The Native American Esopus tribe was part of the Lenape tribes. They lived, hunted, and moved through the Catskill Mountains, the mid and northern Hudson River Valley, and most of what is now Ulster and Sullivan Counties in Upstate New York. The Esopus people spoke an Algonquin dialect known as Munsee, and lived in small communities of less than 100 people.
The tribe fought a series of conflicts against settlers from the New Netherland colony from September 1659 to September 1663, known as the Esopus Wars, in and around Kingston. At the conclusion of the conflict, the tribe sold large tracts of land to French Huguenot refugees in New Paltz and other communities.
The Esopus Wars devastated many Lenape communities in what is now Ulster County. Populations dwindled through warfare with Dutch and French settlers, in addition to widespread disease, with smallpox being the most deadly. Intertribal warfare exacerbated casualties.
Please see the Timeline button to see documents relating to the Esopus tribe. The many transactions to sell property to settlers eventually dispossessed these people from their hereditary lands.