A Tour of New Netherland

Connecticut

House of Hope


In 1633, Wouter Van Twiller, director-general of New Netherland, sent Jacob van Curler on a mission to a spot on the Fresh River where it met its tributary, called Little River. The Dutch had long traded with the Indians hereabouts, but recently the English had begun to interfere with that trade. Van Curler's job was to build a fort that would serve as a trading post: in effect, a capital of Dutch Connecticut. The Dutch called it Huys de Hoop-Fort Hope, or the House of Hope. Its presence, and that of the tiny contingent of Dutch soldiers that were stationed there, did little to check the English migration. The English built their own fort a short distance away. When the Dutch explorer David de Vries ventured into the region in 1639, he found the House of Hope manned by only fourteen or fifteen soldiers. Just opposite it, meanwhile, he saw that the English had the beginnings of a town. The English governor hospitably asked him to dinner, and de Vries took the opportunity to complain on behalf of the Dutch that the English were trespassers. "He answered that the lands were lying idle," de Vries later wrote in his journal, "that, though we had been there many years, we had done scarcely anything; that it was a sin to let such rich land, which produced such fine corn, lie uncultivated; and that they had already built three towns upon this river, in a fine country."

By 1642, the Dutch, while still bitter, had begun to see their Connecticut outpost as a lost cause, as this "resolution" from the settlement's council minutes makes clear:

Whereas our territory on the Fresh River of New Netherland, which we purchased, paid for and took possession of, and which in the year 1633, long before any Christians were on the said river, was provided with a blockhouse, garrison and cannon, has now for some years past been forcibly usurped by some Englishmen and given the name of Hartford, notwithstanding we duly protested against them, and whereas they moreover treat our people most barbarously, beating them with clubs and mattocks, even to the shedding of blood…we have…chosen patiently to suffer violence and to prove by deeds that we are better Christians than they who go about clothed with the outward semblance thereof, until in its time the measure shall at last be full.

In other words, they were powerless to stop the English. The House of Hope remained an outpost, but it was steadily swallowed up. In 1650, when Peter Stuyvesant met with English representatives to negotiate a "permanent" boundary between the Dutch and English colonies, the line they agreed on was more than fifty miles west of the House of Hope and the Fresh River-in other words, the Dutch had given up on their Connecticut territory.

Finding the location of the House of Hope today isn't so difficult: you just go to the section of Hartford known as Dutch Point. The fort is even memorialized in the name of one of the area's main avenues-Huyshope Avenue.

  • The Wadsworth Atheneum in downtown Hartford is one of the nation's premier art museums, with major sections devoted to decorative arts of the 17th century and the artists of the Hudson River School.

  • Information about the waterfront development in progress in Hartford, which is known as Adriaen's Landing, after Adriaen Block.

  • It's not exactly of the Dutch period, but the Mark Twain House is a museum in the home where Twain wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.


About the New Netherland Institute

For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. Directed by Dr. Charles Gehring. More

 

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