American History and Genealogy Project


Early Bayonne Settlements and Grants

Early Settlements and Grants at Manhattan, Pavonia and Communipaw, Massacre at Pavonia

Early in 1614 an act was passed by the States General of Holland, giving to certain merchants of Amsterdam the exclusive right to trade and establish settlements within the limits of the country explored by Hudson. The same year, under this com-mission, a fleet of five small trading vessels arrived at Manhattan Island. A few rude huts had already been built by former Indian traders, but now a fort for the defense of the place was erected and the settlement named New Amsterdam. As early as 1618 a feeble trading station had been established at Bergen, west of the Hudson, but some years elapsed before permanent dwellings were built in this neighborhood.

In April, 1623, an expedition under Captain Cornelius J. May, of Amsterdam, with about thirty families, mostly religious refugees, arrived at New Amsterdam and began a settlement on the lower end of Manhattan Island. This colony was not a success, and much dissatisfaction was shown.

In June, 1629, the States General granted a bill of "Freedoms and Exemptions" to all such private persons as would plant any colonies in any part of New Netherland, except Manhattan Island. Special privileges were also granted to members of the West India Company. Whoever of its members would plant a colony of fifty persons should be a feudal lord or "Patroon" of a tract ''sixteen miles in length fronting on a navigable river, and reaching eight miles back."*

As yet, only exploring parties bent on trade with the savages had traversed what is now Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne. No one had ventured to "take up" any lands. However, under the stimulus of the bill of "Freedoms and Exemptions," one Michael Pauw, then burgomaster of New Amsterdam, was impelled for speculative purposes, no doubt, to obtain from the Director General of New Netherland in 1630, grants of two large tracts, one called "Hoboken Haching" (land of the tobacco pipe), and the other "Ahasimus."1 Both of the tracts were parts of what is now Jersey City. The grantee gave one place the name of "Pavonia." Pauw failed to comply with the conditions set forth in his deeds was obliged, after three years of controversy with the West India Company, to convey his plantation back to that company.

Michael Paulesen, an official of the company, was placed in charge of the plantations in and around Pavonia as superintendent. It is said he built and occupied a hut at Paulus Hook early as 1633, therefore being the earliest known white resident in what is now Hudson County. He was followed by others, and by the year 1643 there were considerable plantations on this side of the river.

In 1643 an Indian, no doubt under stress of great provocation, shot and killed a member of the Van Vorst family in this settlement. This resulted in the Massacre of Pavonia on the night of February 25, 1643. Soldiers from Manhattan Island crossed the Hudson River and attacked the Indians at Communipaw, slaughtering nearly one hundred. The northern tribes took the warpath, attacked and destroyed the settlement. The settlers who were not killed fled across the river to New Amsterdam. This section remained deserted by the whites for a number of years.

1. Winfield's History of Hudson County.


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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