ALS concerning over fishing in the most important New York shad fishery up to that time; signed Peter L Cortelyou, Narrows, February 16th, 1821.
1821. A letter from a member of one of the early Dutch families from New Utrecht, Kings County (in what is today Brooklyn), to a William J. Lott concerning the petitioning of neighbors to lengthen the hedges where their fikes and hoopnets were set for fishing, which "would ruin the fisheries of the neighbours above, and I presume you will not act on it till you hear from them." Other names in the letter include John Vander Veer, William Bowhet, William Borkalow, and William D. Cortelyou. Peter Cortelyou also writes, with urgency, "Wm. D. Cortelyou is set out for Albany, the object of his visit is not know to me should it be concerning the fishery let me know as soon as posible (sic). The law for the regulation of fikes and hoopnets is as well formed as can be, it was passed in 1815." Perhaps there was a dispute within the family over this very valuable but declining shad fishery. John McPhee, in "Founding Fish" writes about the very Cortelyou who wrote this letter of complaint: "In 1789, Peter Cortelyou caught nearly sixteen thousand shad in the Narrows off New Utrecht-- the present-day Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He used fyke nets, balloonlike, held open with hoops. In the same place in the six seasons 1790-95, he caught about a hundred thousand shad. By the eighteen-twenties, according to his ledgers, his catch was down ninety-six per cent, the result of over-fishing". (p 183). 7 3/4 x 12 1/2" Item #17148