The History of New York State
Book II, Chapter II
Part IV

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


In the early yeas of the fifth decade important grants were made both on Manhattan island and in the vicinity for farming purposes, indicating that the condition of the colony was prosperous and that the population was increasing. An important patent was the grant in August, 1641, of land on Achter Cul, later Newark Bay, including the valley of the Hackingsack River. It extended north towards Vriesendael, the plantation of De Vries. The patent was to Myndert Van der Horst, who established a bouwery and a small redoubt on the land granted. Cornelius Melyn, who had been absent in Holland, returned in August, 1641, and although De Vries was in possession of part of the island, and Lieft had a distillery there, Melyn was permitted to establish a plantation on Staten Island, near the Narrows. He subsequently received, moreover, under directions from the West India company, a patent, as patroon, over the entire island, excepting the portion reserved for the plantation of De Vries. A number of small plots for dwelling were also in 1641 and 1642 granted on Manhattan Island below the line of the present Wall Street. The plots are described as generally about 50 or 150 feet in breadth.

In the meantime the expedition against the Weckquaesgecks was fitted out and in march, 1642, was ready to set out. It consisted of some eighty men, under command of Ensign Van Dyck, an officer of the port, Director Kieft finding prudent excuses for resigning to another the leadership of the expedition. The company crossed the Harlem River and entered the Westchester territory, with orders to visit the aborigines with fire and sword. An incompletely worked out line of route and the darkness of the night prevented the expedition from reaching the settlement of the Indians and the ensign ordered a retreat to New Amsterdam. The show of force had strong effect on the Weckqaesgecks and they made overtures in which they promised to deliver the murderer of Claes Smits into the hands of the Dutch. Peace as a result was concluded and formally signed at the house of Jonas Bronck, the prosperous colonist on the Bronx River. the attempted imposition of a tribute upon the tribes in the vicinity of Manhattan , however, and the fact that the cattle of the settlers were not restrained from trampling on the crops of the aborigines kept alight the flame of discontent. In the meantime the murderer of Smits remained shielded by the Weckquaesgecks, and a new occurrence brought the feeling of enmity into active play again. A Hackensack Indian, for some reason not clearly indicated, shot a Dutch colonist who was at work on Van der Horst's plantation, near the Hackensack and North rivers. This was a repetition of the Smits affair, and the same penalty was demanded as in the earlier case. The chiefs of the tribe to which the murderer belonged offered to go to the fort and make compensation in the form of blood money, but the director-general demanded as the sole reparation that the savage should be delivered at the fort. The reply was that he had absconded and had taken refuge with the Tankitekes and that such occurrences only happened through the practice of Europeans, in selling liquor to the Indians. The Director immediately made a demand on Pacham, chief of the Tankitekes, for the delivery of the murderer, but a scoffing answer was all that came back.

Massacre of Indians--An army of Iroquois had, as these events were transpiring, swooped down from their strongholds in the north for the purpose of collecting tribute from the Westchester and river tribes and drove before them a host of terrified Indians, who took refuge, some of them on the plantation of De Vries, at Vriesendael, some among the Hackensack on the west side of the river, another on different parts of Manhattan Island, for the most part at Corlaer's Hoeck, on the East River. Director Kieft had no sympathy with these refugee savages. On the contrary he considered that they had been delivered by providence into his hands and he determined to inflict on them the punishment he was unable to inflict on the murderers of Smits and Van Voorst, the later victim. De Vries and Bogardus, as well as the more prudent of the counsellors of the director, strongly advised against the measures proposed, but three of the former twelve men, and these three men signed a petition to that effect. This support decided Kieft and he accordingly got ready t new expedition without apparently giving warning to the various outlying settlers. De Vries was insistent in his warnings that not the Indians, but the colonists in unprotected places would be the chief sufferers, and that the aborigines would not hesitate to take vengeance on them. It was decided top send part of the force to Pavonia and another part to drive away those Indians who, in their distress, had taken refuge at Coerlaer's Hoeck. The marching orders to the expedition that went to Pavonia were couch as follows: "Sergeant Rodolf is authorized and commanded to take under his command a troop of solders and lead them to Pavonia, and drive away and destroy the savages being behind John Evertsens; but to spare, as much as it is possible their wives and children, and to take the savages prisoners. Done, February 25, 1643."

