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Early Rockland County History
- Twenty years after the Dutch had founded the colony of New Amsterdam, 1640, the first settlement was made in the present county of Rockland by a Captain De Vries. At Tappan, on the meadows south of Piermont on the Hudson, where an entering creek gave promise of being useful for mill sites, De Vries purchased an acreage from the Indians and established Vriesland. De Vries had already been the recipient, with others, of a land grant in Delaware, 1629; in 1639 had purchased property on Staten Island, and colonized it. He was a man of prominence among the Dutch, and venerated by the Indians. But even his influence with the Indians was not enough to prevent the destruction of the first of the Rockland settlements by the tribes, when once they were aroused to vengeance by the injustice of the whites of New Amsterdam. The Indians remained in control of the Rockland area until well after 1700. Practically all of the patents secured by various persons, including the De Harte, Jenson, Orangetown, Quaspeck, Kakait and Wawayanda tracts, dating from 1666 to 1703, were all purchased from the various tribes who held the lands.
Probably the greater part of the lands secured by the whites in the Rockland District were acquired for speculation by men who never saw their property, or did anything to secure the development of it. Proximity to the thriving village of New Amsterdam, which by 1680 had given every assurance of permanency, freedom from the fear of Indian depredations, the ease with which the Indians parted with great areas for the equivalent of a few dollars, all tended to place the region in the hands of those who bought only to sell at a profit. This resulted in the late and meagre settlement of the section. Orange county, from which Rockland was formed later, was a wilderness with hardly a person residing within its bound at its erection in 1683. Even ten years later, there were only twenty families in this territory of 823 square miles; in I702, there were 268.
It is likely that the physical conditions of the region had even more to do with the retarded development of a section so near to the future New York. Rockland County, as formed February 23, I798, is a triangle with sides of about twenty miles each, the one to the south resting on the north line of New Jersey; the westerly one joining Orange County; the longer and irregular base bordering the Tappan Zee, or Haverstraw Bay of the Hudson. The south line of the county is only a mile or so above, and opposite the north line of the City of New York. The Ramapo mountains extend along the northern border, the Palisades come in from the South and end at Piermont.
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Each of these sections has different books on the same region:
- Town & County
- Native American
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Copyright © 1996 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.