From New Amsterdam to New York

Chapter I.
The Life of a Day.

AT the first break of day, every spring and summer morn, the quiet Dutch sleepers in the old colonial town of Albany were roused by three loud blasts of a horn sounded far and wide by a sturdy cow-herd; and from street and dooryard came in quick answer the jingle-jangle, the klingle-klangle of scores of loud-tongued brass and iron bells which hung from the necks of steady-going hungry Dutch cows who followed the town-herder forth each day to pastures green.

On the broad town-commons or the fertile river-meadows Uldrick Heyn and his “chosen proper youngster,” his legally appointed aid, watched faithfully all day long their neighbors’cattle; and as honest herdsmen earned well their sea-want and their handsel of butter, dallying not in tavern, and drinking not of wine, as they were sternly forbidden by the schepens, until when early dews were falling they quit their meadow grasses mellow, for “at a quarter of an hour before the sun goes down the cattle shall be delivered at the church.” Thence the patient kine slowly wandered or were driven each to her own home-stall, her protecting cow-shed.

In New Amsterdam the town’s cow-herd was Gabriel Carpsey; and when his day’s work was done, he walked at sunset through the narrow lanes and streets of the little settlement, sounding at each dooryard Gabriel’s horn, a warning note of safe return and milking-time.

Until mid-November did the morning cow-horn waken the burghers and their vrouws at sunrise; and when with cold winter the horn lay silent, they must have sorely missed their unfailing eye-opener.

Scarce had the last cow departed in the early morn from her master’s dooryard, before there rose in the gray light from each vast-throated chimney throughout the little town a faint line of pale, wavering smoke


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.