Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
The Old Brevoort Farm, A. D. 1800
By Gideon J. Tucker
 
A SNUG little farm was the Old Brevoort,
Where cabbages grew of the choicest sort;
Full-headed and generous, ample and fat,
In a queenly way on their stems they sat;
And there was boast of their genuine breed,        5
For from Old Utrecht had come their seed.
 
These cabbages, made into sauerkraut,
Were the pride of the country round about,
And their flavour was praised at each farmer feast,
Among the Stuyvesants, far to the East,        10
Delanceys, that in the South meadows lay,
And Strykers, perched up at Stryker’s Bay.
 
The Brevoorts had lived, as the record appears,
On the farm for almost a hundred years.
From Brevoort in Holland at first they came,        15
From that parent village they took their name;
Whence the head of the family—his name was Rip—
To New Netherlands came in an Amsterdam ship.
 
The farm itself was by no means great
Alongside the Stuyvesants’ splendid estate,        20
But its pumpkins were golden, its apples round,
And buckwheat grew on its upland ground;
For a rule of diet the family had—
To eat buckwheat cakes from green-corn to shad.
 
Some mulberries, quinces and Dordrecht pears        25
Grew where Grace Church its new steeple rears;
Some creeping grape vines on trellis had run
Where beckons the statue of Washington;
On the spot where Brevoort House proudly towers
Were clumps of orange-hued bloempje flowers.        30
 
The homestead stood at the end of the lands
Where Grace Memorial House now stands;
In its garden, Dutch tulips of every shade,
Their beautiful form and colour displayed;
A low-roofed and unpretentious abode,        35
The homestead confronted a dusty road.
 
A merry old Dutchman was Uncle Brevoort,
Who had not lived eighty odd years for naught;
With abundant waist and laughing blue eye,
And nose of a colour a trifle high,        40
A gouty foot, and long silvery hair,
And a forehead free as a child’s from care.
 
You saw, just through his half-opened door,
The well-scoured planks of a sanded floor;
And within the cupboard was ranged on a shelf        45
Old-fashioned crockery brought from Delft.
The roof o’er his porch for shade was a boon
In the heat of a summer afternoon.
 
In front of the spot where his tulips grew
Ran the road now known as Fourth Avenue;        50
Thence a lane to East River, through fields of wheat—
It now goes by the name of Eleventh Street.
And as the old gentleman sat in his porch
He looked down the lane to the Bouwerie Church.
 
To him, thus enjoying his leisure and cheer,        55
One fine afternoon, some surveyors drew near;
He offered a glass of old Holland schnapps,
They accepted with thanks, but produced him some maps,
Which showed that a project was well under way
To open Eleventh Street through, to Broadway.        60
 
The red lines and blue they duly explained,
The land this one owned, the bounds that one claimed;
An assessment put here and there an award,
To run curb and gutter through garden and sward.
He listened in patience as long as he could,        65
And then he remarked, “He’d be blanked if they should!”
 
He fought all their maps, and he fought their reports,
Corporations, surveyors, commissioners, courts;
He hired his lawyers, well learned in the law;
The plans and the projects to fragments they tore.        70
But Uncle Brevoort, ere the law suit, expires,
And calmly he sleeps at St. Mark’s with his sires.
 
The city abandoned the contest at last;
He knew not his triumph, his struggle was past;
His cabbage plot’s built on, his tulips are gone,        75
Where his old homestead stood is a palace of stone.
But this of the old Dutchman’s pluck we can say—
Eleventh Street’s not opened through, to this day!
 
 
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