New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 

Typed notes of Jeannette Eckman (1947)
With permission of Delaware Historical Society

The Strand
Along the Strand nearly 300 years ago the first European life on
Now Castle's soil was lived. Dutch ships with their high poops and gay
color rode at anchor off the point; soldiers and workman lived In
the ships while Fort Casimir was being built under the supervision
of Director Stuyvesant, whose wooden log hampered his activity
not at all. The sound of the ax rang from the forest behind the
shore; Andries Hudde, the commissary and surveyor, moved along the
Strand south of the Fort, laying off lots for the men who were to
stay and later bring their families. Alexander Boyer, the
interpreter, talked with the Indians. Roeloff deHaes and other able
men doubtless conferred with Stuyvesant and lent a hand, In much
of the detail of fitting out this first settlement at the fort so
that Stuyvesant might depart with most of his ships, leaving one
for safety that would bring a final report to Manhattan as to the
welfare of those they left here.

In the summer of 1657, when a long row of houses with gardens and
orchards stretched along the Strand from present Chestnut Street
to the Battery, Andries Hudde, who had a house and garden on the
site of the present #26 and #28, sold the house to the Director of
the colony in the presence of the councillors and people for use
an a Dutch Reformed Church for the community. That same year the
first school teacher and reader in the church, Everet Pietersen,
came from Holland and It Is likely that here in the church on the
Strand he taught the 25 children who came to him at once.

Two doors above the church in what to now the Read Garden, Foppe
Jansen Outhout opened the first tavern. Here the soldiers from the
fort collected in the evening, and after their drinks of beer went
singing arm in arm up and down the Strand.

Director Alrichs had a house on the site of the garden of what is
now #54 the Strand. Among other early property owners between the
battery and Harmony Street, were Peter Alrichs, nephew of the
Director, Hendrick Jansen where #6 and #8 now are, Justa Andries,
Ephraim Herman, Isaac Tayne and Mathias and Emilius deRingh.
Emillius lived next to the church on the south side and was the
reader there for many years.

The arrival of the English ships in 1664 to take New Amstel for the
English, created a tragic disturbance in the peaceful life in the
houses and gardens along the Strand. In full view of the
inhabitants (there were no houses on the river side of the Strand
below the fort until after 1701) the English ships stood out in the
river, and when D'Hinojossa, the last of the Dutch governors,
refused to yield, fired their guns into the fort, killing three
Dutch soldiers and wounding ten. Then the English commander ordered
his soldiers to strip the settlement of most of its wealth. Their
cows and pigs were taken to feed the English on the ships; the
soldiers rounded up the negro slaves on the surrounding plantations,
herded them to the Strand and on to one of the English ships
which the commander sent to Maryland to trade the slaves for
foodstuffs and ship supplies. The best houses and plantations were
confiscated for English soldiers and officers who were to remain
in the colony. But after this ruthless beginning and the
departure of the commander, Sir Robert Carr, who received a
reprimand, the English and Dutch continued peaceably to develop
the Strand along the rest of the town. The church was repaired,
new houses and orchards appeared between those already there, so
that when William Penn arrived in 1682, the whole Strand must have
given a thrifty and attractive appearance. Embowered in trees,
with smoke curling from their brick chimnies and the bright tiles
of their roofs gleaming here and there in the sunlight, these
early wooden houses, looking out over the broad river were the
embodiment of the promises he was making to prospective settlers.

Penn began to assign plots on the east side of the Strand In
1701. Each lot owner on the west side might apply for and receive
a "bank lot", equal in breadth to his home lot and extending
back 600 feet into the river, on condition that within seven
years he would have a good wharf on his plot and would meanwhile
improve the land. Fifty feet was to be allowed for the street
between the home lots and the bank lots.

In the early eighteenth century there was a row of dwellings
on the bank lots, some with shop in front or beside them, and
with storehouses behind and wharves far out for landing and
mooring of the owners' small vessels and of incoming ships.

For individual houses and sites, see the detailed sections of
this report.