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Saturday, September 7, 2013

New York's First Murder

Yesterday marked a somber date in New York City history -- the 404th anniversary of the city's first murder.

It happened on September 6, 1609, just days after Henry Hudson and the crew of the ship Half Moon had arrived in the area of what would become New York City.

Hudson had anchored the ship somewhere near Sandy Hook (where they later ran aground). He sent a shallop to explore, and his crew ran into a band of Native Americans.

We know of the incident from the journal of Robert Juet, Hudson's first mate. He wrote:
"The sixth, in the morning, was faire weather, and our master sent John Colman, with foure other men in our boate, over to the north-side to sound the other river, being foure leagues from us. They found by the way shoald water, two fathoms; but at the north of the river eighteen, and twentie fathoms, and very good riding for ships; and a narrow river to the westward, betweene two ilands. The lands, they told us, were as pleasant with grasse and flowers and goodly trees as ever they had seene, and very sweet smells came from them. So they went in two leagues and saw an open sea, and returned; and as they came backe, they were set upon by two canoes, the one having twelve, the other fourteene men. The night came on, and it began to rayne, so that their match went out; and they had one man slaine in the fight, which was an Englishman, named John Colman, with an arrow shot into his throat, and two more hurt. It grew so darke that they could not find the ship that night, but labored to and fro on their oars. They had so great a streame, that their grapnell would not hold them."
The next day Hudson and his crew buried Colman, at the spot they named Colman's Point that is now lost to us.

Juet relates:
"The seventh, was faire, and by ten of the clocke they returned aboord the ship, and brought our dead man with them, whom we carried on land and buryed, and named the point after his name, Colmans Point. Then we hoysed in our boate, and raised her side with waste boords for defence of our men. So we rode still all night, having good regard to our watch."
A few days later, on September 11, 1609, Hudson and his crew would sail up the river -- now the Hudson -- on their way past Manhattan for the first time.

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Read more New York City history in

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