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Discovery & Indians

Discovery, Indians, Description of Country

To acquaint ourselves with the early history of Bayonne, we must first look back and glance over a few brief historical facts concerning New York, Jersey City and vicinity.

History tells us that Jean de Verrazzano, a Florentine in the service of Francis I, King of France, sailed into New York harbor as early as 1524. He was, therefore, the first white person to gaze on the east shore of what is now the City of Bayonne.

On September 3, 1609, Henry Hudson, in "De glaive Maan" (Half Moon), cast anchor inside of what is now Sandy Hook. Two days later five of his crew were sent to explore the river opening to the north. Passing through the Narrows, they found a swift-flowing river to the westward between two islands, the shores of which were "as pleasant with Grasse, and Flowers, and goodly Trees, as ever they had scene, and very sweet smells came from them." (Hudson's Journal.)

This was the Kill von Kull, or "Het Kill van het Cull," meaning the creek of the bay. They went through the Kills so far as to see Newark Bay. Upon reaching the mouth of the Kills on their return they were attacked by twenty-six Indians, in two canoes, who were probably from Manhattan, and one of the seamen, John Coleman, was shot through the throat by an arrow and killed. This appears to be the nearest approach to Bayonne shores by the whites, so far. On the nth, Hudson passed through the Narrows and anchored of Constable's Hook.

There is no record of his landing, although the natives between Bergen Point and Weehawken were very friendly and had extended to him many acts of kindness. They visited his vessel daily, bringing furs, oysters, corn, beans, pumpkins, grapes and apples, to trade. The following day he continued north and entered the river which bears his name.

This tribe of Indians was called the Raritan, and belonged to that stock of the Delaware called the Sanrikan. A small Indian village was probably located at Bergen Point at this time. If so, it only remained there for a comparatively short period.
This territory was then covered with a dense forest. Bears, panthers, wolves, wild cats, foxes, rattlesnakes, red deer, beavers, hares and squirrels were plentiful, and afforded an excellent hunting ground for the savages. The bays on both sides were the means of obtaining fine fish and oysters.

 


Source: First History of Bayonne, New Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24 East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.

 

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