Hans Van PeltContinue to Part 2 here
Hans Van Pelt was an honest low-Dutchman;
Not low in his stature, but low by the Van
That you find in his name and which proves his descent
From the burghers of old, who, with peaceful intent,
From the Indians bought all the valleys along
The Raritan, and the Musconetcong;
A long belt of land that runs from the West,
From where Delaware joins with the laughing Pequest,
To East where Passaic, or Hackensack flows,
And Communipaw rests in its quiet repose.
In the day of our fathers, New Brunswick was known
Through all this broad belt as the chief market town,
And thither our farmers oft wended their way
With their barley and oats, and their long wains of hay;
And such stories they told by their bright Winter fires
That each lad in the land longed to see its tall spires.
So one day, as noon's shadows to rosy tints melt,
That bold son of Neshanic, young, burly, Van Pelt,
On horse ventured forth for this city so gay.
Joy gleamed from his eyes as he rode on his way;
But a sad thought at times drove its light from his face-
The thought that Lord Howe might soon capture the place;
For of all things under the sun, or the moon,
The most fearful to him was a British Dragoon.
When many a farm house and hamlet were passed;
When the shadows of day had so shortened their cast,
That the reaching foreleg of the horse in its tread
Stood over the shade of the animal's head,
From the brow of a high hill he saw at his feet
New Brunswick, above which the hazy smoke curled
From full many a forge; while beyond, with sails furled,
Rode long schooners and brigs, from the marts of the world.
There afar flowed the Raritan winding its way
Through long meadows and marshes to Amboy Bay;
And there down in the waters reflected were seen
The wild blossoms in bloom on its borders of green,
For so lovely the wild flowers were blushing in bliss
Where daily the ocean runs up for a kiss;
Where, with shoulder to shoulder, the river and sea
Push their way through the reeds, and across the green lea,
Till the wavelets, all standing tip-toe on the shores,
With their cool lips just touch the warm lips of the flowers;
Where the river and sea, in a bright silver tide,
From the blossoms that deck the smooth meadow-lands glide,
And soft sighs, and low sobs all the little waves heave,
While each tardily moves, as if loathing to leave,
Till, increasing in speed, they, in quick-pulsing swells,
Go far down to the bay, passing hills and fair dells.
For a romp on the beach with the wild sea's gay shells.
20 February 2011
The Ballad of Hans van Pelt, Part 1
Joseph Hunt Miller is the author of this long ballad recounting the Revolutionary era story of Hillsborough's "boy who cried wolf" - Hans van Pelt, The Sourlands rock formation Fort Hans, near the Montgomery - Hillsborough border, is named after the eager, but misguided Neshanic farmer. Thanks to Marion Fenwick-Freeman for providing me with a photocopy of the tale - which I will post in three parts. Enjoy!