In Search of Catoneras: Long Island’s Pocahontas

John A. Strong, James Van Tassel and Rick Van Tassel
Department of History
Southampton College

Abstract: This article focuses on an aspect of colonial history that is often avoided by historians. With the exception of the iconic marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, sexual unions between white men and Indian women were seldom mentioned by historians unless the union was sanctified by Christian ritual. Among the several references to interracial liaisons in the colonial records relating to Long Island, there is one concerning a Dutch settler named Cornelis Jansen Van Tassel and an Indian woman named Catoneras, who is described as a “Sunksquaw” (female sachem). The couple had a son, Jan Cornelissen, whose descendants have spent a great deal of time and energy researching the story of Catoneras and Cornelis. This article discusses the historical context of the relationship and the quest to discover more about Catoneras, Long Island’s Pocahontas.

Keywords: Catoneras, colonial settlers, Cornelis Van Tassel, Crab Meadow, Daniel Van Tassel, Henry Bell, interracial sexual unions, Native Americans, Pocahontas, property rights, sunksquaws

Articles VOL 21-2

Figure 1: The Wedding of Pocahantas with John Rolf, 1867. Lithograph by Joseph Hoover. Library of Congress.

One of the more compelling dramas associated with the settlement of North America is the story of Pocahontas. Historians, artists, poets, and novelists have celebrated her rescue of John Smith and her marriage to John Rolfe.[1] Pocahontas’ conversion to Christianity, her marriage to Rolfe, and her abandonment of her Indian identity became a popular metaphor for the European settlement of the New World. She even abandoned her Indian name and became “Lady Rebecca.” According to this idealized perception, the Indians were the passive partners in a relationship that affirmed the superiority of the conquerors’ race and culture. The New World was feminized in European iconography. Maps of the Americas were often decorated with figures of nude women and the “Indian Princess” theme was most recently presented in Disney’s animated version of the Pocahontas myth.

Marriages between white women and Indian men, therefore, were viewed with alarm because such relationships undermined the myth of European superiority. Mary Jamison, the white woman who married an Iroquois man in a tribal ceremony, was denounced as a degenerate and an embarrassment to her race. Pocahontas and John Rolfe, however, cannot be held responsible for the latter day mythmakers who romanticized and distorted their lives. To his credit, John Rolfe accepted the responsibility of a long-term relationship with a Native American woman and raised their son after his wife’s untimely death on a visit to England. Most Indian women were not accorded such respect in their relations with European men. In 1643, during Kieft’s War, which had taken a considerable toll on both sides, David De Vries met with a group of Long Island sachems at a peace conference in what is now the Rockaways. De Vries and his party sat in a circle with the more influential sachems from western Long Island and listened as one of the sachems began the conference with a lengthy criticism of the Dutch settlers. He began by reminding De Vries that the Indians welcomed the Dutch when they first came and gave them food. Our daughters, continued the sachem, gave birth to their children and raised them in our villages. Now the Dutch soldiers, he said, were killing many of their own children.[2]

The sachem’s comment indicates that the children of the sexual encounters between Dutchmen and Indian women were usually raised by the Indian mothers in their own villages. These children would be an embarrassment to the fathers and would have a difficult time finding acceptance in Dutch society. There is very little documentation about these encounters, but they were frequent enough to be viewed as a problem by the Dutch authorities.[3] Cornelis Van Tienhoven, a prominent official in Governor Kieft’s council, was accused by his enemies of visiting Indian villages, running about dressed in a loin cloth and lusting after Indian women, “to whom he has always been mightily inclined.”[4] Killian van Rensslear, concerned about such behavior on his patroonship, ordered that anyone who had relations with “heathen women and girls,” would be fined 25 guilders.[5] Such laws were probably impossible to enforce, but they do tell us a great deal about the social relations of the time.

