Where One Gathers the Wood to Make Bows (aka, Manhattan)

William Starna (Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the State University of New York College at Oneonta) has a fascinating short article on the Origins of the Name Manhattan:

The event is a storied one. In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River from unknown and unnamed although otherwise Munsee-speaking Indians, at a yet undiscovered location, for an equally obscure price. The acquisition has been celebrated by any number of paintings and sketches—all of undeniable invention—but also tarnished by the unmasking of a phony deed of sale. The island’s name, however, is no mystery. Indeed, it is the first native language place name recorded by European interlopers between the Maine coast and Chesapeake Bay. Entered in Robert Juet’s log of Hudson’s third voyage of 1609 and engraved on the 1610 Velasco map are the words Manna-hata, Manahata, and Manahatin—today’s Manhattan. And as is the case with all place names, no matter the original language, attempts have been made to pry meaning from this word’s oldest recorded forms.

Although a comprehensive listing is not offered here, a first effort to find a meaning, a translation of Manhattan, is that of the late-eighteenth-century Moravian missionary John Heckewelder, who provided what turns out to be a folk etymology— “the island where we all became intoxicated.” Henry Schoolcraft, an acknowledged authority on Indians, added “people of the whirlpool,” a nod to conditions at the tidal strait called Hell Gate on the East River. J. Hammond Trumball, a philologist of some note out of Connecticut, supplied “island,” echoed some years later by William Wallace Tooker’s “an island” and “a hill island.” Edward Ruttenber, of Hudson Valley history fame and following what others had to say, simply made it the name of the native people who inhabited the island—the Manhattans. Today, however, there is a popular consensus that Manhattan means “land of many hills,” “island of many hills,” or “hilly island.”

In 1907, William Beauchamp, in his notable Aboriginal Place Names of New York, summarized all that was known at the time of Manhattan’s meaning, adding, however, an 1885 account by a Delaware Indian that “Manahatouh” (Man-ă-hă-tonh in the original) was a place where wood to fashion bows and arrows could be found. This Delaware, Albert Anthony, as linguist Ives Goddard tells us, knew full well the meaning of Manhattan as rendered in Munsee, his native language. Educated at Huron College in London, Ontario, Anthony was ordained an Anglican priest in 1873. In the 1880s he worked with ethnologist Daniel Brinton, co-authoring A Lenâpé-English Dictionary (Philadelphia, 1889). Still, what Anthony had offered became lost among the many guesses, misattributions, and inventions where place names are vulnerable to distortion and corruption. But thanks to Anthony, and most recently an expert historical and linguistic analysis by Ives Goddard, beginning with the three original early-seventeenth-century versions of the word “Manhattan,” it can confidently be said that it carries the meanings: “where one gathers the wood to make bows”; “place for gathering the wood to make bows”; and “at the place for gathering the wood to make bows.” As Goddard reminds us, “The true word recovers the true history.

“Information drawn from Ives Goddard, “The Origin and Meaning of the Name ‘Manhattan,’” New York History 92, 4 (2010): 277–293.

Defend the Black Vote!

One of our neighbors, the amazing writer Troy Lewis – https://www.gasmoneybook.com/bio-encore – forwarded us a powerful video from The People for the American Way entitled Defend the Black Vote:

2020 V.O.T.E !

Whose Land?

There is a great new map out that attempts to show the where the First People of North America lived pre-1492. The difficulty of representing the fluidity of boundaries is, of course, present here, but we are at least presented with fact that the United States was not an unoccupied space, ready for frictionless colonization.

In the screenshot below you can see how our region was the site of a dense, tightly intertwined network of cultural and linguistic groups.

Getting closer in, the island of Mannahatta was inhabited and used by two groups. The indigenous nation which fished, farmed, hunted, and lived on northern Mannahatta – in what is now Harlem – was the Wappinger Munsee Lenape

And the language spoken here before the Dutch arrived was Montauk huluniixsuwaakan, a variant of Munsee.

To see the full map which covers North American and Australia, and parts of other regions, click here: https://native-land.ca/

WTF Should I Do?

