the cultivation of tobacco and grain. The settlement was called Swanendale, or "Valley of Swans," because of the great number of those birds in the neighborhood. After the erection of Fort Oplandt, and surrounding it with palisades, Capt. Peter Heyes sailed for Holland, leaving Gillis Hossett, commissary of the ship, in command of the territory.
Early in 1632 it was determined that David Pietersen De Vries, one of the patroons of the company and experienced navigator, should repair to the colony on the Delaware with a number of emigrants, to join those already there; but before the expedition sailed from the Texel, May 24th of that year, the rumor was received that the little colony at Swanendale had been massacred by the Indians. The truth of this intelligence was established when De Vries entered the Delaware, after a circuitous passage, on the 5th of December following, and a careful exploration was made in a boat the next day. The fort was found a charred ruin, while the bones of the settlers and those of the horses and cows were discovered here and there bleaching in the sun. The adroit De Vries, however, managed to secure the confidence of the Indians, and induced one of the natives to remain all night on his vessel, from whom he learned the circumstances connected with the massacre. The particulars, as so related by the Indians, are thus recorded by De Vries:2
"He then showed us the place where our people had set up a column to which was fastened a piece of tin, whereon the arms of Holland were painted. One of their chiefs took this off, for the purpose of making tobacco-pipes, not knowing that he was doing amiss. Those in command at the house made such an ado about it that the Indians, not knowing how it was, went away and slew the chief who had done it, and brought a token of the dead to the house to those in command, who told them that they wished that they had not done it; that they should have brought him to them, as they wished to have forbidden him not to do the like again. They went away, and the friends of the murdered chief incited their friends, as they are a people like the Indians, who are very revengeful, to set about the work of vengence. Observing our people out of the house, each one at his work, that there was not more than one inside, who was lying sick, and a large mastiff, who was chained, - had he been loose they would not have dared to approach the house, - and the man who had command standing near the house, three of the stoutest Indians, who were to do the deed, bringing a lot of bear-skins with them to exchange, sought to enter the house. The man in charge went in with them to make the barter, which being done, he went to the loft where the stores lay, and in descending the stairs one of the Indians seized an axe and cleft his head so that he fell down dead. They also relieved the sick man of life, and shot into the dog, who was chained fast, and whom they most feared, twenty-five arrows before they could dispatch him. They then proceeded towards the rest of the men, who were at work, and, going amongst them with pretensions of friendship, struck them down. Thus was our young colony destroyed, causing us serious loss."
On Jan. 1, 1633, De Vries, who by divers presents had so won the good opinion and friendship of the Indians that they concluded a treaty of peace with him, sailed up the river, and on the 5th of the same month reached the abandoned Fort Nassau, where he was met by a few Indians, who seeing him approaching, had gathered there to barter furs. The Dutch captain told them he wanted beans, and that he had no goods to exchange for peltries, whereupon the savages told him to go to Timmerkill (now Cooper's Creek, opposite Philadelphia), where he could get corn. An Indian woman to whom he had given a cloth dress secretly informed De Vries that if he went there he would be attacked, for the natives had murdered the crew of an English boat which was ascending the Count Earnest (Delaware) River. Thus fully on his guard, the next day when De Vries went to Timmerkill he permitted the Indians to visit his vessel, at the same time informing the savages that their evil designs had been revealed to him by Maintou, the Indian god. After making a treaty of permanent peace with them, being unable to obtain corn in any quantity on the Delaware, De Vries sailed to Virginia, where he purchased provisions and received from the Governor a present of six goats for Swanendale, to which he returned, and subsequently taking the colonists on his vessel, sailed to New York and thence to Europe. Hence, in the summer of 1633 no settlement of Europeans was located at any point along the shores of Delaware Bay and River.
In 1635 a party of Englishman from the colony on the Connecticut River, consisting of George Holmes, his hired man, Thomas Hall, and ten or twelve others, attempted to make a lodgment on the Delaware, of which fact the Dutch authorities in New York seemed to have had information, and made preparation to thwart their design, for when the English squatters made an effort to capture Fort Nassau they found it garrisoned. The English party were taken prisoners and sent to Manhattan, where they were permitted permanently to settle. Thomas Hall, at the latter place, rose to some eminence, and was active in all the movements in the early days of New York while it was a Dutch province.
In 1624, William Usselinex visited Sweden, and as as it was he who had drafted the first plan for the Dutch West India Company, he was invited by Gustavus Adolphus to remain in Sweden. Although advanced in years, in 1626, Usselinex obtained from the king a charter for the Swedish West India Company, a commercial organization, whose project of forming a colony in "foreign parts" received the earnest support of Gustavus Adolphus and Axel Oxenstierna, the great chancellor of Sweden. But nothing beyond the consent of Adolphus to the organization of the company seems to have been done, and even the official royal signature to the charter was never procured. Hence, after the death of the king the company was dissolved and the whole project apparently was abandoned, notwithstanding a publication of the privileges granted by charter, although unsigned by the late monarch, was made by Chancellor Oxenstierna. This was the external appearance merely, for several persons were still earnest in the effort to establish the Swedish West India Company. It is peculiar circumstance that as late as the middle of the year 1635
|2 "Voyages of De Vries." New York Historical Society Collection (new series), vol. iii. page 23.|