When Indian women began to serve as domestic servants in colonial households, the opportunities for intimate relations across racial lines obviously increased. One such instance is recorded in the English settlement of Southampton on eastern Long Island. In 1644 an Indian woman named Hope and an English man named George Wood, both servants in the home of Edward Howell, confessed that they had “basely begotten” a child. According to the entry in the town records, the couple “consented to carnal filthiness together.”[6] The couple was publicly whipped and the court ordered that the child was to be raised as a servant in the Howell household until the “said child shall be of the age of thirty.”[7] There are other references in the seventeenth century English colonial records to such liaisons elsewhere. In 1631, for example, John Dawes of Massachusetts Bay was whipped for seducing an Indian woman.[8]

There were at least two exceptions to this rather grim picture of abuse and exploitation. In 1683 Henry Bell, a resident of Oyster Bay, received a grant for fifty acres of land from a Matinecock sachem named Suscaneman. The gift appears to have been given because Henry Bell had married “Jane,” a Narragansett woman. Both Jane and Pocahontas abandoned their tribal identities and accepted an English name. The Narragansett woman took an English name and established a household with Henry Bell in an English community. Unfortunately there is no other mention of this family in the records.[9]

The other exception was Catoneras, who had a son by a Dutch settler named Cornelis Jansen Van Texel (Tassel). The son, Jan Cornelissen, was raised in a Dutch household, but it does not appear that Catoneras married Cornelis nor is there any evidence that she lived with him in the Dutch settlement. Their son, Jan, was indentured to another settler in 1639 and later married a Dutch woman. Jan’s father, Cornelis, also married a Dutch woman named Geertje Teunis, but the date of the marriage is not known. In 1662 there is a record of a dispute involving Geertje and another woman over money for a gown.[10] Cornelis, who would have been over sixty, may have been married to her for some time. There is also a reference in 1655 to Jan Cornelissen’s brother, but it could have been a half-brother, or perhaps Geertje’s son. He appears to have been a younger brother because Jan was acting as his protector, accusing a man named Anthony Jansen Van Vaes of withholding his brother’s wages. The brother had worked for Van Vaes for three years.[11]

There is not much information about Jan’s relations with the people in his community. One incident suggests that some individuals held prejudices against him because of his Indian ancestry, but that the Dutch court was quite fair. In 1657, a man named Rutger Jansen called him an “Indian dog” and Jan beat him “until the blood flowed.”[12] This incident may have been related to a family feud. In 1658, Rutger sued Jan’s father, Cornelis, over a debt.[13] The fight between Jan and Rutger went to court where Jan testified that he beat Rutger because of the insulting remark. Jan called a witness who said that he heard Rutger call Jan an Indian dog, “whereupon blows followed.” The court fined Jan 12 guilders for striking Rutger and Rutger was fined six guilders for “foul and abusive language.”[14]

There is also very little documentation about Catoneras herself. She is identified as an Indian sachem from Long Island, who passed along the title to a parcel of land called Crab Meadow in the northeastern part of the Town of Huntington to her son, Jan. It appears, however, that she remained in her own village. If she had the status of female sachem or “sunksqua,” she must have played an active role in her own community. The term “sunksqua,” was first mentioned to Europeans by Roger Williams in his 1643 guide, A Key to the Languages of America.[15] He described them as “queens” who had the same powers as the male sachems. Very often an Indian woman would inherit this status following the death of her husband or father.[16] The few clues that we have raise many fascinating questions for historians, anthropologists and Cornelis Jansen’s descendants. It has been the descendants, however, who have led the search for information about Catoneras and her family.

The Search for Catoneras: Daniel Van Tassel’s Research

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Daniel Van Tassel, a newspaper editor from Tarrytown, New York, wrote the first published account of the Van Tassel family history that mentions the relationship between Cornelis Jansen and Catoneras. He wrote several newspaper articles about the Van Tassel family history in the 1890s and developed them into a brief monograph entitled, Van Tassel-Van Texel, the Descendants of Jan Cornelissen Van Texel 1625-1704: A Family History. The Holland Society of New York published it but, unfortunately, did not record the date. Family members believe it was published around 1900. Daniel was a cautious and disciplined researcher who devoted much of his time to the study of his family history until his death at the age of 89 in 1930.

Daniel located several important documents related to his family history. The first was an indenture signed by Cornelis Jansen Van Texel (Tassel) on August 3, 1639. In this agreement Cornelis turned over his son, Jan Cornelissen, to Hendrick Harmensen for a period of seven years. Hendrick promised to care for Jan “as if he were his son,” and Cornelis agreed that he could not reclaim his son during that time. Daniel Van Tassel concluded that Jan was 14 at the time of the indenture because at the end of the seven-year period when he gained his freedom, he would be 21. Based on this interpretation, he estimated that Jan was born in 1625 and that his father, Cornelis, was born in Holland about 1600, and Catoneras may have been born fairly soon after 1600. There is a minor problem with Daniel’s calculations. The age of legal consent in New Netherland was 25, not 21.[17] This pushes all of the dates back four years.

