Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wild Turkey Chaser

     It's easy to recognize Sam. He's got a slightly crooked smile on his face. That smile suggests mischief and wilful, good-natured deception. I don't know if he was born with that smile or if it grew on him with each exaggerated story that he told. Sam usually wears blue coveralls and a checkered flannel shirt and winter boots--even in summer. He stands about six feet tall. He has a small brown-grey moustache, darker than the grey hair on top of his head. He wears an old blue baseball cap with pinned decorations on it. What you notice about him, besides his slightly crooked smile, is his playful eyes. They light up like a Christmas tree when he tells you a story. Sam is 65 years old. Before he retired, he hardly worked for the New York State Department of Transportation.
     George, on the other hand, is less spectacular in appearance. He's about the same height as Sam and about the same age. He usually wears faded blue jeans, a flannel shirt and a blue nylon shell jacket. He's a retired school custodian. He has an intelligent handsome face, a kindly expression in his dark eyes, and a full beard. He wears a blue baseball cap too, but it is plain and not decorated.
     For several years, George and Sam have been meeting at Hyde's Diner in Cortland at 9 A.M. on Saturday morning. They've known each other since they attended high school.
     George is already seated at a booth near a window on this crisp late October morning. And there's Sam coming through the door.

Mad River Wildlife Management Area (left click on map)

