Augustine Herrman's 1659 Embassy from New Amstel to St. Mary's City
Augustine Herrman (Heermans) was a Bohemian from the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands (Manhattan Island, New York). Shortly after his journey to Maryland in 1659, he would spend nearly a decade surveying and drawing the premier map of the 17th-century Chesapeake area. Lord Baltimore granted Herrman 2,500 acres in Maryland as reward for his services.
In 1659, Director General Petrus Stuyvesant and the Supreme Council of New Netherland sent two ambassadors to the Governor General and Council of Maryland to negotiate a resolution to territorial disputes. Colonial boundaries were constantly disputed during the last half of the 17th century. Claims to dominion over Native American lands by right of earlier discovery, boundary revisions as different Europeans established dominance over one another, and boundary line adjustments as surveyors re-surveyed latitudes all clouded the map making picture. Boundaries needed to be established for many reasons, but chief among them was to regulate trade -- the great unifier, the great mollifier that smoothed the rough edges of progress among the colonies.
Surveyor, diplomat, merchant, and slave trader (Cantwell and Wall 2001:154) Augustine Herrman's embassy from the Dutch colony of New Amstel on Maryland's northeastern boundary (the south Delaware River area) to St. Mary's City in southern Maryland exemplifies the nature of travel across Chesapeake peninsulas. His trip required Native guides, compass and navigational skills, and intimate knowledge of the physical environment. It required a strategically placed skiff with a reliable drop-off location for the return voyage, strong legs, horses, and lodging at houses along the route or camping in the wild. Herrman's journal relates how four humans traversed these peninsulas by foot, boat, and horse over the course of eight days. It conveys the reliance of humans of all persuasions upon one another and their environment. The winds, the tides, the weather, and the politics had to be just right. Herrman was a Dutchman crossing an area still replete with the very Swedes the Dutch had just defeated. He was bearing news refuting Calvert's claims to what is now mostly Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. (See also Slackwater: A Journal on Environmental and Cultural Change in Southern Maryland's Tidewater, Volume V (2005); www.smcm.edu/slackwater.)
Highlights from Augustine Herrman's Journal (Hall 1953:314-333)
Tues, September 30, 1659
Departed New Castle at noon with several soldiers and Indian guides. Camped overnight by creek. Southwesterly travel.
Wed, October 1, 1659
Breakfast at Cimamus/ Hare Creek. Through woods to a waiting skiff with paddles. Four guides dismissed, only Sander Poeyer with his Indian, Resolved Waldron, and Augustine Herrman continue. Skiff leaks, and they caulk with old linens. Onto Elk River heading south. Travel all night.
Thurs, October 2, 1659
Reach Sassafracx River by 8:00 a.m. Visit John Turner's plantation briefly. Finns accost them. Rowed forward with the tide all night. Boat still leaking.
Fri, October 3, 1659
Rowed forward all day. Pass the eastern side of Pools Island near the western shore of Sassafracx River. Boat still leaking; no fresh water. Arrive north end of Kent Island by evening. Captain Wikx overnight.
Sat, October 4, 1659
Made arrangements for a better boat. Sailed and rowed over to Seavorn in the old skiff. Spent night with an acquaintance.
Sun, October 5, 1659
Arrangements for better boat completed. 20 lbs tobacco a day for boat/ 20 lbs for man accompanying them. Arrive Major Billingsly's plantation at the Cliffs by evening.
Mon, October 6, 1659
Reached Potucxen River. Overnight at Coerse's (Henry Coursey). Left boat there.
Tues, October 7, 1659
Marched afoot overland nine English miles to Secretary Philip Calvert's house in St. Mary's City, then across creek to Symon Overzee's (the St. John's site at St. Mary's City).
Wed, October 8, 1659
Philip Calvert to dinner at Overzee's. Arranged audience with Governor Josias Fendall and Council. Dinner at Calvert's October 12. Must wait for Council meeting at Patuxent on Oct 14.
Thurs, October 16, 1659
John Bateman sent two horses. By horse 18-20 miles to Bateman's home in Patuxent for dinner and meetings.
Sun, October 19, 1659
Returned to Overzee's. Resolved Waldron dispatched with documents to the South River colony and Manhattan. Herrman continued to Virginia.