History From America's Most Famous Valleys
of New York
or a BIOGRAPHY of NICHOLAS STONER & NATHANIEL FOSTER;
TOGETHER WITH ANECDOTES OF OTHER CELEBRATED HUNTERS,
AND SOME ACCOUNT OF SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON AND HIS STYLE OF LIVING
by Jeptha R. Simms
A Reprint with New Supplementary Matter
Printed by Enterprise and News
St. Johnsville, N.Y. 1935
Albany: J. Munsell, 82 State Street. 1850
"To be ignorant of all antiquity," says a popular writer (I. D'Istaeli), "is a mutilation of the human mind; it is early associations and local circumstances which give bent to the mind of a people from their infancy, and insensibly constitute the nationality of genius." This is a truism which can not be contravened, and although the world is now full of books for good or ill, yet I venture to add another. Well, as this is only a duodecimo, may I not bespeak for it a little share of public favor? For it is but a small volume, it has nevertheless required considerable time and care to collect and arrange its minutiae. The author does not claim for it a place among classic works, which sparkle with literary gems; but he does claim for it the merit of candor. In a work purporting to be one of truth, he would not impose upon the credulity of others, what he could not believe himself.
This book has been written with the view of giving the reader some knowledge of the peril-environed life of a hunter; in connection with the early and topographical history of a portion of northern New York. As the forests disappear, the country is settled and wild game exterminated; that hardy race of individuals which followed the chase for a living will have become extinct; indeed, those who would have been called professional hunters, have now nearly or quite all left the remaining woods of New York, and most of them sleep with their fathers. Many of the names with their daring adventures are not forgotten.
How important is it, therefore, to place on record what can still be gathered respecting them, to live in future story; when some American Scott shall have arisen to connect their names and deeds forever, with the rifle-mimicking mountains, the awe-inspiring glens, the hill-encompassed lakes, and the zigzag-coursing rivulets--upon, within, around, and along which they sought with noiseless footstep the bounty-paying wolf, the timid deer, and the fur-clad beaver.
I may remark, that one motive in producing this book has been, to contribute materials for the future history of the state. Says an American scholar (W. A. Whitehead), "The general historian must gather his facts from the details of local annals, and in proportion as they are wanting must his labors be imperfect." A small budget of antiquarian matter, and some interesting incidents of the American Revolution are here introduced; and in connection with this subject, I will take occasion to say, that I am collecting original matter of an historical character, with the intention of publishing it at a future, not distant day. There are yet unpublished many reminiscences either of, or growing out of our war for independence, both thrilling and instructive. Not a few such are now in the writer's possession. They are generally of a personal and anecdotal nature, and many of them were noted down from the lips of men whose heads are whitened by the frosts of time, or are now laid beneath the valley-clods.
If such an anecdote should still linger in the mind of a reader of this page, or any old paper of interest remain in his or her keeping, that individual would confer a favor by communicating the same to my address. Our revolution is destined, in its fullness of benefit, to emancipate the world from tyranny; and every minute incident relating to that great struggle is not only worthy of record, but highly important, for the proper understanding of its cost to the young, to whose guardianship its principles and advantages must soon be confided.
The difficulty of preparing a work for the press where much of the matter is to be obtained by conversational notes, is only known to those who have experienced the task; and such best know its liability to contain error. The biography of Major Stoner has nearly all been read over to him since it was written out, and corrected; I can with confidence, therefore, promise the reader, as few errors in this as he will find in any work similarly got up. In conclusion, I would fain express my grateful thanks to those individuals who have in any manner contributed towards making this volume.
J. R. Simms
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