equally proud of it, standing as it did on quite a commanding site on a piece of already sacred ground, — ground which had been consecrated by the Indians as a burial spot from remote ages. In appearance the building was similar to the other temples of worship in the Dutch towns. Like them, it was octagonal in form, with a high-pitched roof, surmounted with an open cupola, over which a weather-cock showed the citizens the direction of the wind and assisted the local weather prophets in their prognostications. The cupola, of course, was to contain a bell, but by the time the building was finished the resources of the brethren for church decoration were exhausted and so the people were called to public worship by the beating of a drum until 1686, when a subscription netted 556 guilders and a bell was imported from Holland. The building was fitted up in the interior in quite elaborate style. The pulpit was a lofty structure, but rather a slender arrangement, surmounted with a sounding board that looked heavier than the pulpit it covered. The worshippers were seated on wooden benches except that a chair was reserved for the minister's wife and another for the magistrate. The accommodation was for 130 and the Dominie could see every corner of the building when he was conducting the sermon: perhaps even when sitting on the hard bench provided for him in the pulpit he could mentally note the absentees and prepare to admonish the late-comers. The little edifice stood in its original form until 1762. At that time the members were Cornelius Voorhees, 5 sittings; Steve Schenck, 4; Johannes Lett, 7; Hermann Hooglandt, 5; William Kouwenhoven, 5; Roelof Voorhees, 4; Fammetie Ditmars, 3; Roelof Van Voorhees, 4; John Van Der Bilt, 5; Jeremiah Van Derbilt, 1; Abraham Voorhees, 5; Folkert Sprong, 2; Abraham Dorye, 4; Coustyn Golneck, 1: Peter Wykof, 3; Johannes Lott, Jr., 3; William Van Gelder, 3; Derrick Remsen, 4; Henrick Lott, 4; Jan Schenck, 5; Wilhelmus Stoot.hoof, 7; Jan Ouke. 1; Marte Ouke, 1; Samuel Garreson, 1; Bernardus Ryder, 3; Albert Terhune, 4; James Holbert, 2; Fernandus Van Segelen, 1; Barent Vanderventer, 1; Abraham Schenck, 1; Callyntje Janse, 1; Garrett Wykoff, 3; Getore Heyn, 2; Jan Amerman, 6; Annatie Wykof, 5; Petrus Amerman, 3; Jacob Ouke, 1; Helena Ouke, 1; Eisack Selover, 1.
The church at that date was enlarged by having the three front octagons of the walls built out in a straight line so as to make a square side and in that way twenty-eight new sittings were added. The sittings in the church were allotted to the farms— not to individuals — and were part and parcel of the property of each holding and subject to transference with it, and the dues to the church seemed to have been regarded down even to the year 1876 as a lien on certain pieces of property in exchange for the right to sittings. In 1794 the old weather-beaten building began so plainly to show the effects of time that an entire new structure was demanded. So the octagon building was torn down and a new church was erected which was opened for public worship December 26, that year, with a sermon by the Rev. Peter Lowe, one of the ministers of the home church in Flatbush. This structure lasted until 1848, when the present church building was erected. This has since been improved several times, and its usefulness was increased in 1853 by the erection beside it of a building for school and lecture purposes. The connection between the churches in Flatbush and Flatlands terminated in 1820, and in 1824 Flatlands and New Lots were united ecclesiastically and the Rev. William Cruikshank accepted the joint pastorate. During his term the church at Flatlands underwent one great change, inasmuch as it was, for the first time in its history, heated in winter by the introduction of a wood-burning stove. In 1827 a new pulpit was introduced and the ladies of the congregation subscribed a sufficient sum to have it appropriately dressed.
Mr. Cruikshank resigned in 1834, and was followed in 1836 by the Rev. J. Abeel Baldwin, who served until 1852, when the association with New Lots came to an end, and the Rev. T. M. Davie became minister of Flatlands. Since then the church has prospered under a succession of pastors, on the work of one of whom, the Rev. Dr. Anson Du Bois, much of this sketch has been founded. Before leaving the church history of Flatlands we may here state that the Methodist Church at Canarsie was organized in 1840, with twelve members, and that the Methodist Episcopal Church at Flatlands had its beginning in 1851. The other churches are of recent date.
In every old Dutch community school and church generally went hand in hand and formed part of the same organization. We have already seen this exemplified in the chapter wherein the story of the church at Flatbush is told. Such was undoubtedly the case at Flatlands, although the earliest records have been lost. The Rev. Dr. Du Bois in his historical sketch tells the early story of education in this town so completely that we quote it:
We have found no records touching it (the school) earlier than 1675, when it was evidently in a mature and vigorous career under the care of the church elders. It was called "The School of the Town." The first notice we have of it is in regard to a supply of books by the deacons; and entries and bills, of elementary and religious books paid for, appear in their accounts from 1675 for a long period of years, along with every variety and order of expenses.