Maurits Jansen and Adriaen Van Tienhoven witnessed the indenture. The name of the mother, however, is not recorded. Maurits Jansen may have been a family member, perhaps an uncle. Indentures of this sort were not uncommon in the colonies. Poor families who could not support their children and parents who wanted their sons to learn a trade would indenture their children for a specified period of time. During the latter decades of the seventeenth century, it was not uncommon for Indian parents to indenture their children to white families.

The second document discovered by Daniel Van Tassel was a petition to Governor Thomas Dongan from Jan Cornelissen, who identified himself as the son of a Christian father and an Indian mother. He claimed that his Indian “kindred” allotted him a parcel of land called “Tersarge,” located on the northern shore of Long Island in the town of Huntington. Jan wanted the governor to affirm his claim with a patent.[18] Unfortunately the date is missing from Cornelissen’s petition to Dongan, but Daniel Van Tassel concluded that it was dated in 1685. He based this estimate on the dates of Dongan’s tenure in office (1683-88). William Wallace Tooker, who studied all of the New York colonial documents looking for Algonquian words, concluded that it was dated April 4, 1685.

After the Dutch were expelled for a second time in 1674, the Duke of York appointed Edmund Andros governor of his colony. Andros did not interfere with the Huntington patent, preferring to leave the property titles as they were before 1673. His successor, Thomas Dongan, however, arrived in 1683 and proceeded to recall all land patents and require new ones with higher fees for the colonial administration. This action may have encouraged Jan Cornelissen to come forward with his claim to land in Crab Meadow in spite of the fact that it included land that had already been occupied for over ten years by Huntington settlers.

Dongan apparently took no action because another petition, addressed to Governor Cornbury, was filed in 1705, a year after Jan’s death. In this document, Jan’s mother, Catoneras, is mentioned by name for the first time.[19] The boundaries of the parcel are given in more detail here. It ran four miles along the shore from Eaton’s Neck (Anendesack) to Fresh Pond (Assawanama) and extended six miles into the interior of the island. The parcel was in an area along the North Shore that had long been a source of contention.

The Crab Meadow Land Controversy 1650-1771

In 1650, sachem Nasseconseke (Nasseconset) sold land west of the Nissequogue River to Edmund, Jeremy, and Jonas Wood for six coats, six fathoms of wampum, six hoes, six hatchets, six knives, six kettles, and one hundred muxes.[20] In 1656, Jonas Wood, William Rogers, and Thomas Wicks of Huntington, purchased a tract of land from a sachem named Asharoken that ran from Cow Harbor (present day Northport) to the Nissequogue River for two coats, 4 shirts, 7 quarts of liquor, and 11 ounces of powder.[21] When no settlers moved into these lands, Nasseconseke assumed that the English had lost interest and sold or gave the lands on both sides of the Nissequogue River to Wyandanch, the Montaukett sachem. There is no written record of this transaction, of course, so we have no idea whether it was an exchange or a gift. Certainly Nasseconseke expected either goods or favors in return for acknowledging Wyandanch’s sovereignty over the territory.[22]

Nasseconseke and many Indians during this early period apparently considered these land transactions to be permission to use the land rather than an absolute title. They did not understand the European concept of ownership. Their view was, perhaps, closer to the European definition of a lease. Land was something to be used for planting or hunting; it was not a commodity that could be owned. When no settlement occurred following the negotiations in 1650, Nesaconseke seems to have assumed that the land could be used by someone else and gave or sold it to Wyandanch with a reserve clause that set aside an area of land for his own family. In 1659 Wyandanch gave Lion Gardiner 30,000 acres of this land that ran from Cow Harbor to the village of Stony Brook. This huge parcel included most of the lands in the 1650 and 1656 deeds as well as the area reserved for Nasseconseke’s family.

