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Check out this old Dutch guy’s diary!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The rum was bad and the people were godless. But who cares what Jasper Danckaerts thought of early Brooklyn — the would-be Dutch de Tocqueville only spent seven days in our still-farmland borough in 1679 (pictured).

Danckaerts’s entire diary of his expedition to find a place for his religious sect is on display at the Brooklyn Historical Society — but the parts about Brooklyn are, obviously, the most interesting.

The place was a freakin’ Garden of Eden!

“It is impossible to tell how many peach trees we passed, all laden with fruit,” he wrote. “You could not put your foot down without trampling [it].” Still, he had choice words for the local hootch — and the non-believers who made it.

Danckaerts did not end up staying in Brooklyn, choosing Maryland as a home for the Labadists (good riddance). But he did leave a great treasure trove of facts about early America.

“It’s basically a travel journal and a lot of people can relate to the experiences he encounters,” said Kate Fermoile, vice president for exhibits and education at the Historical Society.

“The Breukelen Adventures of Jasper Danckaerts” at the Brooklyn Historical Society [128 Pierrepont St. at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222-4111].

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Reader Feedback

Michael from Bay ridge says:
Does this line have any place in an article in a serious newspaper:
"The place was a freakin’ Garden of Eden!"

Please raise the standard of your writting, this is just embarassing.
July 16, 2009, 6:20 am
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Michael: You're assuming that this is a serious newspaper: fughettaboutit!
July 16, 2009, 8:39 am
Sady from Greenoint says:
You can hear excerpts of Danckearts' diary read in the original old Dutch and translated into English on the Brooklyn Historical Society's podcast (search iTunes store for BHS, free).

July 16, 2009, 12:06 pm

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