John Colman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Colman (died September 6, 1609) was a crew member of the Half Moon under Henry Hudson who was killed by Native Americans by an arrow to his neck.


On September 6, 1609, only five days after the arrival of the first Dutch and English sailors, John Colman was reportedly killed by attacking Native Americans by an arrow to his neck.[1] Colman was an "accomplished sailor" and served as second mate on Henry Hudson's ship. The Half Moon sailed into New York Harbor and was anchored between Coney Island and Sandy Hook. Colman was part of a 5 man crew that was aboard a rowboat that was scouting the area. Allegedly, two canoes filled with Native Americans attacked and fired a volley of arrows, killing Colman and wounding two others.[2] The survivors of the attack returned to the Half Moon at 10 a.m. on September 7, 1609 with Colman's body. He was buried that day either at what is now Coney Island, Staten Island, Sandy Hook or Keansburg, New Jersey. The forgotten location was then named Colman's Point. A contemporary account of his death was written in the journal of Robert Juet, the first mate of the Half Moon.[3][4]


The murder of John Colman was the basis for a poem by Thomas Frost, "The Death of Colman", where he writes:

Then prone he fell within the boat,
A flinthead arrow through his throat
And now full many a stealthy skiff
Shot out into the bay;
And swiftly, sadly, pulled we back
To where the Half Moon lay;
But he was dead our master wept
He smiled, brave heart, as though he slept.

His death is commemorated by a mural at the Hudson County Courthouse in Jersey City. The New York Times has called it "the first recorded murder in what became metropolitan New York".[3]

People of the Hudson Highlands area believed that Colman's spirit became the Dwerg, Heer of Dunderberg, a goblin who dressed in Dutch clothing, who raise storms to sink ships at World's End (the area just north of West Point where the Hudson is over 200 feet deep.) The Heer appears in writings by Washington Irving. [5]

Evan Pritichard, author of "[6]" speculates the attack on Colman occurred because he strayed too near a wampum making outpost, provoking a preemptive strike by wary Native peoples living near Manhattan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Dunlap, William. "A history of New York, for schools, volume 2."Collins, Keese, & Co., New York, 1837 Pages12-13.Retrieved September 4, 2009
  2. ^ [2] Goodwin, Maude Wilder, "Dutch and English on the Hudson: a chronicle of colonial New York." Yale University Press, 1921, page 6. Retrieved September 4, 2009
  3. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (September 4, 2009). "New York's Coldest Case: A Murder 400 Years Old". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Legends And Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley by Jonathan Kruk
  6. ^ Henry Hudson and the Algonquins of New York