Reply To: Whale sightings in New York Harbor and Hudson River

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Peter Ostrander

There was another whale sighting in the Hudson River in 1647. Long before Melville wrote Moby Dick there was a white whale spotted in the Hudson River at Beverwyck, present day Albany by Anthony deHooges. Antony de Hooges arrived in 1641 to served as business manager of Rensselaerswijck, the patroonship owned by Kiliaen van Rensselaer.   De Hooges recorded the colony’s business and some personal observations in the Memorandum Book. This same person would be remembered  by mountain named  Anthony’s Nose. The mountain is located at the East end of the Bear Mt bridge.  This same Anthony also happens to be my 8th Great Grandfather.  I am happy to state this is one physical characteristic  was not passed along to me.

Earlier in 1641 Van Rensselaer also hired Adrian vander Donck, a young man from Breda who had studied law at Leiden. Van der Donck would serve as officier or schout in the patroonship.  A schout was a man who enforced patroonship policies and regulation. He too as noted earlier saw whales in the Hudson River.

Anthony DeHooges wrote in his papers   that

“A certain fish appeared snow-white, round
of body, and blew water up out of his head.”  – From the memorandum book of Antony de Hooges, 1647

In the early spring of 1647, an unusual sight startled the inhabitants of Rensselaerswijck. As they watched from the shore in “great amazement,” a mysterious creature of “considerable size” made its way up the river and back whence it came. Several weeks later, a similar creature appeared, “[blowing] water out of its head like the one before.” Eager to document the unusual events, Antony de Hooges, secretary of the patroonship, recorded his thoughts in his memorandum book among the humdrum proceedings of ordinary business. De Hooges speculated about its meaning, only God knew, and the possible connection to the first thunder and lightning of the year, which occurred on the evening of the second sighting. The memorandum book is in box 31 of the “Van Rensselaer Manor Papers” held by Manuscripts and Special Collections of the New York State Library.

You can read the full text on the New Netherland Institute website -