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wizard sachem. Notwithstanding all his medicines and charms, he fell in battle, in attempting to extend his boundary line to the east, so as to take in the little wild valley of the Sprain, and his grave is still shown, near the banks of that pastoral stream. He left, however, a great empire to his successors, extending along the Tappan Sea, from Yonkers quite to Sleepy Hollow, and known in old records and maps by the Indian name of Wicquaes-Keck.'
The wizard sachem was succeeded by a line of chiefs of whom nothing remarkable remains on record. One of them was the very individual on whom master Hendrick Hudson? and his mate Robert Juet: made that sage experiment gravely recorded by the latter, in the narrative of the discovery.
“Our master and his mate determined to try some of the cheefe men of the country, whether they had any treacherie in them. So they took them down into the cabin, and gave them so much wine and aqua vitæ, that they were all very merrie ; one of them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly as any of our countrywomen would do in a strange place. In the end, one of them was drunke; and that was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it.” *
How far master Hendrick Hudson and his worthy mate carried their experiment with the sachem's wife, is not recorded, neither does the curious Robert Juet make any mention of the after consequences of this grand moral test; tradition, however, affirms that the sachem, on landing, gave his modest spouse a hearty rib-roasting, according to the connubial discipline of the aboriginals ; it farther affirms, that he remained a hard drinker to the day of his death, trading away all his lands, acre by acre, for aqua vitæ ; by which means the Roost and all its domains, from Yonkers to Sleepy Hollow, came, in the regular course of trade, and by right of purchase, into the possession of the Dutchmen.
1 This name may be found on Van der one of Hudson's sailors, who kertaa Donck's map (1656).
2 See 1). 12.
5. Junt's Journal. Purchas' Pilsri Us.
The worthy government of the New Netherlands was not suffered to enjoy this grand acquisition unmolested. In the year 1654, the losel ' Yankees of Connecticut, those swapping, bargaining, squatting enemies of the Manhattoes, made a daring inroad into this neighborhood, and founded a colony called Westchester, or, as the ancient Dutch records term it, Vest Dorp, in the right of one Thomas Pell, who pretended to have purchased the whole surrounding country of the Indians; and stood ready to argue their claims before any tribunal of Christendom.
This happened during the chivalrous reign of Peter Stuyvesant, and roused the ire of that gunpowder old hero. Without waiting to discuss claims and titles, he pounced at once upon the nest of nefarious squatters, carried off twenty-five of them in chains to the Manhattoes, nor did he stay his hand, nor give rest to his wooden leg, until he had driven the rest of the Yankees back into Connecticut, or obliged them to acknowledge allegiance to their High Mightinesses. In revenge, however, they introduced the plague of witchcraft) into the province. This doleful malady broke out at Vest Dorp, and would have spread throughout the country had not the Dutch farmers nailed horse-shoes to the doors of their houses and barns, sure protections against witchcraft, many of which remain to the present day.
The seat of empire of the wizard sachem now came into the possession of Wolfert Acker, one of the privy counsellors of Peter Stuyvesant. He was a worthy, but ill-starred man, whose aim through life had been to live in peace and quiet. For this he had emigrated from Holland, driven abroad by family feuds and wrangling neighbors. He had warred for quiet through the fidgetting reign of William the Testy, and the fighting reign of Peter the Headstrong, sharing in every brawl and
1 worthless, wasteful.
2 now the name of the county. The word has the same meaning as Vest Dorp.
8 See p. 36, note 1.
rib-roasting, in his eagerness to keep the peace and promote public tranquillity. It was his doom, in fact, to meet a head wind at every turn, and be kept in a constant fume and fret by the perverseness of mankind. Had he served on a modern jury he would have been sure to have eleven unreasonable men opposed to him.
At the time when the province of the New Netherlands was wrested from the domination of their High Mightinesses ? by the combined forces of Old and New England, Wolfert retired in high dudgeon to this fastness in the wilderness, with the bitter determination to bury bimself from the world, and live here for the rest of his days in peace and quiet. In token of that fixed purpose he inscribed over his door (his teeth clenched at the time) his favorite Dutch motto, “Lust in Rust," (pleasure in quiet). The mansion was thence called
( Wolfert's Rust-(Wolfert’s Rest), but by the uneducated, who did not understand Dutch, Wolfert's Roost; probably from its quaint cock-loft look, and from its having a weather-cock perched on every gable.
