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DO YOU REMEMBER

The History of Eastchester Road

There was a time when Native American pathways crisscrossed the Bronx and the precursor to Eastchester Road was among them.The colony at today’s Westchester Square was established circa 1654 after Thomas Pell purchased much of the east Bronx from the Lenape.He colonized the area with families from the area of today’s Fairfield, Connecticut and although there were conflicts and claims from the Dutch and English, the colony survived.

Just ten years later Pell granted permission for ten families to settle down near the former homestead of Anne Hutchinson.Her settlement of 1643 was completely wiped out by the Native Americans and questions still arise as to its exact location.We do know that it was on the west side of the river that took her name and that Co-op City and that general area now cover the site.

The ten families granted permission to settle on the site were those of Philip Pinckney, James Euestis, John Tompkins, Moses Hoit, Samuel Drake, Andrew Ward, Walter Lancaster, Nathaniel Tompkins and Samuel Ward.We know that Pinckney settled in the southern area because there was a huge rock outcropping resembling a prickly pear cactus in the marshlands about 200 yards east of Baychester Avenue that retained the name Pinkney’s Hummock for over three centuries.It was destroyed in April of 1998 when ground was being readied to build Marshall’s and other stores at Bay Plaza.

The settlement was called Ten Farms but the name was later changed to East Chester because it was located east of the Westchester colony at today’s Westchester Square.The ten families also wisely obtained a grant from the Native Americans in 1666 to assure peace in there new settlement. The Indians had no concept of land ownership so extra steps often had to be taken to assure tranquility.The colony then received their royal patent from British Governor Richard Nicolls on March 9, 1666/7 cementing their right to the land.

Now that there were two colonies so close to each other, trade and mutual assistance dictated that the pathway between them should be widened.The old Westchester Path that Governor Nicolls referred to in his patent to East Chester ran along the west bank of Westchester Creek.The creek veered west through the grounds of today’s Bronx State Hospital north of Waters Place toward today’s Eastchester Road.It then turned north and ran all the way up to the mouth of the Hutchinson River in those days.This old pathway was long used by the Lenape and simply had to be widened for carts and wagons.Starting around 1788 the old pathway took the name Eastchester Road.

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