Het Dorp: A Virtual Tour of Bushwick Green
Thanks to my new (or would that be not-so-new) copy of History of Kings County Including Brooklyn, N.Y. I embarked on a little walking tour last weekend. My guide was the hybrid “map” depicted above. The map in white indicates the layout of “Het Dorp” or in English, “Bushwick Green”. The satellite map underneath of it comes courtesy of Google. As you can see, Bushwick Green was not in what we call “Bushwick” today. It was, in fact, located very close to Cooper Park. Here’s a brief introduction from the (rabidly anti-Dutch) History of Kings County:
The remains of ancient Bushwick, says Newtown Antiquary, Mr. Wm. O’Gorman, “cluster around the Dutch Reformed Church on the confines of North Second (now Metropolitan Avenue— Ed. Note) and Humboldt Streets, Brooklyn, E.D., where the animosity of Governor Stuyvesant planted them in 1661, to gratify his hatred against the English Kills of Newtown. On March 14th, 1661, he probably emerged from the old Conselyea House on Humboldt Street— irascible old man that he was— supporting a heavy dinner on his historic wooden leg, rather unsteadied from heavy lager, and pronounced and christened the new village ‘BOSWIJCK’, which the moderns have made Bushwick, the Low Dutch name for ‘heavy woods’…”
If you click on the above map you will be directed to my Flickr page where you can check out what I found as I walked through what was once “Bushwick Green”. Follows are brief descriptions of the landmarks (all culled from History of Kings County and long gone) to guide you on this virtual tour. Enjoy!
1. Bushwick Church: The old Bushwick Church was an octagonal edifice, standing on the site of, and facing the same way as the present one… The wrinkled and homely old one story town-house, and the school-house on the opposite side of the Wood-point road, which leads from the church to a point in the woods on the meadows, neat Van Cott and Meeker Avenues… In 1840 the old church was replaced by the present edifice. In 1846 Maspeth Avenue was opened to Newtown, and several houses erected upon it, this side of the creek.
2. Town-House: The old town-house (the settlement’s “seat of justice” — Ed. Note) yet stands and around it centre the memories of the ancient, civil, ecclesiastical and educational glories of Bushwick. In front of it (or more probably of its predecessor), contumacious John of Lyden was exposed to the public gaze, ignominiously tied to a stake, with a bridle in his mouth, and a bundle of rods under his arm and a label on his breast, stating he was a writer of lampoons, etc. Here, too, a thief was once punished by being made to stand under a gallows, with a rope around his neck and an empty scabbard in his hand; and here, saddest sight of all, a venerable clergyman of the town, who had incautiously married a couple without observing the formalities demanded by the law, was condemned to flogging and banishment; a sentence which his gray hairs, was commuted to that of exile form the town.
3. School House: The school house which stood near was occupied by a district school until within a few years past (1884 — Ed. Note)— latterly under the charge of the Board of Education.
4. & 5. De Voe Houses: From the old burial ground, and looking along the old Woodpoint road, the two venerable De Voe houses might be seen, standing (on either side of the old road) between Parker and Bennet Streets, near De Bevoise avenue.
6. Conselyea Houses: The venerable homestead of the Conselyea family stands angle-ways to Humboldt Street; with its front looking, as of yore, on old Bushwick Church, its rear to Jackson Street. It is worth a visit. Part of the building has been lately cut away. The last occupant of the name was “Aunt Katty”, widow of Andrew J. Conselyea. She died in 1873, and the family of Conselyea departed with her coffin through the old portals of the homestead never to return. A write of the day this describes the rooms left vacant: ‘The window sills are of sufficient capacity to seat three men comfortable, and are each one foot in depth; the window sashes are the same as were originally placed there, with nine small 6×7 panes of glass in each sash. The ceiling of this room is particularly worthy of notice. It is supported by five ponderous beams that measure 14 1/2×7 1/2 inches in thickness, and are twenty feet long. They are painted brown, and give the room a rather gloomy appearance… The old cupboard of 150 years ago was removed to Jamaica, and is now preserved in the house of John Conselyea, of that town ship; it was and is yet an ornamental piece of furniture.’
7. Old Bushwick Graveyard: In the sight of the church, and covering the present junction of Parker (Withers) Street and Kingsland Avenue, was the ancient graveyard of the original Dutch settlement, for many years unused and its few remaining monuments neglected, broken and almost undecipherable. In 1879 Isaac De Bevoise, grandson of Isaac, who here was buried, undertook the pious duty of removing such remains as were left. He collected seven large casket-boxes of bones, whose identification was impossible; besides a few remains which were identified by neither coffin-plates or headstone. He estimated them at 250 skeletons, and he remarked that all had sound teeth— save the one tooth which was used to hold the Dutch pipe. If you are wondering where these remains were re-interred, they are under the old church (in other words, the middle on Conselyea Street).
If you have the time this weekend, why not check out “Het Dorp” yourself? Unlike Greenpoint, there is still quite a bit of “green” there to be found!