     "Where were you last week, Sam?"
     "I went turkey hunting, George. Had something happen that never happened before. I got lost." Sam takes a seat opposite George in the booth.
     "That's right--woefully forlorn and lost. I was hunting for turkey near the Mad River Wildlife Management Area--north of the Salmon Reservoir--when I realized I was lost."
     "You got lost? I don't believe it. Is this the start of another nutty story? Are you trying to pull my leg again?"
     "No, sir. It's the truth, may God be my judge. Last week I parked my pickup at the end of an old timber road off Little John Drive and Oswego County Road 17. Then I took my shotgun and walked past a vacant hunting camp and into the woods toward the river. I've hunted in that area in the past."
     "You say you got lost? How long were you lost?"
     "I'll get to that in a moment. I'm telling you straight up, I never expected to get lost."
     "You're here now. If you got lost up there, how did you get found?"
     "I said I got lost. I didn't say I disappeared. And I found my way out--you may not believe this--with help from a mind-reading supernatural bird."
     "Uh-oh, this ought to be a good one."
     "I really had high hopes and aspirations for this turkey hunt, George. I had visions of Tom turkey roasting in my oven."
     "Lost, you say. I suppose you didn't have a cell phone, GPS, or compass?"
     "Hell, no. I was the perfect example of the eastern tenderfoot who thought he knew his way in the wilderness area."
     "Serves you right, then."
     "This is how it happened. I started the hunt by following an old trail that led directly to the river. As I was walking, I heard a loud turkey cackle in the woods nearby--or maybe it was a crow--I wasn't sure. A cackle usually means a turkey is running or flying away. I stopped and listened. No repeat. So I continued to follow the old path. It started to snow lightly--early for mid-October. No matter, I was dressed for it. I found a spot by a hemlock tree and sat down. I was facing the river and I had a clear view of the field in front of me. I started to call gobblers using my old Strut mouthpiece. Some yelps, clucks and purrs. You've heard me practice--I'm good at it. I heard nothing back so I called again. This time I thought I heard a long extended gobble. I was excited. Tom's don't usually gobble in the fall. I got up and stood beside the tree and called again. Some nice little yelps and purrs--trying to sound seductive like a hen turkey."
     "Somehow, Sam, I can't picture you as a seductive hen turkey. Did you wiggle your ass too?"
     "George, just this once, try to be serious and listen as I tell this amazing but true story."
     "Go on...."
     "Well, soon enough, I heard another loud gobble, much closer than before. I called again and heard the gobble again. My calls were getting results. I looked around the open field and waited. All of a sudden, I saw a bearded turkey head about twenty yards away, looking straight at me. That's when I lifted my shotgun and aimed. My finger went to the trigger to pull--and that's when that turkey dropped its head and ran. I never got the shot off."
     "Bye-bye birdie?"
     "No, he was playing hide and seek. He cackled when he ran and he yelped a few moments later. I saw him move by some rocks and bushes about 100 yards away. He stuck his head up and looked back at me. Reminded me of a scene in the old roadrunner cartoons. I'd say he was thinking, Your move, Sam."
     "Did you oblige?"
     "Yes, I aimed my shotgun at him again and just when I was moving my finger to the trigger, presto, off he goes, running through the bushes. I ran or walked for a 1/4 of a mile following him. Turkeys can fly but this one preferred to run. This Tom turkey was deliberately showing himself every now and then, like he wanted me to see where he was. I got winded so I stopped. As I caught my breath, I looked around. I didn't see any sign of him. I was disappointed after the 1/4 mile chase and I thought he got away. I put that old Strut diaphragm back in my mouth and started to call again. Just as before, I heard a loud gobble back in the woods. I got the suspicion that he was running me in a circle but I wasn't sure. I followed his tracks in the snow and went deeper into the woods."
     "Is this how you got lost?"
     "It was the beginning of it. I looked for the sun but all I could see were dark grey snow clouds in the sky. The snow had let up, but more was coming. I could see a white sheet in the sky drawing closer. I kept going. I never allow a turn in the weather to interfere with a hunt--something to reconsider someday."
     "Could you still hear or see the turkey?"
     "You bet. I followed that turkey through the woods for several minutes. I stopped when I heard a familiar gobble in front of me. Obviously, a turkey can out-run any hunter any time if it wants to. Jeez, George, not this turkey. This turkey was using me as a playmate and it was playing a game of hide and seek. I was the damn fool caught up in it."
     "Turkeys are supposed to be smart, Sam. I don't buy the hide and seek thing when the hunter has a loaded gun."
     "I had some doubt too. Despite my doubt, I carefully aimed my shotgun at him. That bearded turkey stood in full view about 30 yards ahead of me. I thought, Calm yourself, Sam. Don't miss this easy shot. But as soon as I moved my finger to the trigger, the turkey disappeared. George, I was losing my damn patience. There was something curious and suspicious about this turkey. It was then that I entertained the idea that he could read my mind. He seemed to know when I was going to pull the trigger. Now that may sound foolish here and now, George, but at that time and in that place I honestly came to believe it."
     "If I was there to advise you, Sam, I would have shouted for you to wise up and quit the hunt."
     "You know me better than that, George. I knew I was lost when I went deeper into the woods. By that time I didn't have any idea of north, south, east or west. More snow fell. I couldn't see any turkey tracks, and I didn't hear the turkey either. I was in an area of hemlock, white pine, beech, blackberry vines and thousands of rocks and boulders. It was a rugged place to walk for an old geezer. I thought, Where the hell am I? My recent footprints were getting covered with snow. So I made a quick decision to abandon the hunt and try to find the river. If I get to the river, I thought, I can find the old hunting camp and my pickup and go home."
     "So after pretending to be a hen turkey and establishing a love attachment to a bearded Tom, then getting lost, you and Tom decide to separate in the woods. Does that sum it up?"
     "Separated, yes, but it wasn't a divorce. I found my way back to the Mad River but I couldn't see my own footprints along the riverbank. Several inches of snow had fallen. I looked around. This wasn't the same place where I had been earlier. Nothing looked familiar. Panic isn't in my bones but I was close to feeling it. I felt like the last soul left on earth."
     "Hmmm. Sounds like trouble in the Northwoods--if there is any grain of truth in it."
     "Not only was it true, but it was a defining moment of self-awareness. I was lost. I didn't know if I was north or south of my hunting entry point. I made matters worse by taking the wrong direction along the river bank. As I was trudging along, I heard a loud gobble behind me. Jeez. I turned and asked myself, What's this? Is that turkey making fun of me when I'm lost? The snow had stopped falling, and this feathered freak of nature was standing on a rock and just staring at me. His head and neck shook, and another gobble rolled out. It's either the same turkey or a close twin, I surmised. Only one way for an intelligent and savvy hunter like myself to find out. I raised my shotgun and took aim. When I moved my finger to the trigger, the turkey disappeared."
     "So, it appears to be the turkey you were chasing earlier."
     "Appears so. But I wasn't in a mood to chase or shoot him anymore. I was tired, lost, hungry and cold. However that turkey wasn't going to allow me a moment's peace--not by a long shot. The game of hide and seek wasn't over. He strutted and gobbled and beat his wings. Damned if he didn't want me to chase him again. He was going in the opposite direction. So I thought, Why is he going in the opposite direction? That's when the truth hit me like Revelation and the words of Saint John. 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' This turkey was the same turkey that made a cackle as I left my pickup and entered the woods to hunt. This turkey had been leading me in circles on a rough and tumble chase all day. I ran it through my head and filtered out all doubt. He knows I'm lost, too. He can read my mind. He may lead me back to my pickup truck. With the energy of desperation and little else, I decided to follow this mocking hide-and-seek turkey and finish the game."
     "You've got to be kidding...."
     "No, sir. It started to get dark about then. It gets dark early in the Adirondacks in fall and winter. I followed the cackles, yelps and sightings of the turkey through the darkening woods. May God be my judge, the mind-reading turkey led me back to my pickup within an hour."
     "I suppose, with your fanatical awe of this mind-reading turkey, with all the sightings, you never attempted to shoot him again?"
     "Hell, no. I learned my lesson. If I shot it--if it could be done--God would have left me in the wilderness until I died and then sent me to hell.  Besides, you don't bite the hand that feeds you, do you? Speaking of food--it's time to order breakfast."
     "Strange story, Sam. Very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe someday you can tell me what really happened at the Mad River. By the way, before the hunt, did you have any bottled spirits to drink--like Wild Turkey?"

 Follow Sam and George:
The Mouse with Three Legs
Also recommended:
Wild Goose Chase


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving
Turkey talk. Many of Cortland's politicians try to imitate these sounds: Cornell Labs--Wild Turkey Sounds

Turkey Facts-DEC

History of Thanksgiving Day

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Election

Fifty two percent of voters are happy, and forty eight percent unhappy. I count myself in the latter category but, like Tolstoy's families, I'm unhappy in my own way.

It's not who won, neither candidate nor political party makes much difference. It is the enormous consumption of calendar time and our nation' s attention by what turns out to have been a diversion from real issues. As readers know, I believe that the nation's number one, and over-riding, problem is corruption, the corruption of special interests that have high-jacked our democracy. But let's think of other issues for now, issues that have been acknowledged by the major players.

Income inequality is a characteristic of unbalanced economies as found in countries like Russia and China. In addition to being unfair, it leads to social unrest and slow growth. I'm all for taxing the rich--until the number of jobs lost (the money is currently not under mattresses) becomes excessive, and I would prefer to do it in accordance with Clayton Christensen's concepts. But taxing the rich is merely a side-show relative to this problem.
We need to restore equality of opportunity which means we have to take on, among others, the teachers unions and the prison industry. Note that we have a disproportionate number of young black men in jail (most for non-violent drug offences of the type that white men walk away from). The effect has been to wreak havoc on the black middle class; black women have trouble finding suitable husbands, and the eligible men left tend to take advantage. Too many black families are without fathers. I could go on; suffice it to say that this is a social tragedy of our time. And who benefits? We now have a prison industry rich and powerful enough to corrupt our legislatures. We also have a drug enforcement agency (another special interest) that is allowed to confiscate private property and add the proceeds to the department’s budget (How about we add traffic fines to the police department budgets?)

Compounding this problem is another travesty which victimizes poor black and white children alike—our lousy K-12 school systems, brought to us by another powerful special interest, the teachers' unions, a major source of campaign dollars and workers. To say that we have equality of opportunity in this country is a lie. A black child born in certain school districts has no chance. Attempts to fix things after the fact with college scholarships and affirmative action tend to fail because basic skills were neglected and can’t be made up.

We have high systemic unemployment. This will not go away until our private sector, free of Crony Capitalism and excessive, cost ineffective regulations, invests heavily in free and open competition. Regulations are mostly good and provide a better standard of living for all of us. But it's the nature of bureaucracies to keep going, doing more and more of God's work, until stopped. We need some controls here--checks and balances.

Last, we have climate change and our, less than stellar, attempts at moving to renewable, clean, energy. Attached is a book review.* The author argues that good government policy (including a carbon tax) will allow the markets to find a cost effective path to clean energy without relying on our brilliant politicians to pick winners. (And yes, G.C., I use brilliant here in the Irish sense of the word.)

