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Lawrence Gwyn Van Loon
Collection, ca. 1939-2013


Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Collation of single accessions 16677-16687, and 14164; October 2012; see provenance note for details
Processed By: Manuscripts & Special Collections, October 2012

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Biographical Note:

Lawrence Gwyn Van Loon (1903-1985) was a physician who spent much of his life and career in Reading, Pennsylvania. Later he was medical director of the Kalaupapa Mission in Molokai, Hawaii, followed by positions at state-run schools at Cresson, Pennsylvania, and Wassaic, Dutchess County, New York. In 1982 he retired and moved to Gloversville, New York, where he spent the last years of his life. His avocation was history, specializing in research relative to the Dutch exploration and settlement of North America during the seventeenth century. This interest stemmed largely from the fact that he was a descendant of Jan van Loon, an early settler of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which later became New York. Dr. Van Loon spent a considerable amount of time learning the Dutch language, and it seems he used his knowledge of the language and of history to forge a number of documents during the 1930s that appeared to be historically authentic. A more thorough analysis in the 1980s of the documents' physical attributes, linguistics, and historical evidence proved otherwise.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection consists of a number of documents the New York State Library acquired from Dr. L.G. Van Loon, circa 1938, that have largely been determined to be forgeries. The content of the documents generally concerns relations between the Dutch and Native Americans. One example is a letter supposedly written by Jeronimus dela Croix, with accompanying map, detailing the expedition led by Harmen Myndertsz van der Bogart from Fort Orange into the Mohawk Valley in the winter of 1634-1635. Careful analysis of the text of this document conducted by Charles T. Gehring and William A. Starna, and published in New York State History in 1985, points out linguistic errors as well as historical inaccuracies. The article references a laboratory analysis of the physical attributes of the document done at Buffalo State College which concluded the paper dated from the seventeenth century but the ink dated from the twentieth century. Also the relative even density of the ink throughout the documents indicates that a more modern writing instrument was used and not a quill pen that would have been used in the seventeenth century. A copy of the Gehring and Starna article is included with the collection.

This collection also includes a photostatic copy of an agreement between Jacob Eelckens (Elkins) and the Iroquois Indians chiefs on April 21, 1613, that is also known as the Tawagonshi treaty. The whereabouts of the original is not known and reportedly the only person known to have seen it was Dr. Van Loon. The authenticity of the treaty has also been refuted as a result of extensive research and analysis conducted by Gehring and Starna and published in New York History in 1987 and 2012. The latter article states the Tawagonshi treaty is a "fake." However, a number of individuals who believe the treaty to be authentic have also published their views. Copies of these articles, both pro and con, are included in this collection.

The other documents in the collection have not yet been subject to as much research and analysis as the two aforementioned pieces but, since they have the same provenance and similar physical characteristics as the dela Croix letter, they are thought to be forgeries as well. For example, the Indian deed to Manhattan Island, dated July 10, 1626, was discredited because of the incorrect name of one of the Dutch signers of the deed: Bastiaen Jansz Crol, a known Dutch officer of the period, has "signed" the deed as "Jans Sabastian Croll." More importantly, Charles Gehring and others have indicated these documents are also ripe with many serious linguistic errors and historical inaccuracies.

Provenance Note:

This collection of documents was received by this repository in 1938 from Dr. L.G. Van Loon. At the time, A.J.F. van Laer, the authority on Dutch language and history at the New York State Library, was about to retire and did not have time to thoroughly evaluate the authenticity of the documents. They were stored in the library's vault until about August 1977 when the State Library was moving from the Education Building to the Cultural Education Center. At that time they were officially accessioned to the library's holdings. The accession log does not specify whether they were purchased or were a gift.

The phototatic copy of the Tawagonshi Treaty was presented to this repository as a gift from J. Howard Haring in November 1959. It was officially accessioned to the holdings of this repository circa April 1965. A two-page typewritten translation done by L.G. Van Loon accompanied the document.

