Soon after arriving at Wiltwyck, we may suppose
Louis DuBois took measures for securing a home and a portion of land; for he had
been a tiller of the soil, and, like the Old Testament patriarchs, "his
trade hath been about cattle." We have commonly assumed that his home was
at Wiltwyck, now Kingston, before going to New Paltz.
This is probably
incorrect. His home at this period was at Hurley three miles from Kingston,
where he kept a store and traded thriftily with his neighbors and the people of
the back settlements, and with the Indians.
At the Indian raid of 1663,Hurley
was almost entirely destroyed. Here the Indians secured most of the captives,
and amongst them the wife and three children of DuBois, as will appear
hereafter. And now Louis and his Christian friends join heart and hand in the work of the
church, which had been organized, however, in 1659-- before their arrival.
Let me hastily trace the ever-widening stream from this early opened
fountain. The first effort was to build a house of worship. It was a crude affair
of logs, and upon the lot now occupied by the stately edifice of the First
Reformed Church of Kingston. This building remained until 1679, and was occupied
during the ministry of Hermanus Blom, Peter Tessemaker, and Laurentius Van
A second building was completed in 1690, a few weeks after the death
of Dominie Van Gaasbeek. This church was in the ancient style, with highly
colored windowglass, bearing the coat-of-arms of the principal families; (this
glass was made and painted in New York by Even Duykinck and was set by his son
Gerrit, who came up for the purpose.) A third was erected in 1721, and the same
enlarged in 1752.
In 1777, October 16th, the church was burnt, with the village.
It was rebuild upon the old walls, after the revolution, and this remained, the
ornament of the village and the center of religious influences , until 1833,
when the time-honored and noble structure yielded to spirit of destruction, and
the brick church, on the opposite side of the street, was erected,--now,
unhappily, surrendered to the Romanists.
The congregation worshipped in the brick church until September 21,1853, when
they entered their present large and handsome edifice. This was the
mother-church in this region. If Louis DuBois and his co-laborers could have
foreseen the fruits of their toil in this section of the country, they would
indeed have been like those who "foresaw the day of Christ, and were
There seem to have been a number of Huguenot settlers in Wiltwyck and vicinity.
Co-mingled with the Dutch. The records of baptisms and marriages kept by the
ministers were in Dutch, but it is an interesting fact, that the records of the
Kingston church were kept in the French tongue until some years after 1700
Though the preaching was doubtless mainly in Dutch, yet the Huguenot membership
and influence was very considerable.
A satisfactory peace had been concluded
with the Esopus Indians, and prosperity now attended the settlement. The lands
in the neighborhood were successfully cultivated, and hamlets formed at Hurley
and Marbletown. The village increased in importance. Good Dominie Blom saw prosperity attend his spiritual labors,* his membership
increasing from sixteen to sixty within three years.
But peace was the exception, not the rule, in those early times. The Indians
were jealous and inimical, and unfortunately for the good name of civilization
and Christianity, as has been the case often since, were not without just cause
of offence. After the conclusion of peace, the director- general was so
impolite- to use no severer word-as to transport eleven Indians to Curacoa,
where formerly he had been governor, to be sold as slaves. Under what pretext
this outrage was committed we do not know, but the consequences were very
The Indians naturally determined on revenge, and from the fact that the
Esopus country was made the seat of war, it is probable that the enslaved
Indians were of that tribe, while there is proof that the other tribes, and
especially those further south, sympathized with them.
The particulars of this war, which is called the "Second Esopus War,"
are fully given in Doc. Hist. N.Y., vol. IV. We are especially interested in it,
because Louis DuBois and his family were among the suffers.The little town of
Wiltwyck had no suspicion of the impending storm. The stockade was in a
dilapidated condition and he fort nearly incapable of defense, though a few
soldiers still lingered about it.
The Indians had just been invited by the
Director-General to meet him, and renew the peace, and they gave no indication
of unwillingness to do so. The people were scattered about, at their various
occupations in town and field. In this condition of affairs, on June 7th,1663,
the Indians entered within the stockade and under various pretexts scattered
themselves through the town.
Suddenly, near noon, a horseman dashed through the
Mill gate, now corner of North Front and Greene, crying, "The Indians have
destroyed the New Village:-that is, Hurley. This was the signal for the
slaughter. The tomahawk and the musket did their dreadful work. The torch was
applied at the windward of the village: the smoke railed over the terrified
people who could not know how to strike their enemies, or protect their own
lives and families. Some fled to the fort; others fired from their houses, or
met the foe bravely, hand to hand, in the streets.
Shots in rapid succession,
screams, groans, the mother's cry and the child's answer the loud calls of the
men as they concerted same plan of defense, and the bloody work of the savages
followed! Many a scream ended suddenly by the heavy thud of the war-club. The
women, helpless to fight or flee, were herded together with the children, and
driven outside the gates. It was an extreme moment, for courage and carnage were
Those in the town, under Captain Thomas Chalmers, acted a noble
part, and he, though wounded and constantly under fire, soon rallied the
available force of the village. The sheriff and commissaries were fully equal to
the emergency and even Dominie Blom was among the bravest in this terrific blast
of savage warfare. There seem not to have been above twenty available men.
"By these men, "says the account, "most of whom had neither guns
nor side-arms, were the Indians, through God's mercy, chased and put to flight.
