In 1633, the first Dutch and English colonists settled along the banks of the Connecticut River. Although the Dutch got a head start by building the Huys de Hoop outpost in as early as 1623, the English settlers quickly caught up when they created two settlements ten years later. Huys de Hoop, the first European settlement in Connecticut, was seized by the English later on. These events are recorded on the Biblical Timeline with World History during that time.
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The Dutch Settlement Along the Connecticut River
The Dutch fur-trader and explorer Adriaen Block was the first known European to explore the coast of Connecticut from the Long Island Sound in 1614. Block and his crew came upon a river that the native Pequot named Quinnehtukqut (“the long tidal river” in Algonquin). Apart from the Pequot, Block recorded that the area was also home to other Algonquian peoples, such as the Mohegan and the Paugussett.
Block and his men were able to sail upriver until they reached the location of present-day Hartford. He then claimed the area for the Netherlands, but it remained safe from colonization for many years. It would not be until 1623 that the Dutch West India Company sent men to build a trading outpost and fort there. The Dutch named the area Huys de Hoop (House of Hope) and used it as a base for the fur trade. It later expanded into a city and was renamed as “Hartford” when it was seized by the English.
English Settlements in Connecticut
War broke out between River Indians and Dutch-supported Pequot in 1631. To counter the Pequot, the River Indian chief Wahginnacut decided to make an alliance with the English settlers. He and his men first traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and appealed to Governor Winthrop for support. Wahginnacut appealed to the governor by telling him how fertile their land was in hopes of enticing him to build a settlement there. Winthrop listened, but he was not keen on making an alliance with them.
Wahginnacut then traveled to the nearby Plymouth colony and appealed this time to Governor Edward Winslow. The governor was more receptive to Wahginnacut’s appeal, and he soon organized an expedition with his men to the Connecticut River. It remains unclear whether it was Winslow or William Holmes who established the town of Windsor around 1632. The English town was built just beyond the Dutch fort in Hartford which was finished in 1633. The English also cemented their alliance with the displaced River Indians by bringing them back to the area.
Around the same time, a settler named John Oldham left Plymouth with his men and explored the Connecticut River. Oldham was at the center of a disagreement among the settlers of Plymouth, so he was eager to escape the colony and look for a place to call their own. The news of a fertile land along the banks of the Connecticut River and the chance to escape the conflicts of the colony seemed too good to be true. The possibility of benefitting from the fur-trade with the River Indians was an additional bonus.
Oldham and his men saw that the land indeed was fertile. They returned to Plymouth and reported it to the settlers. In 1633, Oldham and his companions sailed into the Connecticut River and established Watertowne (present-day Wethersfield). The new English town was just a stone’s throw away from the Dutch-controlled Hartford and the town of Windsor. The three towns established an alliance in 1636 and created the Colony of Connecticut.
“Connecticut’s Oldest English Settlement.” ConnecticutHistory.org. Accessed August 01, 2017. https://connecticuthistory.org/connecticuts-oldest-english-settlement/.
Rich, E.E. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War 1609-48/59. Edited by J.P. Cooper. Vol. 4. London: Cambridge University Press, 1971.
Winthrop, John. History of New England from 1630 to 1649. Vol. 1. Phelps and Farnham, 1825.
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