Before the neighborhood we know as Flatbush was named, the Dutch had to find reasons and methods for acquiring ownership of the land. Land ownership was not a concept that the Indian peoples recognized. However, arriving Europeans often approached and purchased land from tribal chiefs, who were not authorized to sell land on behalf of the other Indians. As a result, land purchases would create conflicts between Europeans and the natives while colonial courts usually ruled in the colonists’ favor.[i] Eventually, many natives were either pushed out or forced to accept unfair trades for the land they lived and farmed on. The first documented land purchases by the Dutch were made in the 1660s, including at New Lots in 1667, and other land purchases continued until the late 1700s.[ii]
As the Dutch took control, their farms spread out through Flatbush and Flatlands, taking advantage of the fertile land the Indians had once worked. At what is now the intersection of Clarendon Road and Ralph Avenue in the East Flatbush area, an interesting settlement took shape along an old Indian trail called Mill Lane.[iii] The Wyckoff farm (or Wyckoff House), currently a museum dedicated to the oldest house in New York State, was built in 1652.[iv]
[i] David Walbert. “Who Owns the Land?” Learn North Carolina. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-colonial/2027 (Accessed April 27, 2015).
[ii] Thomas M. Strong, The History of the Town of Flatbush in Kings County, Long-Island (New York: T.R. Mercein, Jr., 1842), 27.
[iii] Van Wyck, . Keskachauge, or The First White Settlement on Long Island, 4.
[iv] “History.” The Wyckoff House. http://wyckoffmuseum.org/about/history (Accessed April 20, 2015).