By a special favor of Providence, the wind changed when the flames were at their
height, and spared the village from complete destruction.
We do not know where Louis DuBois was during the time of the Indian raid upon
Wiltwyck. It is possible that he was engaged in the field at too great a
distance to return until the fight was over. Or, if his residence was at or near
Hurley, his absence was easily accounted for. We have every reason to know that
his courage and physical strength would have aided greatly in resisting the
savages, had he been present.
A special instance of his prowess and presence of
mind may be quoted from Captain Kregier's account, which of itself is sufficient
proof of what we say: "Louis, the Walloon, went to-day to fetch his oxen,
which had gone back of Juriaen Westphaelen's land. As he was about to drive home
the oxen, three Indians, who lay in the bush and intended to seize him, leaped
forth. When one of these shot at him with an arrow, but only slightly wounded
him, Louis, having a piece of palisade in his hand, struck the Indian on the
breast with it, so that he staggered back, and Louis escaped through the kill
"A man who, even when wounded, could overpower three armed Indians
surprising him from an ambush, and escape them, was a man to be missed in the
bloody melee that swept through the shivering streets of Wiltwyck.
But though the ruthless enemy had been driven out, and the gates shut against
them, the scenes within were most distressing. Says an account, written at the
time "There lay the burnt and slaughtered bodies, together with those
wounded by bullets and axes. The last agonies and lamentations of many were
dreadful to hear."
"The dead lay as sheaves behind the mower.
"Outside the walls, were not only the enemy, but with them the captive
wives and children. It did not avail them that the gates were hastily closed, or
that their husbands and brothers and sons came hurrying in from the fields, so
that by evening the town was safe from further attack. A dreadful captivity of
shame and suffering was before them and perhaps death itself.
Among the captives were the wife and three children of Louis DuBois. We may
imagine their terror and distress as their merciless captors drove them forward
through the forests. They knew not who lay dead in the half-burnt town, or what
terrible fate awaited them. In that captive company were one man, twelve married
women, and thirty-one children. All of the women were mothers with their
children, except one who had been but lately married, and was driven from her
young husband, each ignorant of each other's fate.
Ten children were there
without father or mother. These captives remained among' the Indians for three
months. They were separated from each other, and were constantly removed from
place to place to avoid rescue. Some were in charge of old squaws. Others were
held in particular families, and others still were required to accompany the
Indians in their wanderings through the first thought was to repair the fort and
Pastor Blom, who had entered with such energy into the material
conflict, remembered soon after that conflict was fully over, that his office
was especially to pour into wounded hearts the oil and wine of Christian
consolation. "I have been in their midst" (of dying), he says,
"and have gone into their houses and along the roads to speak a word in
season, and not without danger of being shot by the Indians. But I went on my
mission. and considered not my life my own. Noble words! He adds: "I have
also every evening, during a whole month, offered up prayer with the
congregation on the four points of our fort, under the blue sky. "The
church seems not to have been burnt. We have a list of twelve houses destroyed
while the church is not mentioned.
Now follows in the little settlement a period of distressing anxiety. The
terrors of an Indian war were upon them, a foe that could spring out of the dark
forest suddenly, as the lightening from the black clouds. The first care, after
guarding the town, was to send to New York for help.
On June 16th, Lieut.
Christian Nyssen arrived with forty-two soldiers and on July 4th came our old
friend Captain Martin Kregier, and a larger force in two yachts, and ample
military supplies. But the poor captive women and children were not to be
rescued in a day. The summer passed in negotiating with the Indians for their
return, and in guarding the gathering of the harvest.
We cannot suppose that Louis DuBois was all this time unconcerned about the
situation of his family. He prayed often, but he expected no miraculous
deliverance of the long-lost captives. How gladly, then, he hailed the prospect of
some efficient means for their restoration! The attempt was prepared for early
in September. A strong detachment of military, of which Captain Kregier had
chief command, was to invade the Indian country. Information was carefully
gleaned from friendly Indians, and from one or two escaped captives.
Wappinger Indian was employed to guide the rescuing party, having promise of his
freedom and a cloth coat if he led them aright, but death in case of treachery.
The place where the captives were held was the "New Fort," six miles
from the junction of the Shawangunk kill with the Wall kill. The "Old
Fort" was on the Kerhonksen, in Warwarsing. The Indian instructed the party
of whites to ascend the first big water (Rondout) to where it received the
second (Wall kill); then ascend the second big water to the third (Shawangunk),
and near its mouth they would find the Indian stronghold. Here the pony set out
from Fort Wiltwyck September 3rd.
There were but forty-five men, all told, under
Captain Kregier, with eight horses, taken for the bearing of the wounded. In the
company, besides the soldiers and two Negro slaves, were seven freemen. We have
no record of their names. They were volunteers. We know, however, that Louis
DuBois was one of the number, and others may have been his brother-in-law,
Mathew Blanchon, his intimate friends Antoine Crispell and Jan Joosten, who
stood witnesses at the baptism of some of his children, and whose wives and
children were captives. And may we not think that among the seven were Martin
Harmansen, who had lost a wife and four children, and Joost Ariaens, whose young
bride, Fennetje, had been ruthlessly torn from his embrace?
* At the date of 1665, there were fifty-five
holders of pews, and Louis DuBois paid thirteen guilders a year for pew-rent.