Part A: Inventory of documents

Folder Acc.# Description
1 16677 Indian deed to Manhattan Island and the three small islands to the south. July 10, 1626
2 16678 Letter from Jeronimus dela Croix to Marten Gerritsz relating the progress of Harmen Myndertsz van den Bogaert's mission to the Mohawk and Oneida country; with a map of the Mohawk River and environs. December 19, 1634 (Translation: Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, XV:4-5)
3 16679 Memoranda by Peter Minuit: (1) instructions to Pieter Barentsz following Daniel Crieckenbeeck's death; (2) order for Jan Lampo to arrange a meeting of the sachems to discuss the purchase of Manhattan Island; (3) purchase of land on the South River by Gilles Houset; (4) Michael Paauw's request for cattle. 1626-1632
4 16680 Letter from Michael Paauw to Peter Minuit concerning the sale of some cattle to Kiliaen van Rensselaer which had been promised to Paauw. August 19, 1632
5 16681 Sketch of fort and map of Manhattan Island and surrounding area. [1626?]
6 16682 Receipts of Peter Minuit for money paid out of his own pocket, and goods received from the West India Company. 1628
7 16683 Letter from Peter Minuit to Pieter Barentsz instructing him to take command at Fort Orange and to inquire into the events surrounding Daniel Crieckenbeeck's death. May 11, 1626
8 16684 Letter to Peter Minuit from Pieter Barentsz relating further information about Crieckenbeeck's death; with an account of goods at Fort Orange. 1626
9 16685 List of soldiers remaining at Fort Orange. 1628 [Missing as of 2003]
10 16686 Memorandum concerning a request from the Indians that Hans Jorissen be surrendered to them for the murder of one of their sachems. 1634
11 16687 Report of Pieter Barentsz concerning his meeting with the Mohawks to investigate the events surrounding the death of Daniel Crieckenbeeck. 1626
12 14164 Jacob Eelckens (Elkins), agreement with the Iroquois Indians, April 21, 1613; also signed by Hendrick Christiaensen and four chiefs of the Iroquois Nations. This document is also known as the Tawagonshi Treaty (Negative photostatic copy of original document;  location of the original is not known)

Part B: Inventory of secondary material

Folder Item Title
13 1 Gehring, Charles, and William A. Starna. "A Case of Fraud: The Dela Croix Letter and Map, 1634," New York History 66 (July 1985), 249-266.
13 2 Gehring, Charles, William A. Starna, and William N. Fenton. "The Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613: The Final Chapter," New York History 68:4 (October 1987), 373-393.
13 3 Gehring, Charles, and William A. Starna, "Revisiting the Fake Tawagonshi Treaty of 1613," New York History (Winter 2012), 96-101.
14 1 Winne, Charles K. "A Hitherto Unknown Very Early Map of Albany," The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, 18-19 (1952-1954), 9-15.
14 2 "Old Ten Eyck Map of Albany Presented to Art Institute," Knickerbocker News, February 24, 1954 (Albany, N.Y.)
15 1 Van Loon, L.G. "Tawagonshi: The Beginning of the Treaty Era," The Indian Historian 1:3 (Summer 1968), 22-25. Printed from Reel 1 of Iroquois Indians: A Documentary History of the Diplomacy of the Six Nations and Their League (MB/FM,970.00497,I71, 85-23275)
15 2 Typewritten notes relative to the Tawagonshi Treaty by William N. Fenton. Printed from Reel 1 of Iroquois Indians: A Documentary History of the Diplomacy of the Six Nations and Their League (MB/FM,970.00497,I71, 85-23275)
16 1 Benjamin, Vernon. "The Tawagonshi Agreement of 1613: A Chain of Friendship in the Dutch Hudson Valley," Hudson River Valley Review, Vol. 16, No. 2 (September 1999), 1-20.
16 2 Venables, Robert. "An Analysis of 1613 Tawagonshi Treaty". October 2012.
17 1 Van Loon, L.G. "Letter from Jeronimus de la Croix to the Commissary at Fort Orange and a Hitherto Unknown Map Relating to Surgeon Van den Bogaert's Journey into the Mohawk County, 1634-1635," The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, 15 (1939-1940), [i],1-9.
18 1 Journal of Early American History (Vol. 3, No. 1, 2013)
Special Issue: Early Iroquoian-European Contacts: The Kaswentha Tradition, the Two Row Wampum Belt, and the Tawangonshi Document

Paul Otto and Jaap Jacobs. Introduction: Historians and the Public Debate about the Past.

Harrie Hermkens, Jan Noordegraaf, and Nicoline van der Sijs. The Tawagonshi Tale: Can Linguistic Analysis Prove the Tawagonshi Treaty to be a Forgery?

Mark Meuwese. The States General and the Stadholder: Dutch Diplomatic Practices in the Atlantic World before the West India Company.

Jaap Jacobs. Early Dutch Explorations in North America.

Jon Parmenter. The Meaning of Kaswentha and the Two Row Wampum Belt in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) History: Can Indigenous Oral Tradition be Reconciled with the Documentary Record?

Paul Otto. Wampum, Tawagonshi and the Two Row Belt.

Last Updated: January 31, 2022