The expedition made an attack at midnight upon a settlement of the refugee Tappans, who were under no suspicion of peril from the whites, the Dutchmen murdering, mostly in their sleep, over eight men, women and children, with many attendant circumstances of cruelty. It was said that the shrieks of the victims were heard even at the fort. The other expedition made a surprise attack on the innocent refugee at Coerlaer's Hoeck and murdered at least forty of them, including women and children. The soldiers then returned to New Amsterdam in triumph, bearing prisoners and trophies with them. Little thought at the time was given to the effect the massacres would have on feeling among the surrounding Indians. The whites had given evidence that their coats of mail and advantage would continue. Meanwhile, under the elation of the victory, a further unauthorized foray was made by the inhabitants of New Amsterdam, on Long island, against the Marechkawiecks, a peaceable tribe, living near the present Brooklyn, a number of whom were assassinated.

Negotiations for Peace--Events such as these could have only one effect. They exasperated the red men beyond all bounds, threw the various hostile tribes together, and initiated an era of grievous trouble. A dozen or so of the Indian tribes began to act in unison and made preparations for the annihilation of their pale-faced enemies in New Amsterdam and its environs. Settlements were attacked and destroyed, crops were ruined and cattle killed and taken away, houses were burned, and men being killed, and the women and children often taken into captivity. In a short time every plantation in New Netherland was exposed to destruction, so that the terrified settlers had no other course, but to flee to the fort for safety or to abandon the country altogether and go home to Holland. Roger Williams happened to be in New Amsterdam at the time on his way to Europe and was a witness to the chaos that prevailed. "Before we weighed anchor," he records, "mine eyes saw the flames at their towns, and the flights and hurries of men, women and children, and the present removal of all that could for Holland." Within a brief period there were only three bouweries that remained entire on the island of Manhattan, and two on Staten Island.

De Vries relates that the Indians burned his farm, cattle, corn, barn, tobacco house, and al the tobacco, and attacked his people, who took refuge in the dwelling, which was made with embrasures, where they defended themselves. They were saved from destruction by a friendly Indian, who De Vries had formerly protected, and as a result his house and brewery were spared. In view of the peril of a general calamity practically all the men in New Amsterdam were enrolled as soldiers under pay and pace was sought to be made with the Long Island Indians. The overtures had small success. The aborigines were then thirsting for vengeance and wanted more fight. Things were different a little later, and in march, 1643, they showed a disposition towards peace and sent delegates to the fort. De Vries and one Jacob Olfertsen volunteered to go to a place called Rech-qua-akie, or Rockaway, to treat with them, and after being hospitably entertained and lodged for the night there, proceeded at daybreak with the Indians to a neighboring wood, where the council began its session.

At the head of the assemblage sat Pennawitz, the chief of the Carnarsees, with sixteen of his principal sachems; while the copper-colored warriors stood round in a circle with a mien that betokened that they were ready for more war should the pale faces show any disposition to wreak further injustice upon them.

Pennawitz enumerated to De. Vries and his companion the injuries that the Indians had sustained at the hands of the Netherland people; and at the end of every charge, laid down, for emphasis and enumeration, a little stick. The two Hollanders saw the pile of tick grown as the chief proceeded and saw the scowl deepening on the faces of the warriors around him. Fearing what might be the result, De Vries, cut in with a proposal that delegates from their number should go to the fort on Manhattan, where they would receive presents and where peace would be concluded. There was silence when this proposal was heard and then objections were heard, for the red men naturally hesitated about putting themselves in the hands of enemies who had shown themselves so ruthless and so unscrupulous. Finally, in the words of De Vries, "one of the chiefs who knew me said, 'WE will go on the faith of your word, for the Indians have never found you to be as the other Swannekins'; finally, twenty of us went, sitting in a canoe, or hollow tree, which is their boat; and the edge was not a hand's breadth above the water. Arrived at the fort, William Kieft came and made peace with the Indians and gave them some presents. He requested them to bring those chiefs to the fort who had lost so many Indians, as he wished also to make peace with them and to give them presents. Then some of them went, and bought the Indians of Hackensack and Tappan and the vicinity, and the chiefs came forward, to whom he made presents, but they were not well content with them. They told me that he could make peace by his presents so that those days would never again be spoken of; but not it might fallout that the infants upon the small boards would be remembered. Then they went away, grumbling at their presents." The terms of the peace were that all injuries received on both sides should be considered forgiven, and that no further molestation should be made on either side. The Indians, moreover, bound themselves to report any plots against the Dutch by other of the aborigines who were not represented in the treaty.

The troubles, however, still went on. While quiet was restored at one point hostilities would break out at another. The Dutch had their hands full coping with them. An expedition was sent to Staten Island, under ensign Van Dyck, and another to Westchester, under Captain John Underhill. There were many skirmishes, but it at last dawned on the Indians that the superior equipment of their adversaries was too much for them. Peace was not finally established on any sound basis till August 1645. On the twenty-fifth of that month an assembly of Dutchmen and Indian chiefs met within the wall of Fort Amsterdam and signed a treaty. One of the conditions agreed upon was that all cases of injury to persons or property on either side were to be laid before the respective authorities. No armed Indian was to come within the line of the settlement. No colonist was to visit the Indian villages without a native to escort him. In celebration of the peace and in recognition of the overruling providence who had thus caused a period of terror to come to a happy end, the director-general proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. On September 6, 1645, it was recommended that in all places where there were any English or Dutch church, God Almighty should be thanked and praised.

New Representative Body--During the active troubles with the Indians, Director-Kieft had more than once found himself obliged to seek counsel and support among the people in the settlement in a manner to which he would not have resorted in time of peace. The twelve men having been got rid of, a new representative body had to be got together. This new body consisted of eight men, after the number favored for a long time before in Dutch history. The eight men continued to watch out for the interests of the people after the war was over, and in their activities may be recognized the first functioning of a municipal body in New York. They protested against the excessive duties levied by Kieft to meet the expenses of the war, and , under the leadership of Patroon Melyn, of Staten Island, they drew up a formal complaint against Kieft's tyrannical methods, charging that his brutality had been the source of the Indian War and his incompetence the cause of its prolongation. The Complaints were sent to the West India company and made deep impression. Indeed, so discouraged were the directors of the company over affairs in New Netherland that it was seriously debated whether the better plan would not be to bring the settlers back again to Holland and abandon the enterprise of a transatlantic colony altogether.

Two important buildings were erected in New Amsterdam in 1642. At the time there seems to have been a good deal of profitable trade with the neighboring colonies and often ships came into the port carrying merchants whom it was good policy to receive politely. They were entertained as a rule at the house of the director-general, but manifestly this arrangement had its disadvantages, and Kieft had the good sense to plan the erection of a hostel of the kind well known in the Netherlands at home, namely, a Stadt Herberg, or city tavern. A house of the kind was accordingly built at the head of what is now Coenties slip. It was made of stone or brick, two or three stories in height, with a high sloping roof, in which were placed two or three tiers of dormer windows. The site is indicated at the present time by a bronze tablet in the wall of the building that stands on the site. There is another sort of interest attaching the dwelling, since it came to be used as the town hall in the days both of the Dutch and of the English occupation. The church of the fort was built almost simultaneously with the Stadt Herberg. It is said that De Vries one day observed to the director-general that it was a shame that the people of New Amsterdam should be forced to worship in a church building as mean as a barn, while the New England villages had by that time already all been possessed of regular chapels and churches. Kieft asked the captain how much he would be willing to subscribe towards a proper edifice, and De Vries at once made a pledge of a hundred florins if Kieft was willing to give as much. The director agreed, and then resorted to a curious expedient to get the funds that were needed. A wedding was soon to take place--Sarah, the daughter of Anneke Jans was to be married to Hans Kierstede, surgeon or physician. Anneke Jans was the widow of Roelof Jans, to whom had been grated, in 1636, the company’s farm No. 1, or part of it, a tract of sixty-two acres running north of Warren Street. In 1638 she had married the Rev. Evarardus Bogardus, and thus the comfortable position of the parties made the wedding a prominent one. It would bring together all the notable people of the colony and the director decided to make use of the occasion to get subscriptions for the church. After the potations had been freely indulged in, Kieft came suddenly forward with his proposition and asked for subscriptions on the spot, exhibiting his own and that of De Vries heading the list. Under the influence of the occasion and the flowing bowl men pledged themselves to amounts that they would never have been willing to pay n their sober senses, but Kieft held every man to his pledge. A stone church costing 2,500 guilders was thus put up within a quadrangle of the fort tot he south of the governor's house and against the east wall, an inscription over the front door informing the public that the Director-General Kieft has caused it to be built for the congregation.

