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Pavonia
Lower Jersey City

 

 
 Map of Bergen Town circa 1727 surveyed by Robert
Crooke. "Pavonia" is identified on the lower right. The actual Pavonia
patroonship originally included most of Hudson County
and part of Staten Island.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

The settlement of New Netherland by the Dutch West India Company (1621-1664) on the western side of the Hudson River contributed several locations and place names that would become part of present-day Jersey City. They are Pavonia, Communipaw, Harsimus, Paulus Hook and Bergen.

The area of Pavonia, belonged to burgomaster (merchant-nobleman) Michael Reyniersz Pauw of Amsterdam. He acquired the property in 1630 under the patroonship system of the Dutch West India Company and from a land purchase from the Indians. According to local historian Joan D. Lovero, "Pauw called this land Pavonia, basing his choice upon the Latin spelling of his own name, pavo, which means 'peacock'" (8). The property consisted of large tracts of land at Hoboken, Ahasimus (later Harsimus), and Aressick (later Paulus Hook). According to historian David F. Winkler's article, Pauw's grant, "straddled the main delivery route for Indian pelts coming from the west into New Amsterdam and . . . Pauw's agent, Cornelis von Vorst [sic] had positioned himself to intercept the pelts for profit" (5).

Pauw was an absentee landlord of his grant in America. According to Winkler, Pauw had conflicts with the directors of the colony that stood in the way of fulfilling the obligations of his grant. He was thereby required to sell his holdings back to the trading company in 1633. According to Charles Winfield's History of the County of Hudson, "In the latter part of the year [1633] the company gave orders for the erection of two houses in Pavonia. . . . One was built at Communipaw, afterward owned by Jan Evertse Bout, and the other at Ahasimus, afterward occupied by Cornelis Van Voorst [sic]" (see 17-19). Van Vorst remained in the colony after Pauw's forfeiture of his estate. He built a home at Harsimus Cove, establishing roots as one of Jersey City's "founding families."

During most of Dutch rule, Pavonia had only scattered bouweries or homesteads and sparse population. It was affected by the ill-advised policies towards the native inhabitants pursued by the Dutch governor William Kieft (1638-1646).

Today the name Pavonia is associated with the Pavonia - Newport PATH station.

References:

Lovero, Joan D. Hudson County: The Left Bank. Sun Valley CA: American Historical Press, 1999.
Winfield, Charles H. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey. New York: Kennard
& Hay Printing Company, 1874.
Winkler, David F. "Revisiting the Attack on Pavonia." New Jersey History. Fall/Winter 1998:3-15.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub