Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883

Volume I, Page 346

A Fist Fight; or, trial of Muscular Strength.-- The following traditionary anecdote is believed to be true. In the employ of Sir William Johnson a few years before his death, was an Irishman named McCarthy, by reputation the most noted pugilist in Western New York. the Baronet offered to pit his fellow countryman against any man who could be produced for a fist fight. Major Fonda, tired of hearing the challenge, and learning that a very muscular Dutchman named John Van Loan, was living near Brakabeen, in Schoharie valley, made a journey of some forty or fifty miles, to secure his professional services, for he too was reputed a bully. Van Loan readily agreed to flog the son of Erin, for a ten pound note. At a time appointed, numbers were assembled at Caughnawaga to witness the contest between the pugilists. After McCarthy had been swaggering about in the crowd for a while, and greatly excited public expectation, inducing numbers to bet on his head, his competitor appeared ready for the contest-clad in a shirt and breeches of dressed deer-skin fitted tight to his person, A ring was formed and the battle commenced. The bully did his best, but it was soon evident that he was not a match for his Dutch adversary, who slipped through his fingers like an eel, and parried his blows with ease. Completely exhausted and almost bruised to a jelly, Sir William's gamester was removed, looking if not expressing-peccavi.-Abram A. Van Horne.

Funerals.-I have spoken elsewhere of the custom of providing refreshments at funerals; a practice which continued in vogue in some degree for at least 100 years, and until about the year 1825, Here is evidence of the custom at the period indicated by the date of an old manuscript before me :

"PALATINE, 29th MAY, 1813.
"Received of Col. Peter Waggoner, nine dollars in full for six gallons rum for the Burying of old Col. Peter Waggoner, [his father.] £3 12 O.


Smoking was an attendant on the prevailing habit, as the following order from Col. DI. Claus, will show:

"SIR-I have sent the bearer for four dozen of Pipes and a few pounds of Tobacco, for the burial of Mr. Raworth's child wh please to charge to me.


"Monday, 27th August, 1770. "To Maj'r JELLES FONDA."

Copyright 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.

Contents Introduction Links Home