In spite of the fact that Kieft had taken the leading part in the erection of the church, he and Bogardus found it hard to get on together. Both of them were difficult men, and Bogardus had a cantankerous temper, and was accused by Kieft of being too fond to the flowing bowl. The enmity between these two public men, in course of time, found expression in forms that were little short of a public scandal. We surmise the pastor had a good deal to bear. It would have been thought that the proximity of the church to his own residence would have an edifying effect on the director-general. But his irreligious disposition seems to the main to have taken advantage of the churchly atmosphere between them. Kieft would order the drums to be beaten or the cannon discharges during the services. The pastor would just be reaching his peroration when a thunder of noise in the court outside would stifle the ornate period on which he had spent much trouble and that much of his sermon would be as though it had never been delivered. The director encouraged the soldiers to play noisy games in the quadrangle and otherwise to annoy the pastor and those who sided with him. The quarrel at last found it sway to Holland. Kieft, before the Classis of Amsterdam, accused Bogardus of habitual drunkenness and improper conduct, and, in 1638, the classis seriously considered the proposal to recall him and putting his predecessor, Dominie Michiels, back in the his place. Finally, when the complaints against Kieft compelled the company to remove him, Bogardus was also summoned to Amsterdam to answer the charges that had been preferred on his account, too.

Before the end of the administration of Director-General Kieft, the population of Manhattan had grown to about 1,000. The houses were, up to that time, of course, of primitive construction, for the most part build of wood, and even with wooden chimneys. There was little regularity in the matter of the disposition of the houses into streets; the fort formed the nucleus of New Amsterdam, and the rows of houses in its vicinity or along the shores gave merely a sketch of the direction of the streets that were later to criss-cross the metropolis. During the administration of Kieft several small plots for residences, fifty feet or more in width, were sold below Wall Street. A line of planks or pickets already indicated the location of the future financial thoroughfare. There was a ferry to Long Island and a road to it from the fort. On the map of 1642 a road leads into the country along the line of Broadway, and a by-road runs down to the East River from this central path, about where Maiden Lane is now. During Kieft's term it would appear that all the territory of what later came to be Great New York became sparsely settled.

Arrival of Peter Stuyvesant--when the directors of the West India Company turned around for a successor to Kieft they had in mind a man with some military experience to fill the position. they finally lighted on Peter Stuyvesant, former governor of the island of Curacoa, who had been obliged to go back to Holland for surgical treatment and final amputation of his right leg, which had been shattered during an attack on the Portuguese island of St. Martin, in 1644. Stuyvesant was the son of a clergyman, the Rev. Balthazar Stuyvesant, who was settled at Berklikum, in the province of Friesland, for many years. Peter was born in 1592, and at an early age displayed a taste for a military career. He was fifty-five when he was made director-general. He arrived on the ship "Princess," with his sister, widow of Samuel Bayard, whose sister Judith, was the director's wife. His commission from the States-General, "to attend carefully to the advancement, promotion, and preservation of friendship, alliances trade and commerce; to direct all matters relating to traffic and war; to establish regularity for the security of the places and forts in New Netherland and the West Indian Islands in his government; to administer law and justice in civil and in criminal cases; to pacify the Indians," and "first of all to establish the colonists and freemen on the island of Manhatans and grant them as much land as they shall be able to cultivate." A vice-director, Dr. Lubbertus van Dincklage, and a fiscal, Hendrick Van Dyck, were joined to him as council, the latter having a seat, but no vote on the council board. Stuyvesant was short tempered and he gave an example of this failing before he ad set foot on Manhattan and the fiscal had to bear the brunt of it. Stuyvesant came to New Amsterdam with a fleet of four ships, the "Princess," accompanied by the "Great Gerrit," the "Zwol," and the "Raet,' and on his way captured a Spanish prize, and the council met to discuss the question of how to dispose of it. With the members came Van Dyck, the fiscal, whose appearance enraged Stuyvesant so that he pushed him from the council table, saying, " Get away; you have no business here. When I want you I'll call for you." During the course of the welcome given to him at New Amsterdam, he gave an indication of the spirit in which his rule would be administered, promising to govern the population as a father governs his children.

