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Father Isaac Jogues, Description of New Amsterdam (1646)

The Story of Father and Son

Father (later Saint) Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit missionary, worked for a decade to convert the Huron and Algonquin trading partners of New France to Catholicism. In 1642, while travelling with a party of Hurons, Jogues was captured by Mohawks and lived among them as a slave for over a year. Luckily for Jogues, the Mohawks carried on a regular trade with New Netherland and a Dutch minister was able to ransom Jogues.

After a short stay in New Amsterdam, the Dutch provided Jogues with passage back to France. Jogues did not stay in France long, instead returning to America to continue his work. He was again captured by the Mohawks (who blamed the French for a recent epidemic that had ravaged the region) and martyred in 1646.

Different Languages

On the island of Manhate, and in its environs, there may well be four or five hundred men of different sects and nations: the Director General told me that there were men of eighteen different languages; they are scattered here and there on the river, above and below, as the beauty and convenience of the spot has invited each to settle: some mechanics however, who ply their trade, are ranged under the fort; all the others are exposed to the incursions of the natives, who in the year 1643, while I was there, actually killed some two score Hollanders, and burnt many houses and barns full of wheat.

The river, which is very straight, and runs due north and south, is at least a league broad before the fort. Ships lie at anchor in a bay which forms the other side of the island, and can be defended by the fort.
Shortly before I arrived there, three large ships of 300 tons each had come to load wheat; two found cargoes, the third could not be loaded, because the savages had burnt a part of the grain. These ships had come from the West Indies, where the West India Company usually keeps up seventeen ships of war.

No Religion Apart from the Calvinist…

No religion is publicly exercised but the Calvinist, and orders are to admit none but Calvinists, but this is not observed; for besides the Calvinists there are in the colony Catholics, English Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists, here called Mnistes [Mennonists], etc.
When any one comes to settle in the country, they lend him horses, cows, etc.; they give him provisions, all which he returns as soon as he is at ease; and as to the land, after ten years he pays to the West India Company the tenth of the produce which he reaps….

It is about fifty years since the Hollanders came to these parts. The fort was begun in the year 1615; they began to settle about twenty years ago, and there is already some little commerce with Virginia and New England.
The first comers found lands fit for use, deserted by the savages, who formerly had fields here. Those who came later have cleared the woods, which are mostly oak. The soil is good. Deer hunting is abundant in the fall. There are some houses built of stone; lime they make of oyster shells, great heaps of which are found here, made formerly by the savages, who subsist in part by that fishery.

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