In what's called the Clovis Culture period — around 10,500 BCE (before the common era) — Paleo-Indians lived in our area. Eugene Boesch details their history in Native Americans in Putnam County. Archeologists have discovered evidence that early Clovis people hunted mastodon in 9000 BCE in Hyde Park, New York, just north of Poughkeepsie, The closest surviving Paleo-Indian site near Putnam County is located at the Piping Rock site on the shoreline in Ossining.
The first known contact between New York Lenape and Europeans occurred on April 17, 1524, when explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano and his men arrived at what's now known as Staten Island. Unknowingly, Verrazzano and his crew brought diseases with them that the Lenape had never encountered -- and many Lenape died. The Lenape experienced at least 14 epidemics between 1633 and 1702, notes anthropologist and writer Robert Grumet. "Thus the Lenape people, who may have numbered 24,000 before the Europeans arrived, dwindled to probably fewer than 3,000 by the year 1700," Grumet writes