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De HART OR BERGEN HOUSE
FORMERLY THE CENTRE OF A HUNTER'S PARADISE
The relic of a frontier trading-post stood for years on the
shore of Gowanus Cove, west of Third Avenue, near 27th and 28th
Streets, known as the Simon BERGEN or De HART house. The land on
which the De HART house stood was a portion of the 930 acre tract
of land bought by William Adriaense BENNET and Jaques BENTYN in 1636,
extending from about 27th Street to the New Utrecht line at Bay Ridge.
The days of its most romantic history were when Simon Aerson De HART
owned, occupied, and dispensed his munificent hospitality to travellers,
fur-traders, missionaries, and Indians. It apparently mattered little
to mine host. who his guests were, so long as they enjoyed the bounty
of his table and tasted the excellent deer meat and wild turkey which
he served. Not a great deal would be known of his history, had not
Jasper DANKERS and Peter SLUYTER, Labadist Society in Holland, visited
De HART and his family when they came on a voyage to this country in 1678.
They describe him as a magnificent host, who with his wife was glad to
"We found a good fire,' they say, in speaking of the house, "half-way up
the chimney, of clear oak and hickory, of which they made not the least
scruple in burning profusely. We let it penetrate us thoroughly. There
had been already thrown upon it, to be roasted, a pail-ful of Gouanes
oysters, which are the best in the country. . . .
They are large and full, some of them not less than a foot long, and they
grow sometimes ten, twelve and sixteen together and are then like a piece
of rock. . . . In consequence of the great quantities of them, everybody
keeps the shells for the purpose of burning them into lime. They pickle
the oysters in small casks and send them to Barbadoes and other islands."
The travellers were treated a1so at the De HART house to roasted venision,
which had been purchased from the Indians for "three guilders and a half
of seevant, that is fifteen stuivers of Dutch money (fifteen cents),
and which weighed thirty pounds." They remark also concerning the spicy
flavor of the venison and its tenderness. They had, beides, wild turkey
and wild goose, and a sight of Simon's watermelons,-all in one meal.
"It was very late at night," they add, "when we went to rest in a Kermis bed,
as it is called, in the corner of the hearth, alongside of a good fire."
They arose early in the morning and saw Simon and his wife depart for the
city with their articles for marketing.
Several Indian huts were built near the house of Simon De HART, and
these dusky neighbors proved themselves troublesome and at times not a little
embarrassing. In the midst of one of their wild riotings, DANKERS and SLUYTER
fortunately appeared to record the circumstances. They say that,
when they arrived at Gouanes," they heard a great noise, shouting and
singing, fighting, brawling, and raging like wild beasts in the huts of
the Indians, who had drunk too freely of fire-water. Finally, with a series
of wild yells, "infuriated men pursued their squaws, who fled to De HART's
house for protection. The door was closed after those who sought safety had
been admitted, and tbe carousers were left outside to yell or return to their
huts, as they pleased.
In the early part of the nineteenth century Simon BERGEN, then the owner,
proposed to tear the old house down, but he was prevailed on to rescue it
from decay, which he did by adding a new roof and other repairs, and for a
number of years it remained, until crowded out by modern dwellings.
Schenck Homestead built in 1656
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