According to the tradition in our town, and the well-known usages of other Dutch settlements, the schoolmaster was, by virtue of his office. Reader in church. Chorister, and commonly Sexton also. If this be true, we are able to name some of the honored leaders of mental progress in Flatlands from very early times.
The first who claims this honor is Willim Gerretse (Van Couwenhoven), 1675; the next Jan Brouwer, 1688; the third Pieter Tull, 1691, though the fact that he afterward became a pauper does not argue liberality of salary. Various items were paid "to the schoolmaster," for salary and other services, until 1704, when the incumbent was Martin Schenck, who was also a deacon of the church. Isaac Sllover was teacher in 1712; Yan Sudani in 1715 and apparently to 1729; when Yohannes Van Siggelon succeeded him. In 1733 Abraham de Lanoy occupied the place. His name would indicate that he was French, while has receipts for his salary of £6 a year are written in a bold and elegant English hand. He was doubtless able to teach in English. Isaac Voorheesi held the place in 1742; Johannes Nevius in 1743; Abram Voorhees, 1744-47; Luykas Voorhees, from 1748 to 1752, when Derick Remsen served part of a year, and Luykas Voorhees again, 1755-1757. As no new name occurs, it is fair to infer that Voorhees continued to receive the annual salary of £4 from the deacons as chorister, and probably an additional sum from the elders as schoolmaster, until 1768, when he was succeeded by Abraham Voorhees, the same probably who had served in 1744-47, and who now held the position until 1792. This teacher first introduced a stove into the school-house in June, 1789, costing £12 15s. 6d. We judge the previous winter must have been uncommonly cold and they would no longer trust to an open fire even though they had to bring in the stove in the first month of summer.
We have assumed that the chorister was also the school teacher as was the universal custom of the Dutch. But the practice was now falling into disuse. It seems that Thomas Whitlock was employed during the latter years accredited to Abram Voorhees and that John Baxter, whose journal of daily events continued by his son Garret extends from 1790 to 1840, taught the school about 1790. We have also the following as teachers: Peter Labagh, 1792; Geo. Parker, 1795; Jas. Smith, 1798; Elijah Elwell, 1801; Patrick Noon and Hugh McGarron, 1802; John Burns and Alex. Johnson, 1804; Cuthbert, 1805: Cassidy, 1810; Hugh McGarron again, 1811-16; Tibbetts and Blundel taught a short time; James Bolton some years; Esterbrook, Bledsoe, Kingsley, Topping, and Leach; Slauson to 1827, when Chas. Leach resumed and taught to 1830: Ed. Berry, 1830, when David Baldwin (whose conversion is recorded by his pastor in a tract of the American Tract Society) assumed charge, but retired from ill health; Albert Smith, 1831; Willis, and the same year H. D. Woodworth, now principal of a public school in Brooklyn: W. S. Webb, 1833; and after him E. S. Johnson and Stephen Voorhees; since whom Messrs. Sutton, Wade, Blake and Sowles have taught.
Principal Voorhees Overbaugh took charge of this school in 1845. He was then expected to teach from 8 o'clock A. M. to 4 o'clock P. M., with a noon recess, five days each week, without a vacation of any kind during the whole year. He did not receive a stipulated salary, but a fee per capita on the scholars, and collected his own bills.
The original school-house of District No. 1 probably stood on Hubbard's Lane, opposite John L. Williamson's. On February 3rd, 16967, the heirs of Elbert Elbertse, viz., Garrett Stoothoof, Thos. Willes and Jan Van Duyckhuisen, deeded to Coert Stevense, Derick Amertman and Claes Peterse, for themselves' and others, freeholders, etc., premises described as follows: "All that house and garden spot, as it is now in fence, lying * * * in the town of fflatlands, adjoining to the house and land of fferdinanno vasycklyn, and now used and occupied for a school-house for said town." Van Sickelin lived at the southeast corner of the church-lot, where his son Johannes lived in 1747.
