Bits of History About The Bronx Before Consolidation 1898


Westchester County, like Manhattan island, was originally a Dutch settlement, which, as its riches developed, fell an easy prey to greedy Britain. Hudson sailed up the river which bears his name, and his men saw a fair country awaiting colonization. It was not, however, until a firm stand had been made on Manhattan that it was seized upon and formed into a dependency of the Great West India Company of the States General.

The first purchase of lands north of the Harlem River was made by the West India Company in 1639. Two years later Herr Jonas Bronet or Bronx arrived from Holland in his ship, the Fine of Troy, and purchased a tract of land corresponding to the territory now known as Morrisania. it is from this pioneer that the newly erected Borough of the Bronx gets its name.

In 1646 Adriaen Van der Donck secured title to a tract sixteen miles along the Hudson River, north of Manhattan island, and extending east to the Bronx River. This tract now takes in the City of Yonkers and the entire southwestern part of Westchester County.

The far eastern portion of the present Borough of the Bronx skirting Long island sound and including Pelham Neck was settled by Anne Hutchinson and her husband, William, English stock, who came from Boston in 1634. Eight years later Throggs neck was settled by John Throckmorton and thirty-five families who came from new England to escape the cruelty of the Puritans. The north of what is now Westchester County was purchased directly from the Indians by Stephanus van Cortlandt, who thus became one of the first patroons of New Amsterdam. These were the chief pioneers of Westchester and their sturdy stock still hold sway in the territory acquired from the Indians.

It is to the credit of the Dutch that they almost universally bought their right of way from the primeval owners instead of conducting cruel wars of extermination after plundering the ancient domain of their foes.

The present Borough of the Bronx includes all of the lower end of Westchester County. its northern boundary touches the southern limits of the cities of Yonkers and Mount Vernon and runs almost directly east to Long island Sound, the Village of Pelham Manor barely escaping inclusion in the greater city's territory. Bronx includes all of the old towns of Westchester, Kingsbridge and East Chester and part of Pelham. In this territory are included such historic villages as Mount St. Vincent, Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil, Woodlawn Heights, Williamsbridge, Bay Chester, Morrisania, Bartow on the Sound, Port Morris, Mott Haven, Fordham and Bronxdale, together with Van Cortlandt Park, now one of the city's finest pleasure grounds.

The geological formation of the Bronx on the west side, bordering the Hudson River, is very ancient. There is much limestone with trap boulders. Two main ridges and an intermediate one parallel the Palisades, while far toward the East the surface flattens into sea meadows interlaced with salt estuaries of the Sound.

Bronx abounds in the records of colonial and revolutionary times and her old families have been prominent in New York's history, politically, socially and intellectually for the past two hundred years. Morrisania takes its name from Richard Morris, who came from Barbadoes and took up his home there. He had been a captain under Cromwell and was a bold soldier. Among his descendants was Robert Morris, who was Untied States Minister to France during the Reign of Terror and handled the Genet affair. Van Cortlandt witnesses the fact of the settlement there of the Van Cortlandts, and another famous name is that of the Philipse family, whose planting field occupied the ground of the present Van Cortlandt parade ground. Other names with which the history of Bronx is inseparably connected are those of the Pells, De Lanceys, Bartows, Ludlows, Rutherfords, Lawrences and Gouverneurs.

The revolutionary record of Westchester is rich and varied. It was largely divided between Tories and Continentals and was the scene of many contests. Washington was familiar with the whole territory. He had his quarters successively at different points close by and left his memory and traditions behind. At Kingsbridge he personally superintended the erection of fortifications, which fell eventually into the enemy's hands.

The latter history of the borough towns is simple. In January, 1874, Kingsbridge was annexed to the City of New York, forming part of the Twenty-fourth Ward. West Farms, which had been set off as a town in 1846, including the villages of West Farms, Fordham, Williamsbridge, Tremont, Fairmont, Belmont, Clairmont, Monterey, Mount Eden, Mount Hope and Woodstock, was annexed in the same year. The other major portions of the present borough were annexed at more recent date to the city, all of them going into the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Wards.


Website: The History
Article Name: Bits of History About The Bronx Before Consolidation 1898
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
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