The situation reflected the cultural misunderstandings that were inherent on the middle ground between Indian and European spheres of control. It soon became even more confused. Shortly before Lion Gardiner’s death in 1663, Richard Smith decided to purchase the land in spite of the conflicting title claims.[23] Smith knew Gardiner and Wyandanch from the time he had lived in Southampton, and, according to local folklore, he had helped Gardiner in his successful efforts to ransom Wyandanch’s daughter, Quashawam, in 1653, when she was held captive by Ninigret, the Niantic sachem.[24] Smith soon found himself embroiled in legal controversies. Nasseconseke’s son, Nassekege, who inherited his father’s lands, told Smith that he retained title to land on both sides of the Nissequogue.

Smith met with Nassekege on April 6, 1664, and paid the young sachem an undisclosed amount in exchange for a title to the lands on the east of the river. The following year he met again with Nassekege and paid him one gun, one kettle, ten coats, one blanket, three handfuls of powder and three handfuls of lead for the land between Huntington Harbor and the Nissequogue River.[25] This included all of the land later claimed by Catoneras’ son, Jan. The town of Huntington was very unhappy with these developments because they stood to lose all of the lands they had purchased in 1650 and 1656. In 1666, Huntington presented their Indian deeds for the lands from the Oyster Bay boundary eastward to the Nissequogue River to Governor Richard Nicolls. The governor issued a patent to this land and ignored Smith’s claim to the land on the west side of the Nissequogue.[26] Smith protested and sought redress in the courts. He brought suit against Huntington, claiming that the 1656 purchase from Asharoken was invalid because there were no Christian witnesses. The case finally came to the court of assize in 1670. The court ruled that Huntington’s title was valid, but ordered that the town settle families on the land within three years. Ten Huntington families were located on the meadowlands around Crab Meadow in an effort to secure the town’s title.

Figure 2: Coastal Survey Map, Showing Crab Meadow, 1836. Stony Brook University Map Collection.

Smith refused to give up. He applied for another hearing, claiming that Huntington officials had given false testimony that had misled the jury. He argued this time that Asharoken did not own the land in question; it belonged to Nasseconseke, who passed it on to his son, Nassekege. The court ordered an investigation, but the process was interrupted when the Dutch recaptured New York in 1673 and held it for a year. The colonial court finally resolved the controversy in 1675 with a compromise. They awarded the land from Fresh Pond eastward to Smith and gave Huntington the tract that included Crab Meadow.

This decision affirmed Asharoken’s right to sell the lands west of Fresh Pond and acknowledged the validity of Nasseconseke’s authority over the lands on both sides of the Nissequogue River. This ruling by the court had significance for Catoneras’ claim to the land in this area because her family was connected by marriage to the Suscaneman lineage. By 1675, the most influential sachems on the western half of Long Island were Tackapousha and Suscaneman. Suscaneman had inherited authority over Asharoken’s lands after his death, and Tackapousha’s influence had grown steadily since he had supported the Dutch in their conflict with the Esophus Indians in the lower Hudson valley. When the English replaced the Dutch, Tackapousha used his diplomatic skills to win the trust and confidence of the new regime. The sachem’s families later consolidated their influence when Tackapousha’s brother, Chopeyconnaws, married Suscaneman’s sister.[27]

As far as the Huntington settlers were concerned the title to the Crab Meadow tract had long been resolved by 1705 when the Cornelissen family petitioned Governor Cornbury. The Governor apparently agreed and ignored their petition. He was notorious for giving his favorites large tracts of land, but a family of Dutch descent probably carried little weight with him.[28] The family may have waited for another change of governors, having failed with both Dongan and Cornbury. In 1713, they petitioned Governor Robert Hunter and finally had a more positive response.[29] The governor’s council reported favorably on the petition and recommended that a survey be made and a deed be granted.[30] This was done on April 22, 1714.[31] Daniel Van Tassel wrote that the family brought an action against the settlers, but so far we have found no reference to this case. All we know for certain was that the Van Tassels were never able to establish a clear legal title to the Crab Meadow land.

As an ironic footnote to the long controversy over Crab Meadow, three descendants of Sachem Asharoken came forward in 1762 to negotiate a settlement with the town of Huntington. Charity Lane, Bette Squaw and Ned Lane sold their hunting and planting rights on Crab Meadow to the town for “a good sum of money and two good Dutch blankets.”[32] These rights had been retained in the 1656 deed, which said that, “the Indians’ liberty to plant and hunt within these aforesaid bounds,” is reserved. The last mention of the land is in two wills of Van Tassel descendants John Van Tassel (Dec. 23, 1771) and Hendrick Van Tassel (March 1. 1771). The wills both refer to land on Long Island “still in dispute,” and if recovered it is to be divided among the surviving family members.[33]

The Search for Catoneras: The Wyandanch Connection?