A BIRD NAMED ENZA & WILL’S WAR are now available as e-books on all major sites including (in all formats) for $2.99

Monday, November 19, 2012

Do Squirrels Control City of Cortland? (Updated December 4, 2012)

     The 2013 tentative property tax increase for the City of Cortland is 2%. With over $3,174,577 in all reserve funds, can the city spare about $160,000 from reserves, or use a combination of reserves and additional spending cuts to prevent the tentative 2013 tax increase?
     The city has $1,659,340 in the Budgeted Operation Expenditures Fund. The target for this reserve is set at 17%, and it is about 8% funded now. There are several other reserve funds associated with the general operating budget. The state comptroller recommends 10% for contingency. No appropriations are assigned to the 2013 tentative operating budget contingency line 1990.400, and Finance Director Cook has not explained to the public why this line remains unfunded. If it has something to do with the new Stabilization Reserve Fund, the public remains uninformed. Earlier this year the city created the Budget Operation Expenditures Fund and several other funds by reassigning assets that were held in the old reserve fund. (See Minutes of Common Council meetings.) Once established, these funds have tight rules governing withdrawals.
     Operating budget reserves totaled about $2.6 million at the start of 2012, or 14% of this year's operating budget. Additional reserves from 2011 were carried over to 2012 in the city's water and sewer funds. The city's bond rating improved.
     The city currently has $257,739 in a Stabilization Reserve Fund.
     Why keep two reserves of similar use to stabilize the budget? (The establishment of these funds is recommended but not mandated by the state comptroller.) This question has significance in light of the tentative 2% tax increase. It also demonstrates that we have a group of old and young squirrels with hearty appetites in control of the City of Cortland budget. You will hear them chatter: (1) we never have enough and we intend to get more; (2) we can't predict the weather; (3) we can exaggerate the situation for prudent and necessary purposes, and purposes may include more spending, id est, city parking garage.   
     By the end of this year, the city expects to receive at least $120,000 of sales tax revenue in excess of the 2012 budgeted amount. The number could reach $160,000. The excess will be rolled over and applied to reserves. There is also a 2013 appropriation of $178,000 to transfer to H. I. reserves. Some lines in the budget may have been overbudgeted in 2013 to increase reserves.
     The city joined the Tompkins County health insurance consortium and "saved" an advertised $1 million in 2013. Yet the 2013 budget reflects a saving of $306,607 compared to 2012. If the city "saved" $1 million, how does it explain the unaccounted $693,393? 
     From 2001-2010 the average yearly property tax increase in the City of Cortland was 8.5%. The brake was applied during the administration of former Mayor Feiszli. This is not the time to take the foot off the brake, or to allow squirrels in city government to keep all the nuts they collect. A 1% property tax increase is roughly $80,000 of revenue.
     The Cortland Contrarian recommends use of available reserve money by the City of Cortland to prevent an untimely and unnecessary property tax increase. Common Council should also find more places to cut non-mandated spending.

City Budget 2013 
Adopted City Budget 2012

     December 4, 2012 update: The 2013 adopted General Fund budget appropriates $18,395,173, which is an increase of $191,713 over the adopted and posted 2012 budget. Appropriations were added to the 2012 budget during the year by the current administration. A few cents were reduced from the property tax levy in 2012 by the prior administration. About 18 cents per thousand will be added to the property tax levy in 2013, which is a 1.2% increase. Additionally, water and sewer rates are scheduled to increase about 3% in 2013.
     The Cortland Contrarian was informed that, contrary to the established procedure of 2010 and 2011, the City Finance Advisory Committee was not asked to participate in 2013 budget meetings and workshops.