Wolfert's luck followed him into retirement. He had shut himself up from the world, but he had brought with him a wife, and it soon passed into a proverb throughout the neighborhood that the cock of the Roost was the most hen pecked bird in the country. His house too was reputed to be harassed by Yankee witchcraft. When the weather was quiet everywhere else, the wind, it was said, would howl and whistle about the gables; witches and warlocks would whirl about upon the weather-cocks and scream down the chimneys; nay, it was even hinted that Wolfert’s wife was in league with the enemy, and used to ride on a broomstick to a witches' sabbath in Sleepy Hollow. This, however, was all mere scandal, founded perhaps on her occasionally flourishing a broomstick in the course of a curtain lecture, or raising a storm within doors,
I namely, in 1664.
as termagant wives are apt to do, and against which sorcery horse-shoes are of no avail.
Wolfert Acker died and was buried, but found no quiet even in the grave: for if popular gossip be true, his ghost has occasionally been seen walking by moonlight among the old gray moss-grown trees of his apple orchard.
The next period at which we find this venerable and eventful pile rising into importance, was during the dark and troublous time of the revolutionary war. It was the keep or stronghold of Jacob. Van Tassel, a valiant Dutchman of the old stock of Van Tassels,' who abound in Westchester County. The name, as originally written, was Van Texel, being derived from the Texel : in Holland, which gave birth to that heroic line.
The Roost stood in the very heart of what at that time was called the debatable ground,' lying between the British and American lines. The British held possession of the city and island of New York ; while the Americans drew up towards the Highlands, holding their head-quarters at Peekskill. The intervening country from Croton River to Spiting Devil Creek was the debatable ground in question, liable to be harried by friend and foe, like the Scottish borders of yore." It is a rugged region ; full of fastnesses.
A line of rocky hills extends through it like a backbone, sending out ribs on either side ; but these rude hills are for the most part richly wooded, and inclose little fresh pastoral valleys watered by the Neperan, the Pocantico,* and other beautiful streams, along which the Indians built their wigwams in the olden time.
1 One of them, in after years, was Baltus Mill River, winds for many miles through a Van Tassel of Sleepy Hollow, who had a lovely valley, shrouded by groves, and dotted daughter Katrina, as we shall learn later. by Dutch farm-houses, and empties itself
? an island on the coast of Holland. into the Hudson, at the ancient Dorp of
9 often used as a proper name, Debat- Yonkers. The Pocantico, rising among able Ground.
woody hills, winds in many a wizard maze, • See the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel.” through the sequestered haunts of Sleepy * The Neperan, vulgarly called the Saw- Hollow. We owe it to the indefatigable
In the fastnesses of these hills, and along these valleys existed, in the time of which I am treating, and indeed exist to the present day, a race of hard-headed, hard-handed, stouthearted yeomanry descendants of the primitive Nederlanders. Men obstinately attached to the soil, and neither to be fought nor bought out of their paternal acres. Most of them were strong Whigs' throughout the war; some, however, were Tories,' or adherents to the old kingly rule ; who considered the revolution a mere rebellion, soon to be put down by his majesty's forces. A number of these took refuge within the British lines, joined the military bands of refugees, and became pioneers or leaders to foraging parties sent out from New York to scour the country and sweep off supplies for the Brit
In a little while the debatable ground became infested by roving bands, claiming from either side, and all pretending to redress wrongs and punish political offences; but all prone in the exercise of their high functions, to sack hen-roosts, drive off cattle, and lay farm-houses under contribution : such was the origin of two great orders of border chivalry, the Skinners and the Cow Boys,' famous in revolutionary story; the former fought, or rather marauded under the American, the latter under the British banner. In the zeal of service, both were apt to make blunders, and confound the property of friend and foe. Neither of them in the heat and hurry of a foray had time to ascertain the politics of a horse or cow, which they were driving off into captivity; nor, when they wrung the neck of a rooster, did they trouble their heads whether he crowed for Congress or King George.
To check these enormities, a confederacy was formed among researches of Mr. KNICKERBOCKER, that Philipsen, preserved in the county clerk's those beautiful streams are rescued from office, at White Plains.- Author's note. modern common-place, and reinvested with 1 Whigs was the name given to the patheir ancient Indian names. The correct- triots in the Revolution, Tories to those ness of the venerable historian may be as- who espoused the cause of the British. certained by reference to tlie records of the 2 Cf. Cooper's novel, “ The Spy." original Indian grants to Herr Frederick