Confirmatory of this view is the fact that on the next day, viz., February 4th, 1697, the Stoothoff heirs, who seem to have been engaged in settling up the estate conveyed to the same parties, ''Elders of the Dutch Church of fflatlands," the church-lot and burying ground, and describe the latter as "Bounded north by Tunis Janse's fence, south by the pound, west by the highway," with the church-lot at the east. Thus the whole of the present school-lot and burial-ground is included, without any mention of the school-house being then upon it, and excluding the Van Syckelen lands from contiguity. The evidence seems conclusive that the original school-house stood east from the residence of John B. Hendrickson. A new school-house seems to have been built about this time. Between September, 1694, and August, 1697, the Deacons paid "for the school-house'' in various items of material and work no less a sum than $654.40, which could not have been for repairs. Probably, at this time, the new school-house was placed on an unused part of the burial-ground. The lot described in 1696 as the school-house lot must, soon after this, have fallen into private hands, for, in 1729, it is deeded by Abram Westervelt, and Margaret, his wife, to the Town, together with an acre where the house of B. Stafford now stands. We know that the school-house was near its present location in 1733, for in that year Pieter Wyckoff conveys "a certain piece of land adjoining the school-lot, being in breadth two rods and in length as far as the school-lot runs, bounded southerly by said school-lot, northerly by ground of said Pieter Wyckof, westerly by the highway, and easterly by the land belonging to the church." The school-house first placed within the original lines of the grave-yard, in 1699, was extensively repaired about 1765, the work having been begun in 1762, simultaneously with the extensive improvements and enlargement of the church. At this time the sum of £356 was paid for materials and work "for the school-house." In 1771 "a well for the schoolhouse" cost £1, I11S. 3d.
In April, 1816, the town ordered a new school building. It was completed and occupied two years later, and the old house sold to Nicholas Schenck for $20. This new building continued to be used by the school until 1861, when it was sold to John L. Ryder for a carriage-house. The school-lot was fenced in by the trustees, as such, in 1861, by advice of counsel. The building of 1861 was enlarged to more than twice its former capacity in 1876.
A school was early established in Flatlands Neck, the section of the town that lies between Jamaica Bay, New Lots and Flatbush. A new school-house was built there in 1835 and another at Carnarsie in 1844. The modern story of education in Flatlands, however, is associated with that of Brooklyn.
It has been said that the annals of Flatlands are uneventful and uninteresting, yet at the same time the story of the battle of Brooklyn might be woven into its history. There was, of course, rare excitement in the township when the British troops landed, and the excitement deepened during the strategical operations that followed. But after the battle was over things resumed their usual quiet sway. One regiment, Colonel Kniphausen's horse, was quartered for some time on a farm in Flatlands, but this is only a tradition and it does not seem likely that they were there beyond a few days. A few guards were placed on duty in residences at Canarsie Point and Flatlands Neck, but they seemed not to have been very offensive and made themselves humbly comfortable in the kitchens of the houses to which they were assigned. The British, of course, took possession of the grain, the produce and much of the livestock, — that was part of the incidents of any war, and nothing else could be expected. But the best evidence that Flatlands was not seriously molested lies in the fact that services in the church were regularly conducted all through the British occupation, although there was a strong patriotic sentiment in the town, and the Dominie expressed himself very freely on all occasions against the invaders, and nowhere on Long Island was the triumphant close of the war celebrated with more enthusiasm than in this old stronghold of the Dutch sentiment. With the return of peace Flatlands retained her quiet mode of living, advanced slowly but surely, and the years passed on so uninterestingly that the historian finds little to narrate in the routine of its calm, domestic, home-living current. It was the last of the suburbs of Brooklyn to feel the quickening influence of that city, but when the influence was felt the dwellers in the community met it with avidity. The old farms were placed on the market, the land-boomers got in their work, and "lots" instead of acres began to dominate in the real-estate transactions. With the introduction of the trolley the old seclusion of Flatlands began to vanish, and since it has itself disappeared and become simply a city ward it has been wholly cut up into streets and avenues, and everywhere the march of improvement represented by the modern builders is apparent. It has many new features, but Barren Island is still devoted to the manufacture of fertilizers and its smells are as fragrant as ever; Canarsie is still a haven for fishermen and those who enjoy rowing or yachting, and Jamaica Bay yet yields a harvest of pleasure or profit; but Bergen's Island has become, under the name of Bergen Beach, a resort of the nature of Coney Island, and on each Sunday in the season more people pass through Flatlands in trolley cars than has been seen in it since that eventful day in August, 1776, when an old lady said that "the red coats were so thick in Flatlands you could walk on their heads."