December 18, 2012 update:
     Common Council voted 8-0 to adopt a $18,370,33 General Fund budget for 2013, an increase of $167,000 over the adopted budget for 2012. The property tax levy will increase from $15.20 per thousand to $15.33 per thousand in 2013.
     When sewer and water budgets are added, the total adopted budget for 2013 stands at $24.1 million.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who Am I? (Number 13)

     I was born in Vestal, New York in 1833. My family moved to Virgil, New York, where my father was appointed postmaster. When I was twelve years old I became a printer's apprentice at the Democrat in Cortland, New York. I learned the trade of printing newspapers and became a journeyman. After seven years on the job, I left and traveled about a few years until I settled down in Ohio.
     About 1855, I and others established a newspaper called The Herald in Plymouth, Ohio. A year later I became editor of the Bucyrus Journal. During the Civil War, I edited and wrote for the Toledo Blade, which I purchased in 1867. While I was editor of the Toledo Blade, I wrote a series of letters under a pseudonym. President Lincoln read these letters to his Cabinet and to senators. In these letters, I claimed I was a resident of Kentucky, a preacher, a Southern sympathizer, a Democrat and a Copperhead. I used a semi-literate form of spelling to distinguish my alter-ego.
     Here is a sample:

                              Church of St.____, Nov. 1, '63.
     I felt it my dooty to visit Washington. The misarable condishon the Dimocrisy find themselvs into sinse the elecshen, makes it nessary that suthin be did, and I determined to see wat cood be effectid by a persnel intervew with the Presdent.
     Interdoosin myself, I opened upon him delikitly, thus:
     "Linkin," sez I, "ez a Dimocrat, a free-born Dimocrat, who is prepard to die with neetness and dispatch, and on short notis, fer the inalienable rite uv free speech--knoin also that you er a goriller, a feendish ape, a therster after blud, I speak."
     I first met Abraham Lincoln in Quincy, Illinois. He was debating with Senator Stephen L. Douglas. I covered the event as a journalist. I and others called the debate "the long and the short of it." When I talked with Mr. Lincoln, he recalled a general who had recently died. We both knew him. The general had an ego that matched his great reputation. Mr. Lincoln said: " If the general had known how big a funeral he was going to have, he would have died years ago."
     I had a personal problem with the management of money--that which belonged to me, and that which belonged to others. I had to uproot and travel often to avoid debt collectors and former friends.
     I continued to write and comment on contemporary issues, such as Reconstruction, until the day of my death in 1888.
     Who am I?
     (Answer will be posted in 36 hours.)
     I am David Ross Locke. My alias is Petroleum V. Nasby.

1) Wikipedia--David Ross Locke
2) The Humorous Mr. Lincoln by Keith W. Jennison, Bonanza Books, 1965.
3) The Nasby Papers


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Two Pages, Two Minutes

     Two pages, two minutes. 272 words chiseled on the rock of recorded history.
     The president wrote the first draft of the famous dedication address on executive mansion stationery. Perhaps he read it to his wife and his two sons--for practice and for approval. Perhaps his wife, Mary, suggested the words "under God", which the president added by way of improvisation when he spoke at the Consecration of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg.
     On November 18, 1863, the ride by train from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg took six hours. The president rode with his secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, and cabinet members William Seward, John Usher and Montgomery Blair. President Lincoln stayed at the Wills' house at Gettysburg.
     The next day, November 19, 1863, President Lincoln told his secretaries that he wasn't feeling well. He complained of headache or fever. Despite his unwell condition, he performed all the functions required of him that day. He toured the battle sites by carriage in the morning, and at 11 A.M. he mounted a horse and joined a parade to Cemetery Hill where 15,000 people waited for the dedication.

     A printed program provided the schedule of events:

     Music, by Birgfield's Band.
     Prayer, by Rev. T. H. Stockton, D.D.
     Music, by the Marine Band.
     Oration, by Hon. Edward Everett.
     Music, Hymn composed by B. B. French, Esq.
     Dedicatory Remarks, by the President of the United States.
     Dirge, sung by choir selected for the occasion.
     Benediction, by Rev. H. L. Baugher, D.D.