One of the first tasks undertaken by Stuyvesant after his arrival at New Amsterdam was the improvement of the Military defenses of the colony. The directors of the West India Company had recommended that the ramparts be made of earth covered with sods. It was an idea natural, perhaps, to men who lived in Europe, and without direct knowledge concerning the country for which they legislated. It was soon shown that that sort of defense would not do. Among other disadvantages it was noted how cattle, horses, pigs, and goats, attracted by the grass on the walls, soon acquired the habit of grazing off the walls, and of looking over the walls into the fort. One of the decisions came to, therefore, by Stuyvesant and his council, was to erect stone walls and strengthen the defenses with walls generally. The chief difficulty was that there were not funds enough for the work, and ways and means had to be devised for getting enough. The question was soon asked, since the entire population was going to benefit from the improvement as a place of refuge in case of attack, was it not the duty of the population to contribute towards the expense? Stuyvesant had sense enough to see that if he was going to ask the people for money, the people would require some sort of representation on the body that was going to spend it. As a result, therefore, of consultation with his council, he decided to grant some sort of representative government to the people. Nine men were accordingly delegated from the communities of Manhattan, Breuckelen, Amersfort, and Pavonia, and on November 14, 1647, from a sick-bed Stuyvesant wrote to them: "The first thing necessary to lay before you for the advantage and to the least burden of our dear subjects, the good community, is the repaid of Fort Amsterdam, to be a defense against enemies coming from the outside, and a refuge for the persons and property of our people. Some preparations for it ought to be made in due time, and as, by my instructions from the States-General and the directors of the West India company, I am ordered to call on the community for help in such an honorable and need work, I have deemed it necessary to communicate with and call on you as the representatives of the community for advice, to raise that means and do it at the least expense and burden to you."

the response was not of the kind that indicated particular interest on the part of the population. Four years later, namely, on November 15, 1651, we find Stuyvesant again writing to the nine men: "We have several times informed you collectively and singly of the instructions and orders, given to us by the High Mighty Lords States-General, and the Lords Directors, concerning the repairs of Fort Amsterdam. Although this matter has vainly been laid before your predecessors in office several times and their assistance has been asked, I have, notwithstanding, with a few Negroes and other servants of the company, done, during the last summers (1650 and 1651), as much as possible, and would have made such progress that the fort would not be inclosed all around an be in a good effective condition, if the service of the company and of the country in general had not called me and other servants of the Company to the South river, and kept us most of last summer inlaying out and building there a new fort, for maintaining the Company's rights and our boundaries. WE see, however, to our regret that our orders have not been executed in the meantime, and that the not yet completed works have been destroyed by horses, cows and pigs, which to our disgrace may still be seen pasturing there. We have time and again informed you thereof and of the trouble and displeasure caused to us by finding that our new work is ruined and trodden underfoot by the community's animals and our troublesome and zealous labor rendered fruitless. It is true the negligence and connivance of the fiscal is principally the case thereof, as he has not maintained nor executed our orders published two or three times. We shall, therefore, be compelled either to leave the fort in the condition in which we found it, to the bad reputation and disadvantage of this place, and to stop our work, or to maintained and execute our repeatedly published orders--that is, horses, cows, and hogs henceforth found on walls of the fort will be impounded and confiscated for the benefit of the company, for else it is impossible to complete the work. Before we take such harsh measures we have thought it best to give due notice of it to your body, that you way warn the people."