One local writer has given 1630 as the date of the first settlement at 't Vlavke Bros., Middle-Wout, or Midwout, the earliest names by which Flatbush was designated. There is, however, no definite proof as to this. It would seem that the patents given for lands in Flatlands to Hudden and Van Couwenhoven and Van Twiller included ground which overlapped into what was afterward across the border of that township and into the township of Midwout, but even that would hardly give us the right to claim the date of these patents as the beginning of the story of this, in many ways the most interesting of the five Dutch towns. From Flatlands an Indian trail led to Brooklyn, and while using this trail the rich and fertile fields, now the streets of Flatbush, lay invitingly open and the overflow of population, so to speak, from Flatlands took them up. These early Dutch farmers were mighty particular as to places of settlement. They were strong believers in meadow land, and those who can recall Flatbush before the rush of the trolley and the march of modern improvements changed things all around could easily imagine it, in its still more primitive stage, as lying ready and prepared for adaptation into farm, garden and grazing ground with but little labor. By 1651 the place had a sufficient population to warrant the issuance to it of a town patent, and Governor Stuyvesant incorporated in the document the names of Jan Snedecor, who had prospered as a tavernkeeper in New Amsterdam; Arent Van Hatten, burgomaster of the same city; and one of its ministers, Johannes Megapolensis. The lands of Midwout also began very early to have a speculative value, for in 1653 we find that Edward Griffin bought fifty acres of land "on the west side of the road near the Flatbush" in February, and he sold the same in July to Bartel Loot and Peter Loot (Lott). When the patent was issued. Dr. Strong says, "farms were laid out into forty-eight lots, or tracts of land, extending 600 Dutch rods east and west on each side of the Indian path and having generally an average width of twenty-seven rods." Before the farms were drawn for, 102 lots were laid aside for the use of the church, which it was even then determined should be built, while the unappropriated lands, mainly stretches of woodland on the outskirts of the town, were left for the common use and so continued for many years.
It seems that there was not enough meadow land to satisfy the wants or ambitions of the Dutch farmers in Flatbush, and they squatted on some of the rich meadows of Canarsie, which the Flatlands people claimed as their own. This led to trouble between them; and to end it, and also with the view of substituting an English charter for the Dutch one. Governor Nicolls caused a fresh survey to be made, and then issued a new patent which bore the date of October 11, 1667. It was then that Flatbush, the English rendering of 't Vlacke Bosche, came into legal use. But the good farmers no sooner had this trouble adjudicated than a new and even more serious one arose. The land comprising their town had originally been bought from the Canarsie Indians, but in 1670 another tribe, the Rockaways, claimed the soil, denying the right of the Canarsies to ownership, and demanding payment. The probability is that the Canarsies were honest in their intentions, but they sold more than they ought to have done, and unwittingly disposed of some territory to which the Rockaways had some claim. Lands were not very closely surveyed in those days. Of course the Flatbush title was clear, so far as the settlers were concerned. They had complied with all the forms of the law, Dutch as well as English, and could have defended their holdings in any court of law successfully. But the Indians had ways of enforcing their demands which were much more unpleasant than those of the courts, and an angry dispute with them meant much loss of life and destruction of property — all the horrors, in fact, of Indian warfare. So the settlers made the best of the situation and secured a fresh deed from the wily claimants. It reads as follows:
To all Christian people to whom this present writing shall come: Eskemoppas, Sachem of Rockaway, upon Long Island, Kinnarimas and Ahawaham his brothers, send greeting: Whereas they, the said Sachem Eskemoppas, and his two brothers aforementioned, do lay claim to the land now in the tenure and occupation of the inhabitants of Midwout, alias Flatbush, as well as other lands adjacent thereto as the right born Indian owners and proprietors thereof: Know ye that in consideration of certain sums of seewant, a certain sum of wampum and divers other goods (hereinafter specified) unto the said Sachem and his brothers in hand paid, and received, from Adrian Hegeman, Jacob Stryker, Hendrick Jorise and Jan Hansen, for and on behalf of themselves and the rest of the inhabitants of Midwout alias Flatbush, the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge, and themselves to be fully satisfied and paid: Have given granted contracted and sold * * * All that said parcel of land where the said town of Midwout stands, together with all the lands lying therein, stretching on the east side to the limits of Newtown and Jamaica, on the south side to the meadow ground, and limits of Amersfort; on the west side to the bounds of Gravesend and New Utrecht, and on the north side along the Hills; that is to say, all those lands within the limits above mentioned &c. * * * in witness whereof, the parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands and seals this 20th day of April, in the 22nd year of his Majesty's reign, in the year of our Lord 1670.
Eskemoppas £ Mark, (seal.)
Kinnarimas & Mark, (seal.)
Ahawaham f Mark (seal.)
Signed and delivered in the presence of Thomas Lovelace. Cornelius Van Ruyven.
Recorded the day and year within written, per Mathias Nichols, Secretary.