     Edward Everett would speak for two hours. He was a Unitarian clergyman from Boston. He was also a Harvard professor, a diplomat, a former Congressman and a statesman. He spoke eloquently about the history of the conflict between Union and Confederate States, European parallels, the three-day battle at Gettysburg, state sovereignty and the Constitution. Newspaper reports claimed that his oratory instilled patriotism, pride and purpose among those gathered at the cemetery.
     When it was his turn to speak, President Lincoln reached under his coat and took out two pages which contained his brief dedication remarks. He stood tall on the speaker's platform and addressed the crowd:

     Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
     Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.
     But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we can not hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause or which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

     There was an uneasy silence in the crowd at the conclusion of the dedication address. "It seemed short...There was no applause when he stopped speaking," commented Sarah Cook, a Pennsylvanian who attended the Consecration.
     The following day, Edward Everett wrote to President Lincoln: "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
     On his return trip by train to Washington, D. C., the president continued to complain of headache or fever. His illness included a developing vesicular rash. When a doctor diagnosed his condition, President Lincoln was informed that he had a mild case of small pox.


1) Wikipedia--Gettysburg Address
2) Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills
3) Untitled
4) Edward Everett's Speech


Monday, November 12, 2012

Pavonia Massacre

Van der Donck's Nieuw Amsterdam











Translated from the Dutch Original










In the year 1649, delegates were sent from New Netherland to Holland

to obtain redress of various grievances of which the Colonists of the day com-

plained. A number of representations were made by the complainants as well as

by the government. Of these Van der Donck's Vertoogh and Secretary Van

Tienhoven's answer, have been published in the Collections of the N. Y. Hist.

Soc, 2d. Ser. ii. The ''Breeden Raet" or Full Information to the United

Netherland Provinces, is another of the publications called forth by the same

circumstance. It was printed at Antwerp originally in 1649. It consists of a

Dialogue between eight persons [represented by letters of the alphabet] and appears to be
a strong attack on the adminis-

trations of Directors Kieft and Stuyvesant. A brochure, made up of Extracts

from this work having recently appeared in Amsterdam, a copy was obtained for

the State Library which is now reprinted. Hitherto, the work has been unknown

to bibliographers.




B. Nobody at all was warned but the three before mentioned.

The settlers were not so much as thought of. The secretary

himself went to reconnoitre the camp of the savages the day

before the attack, and if the settlers had known what was intend-

ed, supposing there had been reasons for it, not one of the savages

would have escaped ; but if, as was really the case, there had

been no reasons, the director would never have been able to

commit such a murder, if even he had such traitors as secretaries.


J. By what I understand of the affair, the secretary is the

principal cause of what followed. But how did they proceed ?


B. Between the 25 and 26 Febr. 1643, at midnight 80 and odd

savages were murdered at Pavonia, by 80 soldiers. Young

children, some of them snatched from their mothers, were cut in

pieces before the eyes of their parents, and the pieces were

thrown into the fire or into the water ; other babes were bound

on planks and then cut through, stabbed and miserably massacred,

so that it would break a heart of stone ; some were thrown

into the river and when the fathers and mothers sought to






save them, the soldiers would not suffer them to come ashore but

caused both old and young to be drowned. Some children of from

5 to 6 years of age, as also some old infirm persons, who had

managed to hide themselves in the bushes and reeds, came out

in the morning to beg for a piece of bread and for permission to

warm themselves, but were all murdered in cold blood and

thrown into the fire or the water. A few escaped to our settlers,

some with the loss of a hand, others of a leg, others again holding

in their bowels with their hands, and all so cut, hacked and

maimed, that worse could not be imagined ; they were indeed in

such a state that our people supposed they had been surprised

by their enemies, the tribe of the Maquaes. After this exploit

the soldiers were recompensed for their services, and thanked

by the director Kieft in person. In another place, on the same

night, at Curler's Hook, near Curler's plantation, about forty

savages were surprised in their sleep in the same way, and

massacred like the others.


D. Did ever the duke of Alba do more evil in the Nether-

lands ?


F. Certainly you have such Dutch Governors or directors who

honour and respect the duke of Alba.


B. Yes sir, it is a scandal for our nation ; and if silence would

have remedied it I should never have mentioned it. But

information has been given of it in the proper quarter, and not

only it has not been remedied, but it has gone still worse as you

shall hear directly.


H. But did the savages suffer this so quietly ?


B. Oh no sir. As soon as they found how the Swannekens [Dutch] 

treated them, they killed all the men they could lay hands on,

but I never heard that they did any harm to the women or

children. Besides this they burned and destroyed all the houses,

farms, barns and everything they could come at, so that they

began a declared and destructive war.


