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Early Albany Timeline, 1609-1683

 

Cliff Lamere    2 Feb 2004

 

 

1609  --  Henry Hudson, an Englishman with Arctic sailing experience, was hired by the Dutch East India Company.  He sailed the "Half Moon" north from Amsterdam on 25 Mar 1609.  The "Half Moon" and its sister ship, the "Good Hope," turned east in an attempt to travel along Siberia in the hope of finding a shorter route to China which had spices, silk, etc.   Icebergs and fog forced them to turn back. 

 

The "Good Hope" was sent back to Amsterdam while the "Half Moon" crossed the Atlantic Ocean to search for a river which was rumored to split the continent in half.  Hudson sailed up the "South River" (Delaware R.) but it got shallow too quickly.  Next, he found the entrance to the North River (Hudson R.) which was much more promising. 

 

The "Half Moon" sailed about 150 miles northward (see daily log) and was anchored across from the present city of Albany when a scouting party brought back the bad news that the water soon got too shallow to proceed.  Although Henry Hudson did not find the route to China, he returned to the Netherlands with furs obtained from the natives who were eager to trade.  These furs included beaver, deer, bear, panther, wild cat, raccoon, martin, mink, otter and squirrel.

 

c. 1614  --  Fort Nassau, a fortified trading post, was established on Castle Island (now part of the Port of Albany, southeastern part of modern Albany). 

 

1616  --  The trading post became flooded during the Spring thaw.  It was moved a short distance to the bank of the creek presently called Normans Kill.

 

1624   --  Fort Orange was built by the West India Company in 1624 in what is now downtown Albany (near the corner of Madison Ave. and Broadway). 

 

"Fort Orange, 1635" 1986 L.F. Tantillo (artist) & M.B. Picotte

 

1629   --  A  large grant of land was given to Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a wealthy Amsterdam pearl and diamond merchant, in 1629.  He named the land Rensselaerswijck (Rensselaerswyck).  Its boundaries were somewhat vaguely defined.  Its extent was originally two days' walk along the Hudson River( starting at the mouth of the Mohawk River and travelling south) and two day's walk either side (east and west) of the Hudson River.  That translates to about 24 miles each way.  On the west side of the river, Rensselaerswyck contained all of the present Albany Co. except for Fort Orange.  If the modern northern and southern boundaries of the county are extended eastward, you will see that the land between the extended lines makes up the southern 2/3 of Rensselaer Co.  That was the other half of Rensselaerswyck.  Only the three northern Towns of present day Rensselaer Co. were outside of those boundaries.

 

1643   --  Kiliaen Van Rensselaer died, but his descendants will control the land for another two centuries.

 

1652   --  To Fort Orange, Peter Stuyvesant added 3000 feet of surrounding land (on three sides).  This larger entity he named Beverwijck (Beverwyck, pronounced BAY-ver-vike).  

 

1664   --  This year, New Netherland was given to James, Duke of York and Albany, by his brother King Charles II of England.  James sent a small fleet of vessels to New Amsterdam to claim his land.  The Dutch had no fleet or army in its colony, so New Netherland was conquered by the English without any struggle.  In honor of James, the name of New Netherland was changed to New York, New Amsterdam was changed to New York (City), and Beverwyck became Albany.  

 

1673   --  The Dutch regained control of New York, restoring its name to New Netherland.  The new name for Albany became Willemstad (Willemstadt), and New York City was renamed New Orange.  

 

1674   --  The English regained control.  Willemstad became known as Albany again; New Orange was renamed New York (City) again; New Netherland was renamed New York again.

 

In the records of the Albany Reformed Dutch Church which begin in 1683, the term New Albany is occasionally used in the early records. 

 

1683   --  Albany County and the other original counties of New York formed this year.

 

1800   --  Reformed Church services were offered in both Dutch and English.  Dutch was still spoken in many Albany homes, and Dutch was the language in which business was conducted.  English was the language used by government offices and courts.

 

 

Sources:

     "Albany's First Church, And It's Role in the Growth of the City" by Robert S. Alexander  (1988)

     "Beverwijck, A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664" by Janny Venema  (2003)

 

 

Albany & Eastern New York Genealogy (HOME)

 

Other webpages about this subject posted on my website:

Colonial Albany and Rensselaerswyck - by Peter Christoph 

Albany - A Short History 1609-1890s  - by John W. Mangrum 

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