The consideration agreed upon in the purchase herein mentioned was as follows viz.: 10 Fathoms of black seewant; 10 Fathoms of white seewant; 5 Match coats of Duffells; 4 Blankets; 2 Gunners sight Guns; 2 Pistols; 5 Double handfulls of Powder [Gispen bunches of Powder]; 5 Bars of Lead; 10 Knives; 2 Secret Aprons of Duffell (Cuppas of Duffell]; I Half vat or half barrell of Strong Beer; 3 Cans of Brandy; 6 Shirts. All the above particulars were received by the Sachem and his two brothers, in the presence of the persons under written, as witnesses hereof.
John Manning, Jacob Van Cortlandt.
Sylester Salisbury, Teunis Jacob Hay.
John Hough, Edward Carlisle.
Acknowledged before me, the Sachem and his two brothers, and the goods delivered in my oresence, the day and year within written. Francis Lovelace.
In drawing up this deed the Flatbush people took good care to have their old boundaries clearly fixed, and it would seem that the territory known as Oostwoud was thrown in by the Rockaways in their joy at the prospects of the possession of the powder and beer and brandy and Other commodities stipulated by their head men. This territory, afterward known as New Lots, claims 1670 as the beginning of its history, although it was not until 1677 that Adrian Lambertsen and thirty-four others secured a patent for ownership in it. For many years, in fact until 1721, the most notable feature of the history of Flatbush was its constant defense of its territory against claims made by Flatlands, Newtown and even by private individuals; but as the course of events has long since rendered the story of such disputes of no practical value, of no responsible bearing on the real history of the town, there is little use of recounting them here. There seems no doubt that the Flatbush settlers were in some of these disputes the real aggressors, — the courts so more than once decided; but the probability is that in most cases the trouble arose from want of exact knowledge as to boundaries, or, as is equally likely, indifference on the part of the settlers to political divisions. It was probably with the view of settling all this on an enduring basis that the inhabitants in 1685 applied to Governor Dongan for a new patent which should confirm to them all that had been granted at various times and for which various patents had been issued. That application was granted, and the document, one of the most important in the early local history, reads as follows:
Thomas Dongan, Lieutenant-Governor and Vice-Admiral of New York, &c., under his Majesty James the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland Defender of the Faith, &c., Supreme Lord and Proprietor of the Colony and Prince of New York and its dependencies in America. To all to whom these presents shall come, sendeth Greeting: Whereas, there is a certain town in Kings County, upon Long Island, called and known by the name of Midwout, alias Flatbush, the bounds whereof begin at the mouth of the Fresh-Kill, and so along by a certain ditch which lies betwixt Amersfoot and Flatbush Meadows, and so running along the ditch and fence to a certain white-oak marked tree, and from thence upon a straight line to the westernmost point of a small island of woodland lying before John Stryker's bridge; and from thence with a straight line to the northwest hook or corner of the ditch of John Oakie's meadow, and from thence along the said ditch and fence to the swamp of the Fresh-Kill, and so along the swamp and hollow of the aforesaid Kill to the land of Keuter's Hook: thence along the same to a white-oak tree; from thence with a straight line to a black-oak marked tree standing upon the northeast side of Twiller's Flats, having a small snip of flats upon the southeast side of the line; and so from thence to a white-oak tree standing on the west side of Moschito Hole to a small island, leaving a snip of flats in the Flatlands bounds; and from thence to a certain marked tree or stump standing upon the highway which goes to Flatlands, upon the Little Flats, about twenty rods from Flatbush Lots, and so along the fence six hundred Dutch rods to the corner of Flatbush fence, and so along the rear of the lots to a sassafras-stump standing on Cornelius Jansen Berrian's lot of land; and from thence with a straight line to a certain marked tree, or stump, standing by the Rush Pond under the hills, and so along the south side of the hill till it comes to the west end of Long Hill, and so along the south side of the said hill till it comes to the east end of the Long Hill; and then with a straight line from the east end of said Long Hill to a marked white-oak tree standing to the west side of the road, near the place called the gate or port of the hills, and so from the east side of the port or gate aforesaid, upon the south side of the main hills, as far as Brooklyn Patent doth extend, and so along the said hills to the bounds of the Jamaica Patent; and from thence with a southerly line to the kill or creek by the east of Plunder's Neck, and so along the said kill to the sea, as according to the several deeds or purchases from the Indian owners, the patent from Governor Nicolls, and