Zwaenendael (Photo: Nefasth)

Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, Delaware commemorates the settlement of a Dutch colony there in 1631. For more in-depth coverage of Zwaanendael, read Issue 7 of Dutch the magazine…

The museum is an exact, albeit scaled down, replica of the city hall of Hoorn: a quaint red brick building with a tiled roof and typically Dutch gables.

The original settlement was west of where the museum now is. There is a memorial at the spot of the former settlement that reads: 'Here was the cradling of a state. That Delaware exists as a separate commonwealth is due to this colony.' The original purchase of land by the Dutch essentially established the borders of the current state of Delaware.

The first settlement of 28 colonists ended in a massacre, with only two young boys surviving. The killing of the Dutch was the result of an unfortunate cultural misunderstanding between the Dutch and the local Native Americans. A second colony of 50 settlers was established in 1632, but it was decided after a few months to relocate the new settlers to New Amsterdam for their safety. And that was the end of the Dutch settlement in Zwaanendael.

For more on the Dutch in North America, read Hiding in Plain Sight by Tom Bijvoet.

For more on The Netherlands, the Dutch, and the Dutch diaspora, subscribe to Dutch the magazine!

Original article by: Gerald van Wilgen