Daniel Van Tassel did not speculate on Catoneras’ identity, but he misread the 1713 petition and wrote that Catoneras was the daughter of a Long Island sachem. The petition, however, identified her as a sachem, not the daughter of a sachem. His confusion is understandable because at the time he wrote, few people were aware that Indian women actually held such a high rank in their communities. When John Lockwood Romer published his Historical Sketches of the Rome, Van Tassel and Allied Families in 1917, he embellished the story with colorful, undocumented speculations. As far as we know, it was Romer who first asserted that Catoneras was the daughter of Wyandanch, the Montaukett sachem. He does not offer any documentation to support his narrative. Romer was also confused about the Van Tassel genealogy. He wrote that Jan Cornelissen married Catoneras and gave their son his own name. He was apparently unaware of the research done by Daniel Van Tassel.

Romer may have read David Gardiner’s account of Wyandanch’s life in his Chronicles of the Town of Easthampton (1871). Gardiner described a dramatic attack on Wyandanch’s village by Ninigret, the Niantic sachem. According to Gardiner, the attack caught the Montauketts by surprise because they were celebrating the wedding of his only daughter, who was not named.[34] Ninigret’s war party killed many Montauketts, including the bridegroom, and kidnapped the bride. Romer arbitrarily inserted Catoneras into Gardiner’s account and told his readers that she was later ransomed and given to Jan Cornelissen to be his bride.

When Mary McRae Pazurik published her Van Tassel genealogy in 1974, she repeated the kidnapping story and identified Catoneras as Wyandanch’s daughter. McRae Pazurik did not document any of her assertions. It appears that she simply copied Romer’s account. She did, however, correct Romer’s confusion about the names of Cornelis Jansen and his son Jan Cornelissen. The most recent account is Field Horne’s A Pedigree Partly Indian and Partly Batavian (1993). Horne is a professional historian who makes it clear that the Wyandanch theory is “a persistent tradition,” that he first heard from his seventy-seven-year-old grand uncle in 1961.

In fairness to the Van Tassel family historians, the Wyandanch connection was plausible until one examined primary documents in the colonial records that were not directly related to the Van Tassel family. Wyandanch, the Montaukett sachem, did have a daughter who was kidnapped by Ninigret, and Wyandanch was involved in the controversy over the land at Crab Meadow. The kidnapping, however, took place in 1653 when Catoneras would have been nearly 50, much too old to be an Indian bride.[35] There is no mention of the daughter’s name until 1664 when Quashawam, “the true heir of Wyndanch,” was named sunksqua over the Montauketts and Shinnecocks.[36] The fact that both Catoneras and Quashawam were sunksquas is an interesting coincidence. They are the only two examples of female sachems that have been documented on Long Island. Quashawam, however, lived with her Pequot husband in her village on Montauk. If Catoneras was not Wyandanch’s daughter, who was she?

The Tackapousha Connection

Van Tassel descendants continued their search for more documents that might shed some light on their ancestor’s identity. Recently they discovered such a document that has provided some new clues. It is a deed dated October 10, 1685, and was related to Jan Cornelissen’s petition for a title to the Crab Meadow tract.[37] The document records a sale of land owned by three men Opsam, Wenox, and John (Jan) Cornelissen to Judge John Palmer, a wealthy merchant and member of Dongan’s council and John Royce of New York City for twenty pounds, ten shillings.[38] The land is described as “lying between Huntington and Nissiquake land and commonly known by the name of Crab Meadow.”

According to the deed, John Palmer, John Royce and Richard Cornhill had been granted a license by Governor Dongan to buy Crab Meadow the previous June.[39] If Tooker is correct in dating Jan’s petition, it came to the governor two months before Palmer and his associates asked for their license. At that time Jan claimed all of the Crab Meadow land for himself. By October of 1685, however, Opsam and Wenox were recognized as co-owners with John. They may have joined Cornelissen in order to strengthen the claim and obtain a cash settlement.