C. Quicquid delirant reges plectuntur achivi.


B. I am told for a fact that a certain skipper Isaac Abraham-

sen, having saved a young boy, and hidden him under the sails

in order to give him to one Cornelius Melyn, towards morning

the poor child, overcome with cold and hunger, made some noise






and was heard by the soldiers, 18 Dutch tigers, dragged from

under the sails in spite of the endeavors of the skipper, who

was alone against 18, cut in two and thrown overboard.


F. But what did the inhabitants say of the massacre ?


B. They were not only much displeased but took notes of

all that passed from time to time, for those of the country (plant-

ers) were all ruined, and in the forts there was little provision

and little strength. This they wrote and sent to government

relating the causes and occasions of the war, with all the circum-

stances as they had occurred.


J. How did you do in the meanwhile, before an answer ar-

rived ?


B. We had but a choice of evils. The Director robbed and

murdered wherever he could, and in the manner already related

1600 savages were killed in the years 1643 and 1644 ; some of

them were settled among the English, at a distance of from 10

to 20 miles from us, who were most of them surprised in their

sleep, many of them never having seen a Dutchman much less

ever having done them any harm.


In April of the year 1644, seven savages were arrested at

Heemstede (where an English clergyman, Mr, Fordham, was

governor), on a charge of killing two or three pigs, though it was

afterwards discovered that some Englishmen had done it them-

selves. Director Kieft was informed by Mr. Fordham, that he

had just arrested seven savages, who were confined in a cellar,

but whom. he had not dared to treat inhumanely, as he could

not answer for the consequences to himself, because such things

are not to be winked at there, or perhaps because the English

nation wish to cause a general dislike among the savages to our

people. Kieft immediately sent ensign Updyk with an English-

man, John Underhill, and 15 or 16 soldiers, who killed three of

the seven in the cellar. They then took the other four with

them in the sailing boat, two of whom were towed along by a

string round their necks till they were drowned, while the two

unfortunate survivors were detained as prisoners at fort Am-

sterdam. When they had been kept a long time in the corps de

garde, the director became tired of giving them food any longer,

and they were delivered to the soldiers to do as they pleased






with . The poor unfortunate prisoners were immediately dragged

out of the guard house and soon dispatched with knives of from

18 to 20 inches long, which director Kieft had made for his sol-

diers for such purposes, saying that the swords were too long

for use in the huts of the savages, when they went to surprise

them ; but that these knives were much handier for bowelling

them. The first of these savages having received a frightful

wound, desired them to permit him to dance what is called the

Kinte Kaeye, a religious use observed among them before death ;

he received however so many wounds, that he dropped down

dead. The soldiers then cut strips from the other's body, be-

ginning at the calves, up the back, over the shoulders and down

to the knees. While this was going forward, director Kieft,

with his councillor Jan de la Montaigne, a Frenchman, stood

laughing heartily at the fun, and rubbing his right arm, so much

delight he took in such scenes. He then ordered him to be

taken out of the fort, and the soldiers bringing him to the Beaver's

path (he dancing the Kinte Kaeye all the time) threw him down,

cut off his partes genitales, thrust them into his mouth while still

alive, and at last, placing him on a mill stone, cut off his head.

H. What shameful barbarity !



Editor’s note:

Director-General Willem Kieft arrived at New Netherland in 1639. Among his orders was a directive to increase profits at the port city of Pavonia (near present day Jersey City). He levied a tribute on the native Hackensacks, Tappans and Wecquaesgeeks. These tribes refused to comply. A dispute over stolen pigs on Staten Island resulted in the death of Dutchman Claes Swits by the Hackensacks. Another Dutchman was shot with an arrow while roofing his house.

Director-General Kieft ignored the Council of Twelve’s advice for negotiations with the tribes. He then ordered the attack on Pavonia. For the next two years, several tribes in the area were at war with the Dutch. The patroonship at Pavonia, which employed African slave labor, was evacuated to New Amsterdam across the river. A truce between the Dutch and the several tribes was established in August 1645.

In 1647, Director-General Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands to explain his conduct with the natives and his business activities. He died in a shipwreck while returning home. Peter Stuyvesant succeeded Willem Kieft as Director-General.



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