the award between Brooklyn and the town of Flatbush, relation thereunto being had, doth more fully and at large appear: And, whereas, an application to me hath been made for a confirmation of the aforesaid tracts and parcels of land and premises: Now, Know ye, that by virtue of the commission and authority unto me given by his Majesty, James the Second, by the Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, Supreme Lord and Proprietor of the Province of New York, in consideration of the premises and the quitrent hereinafter reserved, I have given, granted, ratified and confirmed, and by these presents do give, grant, ratify and confirm unto Cornelius Vanderwyck, John Okie, Joseph Hegeman, Aries Jansen Vanderbilt, Lafford Pieterson, William Guilliamsen, Hendrick Williamse, Arien Ryers, Peter Stryker, John Stryker, John Remsen, Jacob Hendricks, Derick Vandervleet, Hendrick Ryck, Okie Johnson, Daniel Polhamus, Peter Lott, Cornelius Vanderveer, Derick Johnson Hooglandt, Denise Tennis, John Johnson, Ditimus Lewis Jansen, William Jacobs, Hendrick Hegeman and Garret Lubbertse, for and on behalf of themselves and their associates, all the freeholders of the said town of Flatbush, and to their heirs and assigns forever, all the before recited tract and tracts, parcel and parcels, of land and islands within the said bounds and limits, together with all and singular, the woods, underwoods, plains, hills, meadows, pastures, quarries, marshes, waters, lakes, causeways, rivers, beaches, houses, buildings, fishing, hawking, hunting and fowling, with all liberties, privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances to the said tract of land and premises belonging, or in any wise appertaining; To have and to hold, &c. * * * To be holden of his Majesty in free and common soccage according to the tenure of East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, in his Majesty's Kingdom of England. Yielding, rendering and paying therefor, yearly, and every year, at the City of New York, to his Majesty, his heirs or successors, or to his or their officer or officers, as by him or them shall be appointed to receive the same, eighteen bushels of good merchantable wheat, on or before the five and twentieth day of March, yearly, and every year. In Testimony whereof, I have caused these presents to be entered upon record, in the Secretary's office in the said Province, and the seal thereof, have hereunto affixed, and signed with my hand the twelfth day of November, in the first year of his Majesty's reign. Anno Domini, 1685.
Governor Dongan willingly granted such charters not only because their issuance added to the income of his office and settled many vexed questions as to boundaries, but they provided an income from the townships in the shape of a tax which was termed "quit rent" and which in the case of Flatbush was placed at "eighteen bushels of good, merchantable wheat." No objection seems to have been raised anywhere to this certainly very moderate impost. It was some years later changed to a regular cash payment, and continued in force until 1786, when future payment was commuted on payment of a lump sum, according to an act passed by the Legislature April 1 of that year. It seems that Flatbush fell in' arrears from 1765 until 1786 and was required to pay up the amount which then accrued with a rebate of eight years' payments, covering the period of the Revolutionary struggle.
The early story of Flatbush centers around the story of the church, and it, with the school-house and later the court-house, made up the dorp or town, — the rallying point of the life of the village. As in most of the Dutch settlements, the homes of the farmers were located as close to the dorp as possible and spread into what used to be called Rustenberg, a trace of rich sandy loam to the south of it, which was within easy reach. In the dorp the Schout posted his notices and the Schepens held their meetings. These functionaries were the representatives of the Governor, of law and order. Jan Teunissen, Schout in 1646 of Brooklyn, held that office for Middlewout and Amersfoot, and seems to have been succeeded in 1654 by David Provoost, although there is some dubiety about the latter's appointment, so far as his jurisdiction over the territory outside of Brooklyn is concerned. The first local man appointed to this office was Adriaen Hegeman, who was thus honored in 1661, his authority extending over Brooklyn and Flatlands. Adriaen was the ancestor of the family bearing his name and appears to have been a prominent and popular citizen. He came here from Holland in 1650 and was one of the Schepens of Flatbush from 1654 until his appointment as Schout. Afterward he became again a Schepen and secretary of the five Dutch towns, and rounded off his appointments by acting as auctioneer. He owned two valuable lots of land in Flatbush and prospered generally. His death took place previous to 1688. The Schout was the direct representative of the Governor and Council, and was appointed by them, but the Schepens, or local magistrates, were appointed on the nomination of the people. Midwout enjoyed three of these dignitaries.