The deed is unusual in several aspects. It may be the only deed where the joint owners included a white man and two Indians. Another unusual feature is that only Opsam and Wenox actually signed the deed. In a memorandum at the bottom of the document they acknowledged that they had received “full satisfaction for their two third parts of the land.” This language suggests that the land was divided into three parcels. The April petition to Dongan reads, “whereas the Indians, his kindred, are willing to divide, set out and allot that share of land which according to their wisdom is his right.” In spite of this language, it appears that the land was never divided into parcels because the Cornelissen family’s 1705 and 1713 petitions refer to the whole Crab Meadow tract not to a specific one-third parcel.

Tackapousha, Wenox’s son Lowee, Rappapeany, Stephanus Van Cortlandt (an influential member of the governor’s council), Frederick Flyerson, and George Farewell witnessed the sale. It appears that Palmer and his associates purchased a two-thirds share of Crab Meadow and John Cornelissen retained a one third interest in the property. Two days later Opsam and Wenox came before Mathias Nicolls, the provincial secretary, and testified once more that they understood and acknowledged the sale.

The involvement of John Palmer and Stephanus Van Courtlandt in the transactions indicated that this was no ordinary sale. Both men were wealthy and were close associates of Governor Dongan.[40] Jan and Van Courtlandt had probably known each other for some time because Van Courtlandt lived in Westchester County where Jan had moved soon after 1670.[41] His acquaintance with Van Courtlandt continued for many years. When Jan was serving as tax collector in Westchester in 1694, he received a tax payment from Van Courtlandt.[42]

The more important aspect of the document is the name of Opsam, one of the co-owners of the parcel. Here we have a very important clue about Catoneras’ genealogy. Opsam has been identified in several colonial documents as the son of Tackapousha.[43] Another important clue is the signature of sachem Tackapousha as a witness to the sale. The sachem’s endorsement was a requirement for the validation of sales within in his territory. This authority had been recognized by the Dutch in 1656 and remained in effect after the English took possession of the colony.[44] Tackapousha first appears in the colonial records in 1643 where he is described as the sagamore of the Massapeague.[45] If he was an influential sagamore in 1643, he must have been born about 1620. He is last mentioned in a land transaction in 1697.[46] Caroline Hicks, a late 19th-century local historian, cited an undated document that was written between 1699 and 1701 wherein an Indian girl reported that Tackapousha was dead.[47]

The deed suggests that John Cornelissen still acknowledged his relationship with his mother’s people even though he lived in the Dutch community as a white man. If the property came to Jan from his mother as he said, it seems likely that Opsam and Wenox also inherited their claim from the same family. The family presence was further reinforced by the signature of a second witness who was identified as Lowee, the son of Wenox. Although there is very little documentation about the kinship structures in Long Island Algonquian society, it appears that property may have been inherited through the female line. That is certainly the assertion in Cornelissen’s petition. Cornelissen, Opsam, and Wenox may have been members of Catoneras’ lineage. If Catoneras was born around 1610, she might have been Tackapousha’s sister and Opsam’s aunt. This would place her in a very influential lineage system that can be traced back to Tackapousha’s father Penhawis who greeted the Dutch when they first arrived. The deed was a family affair, and Jan Cornelissen appears to have been an accepted member of the family.


These speculations are more plausible than those offered by John Romer, but they still must be regarded as tentative. There remain too many unanswered questions. Why is it, for example, that Catoneras’s name does not appear on any official Dutch or English documents other than the two Van Tassel petitions? If she were a sunksqua, it would seem likely that she would have been involved in some official interaction with the whites. There is still much work to be done, but it does seem that the place to look is in the documents related to Tackapousha and his family in the Huntington and Oyster Bay town records rather than on the far eastern end of Long Island among the Montauketts.


[1] Ann Uhry Abrams, The Pilgrims and Pocahontas: Rival Myths of American Origin (Oxford: Westview Press, 1999); Rebecca Blevins Faery, Cartographies of Desire: Captivity, Race and Sex in the Shaping of an American Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999) 102-141; Richard Godbeer, “Eroticizing the Middle Ground: Anglo-Indian Sexual Relations along the Eighteenth-Century Frontier,” ed. by Martha Hodes, Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 92-95.

