The pinnacle of Bergen Hill was located at present day Court Street and First Place. (1)
At about 1800 the area was settled by the Dutch, and predominantly the Bergen family. Jacob I Bergen (2) built a farm house at Hoyt and Sackett Street. He and his family opened up the area ..The area consisted of large tracts of hills, woods, streams, creeks swamps and land which was turned into open fields. The property which was developed by Jacob I Bergen and his family extended from Hoyt and Sackett Street along Sackett Street to Smith Street , then it turned down Smith Street to about Third Street , then East to the Bond Street , then North along Bond Street to Sackett Street then west back to the house on Hoyt and Sackett Street.. These limits are not exact since the system of metes and bounds was not used to plot the land. Jacob Bergen’s son Iassac E Bergen .was born at the house on Sackett and Hoyt in 1810. Iassac Bergen grew up to follow his father an became a farmer.. Later Isaac moved and brought his own land on Shore Road near Bay Ridge.. Isaac E. Bergen passed away on September 5, 1898 (3)
In 1810 the area of Jacob Bergen’s farm occupied much of the land then known as Gowanus. This name is believed to have been derived by the early Dutch settlers from the name of a local Indian Chief named Gouwnaee. He was the leader or Sachem of a tribe of Lenape Indians who hunted and fished in the woods, creeks and marsh land known today as the Gowanus (4). In the 1830s , Court Street was graded and flagged for the convenience of the members of the Dutch Reformed Church. Bergen Hill, was capped by woods. It was locally known as a poplar resort for sport and mischief.
The height of Bergen Hill had to be cut down by a 130 feet in order to bring it down to grade with Court Street. After 1850 this area , including the area known today as Carroll Gardens , became known as South Brooklyn. This included all the land south of Atlantic Avenue. It was also part of the 6th Ward. It was a very different place. The area was very rural. It was a densely woody hilly area and had many open lots.
In 1846 the firm of Stranahan and Carmichael took the contract to cut away the hill . The section from Harrison Street (now Kane Street) to Hamilton Avenue including Columbia street was filled in with the material from Bergen Hill. V.J.F.
(1) The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York by John A Kouwenhoven p, 123. The view is entitled “View from (Gowanus) Heights near Brooklyn “ published in 1823. The engraving was done by John Hill from a watercolor by William G. Wall. The view was made from Bergen Hill since leveled and is near present day Carroll Park.
The houses of several members of the Bergen family made their homes in the area of Bergen Hill. the “The residence of Cornelius Bergen , a farmer, and Jacob Bergen, a surrogate of Kings County, were located at 108 and 110 First Place. These buildings still. exist. The area was known as Bergen Hill which was part of Bergen property”; South Brooklyn , Then and Now; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 16, 1886 p. 13 “ These buildings were finished in 1851 “ Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 16, 1886 p. 14 …”Old Brooklyn Farm Lands”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle , July 19,1896 p. 20
(2) Jacob I Bergen was a descendent .of Hans Hensen Bergen.. He was originally from Bergen Norway. Hans was a shipwright or ship’s carpenter who moved from Norway to Holland. He arrived at Fort Amsterdam in April of 1638 with Wouter Van Twiler the Second Director General of the colony in the fleet of West India’s Company’s vessels the Salt Mountain, the Caravel St. Martyn and the vessel the Hope. In 1639 Hans Hensen Bergen married Sarah Rapalie, the first European women born in the colony. They started a family . Descendants of this family married and moved throughout the new colony. Many made homes in various parts of the colony including New Amsterdam, Long Island, New Jersey and the lower Connecticut valley; Uncle Tune; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 25, 1881 p 4 .
(3) Death of Isaac E. Bergen; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 6, 1898 p. 1
(4) The Lenape Indians were nomadic indians who inhabited much of the lower Hudson River valley from the Nyack valley to Long Island. The Lenape Indians were a subset of the Canarsee Indians. This tribe hunted and fished and foraged much of the area of Long Island.. The Canarsee Indians were a subset or part of the larger Delaware Indian nation.
Recently the Staten Island Advance newspaper reported that than an artifact of a stone head of Lenape Indians origin was discovered on Staten Island and dated as at least 10,000 years old. (Staten Island Advance; Feb. 2009); The artifact is located in the Staten Island Museum .