At first the nominations for these representatives of the people seem to have been practically dictated by the Governor. But the Midwout flocks were not remiss in asserting what they considered their just rights even at this early period in their history, and we find them represented at the conventions held in 1652, which demanded that the laws by which they were governed should resemble those of the old land from which they had emigrated. The story of this primitive constitutional struggle has already been fully told, and may be dismissed here by saying that Governor Stuyvesant fully asserted his authority, and the towns lost some of their privileges. They did not long remain under the Governor's displeasure, however. The shores of Long Island, and even of Manhattan Island, were at that time infested with river thieves and desperadoes, who often made a successful descent upon a village or farm-house and easily escaped with their plunder. It was held that most of these thieves were English, or that at all events they made Gravesend their headquarters and had the sympathy of the people there, whose property it seems was unmolested. To protect themselves the three Dutch towns of Breuckelen, Flatlands and Midwout in 1854 organized a company of militia, with a sergeant for each town and a regularly organized patrol.
This movement, undertaken by the people themselves without apparently any urging on the part of the authorities, appealed to Stuyvesant's military sympathies, and he granted to the Dutch towns, of his own volition, all the privileges they had formerly asked and which he had so stubbornly refused. Midwout became entitled to send a list of six names to the Governor as the choice of the people for their Schepens, and from this list the ruler selected three to whom the usual commissions were issued. It is believed that the first three so appointed were Adriaen Hegeman, Willem Jacobse Van Boerum and Jan Sueberingh. A district court was also instituted, composed of delegates from each town along with the Schout, and this court had charge of all local matters, such as the laying out and maintenance of roads, establishment of schools and the like. This condition of things continued until 1661, when New Utrecht and Bushwick were added to the combination and the whole formed into a district called the Five Dutch Towns. Over these a Schout Fiscal was placed as the head of the legal and municipal authorities, while a secretary or clerk was appointed to perform much of the duties of the modern town clerk and notary, — acknowledge deeds, wills and other legal papers, and probably to act as the legal adviser of the Schout Fiscal. The first to hold the latter office (1661) was Adriaen Hegeman, of Midwout, quite a standing officeholder, his successor being Nicasius de Sille, of New Utrecht. Michil Hainelle, of Brooklyn, was the town clerk from 1674 to 1680. The fact of his holding this office so long after the Dutch regime had passed away shows that the changes introduced by Governor Nicolls as to the Five Dutch Towns did not affect them greatly. The changes, in fact, were more in name than anything else; and although the New Netherland passed under a "proprietor," the changes which were effected were in reality in the direction of a broadening of the liberties of the people.
Under Nicolls, as we have seen. Long Island became the main portion of the new county of Yorkshire, the Dutch towns became part of the West Riding, Midwout became Flatbush, the Schouts and Schepens became memories, and law was administered by a deputy sheriff and a selected array of justices. The local government in the towns was under the care of overseers, — "men of good fame and life chosen by plurality of voices of the freeholders," — and a constable was to be chosen from among the ex-overseers, and seems to have been the executive officer of the latter. The overseers assessed the local tax rate, kept the church and roads in repair, looked after the poor, saw to it that the minister's salary was forthcoming, regulated bounds and fences and held court in all cases in which less than £5 was involved. When an overseer or constable was elected and refused to serve, a fine was imposed — £10 for an everseer and £5 for a constable. The overseers continued to administer affairs under that name until 1684, when the first Colonial Legislature, under Gov. Dongan, changed their title to supervisors, and so they remained until the end of the history of Flatbush. That same Legislature did away with the nonsensical arrangement of Yorkshire and the West Riding became Kings county. One particularly beneficial result of Governor Dongan's legislation to Flatbush was the settlement of the courts within its bounds. In 1668, by the desire of the Hempstead Convention, the courts were transferred from Flatbush to Gravesend. By an act passed November 7, 1685, Flatbush was again made the center of the legal world of what was then Kings county, and, as if to perpetuate this distinction, a court-house was at once erected. In 1758 this building was superseded by another, which served until 1793, when a larger edifice was constructed. In 1832 that building was burned and with the flames passed the legal glory of Flatbush, for Brooklyn then became the county town. In 1695, beside the first court-house, a whipping-post and a pair of stocks were erected as terrors to evil-doers as well as for use, while the village pound was not far away.
The progress of the years passed slowly and uneventfully in Flatbush until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and that memorable struggle found the inhabitants sadly divided in their allegiance; but it would seem as if the majority was in favor of taking no part in the contest. Possibly the older residents, not from any love for King George and British rule, but from a dislike to radical changes, desired matters to remain as they were. They admitted that wrongs existed, but hoped for their abatement by peaceful agitation. The younger element, however, seemed to throw their hearts into the cause of the Patriots, and were anxious to demand their rights and a removal of all obstacles to the liberty of the people; but their ardor appears to have been restrained by the counsels of their elders. Still Flatbush was desirous in bringing about reforms in the government relations, it hated the stamp duties as much as did New York or Boston, and it was represented in the convention that met in New York City April 10, 1775, to choose delegates to the First Continental Congress, by David Clarkson, Adrian Voorhees, Jacobs Vandeventer and John Vanderbilt. These were elected at a meeting held in Flatbush five days previously, and the convention elected three citizens of Flatbush to the congress, — Johannes Lott, John Lefferts and John Vanderbilt.