[2] J. Franklin Jameson, ed., Narratives of New Netherland 1609-1664 (New York: Barnes and Noble, originally published 1909), 230-231.

[3] Michael Kammen, Colonial New York: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975),63-64.

[4] Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan and Berthold Fernow, eds. Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Volume I (Albany: Weed Parsons and Company, 1858), 309.

[5] Kammen, 64.

[6] William Pelletreau, ed., Records of the Town of Southampton, Vol. I (Sag Harbor: J.H. Hunt, 1874-1877), 35.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ann Marie Plane, Colonial Intimacies: Indian Marriage in Early New England (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 37.

[9] John Cox, ed. Oyster Bay Town Records, Vol. 1, (New York: Tobias Wright, 1916-1931), 268, 313, 331.

[10] Berthold Fernow, ed., Records of New Amsterdam 1653-70, Vol. 4 (Albany: Weed Parsons and Company, 1897), 8.

[11] Berthold Fernow, ed., Records of New Amsterdam 1653-70, Vol. 1 (Albany: Weed Parsons and Company, 1897), 346-347.

[12] Fernow, Records of New Amsterdam, Vol. 2, 332.

[13] Ibid., 334.

[14] Ibid., 332.

[15]  Roger Williams, A Key to the Languages of America (1643), (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973), 201.

[16]  John Strong, “The Role of Algonquian Women in Land Transactions on Eastern Long Island, 1639-1859,” in Long Island Women Activists and Innovators, Natalie Naylor and Maureen O. Murphy, eds., (Interlaken, N.Y: Empire State Books, 1998).

[17]  Author’s phone conversation with Charles Gehring, May 17, 2002.

[18]  New York Colonial Manuscripts, Indorsed Land Papers, Series 1, Vol. 2A: 69, New York State Archives. William Wallace Tooker, in his 1911 book Indian Place Names on Long Island, says on page 258 that he could find no translation for “Tersarge.” The document is not dated, but Tooker says that it is “probably” dated April 4, 1685 and is found on page 30 of the Calendar of Land Papers in the Office of the Secretary of State. Daniel Van Tassel says it was sometime in Dongan’s term, probably 1685. Van Tassel’s citation locates the document in Volume 2, on page 69.

[19]  New York Colonial Manuscripts, Indorsed Land Papers, Vol. 4: 56, New York State Archives.

[20]  John Lawrence Smith, “The Town of Smithtown,” in The History of Suffolk County, ed. by W.W. Munsell (New York: W.W. Munsell, 1882), Smith: 1.

[21]  Charles R. Street, “The Town of Huntington,” in The History of Suffolk County, Street: 9; John A. Strong, The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island From Earliest Times to 1700 (Interlaken, NY: Empire State Books, 1997), 218, 298.

[22]  In the Smithtown’s records, there is an interesting account that raises some other questions about the aboriginal ownership of these lands. On June 22, 1666, Pauquatoun one of Wyandanch’s elder advisors, testified before two East Hampton officials that the land around the Nissequogue belonged to Wyandanch’s grandmother who passed the title along to Wyandanch, Nasseconseke, and Asharoken (William Pelletreau, ed., Town Records of Smithtown, Vol. 1 (Sag Harbor, NY: Hunt, 1898-1931), 16-17. Wyandanch’s daughter, Quashawam testified at the same time that all of these sachems were kindred to Tackapousha. This testimony indicates that all four sachems were related, but the linguistic studies done by Ives Goddard suggest that there were significant differences in language between the Mohegan-Pequot dialect on eastern Long Island groups, the Quiripi spoken by the Unkechaug (Poospatuck) and Matinnecock in the center of Long Island, and the Lenape dialect spoken on western long Island and eastern New Jersey (Ives Goddard, “Eastern Algonquian Languages,” in Handbook of the North American Indians, vol. 15, The Northeast, edited by Bruce Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1978), 70-77.

[23]  In 1671, Jeremiah Conkling testified before John Mulford that he had witnessed a meeting between Mary Gardiner and Richard Smith. Shortly before her death in 1665, Smith came to her after he bought the land to find out about the validity of the title. He told her that he expected to “meet a great deal of trouble about the land.” She agreed and said that rather than have any trouble she would “let the bargain be void.” Smith said he would have the bargain stand and “meet the trouble himself.”(Osborne, ed, 1887, I: 336).

