History of the Town of Kings Bridge

The earliest known visitor to this locality was Henry Hudson. Going up the river which bears his name, he skirted its westerly shore September 13, 1609, and, on his return, was attacked, October 2d, from Shorack-Kappock, the Indian name of Spuyten Duyvil Point, and the kill or creek at its base.

The Indian name of this section was Weckquaeskeek, "the birch-bark country," and its residents were known to the first settlers as Wickers-creek Indians. In person they were tolerably stout. Their hair was worn shorn to a coxcomb on top, with a long lock depending on one side. They wore beaver and other skins, with the fur inside in winter and outside in summer, and also coats of turkey feathers. They were valiant warriors. "Yea," says De Vries, "they say they are Marietta the devil himself!" Their leading sachems, at the advent of white settlers, were Tequemet, Rechgawac and Packamiens, from whom the Dutch director, Kieft, purchased, in August, 1639, the tract Keskeskick. This tribe gradually dwindled, until its remnant finally disappeared before the end of the eighteenth century.

The earliest white resident and proprietor was Dr. Adraien Van der Donck, juris utriiisque doctor, of Leyden. He had been sheriff of the Colonie of Rensselaerswyck since 1641. Having aided Director Kieft in negotiating an important Indian treaty at Fort Orange, Albany, the latter granted him, in 1645, a large tract on the Nepperhaem River, Yonkers, where he built a saw-mill, laid out farms and plantations and "had actually resolved to continue." But that indispensable requisite of a Dutch farm, salt meadow, was lacking. In search of this, Van der Donck found, about a mile above the wading-place (King's Bridge) "a flat, with some convenient meadows about it," which he promptly secured by purchase from the Indians and a further grant from Kieft. His new acquisition included the area under consideration, extending from the Hudson to the Bronx, and from the Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the Nepperhaem tract. Here he located his bowerie, or home-farm, with its "planting-field," and near the latter he had already begun the erection of his house, hefore going to Holland, in 1649, as the representative of the commonalty of New Amsterdam. Van der Donck's "planting-field" was on the plain or flat of the Van Cortlandt estate, lying between Broadway and the"present lake, and extending up to' the southerly end of Vault Hill. It is probable that his house was on the flat, and "located, perhaps, where the old house of Jacobus Van Cortlandt afterwards stood until the early part of this century. While absent in Holland, Van der Donck's lands were erected into the fief or Colonie of Nepperhaem (or, as he called it after his own name, Colendonck), and he was made its patroon. Pursuant to the " Freedoms and Exemptions," he sent out to it, from Holland, a number of colonists with supplies of farming stock and implements. In 1652 he was about to return to his colonie, and had already embarked his wife, mother, brother and sister, with an ample stock of goods, when the West India Company prevented his departure. During his detention he got word that some " land-greedy " persons were squatting on his lands. He appealed to the company to protect his possession of the "flat and meadows;" also for leave to return to them, which was withheld until 1653. In the summer of that year he sailed for Nieuw Netherland, arriving in the autumn, and repaired to his bowerie. He did not long survive his return, dying in 1654 or 1655. The latter was the year of the Indian massacre, when all the surviving settlers about Xieuw Amsterdam fled to the fort for protection. It is probable that Van der Donck's bowerie was deserted and destroyed. In August, Stuyvesant granted to a Cornells Van der Donck a parcel of about fifty morgens, on the north side of Manhattan Island, "by the savages called Muscoote, or a flat (anders een vlacte}" and as much meadow or hay land as was given to other boweries. This may have referred to the late Dr. "Van der Donck's bowerie, but no further mention has been found of the grantee or his connection with this tract.

Edsall, Thomas Henry. History of the town of Kings Bridge: now part of the 24th ward, New York City. Privately printed at New York City in 1887.

