History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 379
EARLY BRIDGES IN THE MOHAWK VALLEY.
The Fort Hunter Bridge.--The first bridge of importance in the mohawk valley, was erected over the Schoharie creek, at Fort Hunter. Maj. Isaiah Depuy, a resident of Fultonville at the time of his death (in 1841), as he assured the writer, was its master builder. It was commenced in October, 1796, and on the following fourth of July, American Independence was becomingly celebrated on it. It was a toll bridge, as were in fact nearly all bridges of any length at that period, and proved a great convenience at that early day to people traveling up and down the river in their own conveyances. On the completion of this bridge, a line of stages was established going westward from Albany on the south side of the Mohawk, which staid with its passengers over night at Roof's tavern at Canajoharie, upon the site of which Hotel Wagner was erected in 1878, by Hon. Webster Wagner.
An Accident at this Bridge.-February 22, 1814, the eastern bent of this bridge was carried away by the ice. At this period Christian Service, a well-to-do citizen of Florida, had a tannery and manufactured much of his leather into boots and shoes. He had a son named Samuel, who went to Sacketts Harbor with a quantity of the latter, hoping there to find a ready sale for them. Learning that his son was becoming profligate, the father went out there in a sleigh to look after him and the stock he had taken thither. Settling up the business as best he could, he returned taking his son with him. A thaw preceded his return, and in the middle of a dark and foggy night, he arrived at Fort Hunter, only a few miles from his own home. Knowing there was no snow on the bridge, his son got out to to favor the team and walked behind the sleigh. The team stopped suddenly upon the bridge, a portion of which the ice had removed a day or two before; and unconscious of danger, Mr. Service urged on his horses-a fine sorrel team-with his whip. One spring, and the team and sleigh went down into the surging waters; the father was drowned and the son was saved. The horses swam to the eastern shore below the bridge where they gained a footing and were rescued alive after daylight. The body of Mr. Service was recovered from Kline's Island in the river three miles below the creek, in the following spring. Much sympathy was manifested for the family, and many seemed to think the wrong man was in the sleigh. This scapegoat afterwards left the county, and we know not what became of him.-Peter I Newkirk and John Enders.
A Burglary in ye Olden Time.-One night when a stage load of passengers remained over at Roof's tavern-believed to have been in the autumn of 1797-a burglary was committed in it. The house was a stone building erected some years before by a man named Schremling, and was purchased by Johannes Roof, in 1778, who left Fort Stanwix the year before, and who at once opened it as a public house. It stood against the hill upon the southern verge of the flats; and at the time of the burglary was kept by John Roof, then, or about that time, a colonel of militia, his parents-Jonannes Roof and wife-living with him. On the day preceding the burglary, quite a sum of money in specie had been paid to the family and deposited with other sums in an iron chest, which was chained to a post of the bedstead and kept under the bed, in which the elder Roof and wife slept. In the afternoon the old gentleman drew the chest from under his bed, and asked Rebecca Bowman, a girl living in the family and Nancy Spraker,* a young lady then in her teens, to lift it; and its weight was a good match for their strength. On the night following the lifting of the trunk, the old people occupied thc bed over it, while the young ladies named slept in a trundle bed in front of the other bed, with a limited space between them: and yet without disturbing the inmates of the room, the chest was removed by burglars before morning. The stage had come in full of passengers, and there had been more or less of confusion in the house nearly all night, which seemed to favor the rogues. How the chest was taken from the house, or what became of either the money or the chest yet remains a secret; but it was surmised that the latter was possibly thrown into the river. A small tin trunk containing valuable papers, which was kept in the chest, was found soon after the robbery in one of the abutments of the creek bridge near by, placed purposely, where it could be seen. This bold theft, which for a time afforded no little gossip in the valley, was forgotten for nearly three-quarters of a century, and until I fortunately struck its trail. It was shrewdly imagined in the time of it, that some
*A daughter of George Spraker, and youngest sister of Col. Roof's first wife, whom she was then visiting She was afterwards married to Jacob J. Lawyer, of Schoharie, whose widow she Is and where she now-1881-resides. She was born In the town of Palatine, December 15, 17S0, and at her centennial anniversary, she was smart, with a good memory and clear intellect. The particulars of this narrative I had from her, corroborated by other old people. Her brother, Maj. Joseph Spraker, is favorably remembered at the "Nose," as a tavern keeper in the day of large wagons, and at that place she was married. She died January 23,1882.
relative of the family was in the secret, but if so the public were never the wiser for it.-- W. H. Seeber.
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