[24]  Smith, 3.

[25]  Street, 5.

[26]  Street, 20.

[27]  Robert Grumet, “The Indians of Fort Massapeag,” The Long Island Historical Journal, 8, No. 1 (1995): 33.

[28]  Kammen, 154.

[29]  New York Colonial Manuscripts, Indorsed Land Papers, Vol. 6: 16, New York State Archives.

[30]  Ibid.

[31]  Ibid., 18.

[32] Street (1887-89), Vol. 2, 450-451.

[33] Daniel Van Tassell. The Descendents of Jan Cornelissen Van Texel (Tassel) 1625-1804, Holland Society of New York (typewritten manuscript, undated), 8-9.

[34]  The references to the kidnapping do not list the names of the women, but as far as we know Wyandanch had only one daughter who is named Quashawam in later documents. (Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 7, 4th series pages 482-484; Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, vol.10: 88-90; 96-98). The reference to the wedding night celebration is not documented. It appears to be a fanciful bit of Gardiner family folklore (see Lara M. Strong and Selcuk Karabag, “Quashawam: Sunksquaw of the Montauk,” Long Island Historical Journal 3, No. 2 (1991): 192.)

[35]  Strong and Karabag, 189-204.

[36]  Pelletreau, Records of the Town of Southampton, vol. 2, 36-37.

[37]  Letters Patent Book, New York State Archives, Series 12943, Book 5, 97-102.

[38]  The early deeds reflected the cultural differences regarding property. The Indians viewed them more as gift exchanges. The European gave them gifts and the Indians returned the favor by allowing the Europeans to use the land for planting and residence. These deeds therefore, usually recorded gifts of European clothing, kettles, beads, knives and other tools for large amounts of land. By 1685, however, the Indians were aware of the European concept of private property and now demanded cash for small parcels of land.

[39] John Palmer was speculating in land on Long Island. On September 11 1685 he obtained a license to purchase land on the south shore of Oyster Bay from Tackapousha and Paman, a sachem from Rockaway (Letters Patent Book, New York State Archives, Series 12843, Book 5, 92-97). Palmer paid Tackapousha and Paman 31 pounds and 10 shillings. The two sachems appeared before the colonial council on October 8, 1685 to acknowledge that they had received full payment. They appeared the next day before Mathias Nicolls, the provincial secretary to acknowledge the same thing. This sale was witnessed by Opsam, Mahome, Rappapeanick and Pottas and by three white men, George Baxter, Frederick Flyerson and S. Van Courtland. Stephanus Van Courtlandt was a member of the governor’s council. See Robert C. Ritchie, The Duke’s Province: A Study of New York Politics and Society, 1664-1691 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), 98.

[40]  Ritchie, 180-181; 189.

[41]  Daniel Van Tassel wrote that Jan moved to Westchester “shortly after 1670, but he was involved in a court case in New Amsterdam as a plaintiff against a man named Hawkense in 1674.” (Fernow, Vol. 7, 55)

[42]  Van Tassel, 5.

[43]  John Cox, ed., Oyster Bay Town Records, Vol. 1 (New York: Tobias Wright, 1916-1931), 676, 520; Grumet, “The Indians of Fort Massapeag,” 33.

[44] Strong, The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island, 217. Tackapousha’s authority is best illustrated when he voided a land sale negotiated by his son, Opsam, without his authorization. On September, 17, 1683, Opsam sold a parcel of land on the south shore of Oyster Bay to Adam, Job, and John Wright, Thomas Weeks and Thomas Townsend for a “reasonable value of money.” Opsam stated in the deed that he was authorized to sell the land through “a privilege given me by my father, Tackapousha.” (Cox, 1916-31, Vol. I: 676-677). The deed, however, was not endorsed by Tackapousha or any other member of the family. Ten years later Tackapousha and six other Indian “proprietors of the south bay lands,” testified that Opsam did not have the authority to sell this parcel. (Cox, Vol. I: 520-521). Tackapoushe died a few years after this, sometime between 1697 and 1701 (Caroline Hicks, “Tackapousha’s Country,” The Long Island Magazine, Vol. 1 (3), 1893:120-121, Grumet, 36; Cox, Vol. 2: 287).

[45]  Strong, 217.

[46]  Grumet, 33.

[47]  Hicks, 121.

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