Lewes in Sussex County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The De Vries Monument
In 1631, a group of settlers under David Pietersz de Vries landed near this spot to form a whale hunting station and agricultural settlement. The settlers of Swanendael, meaning " Valley of the Swans," crossed the Atlantic in the Walvis.
A report to de Vries confirmed that the settlers had been killed and the buildings destroyed as a result of a cultural misunderstanding between the Dutch and Native people in the area.
The Original Inhabitants
The inhabitants of the land previous to the Dutch arrival were of an Algonquian group called Cinconicins,written in early records as Sickoneyns, Siknoessink, Siconesius and Siconese, or Great Siconese. It is likely that the Great Siconese lived by hunting and the intensive gathering of a wide veriety of natural resources. The resources would have been seasonally available in the forests, in numerous streams and along the coast. Our knowledge of these Native people comes from information recovered through scientific investigation of archaeological sites in the Lewes area, and from information obtained in historical records dating from the colonial period.
In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed into the Delaware Bay, in search for the Northwest Passage to China. His voyages contributed to the establishment of European colonies in North American. One of these, called New Netherland, was established by the Dutch. New Netherland included present day New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. The Delaware River, known as the South River in the seventeenth centry, formed the southern boundry of New Netherland.
In 1629, Gillis Hossitt and Jacob Jansz, agents of the Dutch West India Company, traveled to the Delaware area to 'purchase' land from the Native Americans. The concept of land ownership was foreign to the Native Americans, who were more familiar with the concept of gifting. A tract of land, eight Dutch miles long and half a Dutch mile in width, was acquired by the Dutch in exchange for cloth, axes, adzes, beads, and various other goods. A patent was registered and confirmed in 1630.
In Amsterdam, Samuel Godyn gained the rights to settle the new territory and arranged for "patroons" to invest in the project. David Pietersz de Vries was given general administration of the colony from Holland. [Picture included: Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631 by Stanley M. Arthurs] Captain Peter Heyes was to command the Walvis and company agent
Dedicated on September 22, 1909
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972
On December 12th, 1630, the Walvis departed Holland with twenty-eight men and supplies to build a colony. After dropping off some supplies and passengers in the West Indies, the Walvis reached Blommert's Kill, later named Hoerenkil (modern day Lewes Creek). The settlers constructed a palisade, dormitory, and cook house. In September, Peter Heyes departed for Amsterdam in the Walvis, leaving Hossitt to run the colony.
In 1632, de Vries prepared to set sail with two vessels bearing additional settlers and supplies for the settlement. Before they departed, however, news relating to the destruction of the colony by local Native Americans postponed the trip. Sailing on May 24th with the Walvis (whale) and the Teencoorntgen (little squirrel) with fifty men, de Vries came upon the burned settlement on December 5th, 1632.
According to de Vries, the Native Americans came upon the settlement as the colonists were working outside the walls and "struck them down."
Although the colony lasted barely a year, the claiming of the territory fostered Dutch resettlement of the lower Delaware Valley. In 1655, after approximently twenty- four years, they would intensify settlement efforts. The South River, including the Lewes area, became a flourishing Dutch colonial area. The settlement at Lewes also included a
As a result of political, economic, and military rivalries, in 1664 the Englished seized the Dutch holdings in New Netherland. Many Dutch settlers, however, remained and contributed to the political, social and economic development of the new English colony. (Picture included: Hand drawn map of Swanendael circa 1630s)
Erected by Delaware Historical and Cultural Affairs.
Location. 38° 47.177′ N, 75° 9.514′ W. Marker is in Lewes, Delaware, in Sussex County. Marker is on Pilottown Road (Front Street), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located opposite St. Peter's Pilottown Road Cemetery. Marker is in this post office area: Lewes DE 19958, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. deVries Monument (here, next to this marker); Lewes Maritime History Trail (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Home of Major Henry Fisher (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tapping the Power of Wind Energy in Coastal Delaware (approx. ¼ mile away); Maull House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Harbeson Railroad Station Privy (approx. one mile away); Frederick E. Hudson (approx. 1.1 miles away); Thompson Country Store (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lewes.
Regarding The De Vries Monument. National Register of Historical Places:
De Vries Palisade ** (added 1972 - Site - #72000299)
♦ Also known as DeVries Palisade of 1631 Fort Oplandt
♦ Address Restricted, Lewes
♦ Historic Significance: Event, Information Potential
♦ Area of Significance: Historic - Aboriginal, Commerce
♦ Cultural Affiliation: Dutch Settlers
♦ Period of Significance: 1600-1649
♦ Owner: Private , State
♦ Historic Function: Funerary, Landscape
♦ Historic Sub-function: Cemetery, Underwater
♦ Current Function: Funerary, Landscape, Transportation
♦ Current Sub-function: Cemetery, Road-Related, Underwater
Also see . . .
1. Captain David Pieterszoon de Vries. In 1629, 28 colonists sailed to North America and planted the Zwaanendael Colony in Lewes, Delaware for patroons of the company organized by five merchants from New Amsterdam (Submitted on December 1, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
2. Zwaanendael or Swaanendael. was a short lived Dutch colonial settlement in Delaware. In 1633, de Vries negotiated a treaty with the Indians and sailed up the Delaware River, attempting to trade for beans and corn. Failing his objective there, de Vries sailed to Virginia, where was successful in obtaining provisions for the colonists in Zwaanendael, to which he returned. He subsequently took the colonists to New Amsterdam. (Submitted on December 1, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
Categories. • Colonial Era • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 1, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,794 times since then and 94 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 6, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.