On a little  hill  far out in the northwestern suburb of the city of New York
so remote that it would have been girded about by Hudson, Canal, and Vestry 
streets, had those thoroughfares then existed stood a century and a half ago 
the farm-house of Leonard Lispenard.  The farm to which this
house related was a portion of the estate that was known to successive 
generations as the Duke's Farm, the King's Farm, the Queen's Farm, and 
finally-when it became by gift the property of the English Church-as the 
Church Farm.* Lispenard's holding, of which he was the lessee from 
Trinity, was  styled  specifically the  Dominie's Bouerie, or the Dominie's 
Hook, and was a considerable property lying between the North River
and a bit of swamp where now is West Broadway.

* The Corporation of Trinity claimed title to this property on
the ground that it was a part of the King's Farm ; and also on the
ground that it had been conveyed by the widow of the Dominie
Bogardus to Governor Lovelace, and by him granted to the English Church.

The southern line of the farm was close upon that of the present Reade 
Street, and thence it extended to the southern edge of the wide valley 
through which discharged lazily into the Hudson the stream  from the  
Collect, or Fresh Water Pond. 
Where that stream then was, now is Canal Street and what with the cutting 
down of the hills and the filling in of the hollows, one must 
look keenly to make sure that ever there was a valley here at all.  Of the 
swamp, that once made a large part of the valley a dangerous quagmire, 
there does not remain a trace-save, possibly, in some of the cellars 
thereabouts; nor would any chance wayfarer along Canal Street be likely to 
identify this region with the meadows which came by luck and love into the 
possession of Leonard Lispenard, and which for more than a 
century-until they were wholly buried beneath the advancing piles of houses 
and ceased to be meadows at all-were known by his name. 
For a long while after the settlement of this island the valley to the 
westward of the Fresh Water Pond remained in its primitive condition: 
a morass covered with a tangled growth of briers and bushes and young trees.  
It was dangerous alike to animals of four legs and of two.  So 
many cattle wandered into it and were lost by being swamped that the Council 
caused it to be fenced off.  So rank were the miasmatic vapors arising from 
it that tertian fevers, with their imtimediate aguish chills, fell upon those 
humans luckless enough to dwell near its borders.  In addition to all of 
which, this marshy barrier extending across two-thirds of the island confined 
the growth northward of the city to a narrow strip 
of land on the East River shore.  Sooner or later, of course, the abatement 
of so serious a nuisance was inevitable; but that it was effected sooner 
rather than later was due to the discreet intelligence of Anthony Rutgers, 
who saw a chance to advance the city's interests (without in the least 
retarding his own) by turning this pestilent quag into honest dry land on 
condition that it should be made over to him as a free gift.
His various reasons why this modest proposition should be accepted are set 
forth in his petition to the King in Council-in which petition
also is exhibited the condition of this region about the year 1730-in the 
following terms:
" The said swamp is constantly filled with standing water for which there is 
no natural vent, and being covered with bushes and small trees is, by
the stagnation and rottenness of it, become exceedingly dangerous and of 
fatal consequence to all the inhabitants of the north part of the city
bordering near the same, they being subject to very many diseases and 
distempers which, by all physicians and by long experience, are imputed 
to the unwholesome vapours arising thereby and as the said swamp is upon a 
level with the waters of Hudson and the South [East] rivers, no person has 
ever yet attempted to clear the same, nor ever can under a grant thereof 
which is to expire with the next new Governor, for the expense of
clearing the same will be so great, and the length of time in doing the same 
such that it never will be attempted but by a grantee of the fee simple 
thereof, and as the same can be of no benefit until it  is  cleared, so  no  
person has hitherto accepted a grant of the said land, but the same hath 
lain, and still remains, unimproved and uncultivated, to the great prejudice 
and annoyance of the adjacent farms, particularly to a farm of your 
petitioners, adjoining thereto, which your petitioner, after having been at a 
great charge and expense in settling, cannot prevail on any tenant 
to take the same, or get any servants to continue there for any time while 
the said swamp remains in its present state."
Coupled with this sombre presentment of the matter was the affidavit of one 
Dr. Moses Buchanan to prove that things really were very bad 
indeed.  He swore, did Dr. Moses, that " having been at New York from the 
fifteenth day of April, 1727, to July, 1730," he in that time had had 
" several of the inhabitants who lived bordering on the said swamp under his 
care for agues and fevers which, to the best of his judgment and 
belief, were occasioned by the unwholesome damps and vapours arising from the 
said swamp."
In short, so moving was this mass of testimony that the Council,acceding to 
the request of the accretive Anthony, granted to him out of hand the fee to 
the swamp-being, in all, a parcel of seventy acres-on condition that he 
should pay for it " a moderate quit-rent," and that, also, he should "clear 
and drain it within a year."  On the whole, this is one of the neatest 
operations in real estate that is recorded in the annals of New York.
But it was the son-in-law of the operator who got the good of the operation.  
About the time that the swamp was drained and cleared, and a good part of it 
made into useful meadow land, Mr. Leonard Lispenard came down from his hill 
to the home of his neighbor Rutgers in the valley, and there made a 
love-match (and at the same time made a handsome stroke for the bettering of 
his own fortunes) by marrying his neighbor's daughter.  Out of these 
conditions it resulted that when Anthony Rutgers was gathered to his fathers 
and his realty suddenly shrunk to something less than twelve square feet of 
land (and even to this his only title was that of occupancy), the meadows 
passed to his daughter and her husband: and thenceforward were known as 
Lispenard's Meadows until, as I have said, their claim to any sort of a rural 
designation was buried beneath brick walls.

From the Bk : In Old New York
Janvier, Thomas
Orig. Copyright 1894
This book is available at Barnes & Noble. It is in its 10th printing.

Photo: Anderson, Alexander , 1775-1870 -- Artist
Created Date:ca. 1800 
Depicted Date:ca. 1800