These three men deserve more than a passing notice, for they were foremost among the upbuilders of Flatbush. Johannes Lott was the great-grandson of Peter Lott (or Lodt), who emigrated from Holland in 1652. In 1662 he secured a patent for twenty-four morgens of land in Flatbush, which he sold in 1674 to Jan (Cornelise) Boomgaert. He held other tracts of land in the town, and his name appears in Governor Dongan's patent to Flatbush in 1656, and he took the oath of allegiance there in 1687. For a time he was one of the local magistrates. His son, Engelbert, also took the oath of allegiance to Britain, in 1687, and in 1698 was High Sheriff of Kings county. John Lott, the eldest son of this latter dignitary, was born in Brooklyn July 21, 1701, and died prior to 1733, leaving among other children a son, Johannes, born September 2, 1730, who was the Patriot already named as being returned to the Continental Congress. Mention has already been made of John Vanderbilt in connection with the history of Flatbush Church. "The Senator," as he was familiarly called, afterward rendered considerable aid in the Provincial Legislature. John Lefferts was a prominent member of a family whose story is elsewhere told in these volumes.
But while the good folks of Flatbush were as loud, if not as strenuous, in their complaints as others against the wrongs inflicted on the colonies by the British Parliament prior to the outbreak of hostilities, they were, as a whole, of a rather halting turn of mind when the time came to choose at the parting of the ways. At a meeting of delegates held in Flatbush on May 22, 1775, at which all the towns in Kings county except Flatlands were represented, the Flatbush representatives, Nicholas Cowenhoven and Johannes E. Lott, reported that their constituents desired to remain neutral in any conflict which might arise. "Prudence," as one writer said, "had taken the place of valor." The fact is that the proximity of Flatbush to New York and Brooklyn, both of which were Tory in their sympathies, had overawed the local patriotic sentiment, and, besides, the Tories who resided in the township itself were active, powerful and influential. Flatbush answered to the call of the Provincial Congress for troops so far as to provide a company for the Long Island regiment of militia, but there is no evidence that it ever furnished its full quota. Cornelius Van der Veer was captain; and Peter Lefferts and John Van Duyn lieutenants, and John Bennem, ensign, were the other officers, but it is doubtful whether the company ever fired a shot for independence, although it is vaguely hinted that they actually did outpost duty prior to the landing of the British. Mayor Mathews, of New York, had his county seat at Flatbush, and, as has already been chronicled, kept up an active intercourse from there with Governor Tryon, while the latter maintained his gubernatorial chair and dignity on the quarter-deck of the Asia or one of the other British ships in the harbor while the city of New York was in the hands of the Patriots. His neighbor. Colonel William Axtell, was equally pronounced in his devotion to Toryism, and there seems no .doubt that it was in Axtell's mansion, Melrose Hall, that the plot for the abduction of Washington was hatched. Until the British landed, August 22, 1776, Flatbush, indeed, appears to have been the center of Tory plots and projects and schemes of all sorts. That landing and the story of the seven or eight days which followed until Washington had carried his troops from Long Island to New York is Flatbush's real contribution to the history of the nation. The story of that brief and interesting campaign has already been told in this work, and we need only refer here to a few local incidents related in Field's elaborate monograph on the history of the battle, by which it would seem that most of the few honors gained by the American troops in the short campaign were won in Flatbush on its western boundary. The vanguard of the British forces under Colonel Donop got to Flatbush late on the evening of August 22. Says Field:
Three hundred American riflemen, who had occupied the village, abandoned it as soon as the Hessian battery of six guns had taken position and opened fire. The possession of this slumberous little Dutch village by the Hessians was not, however, destined to be maintained without a struggle. The awe inspired by the imposing array of the German troops had worn away in the cool night, and early on the morning of the 23rd the slumbers of the heavy-eyed Hessians were broken by a dash upon their right wing, resting near the west end of the village. On the thickly wooded hills near Flatbush, Colonel Hand was in command of the whole Pennsylvania battalion of riflemen, consisting of 553 officers and privates. Believing that the familiarity acquired by combat with the formidable strangers would dissipate the increasing dread with which they were regarded. Colonel Hand ordered an assault upon their lines. The attack was spirited, though feebly maintained, as the Americans retired to the woods as soon as a field-piece was brought to bear upon them.
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