The Early History of Flatbush & Midwood





Flatbush is believed to have been settled in 1634 by Dutch
farmers. The Town of Flatbush included Brownsville and
East New York and was one of five of the original Towns of
Brooklyn. There were five original Towns of Brooklyn: Flatlands,
Flatbush, Brooklyn, and New Utrecht; settled by the Dutch and
Gravesend; settled by the English. Moreover these towns
were all settled in the early 17th century and are considered
amongst the most historic towns in all America. It would take
over two centuries for these towns to unite to form Kings County
(named for King Charles II of England) in 1896 and eventually
merge into the city of New York in 1898.

The first settlers of Flatbush were Dutch farmers who came in
from Flatlands or New Amersfort along the Indian path now
known as Flatbush Avenue. These settlers were in search for
more fertile land. Believing that they would find this land in the
heavily wooded area north of the bay county where they lived,
they ventured into what is now modern day Flatbush.

Upon entering this heavily wooded area, the Dutch named their
newly discovered territory “Midwout” or “Middle Woods.” This
was the original and earliest name for the neighborhood today
known as Flatbush. However this term was later dropped (but
would later be revived as Midwood) as inhabitants began calling
the area “Vlachte Bos.” When the Dutch lost their control
to the English, several territory names had become
Anglicanized; Vlachte Bos had become known as Flatbush.

The land where the Town of Flatbush was situated in was
actually bought twice by the Dutch. The first time, the Dutch
bought the territory over from the Canarsie Indians in 1935.
Shortly after the Rockaway Indians approached the Dutch
settlers, informing them the land belonged to them; the
Canarsie Indians never owned and did not have the right to
sell it. In order to avoid future conflicts, the land was bought
again, this time from the Rockaway Indians. The Dutch paid
the Rockaway Indians as follows:

10 Fatoms of black seewant (wampum)
10 Fatoms of white seewant (wampum)
5 Match coats of Duffells
4 Blankets
2 Gunners Sightguns
2 Pistols
5 Double Handfuls of Powder, (Gispen bunches of powder).
5 Bars of Lead
10 Knives
2 Secret Aprons of Duffells (Cuppas of Duffell).
1 Half fat or half barrel of Strong Beer.
3 Cans of Brandy
6 Shirts

Sources Used