Living in a blue corner of a reliably blue state can be frustrating when looking at the electoral college system which rewards states that seem to have more cows than people.

DemCast is a great outlet for the “WTF can I do?” question that bedevils many of us who would like to engage in this crucial election.

To search for opportunities by state, click here, and choose a (tossup) state you want to have an impact on.

Beer in Dutch (New) Harlem

From the very beginning of Harlem, beer was an essential drink among the European colonists. James Riker notes in “History of Harlem” that:

In 1667 beer was the common beverage in the Dutch Colony. “At vendues, or in making contracts or settlements, its presence was deemed indispensable to the proper transaction of the business. The magistrates when occupying the bench always had beer brought in, running up a score with the tapster at the public charge. Nor did the ordination of elders and deacons, or funeral solemnities, form an exception. At such times wine and other liquors, with pipes and tobacco, were also freely distributed. Families commonly laid in their beer by the quarter and half vat, or barrel. — Much of the beer consumed here (in New Harlem) was brewed by Johannes Vermilye, while the breweries of Daniel Verveelen, Isaac de Forest, and Jacob Kip, at New York, were also patronized.”[4]

There were, however, also laws that attempted to restrict the sale of alcohol to the Lenape people in and around Harlem. This prohibition was signed by Nichols, the English ruler of New York, in 1664

A Warrant to the Magistrates of Harlem for the Prohibition of the sale of strong liquors to Indians. Whereas, I am informed of several abuses that are done and committed by the Indians, occasioned much through the liberty some persons take of selling Strong Liquors unto them; These are to require you that you take special care that none of your Town presume to sell any sort of Strong Liquors or Strong Beer unto any Indian, and if you shall find any person offending therein, that you seize upon such Liquor and bring such person before me, to make answers for the offense. Given under my hand, at Fort James, in New York, this 18th of March, 1664 [1665 N. S.]. RICHARD NICOLLS.

The presence, of course, of this “Prohibition” indicates that “the sale” was in fact, a common practice – common enough to warrant special mention.

Beer was not only regulated, but was also taxed – not only in terms of volume but also in terms of quality. This accusation (against Johannes Verveelen) was for his failure to pay tax on beer:

Most Honorable Heeren, Overseers of this Town: Whereas Johannes Verveelen, ordinary-keeper in this town, did on the 6th February wickedly smuggle one-half vat of good beer; on the i8th April, one vat of good beer and one anker of rum; on the 27th of April, one-half vat of good beer; on the 8th May, one-half vat of good beer; on the 27th May, one-half vat of good beer and one anker of rum; all which is contrary to the existing placards on the subject of smuggling, and by the high magistracy approved. Therefore the plaintiff, ex-officio the preserver of the peace, demands that the defendant be condemned in the penalty of twenty-one hundred guilders, according to the placards, together with the costs of prosecution. The I4th June, 1667, in N. Harlem. Yours, Honorable Heeren, DANIEL, TOURNEUR, Deputy Sheriff.

The tavern of the day was Verveelen’s:

At the comer of the lower street and third crossway, Verveelen’s tavern hung out its sign-board, its site now on the north line of 123d street, 300 feet west of 1st avenue. Well patronized, too, by the lovers of good-cheer and goed bier, this is shown by the frequency with which he supplied his vault with goed bier and klegn bier, Spanish wine and rum

The tavern’s site is where (today) the Wagner Projects are located:

And, I can’t end a piece on beer without mentioning Harlem Hops, Harlem’s amazing 21st century pub at 2268 ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JUNIOR BOULEVARD.

Harlem Hops notes that takeout is now available. They write:

Please check out our menu below and call us at 646-998-3444 We are delivering within a 20 block radius of the bar.

If you’re not in the NYC area but would still like to support us, click on the link to our Swag shop where you will fine some cool Harlem Hops Merchandise and Merchandise Gift cards for purchase. If you want to purchase an in-store gift cards, please click on the In-Store Gift Card link. You can also support by donating to our non-profit organization Harlem Hopes.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and your continued patronage

Team Harlem Hops