Today I spent the day at a local school presenting the production to students in celebration of Halloween. I realized during the presentation today that one of the stories would be a great post for my page tonight, and though it has nothing to do with weather, it is an (hopefully) enjoyable and educational experience for all. Happy Halloween everyone!
Locals and tourists alike lay eyes upon the Hudson River and awe at the beauty and solace contained within the calm sparkling waters. Many forget the history of the river before Hudson placed his name on nearly 400 years ago.
Henry Hudson, the Dutch captain of the Half Moon, ventured up the then named North, Nassau, or Great River in 1609 in search of the Northwest Passage to China. The river contained beauty much like its appearance today; jagged cliffs and lush trees lined the waters from the mouth of the Atlantic in the south to Lake Tear of the Clouds in the north. There were no traces of civilization except for small bands of Native Americans visible on the shoreline.
Henry Hudson did not keep a captains log; instead, his first mate, Robert Juet (and future mutineer) kept a journal of the voyage up the picturesque river. I will share excerpts of his journal to help tell this story.
On September 12, 1609, the Half Moon anchored not far below the present-day city of Poughkeepsie, and found that canoes full of natives were coming to “betray [the crew of the Half Moon];” however, though the natives were likely wishing to greet the travelers the crew did not allow the natives to board the ship. Instead they pitched their sails and continued on their way up the river. The adventure continued as far as it could go before the river quickly became shallow not far above the modern city of Albany. After trading with the natives and failing to discover a passage west in the Adirondacks the ship sailed south down the river.
On October 1, near the present-day city of Newburgh, the Half Moon met the same group of natives that had wished to betray them on September 12th. They allowed the group to board in order to trade. The situation quickly escalated.
Robert Juet describes the encounter, “This after-noone, one Canoe kept hanging under our sterne with one man in it, which we could not keepe from thence, who got up by our Rudder to the Cabin window, and stole out my Pillow, and two Shirts, and two Bandeleeeres. Our Masters Mate shot at hime, and [struck] him on the [breast], and killed him. Whereupon all the rest fled away, some in their Canoes, and some leapt out of them into the water. Then one of them that swamme got hold of our Boat, thinking to overthrow it. But our Cooke tooke a Sword, and cut off one of his hands, and he was drowned” (Juet).
After this hostile encounter with the natives the crew was vigilant to any attempt by the locals to board the ship. On October 2nd “…two Canoes full of men, with their Bowes and Arrowes shot at us after our sterne: in recompence whereof we discharged sixe Muskets, and killed two or three of them. Then above an hundred of them came to a point of Land to shoot at us. There I shot a Falcon at them, and killed two of them: whereupon the rest fled into the Woods. Yet they manned off another Canoe with nine or ten men, which came to meet us. So I shot at it also a Falcon, and shot it through, and killed one of them. There our men with their Muskets killed three of foure more of them,” not long after the attacks, the ship had pushed far enough down the river to leave them behind (Juet 207-208). Finally on that day, the crew reached the Atlantic and began their trip back to Europe.
This man, which we shall name Samuel, was spending the day fishing on the shore of the Hudson River just north of Highland, NY. As evening approached he could hear a storm rumbling in the distance. He gathered his things and began the walk south down the tracks to head home.
As he wandered he glanced at the river and noticed a ship traveling north near the west shore of the Hudson. He stopped to watch the ship as it had an appearance that he had never witnessed before. It was wooden and had three empty masts (no sails). He told me that it appeared to be an old schooner from yesteryear, something not very common on the Hudson River today.
Slowly the ship approached where he was standing next to the river. It became apparent that this ship had no crew on the deck. In fact there was no sound until the ship came within 50 feet of him. The first thing he heard was creaking, as if the ship was drifting in a heavy sea, but it was not touching the water. He said it seemed to glide above the surface and did not create a wake.
Samuel was overcome by awe as the ship methodically floated up the river against the tide. The storm was coming in fast and he soon lost sight of the schooner in the darkness and the rain. He did, however, tell me that when the lightning flashed he could see the silhouette of the hull drifting north on the river.