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King's Bridge Village

The village of this name sprang up about thirty-five years ago, upon the ancient " island or hummock " of Paparinamin, from which it has since overspread the site of the old village of Fordham and the hillside beyond. Paparinamin was given, in 1668, by Elias Doughty to George Tippett. After his death, in 1675, Archer laid claim to it ; but, exacting as a recognition of his manorial rights the annual payment of a " ffat capon " every New Year's day, he released the tract to Secretary Matthias Nicoll. Two years later Tippett's widow, then wife of Lewis Vitrey, reconveyed the island to Doughty, who, in turn, transferred it to the secretary. Thus the title to this tract vested in the colonial government, which had already assigned its use fo Ferryman Verveelen. In 1693 it was included in the grant of the Manor of Phillipsburgh, of which it remained a part until forfeited by the attainder of Colonel Phillipse, in 1779. It was sold by the Commissioners of Forfeiture (deed July 30, 1785) to Joseph Crook, inn-keeper, Daniel Barkins and Abraham Lent, Jr., of Dutchess Couqty, in joint tenancy. Medcef Eden, brewer, John Ramsey and Alexander von Pfister, merchants, subsequently owned it in whole or part; also, Daniel Halsey, inn-keeper, who kept the old tavern upon it between 1789 and 1793. It was purchased, 1797-99, from Von Pfister and Joseph Eden by Alexander Macomb, a wealthy merchant of New York.

During the next five year Macomb purchased from Isaac Vermilye, John De Lancey, Isaac, John and Matthias Valentine, Andrew Corsa and Augustus Van Cortlandt adjoining parcels, mostly salt meadow, making up nearly one hundred acres, bounded north by Van Cortlandt, east by the Albany road, south by the Harlem and Spuyten Duyvil, and west by Tippett's Brook. Having obtained from the mayor, etc., of New York, in December, 1800, a water grant extending across the creek, just east of the King's Bridge (which reserved, however, a passage-way fifteen feet wide for small boats and craft), Macomb erected a four-story frame grist-mill extending out over the creek. Its power was supplied by the alternate ebb and flow of the tide against its under-shot wheel. Macomb's extensive real estate ventures proving disastrous, Paparinamin and the mill were sold under foreclosure in 1810, and purchased by his son Robert. By an act of 1813 the latter was authorized to construct a dam across the Harlem from Bussing's to Devoe's Point, and to use the water for milling purposes, and erected at much expense the causeway and bridge known as " Macomb's Dam." Its gates admitted the flood tide from the East Eiver, but obstructed its ebb, thus converting the Upper Harlem into a mill-pond, having its outlets underneath the old mill and through a raceway made on the Westchester side into Spuyten Duyvil Creek at low tide. The race supplied power to a marble-sawing mill which stood on a quay between it and the creek, and
of which Perkins Nicolls was proprietor. Robert Macomb becoming involved, the property was sold by the sheriff in 1818. Ten years later it was possessed by the "New York Hydraulic Manufacturing and Bridge Company," by which an elaborate plan was put forth for mill-seats and a manufacturing village, based on a report of Professor James Renwick, of Columbia College, approved by Colonel Totten and General Macomb, chief engineers United States army. The enterprise proved abortive. The old grist-mill stood idle during many years, and at length was made useless by the removal of Macomb's Dam. In 1830 Mary C. P. Macomb, the wife of Robert, acquired the Paparinamin tract, and during many years made the old stone tavern her home, exercising therein a generous hospitality, of which Edgar Allen Poe was a frequent recipient. In 1847 Mrs. Macomb laid out the estate into streets and plots, which she afterwards disposed of. Several houses were erected, stores and shops were opened, a church built and a centre of population established, which has grown to several hundreds. There are now three churches, a grammar school, police station, numerous stores, shops, saloons and dwellings. Among the well-known residents are Joseph H. Godwin, William G. Ackerman, William O. Giles, George Moller, William A. Varian, M.D., Benjamin T. Sealey, William H. Geer, John Parsons, M.D., Rev. William T. Wilson and others.