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6. EUROPEAN IMMIGRANTS:
FARMERS, ARTISANS AND MERCHANTS

 

Delftware bowlDuring the 17th and 18th centuries, immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, France, the Low Countries, and present-day Germany entered Manhattan and the lower Hudson Valley. The newcomers saw this frontier as a place of opportunity.

 

ArmchairSome of these immigrants and their descendants settled on the manor of Philipsburg. These tenants rented a farmstead on Philipsburg Manor, in contrast to the more common colonial American model of outright ownership of land. Not only did the tenants pay rent to Philipse, but they also agreed to have all their wheat and rye processed at Philipse's mills. This produce was then sent to the West Indies and elsewhere in the form of flour and hardtack. In addition, contracts demanded that tenant farmers improve the value of the land by constructing houses and farm buildings and clearing and cultivating fields and orchards. Philipse saw the opportunity to sell tenant farmers household goods imported from Europe as yet one more way to create wealth.

 

Chinese bowlBy the end of the 17th century, nearly 30 families with Dutch, German, French, Walloon (Belgian-French) and English surnames lived on the Manor. During the 18th century, the manor prospered. In 1779, a tax list recorded 174 taxpayers, or a population of almost 1,000 people.

 

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