When reading about Fairfield you may come across a supposition that : “the Dutch decided to live on the bottomlands of the Passaic River, possibly because these lands reminded them of their native Holland.”
I’m glad that the author (Charles A. Poekel Jr.)* said “possibly” because, in my opinion, nothing was further from the truth.
The interior of Northern New Jersey was slower to settle because of it’s topography and hostile Indians that were avenging “Dutch” initiated eradication between 1643 and 1645 ). See ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kieft%27s_War ).It took decades for these atrocities to fade from memory and the eventual ‘burying of the hatchet’.
In 1664 when the English seized New Netherland Colony from the Dutch, many sought new lands in New Jersey by following the only thoroughfares then available : The Hudson, Passaic, Hackensack and Raritan rivers.
Navigation of the Passaic River ended at Acquackanonk Landing ( Passaic ) and further west were the Great Falls and the Little Falls. If that wasn’t enough, the Watchung’s ‘First’ and ‘Second’ Mountains could only be crossed with great difficulty. Even the few ‘notches’ were mountainous and hundreds of feet steep.
Of course these were only temporary obstacles and impediments to a growing and ever expanding population of anxious Settlers.
We can’t say that all Dutchmen could be reminded of their European homeland, because many, like Simon Van Ness, never even had seen the Netherlands. So what attracted our Frontier Fathers to Fairfield and the Passaic Valley ?
Of course it wasn’t the geographical isolation, swamps, mosquitoes, wolves, bears, wildcats, snakes, flooding, etc.
But rather, in my view, the Following :
As would be expected, the first Settlers would seek the highest elevations that featured proximity to as much as the above as possible.
Although not perfect, this was a virtual paradise to many, if not all. And, sorry Charlie, NOT because it ‘reminded them of their native Holland’
Paul Pollio - September 10, 2018
since writing this article three years ago, I recently read about the French Huguenot Immigration to America in 1623. Obviously these hardy Souls arrived here after departing through Holland with few, if any, desirous inclinations toward the Dutch Lowlands. So their observations and the following description of the lands here appear genuine and closely parallel the nine points noted above:
“We were much gratified” wrote the colonists, “on arriving in this country. Here we found beautiful rivers, bubbling fountains flowing down into the valleys; basins of running waters in the flatlands; agreeable fruits in the woods, such as strawberries, walnuts, and wild grapes. The woods abound with venison. There is considerable fish in the rivers; good tillage land; here is, especially, free coming and going, without fear of the naked natives of the country. Had we cows, hogs, and other cattle fit for food – which we daily expect in the first ships – we would not wish to return to Holland.” **
* Poekel, Charles A., West Essex – Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, and Roseland. ( 1999 ) Arcadia Publishing.
** Baird, Charles W. D.D. History of the Huguenot Emigration to America. (1966) Regional Publishing Company.