Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

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

Volume I, Page 338

Fort Hunter.-Captain John Scott was given the first command of an English garrison at Fort Hunter, which was a place of no little importance in the early history of the Mohawk valley, where were doubtless planned not a few important Indian enterprises. The ruins of old Fort Hunter were torn down at the beginning of the Revolution, having stood for over 60 years, when the chapel was inclosed in heavy palisades, with block houses in the corners of the inclosure mounting cannon. The Oneidas, in numbers, often slept in the old chapel, which served them as a barrack during the war. The garrison here was called Fort Hunter during the war, a part of which time Capt. Tremper, from below Albany, was its commandant. It seems a pity that State economy necessitated the destruction of the chapel; but to obviate the expense of a costly bridge for towing over Schoharie creek, the canal was located near enough to the road toll-bridge to cross on that, by an attachment of a towing-path upon the side of it. This then needed convenience brought the chapel within the canal limits, and impelled its destruction. On its subsequent enlargement, the canal was laid much nearer the Mohawk at this point.

A Court of General Sessions convened at the Johnstown court house, February 2, 1781, after its organization adjourned for some cause-probably an anticipated invasion of the enemy-to Fort Hunter, holding the remainder of its session in Queen Anne's chapel. This seems to have been an important session for discriminating between the whigs and tories of the county, as 104 persons were indicted "for adhering to the enemies. of New York." At a similar court at Johnstown in October following, 16 men were indicted for the same crime; while in February, 1782, 41 more, for their tory proclivities, were remembered in the same manner, "Mary Brant alias Johnson" being of the number, At the June term for 1782, an old gentleman and his wife were indicted, "for aiding, abetting, feeding and comforting a party of the enemy." This indictment seems to have been for a single offense, and the particulars and consequence attending it will be narrated elsewhere. The 163 names thus designated, show those of a great number not only of the strongest and best families of the Mohawk valley at that period, but at the present time. The first name on the list was that of George Herkimer, Jr., while those of Frey, Petrie, Young, Empie, Loucks, Helmer, Shoemaker, Frederick, Mabey, Countryman, Bell, House, Shaver, Service, Klyne, Miller, Casselman, Klock, Nellis, Walrath, Rasencrantz, Smith, House, Banker, Latridge and scares of others-the greater part of whom went to Canada-were in the service of the enemy; not a few of them remaining there and becoming permanent citizens. Indeed, we may say that thus very many of the German families of New York became represented in Canada, and are so to this day.

Queen Anne's Chapel, had a glebe or farm of 300 acres of good land attached to it, which was conveyed at same period by the natives to Dr. Barclay, and by him to the society alluded to, on their reimbursing him moneys expended upon it. This farm was disposed of some years ago, and part of the proceeds, nearly $1,500 were laid out in erecting the Episcopal church at Port Jackson, in the same town; and the residue, an equal sum, invested in the Episcopal church of Johnstown.-- Spafford's Gazetteer, Peter Putman, J. L. Groat, A. J. Comrie and others.

The parsonage house, said to have been built about the time the chapel was, is still standing in Florida, half a mile below the Schoharie, and a few rods south of the canal, from which it is visible. It is a stone building, some 25 by 35 feet on the ground, two stories high, with a quadrangular roof, presents a. very ancient appearance, and is the oldest house as far west in the Mohawk valley. It is now [1882] owned by Henry A. Diefendorf. The last occupant under the patronage of the Missionary Society, was the Rev. John Stuart, who was officiating there at the beginning of the Revolution. He removed early in the war to Canada. I have in my possession a bill of sale from Mr. Stuart to John Conyn, who returned to the Mohawk after the Revolution, of a male slave called Tom Doe, who went from Fort Hunter with his master to Canada. The sale was for $275 in specie, and was dated at Montreal, November 19, 1783. At the close of the war, Mr. Stuart settled on Grand river, and resumed his ministerial labors. During the war, and for some time after, this house was occupied by William Harper, who was a member of the Provincial Congress of New York for Tryon county, and afterwards a judge of the county, when its name was changed to Montgomery. He was a very prominent and useful man in his day. It has ever been a matter of surprise that this parsonage should have been erected so far from the chapel.

An Irish Colony.-About the year 1740 a small colony, consisting of 16 families of Irish immigrants, was planted, under the patronage of William Johnson, afterwards Baronet, on lands formerly owned by Henry Shelp, a few miles southwest of Fort Hunter, in the town of Glen. Several years after they had built themselves rude dwellings, cleared lands, planted orchards and commenced their agricultural labors, a disturbance arose between the Indian Confederacy of New York and the Canadian Indians, which the colonists conceived endangered their domestic tranquility; in consequence of which the settlement was broken up, and the chicken-hearted pioneers,. then numbering 18 or 20 families, returned to the Emerald Isle. Traces of their residence are visible at the present day.-- Henry Shelp, John Hughes and Peter Putman.

Among the early merchants in the Mohawk valley so far west, was Major Jelles-Giles-Fonda, a son of Douw Fonda, a pioneer settler at Caughnawaga. For many years he did an extensive business, for the times, at the latter place, trading with the white citizens of the valley, and the natives of Western New York; the latter trade being carried on at old Fort Schuyler, now Utica, Fort Stanwix, now Rome, and Forts Oswego, Niagara and Schlosser. An abstract from his ledger shows an indebtedness of his customers at one time just before the Revolution of over $10,000. Many of his goods he imported directly from London. To his Indian customers he sold blankets, trinkets, ammunition and rum ; and received, in return, peltries and ginseng root. The latter was, at that time, an important item among the exports of what was then Western new York; and the two named, added to the article of potash, almost the only commodities purchased in a foreign market.

Castles of the Mohawks-I have elsewhere said, that during the time of Sir William Johnson, only two Mohawk castles were ever spoken of by him; but here is an instance in which three (not castles) villages are mentioned: At a Congress held by Sir William Johnson, at the German Flats, July 18, 1770, when 2,320 lndians were present, and for whom he hall to provide food, it is stated in the proceedings, that the Mohawks of the three villages, numbering 209, were present.* Again, under date of October I, 1771, Rev, Charles Inglis, assistant minister of Trinity church New York, having visited Sir William Johnson the year before, sent to Lord Hillsborough, then Secretary of State for the British government, a "Memorial concerning the Iroquois," in which he says: "The Mohawks have three villages-Schoare, Fort Hunter and Canajoharie. These are all within the English settlements, and contain 420 souls. Fort Hunter, the central village. where a missionary from the society [for propagating the gospel] among the heathen], now resides, is distant from Albany 40 miles." + This is the only place in which I remember to have seen the Schoharie, or Wilder Hook castle (and here it is called a village), named as one of its three important towns ; and possibly this was meant for one of the three represented the year before at German Flats.

* Brod, Papers. vol. 8, p. 229.

+ Doc. His., vol. 4, p. 652.

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