The state of war that supervened in the relations between the United Provinces and England made the question of the repairing of the for no mere academic one. A conference attended by the director and the council and the magistrates of the lately incorporated city met on March 13, 1653, and it was resolved that, as the fort could not shelter all the inhabitants or protect their houses, it would be a good plan to put a stockade around the larger part of the dwellings and make a small parapet or embankment, behind which the habitants could gather for the defense of their person and property. The magistrates, after one day's deliberation, gave their consent to this resolution, having decided that the work would cost from 4,000 to 6,000 florins, which were to be collected by tax from the community, when the defenses were completed. In the interval the well-to-do element in the population loan 5,050 florins. The work was apparently not completed. The walls were again trodden down by cattle, stone masons were occasionally employed in the work of reparations, and in August, 1658, we find Stuyvesant remarking again: "It is necessary to continue building the walls of the fort." The land side of the village had been fortified by palisades along the south side of the present Wall Street in 1653, and Stuyvesant brought up the idea of putting an end to smuggling as well as adding to the protection by a double row of palisades on the banks of the Eat and North rivers. The council was as a result, resolved on May 25, 1658, to have these palisades erected. Stuyvesant also appointed an ordinance office at a salary of sixteen florins a month, whose duty it was to keep the guns, muskets, and ammunition in good order. There was no real military force in New Amsterdam capable of repelling an invader, the sole reliance being on a burgherwacht, but poorly disciplined. This was a force of civilians, divided in two companies, but not always provided with muskets. The few solders of the company had limited quarters, so that when, in 1658, some recruits came from Holland with their families, they could not find room at the fort. They were forced to hire quarters among the town's people at the rate of ten stivers, or twenty cents a week, which amount Stuyvesant promised to pay each month. A soldier's pay was ten florins a month, and on entering the service he had to pay for his musket, as well as his passage money, if he wanted to take his family along with him.

Indians on Warpath--Almost midway during Stuyvesant's administration the Indians were again on the warpath. Van Dyck, the late fiscal, set the flames burning, for he had wantonly killed a squaw whom he had found gathering peaches in his orchard. The news was carried to all the neighboring aborigines and they united to avenge her death. A letter from the members of the council to the director, then in the valley of the Delaware, or South River, gives us an idea of what occurred: "in the morning hours of the 15th inst. (September, 1755), many armed savages came, Maquasas (Mohawks), Mahicanders, (Mohikans), Pachamis, savages from the upper and lower North river. With intolerable impudence they forcibly entered the farmers' houses and offered great insult to Mr. Allerton, whereupon as much order as possible was formed to secure the fort. A parley was held with the chiefs, who gave many and great good words. They went to their peoples on the strand, who towards evening wounded Hendrick Van Dyck, standing at his garden gate, in the side with an arrow, but not mortally, and came near cleaving Paulus Leendertsen's (Van der Grit) head with a tomahawk, as he stood by his wife. It was then thought advisable to go again to the Indian chiefs on the Strand and ask why they had not withdrawn to Nutten Island, as promised. When our people came to the river the savages rushed upon them and killed Jan de Visser, whereupon we opened fire and drove the enemies into their canoes, of which there were sixty-four. They paddled away along the river bank, and when off land, they shot from their canoes, killing Cornelis Van Dov and wounding others. Presently, we saw the house on Harboken in flames, then the whole of Pavonia was immediately on fire, and now everything there is in ashes and everybody killed, except the family of Michael Hanse. On this island they burned everything. Nine hundred savages are encamped at the end of the island or thereabouts, having joined the others. . . . . God has delivered us from a general massacre last night, the savages being too hasty and relying too much on their superior numbers. . . . . .Sir, you will please take this letter into consideration and reflect whether you and the forces under your command might not be more needed here than to subdue the places yonder; it seems to us better to protect one's own house than to gain a new one at a distance and lose the old property. . . . . . Madame, your wife, with her whole family and all those in whom you and she are concerned, are well. s the citizens are unwilling to guard other people's houses far from the Manhatans, we have, with her advice, hired ten Frenchmen to protect your bouwery. We'll keep as good watch as possible, but expect your speedy return, for to lie in the for to lie in the fort night and day with the citizens has its difficulties, as they cannot be commanded like the soldiers." The Indians on Staten Island killed and took prisoners twenty-three of the population of ninety. When Stuyvesant returned to Manhattan the savages had already killed a hundred of the Dutch and taken a hundred and fifty prisoners. The director at once got busy and sent soldiers to guard the outlying farms; the palisades were strengthened and new pourparlers opened with the Indians. Forty-two of the prisoners were ransomed and efforts were made to have the remainder released. Stuyvesant was wise enough to see that all the wrong was not on the Indian side. He urged the Dutchmen to reform and abstain from injuries against the aborigines, and it was decided to build blockhouses and to prevent armed Indians from coning within the settlement.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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