top of page

Dutch Life and Worship on Staten Island 1642 to 1673

To 17th

Century 1

Cornelius Melyn Trades with the Indians

Cornelius Melyn, early Dutch settler of New Netherland and third Patroon of Staten Island trades with the Indians near his settlement, which lasted from June 19, 1642 to November 1643, when he and his settlers were forced to retreat to Manhattan.

Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Borough President's Office/Michael Falco

First Reformed Christmas on Staten Island -- 1656

In 1655, the 3rd attempted Dutch colony at today’s Tompkinsville was destroyed by the Hackensack Indians.  Adrian Post, superintendent of the colony, with his wife, Cleertje, and family, escaped but remained on Staten Island. 


Reformed Minister, Samuel Drisius, is documented as visiting as early as 1656. 

It can be inferred that the Post family would have attended his service.


Post was also one of 19 petitioners for “property for farmland” in 1661 that became the first permanent settlement at South Beach.  

By 1661 it may be fairly inferred that there was a little [Dutch Reformed] church here.  It may have been under some spreading oak of the primeval forest at Oude Dorp, where the first permanent settlement of Dutch was made.  

The first period of the church was necessarily one of small beginning.  The churches were planted in the wilderness. They encountered all the difficulties of new colonies, surrounded and vastly out numbered by unpredictable  indigienous tribes, separated by long distances from each other, and dependent entirely upon Holland for their clergy and school teachers.

Returning to Holland

from Manhattan in 1661, Melyn sold his interest in Staten Island to the Dutch West India Company for $600,

clearing the way that year for the first permanent settlement on Staten Island.

Samuel Drisius formally becomes Staten Island's
first Dutch Reformed pastor in 1663
just ahead of the surrender to England in 1664

Drisius had been hired by the Dutch West Indian Company.  He spoke Dutch, French and English.  He was intermediary for Stuyvesant in negotiatons with the Virginia English Colony.  Beginning In 1663 Samuel Drisius provided the first regular service to the settlers of Oude Dorp.


His bi-monthly visits marked the formal arrival of Western religion. The Rev. Samuel Drisius crossed from Manhattan once a month to preach to them.  There was a Huguenot settlement a short time afterwards.

Power of Attorney from Samuel D. Drisius to his

friend Eduard Man to pick up his salary

from the Dutch West India Company.

Huguenot Settlement

on Staten Island

There was a Huguenot settlement shortly afterwards, parties of these having fled to Holland to escape from persecution, and having come over to New Netherland in company with their new friends. After a season the French church and organization passed away, and the great body of its members became blended with the Dutch inhabitants in the Dutch Reformed Church.

In his report to the Classis in Amsterdam, prior to the first English conquest in 1664, the Reverend Samuel Drisius wrote: "The French on Staten Island would also gladly have a preacher, but their families are few in number and poor so that they cannot contribute much to the support of the Gospel and as such our support here is unpunctual and small, there is no probability that they will settle a preacher. In the meantime that they may not be wholly destitute, Governor Stuyvesant at their request, has permitted me to go and preach there every two months and administer the Lord’s Supper…” 

Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Borough President's Office/Michael Falco

Following Rev. Samuel Drisius' death in 1673 our Old Dutch Church was served by a Voorlezer then by visiting minister Rev. Casparus Van Zuren of Long Island between 1678 and 1681.

 In 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered Manhattan

with an invasion force of some 600 men.


But they gave it up the following year as part of a peace treaty

in which they retained Suriname in South America,

because they thought it was going to be worth more.

Before the English 1664

In 1664 Governor Stuyvesant described the dwellings of "twelve or fourteen families of Dutch and French from the Palatinate" as "slightly constructed of straw and clapboards", with a "small slight, wooden blockhouse, about 18 or 20 feet square in the center of their homes."

In 1664 the colors in the Dutch gown were almost uniformly gay -- in keen contrast to the sad colored garments of New England.  For example, green cloth petticoat, red and blue waist coat, a pair of yellow and red sleeves, a purple apron.

As there were neither laws nor religious restrictions to control the manner or materials of Dress, we find the prevailing fashion among the citizens, Very elaborate.  The working garb of the Dutch peasant woman consisted of a short woolen petticoat with a loose jacket of red cotton or blue Holland, a white kerchief folded around the shoulders, and a close white cap.

The Kitchen Maid  by Johannes Vermeer  

Dutch women were marvelous house-wives.  They concocted medicines and distilled perfumes from the plants in their flourishing gardens. The woolen garment worn by the family as well as the household linens and underwear were usually made under the home roof. They had a shrewd knowledge of merchantile pursuits and often carried on business for themselves and invested their savings in trading ventures.  Their houses were scrupulously neat.  White curtains usually hung in the leaden shashed windows, and pot of flowers stood on the ledges, while a great loom was placed under the sloping roof of the the back stoop.

Every family made a coarse cloth called linsey-woolsey, the warp being the linen and the woof of wool.  The ordinary working dress of a man was probably of homespun linsey-woolsey with hose of hand-knitted yarn.

To 17th

Century 3

bottom of page