Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

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

Volume I, Page 255

Pierson's First Settlers of Schenectada, says that Dr. William Adams settled in Schenectada about 1757-that was 10 years after he came to this country-and that he was a surgeon under Sir William Johnson in the French war. It also states that he was a practicing physician at that place over 70 years, which, of course, embraced the time he resided in Johnstown ; and that in the year 1827, when he had reached the age of 97, he was still vigorous, then making a journey by stage to Litchfield, Ct. of over 70 miles in a single day, with little fatigue. Pierson does not give either his birth-place or the time of his death, but Shew and Van Voast both stated that those Adams brothers came from Dublin, Ireland. The former also said of Robert that he was a dandy in dressing, and lived in good style in his day. A good portrait of Sir William Johnson, long in possession of the W. J. Van Voast family-which was painted by a French artist at Johnstown for Robert Adams-was obtained and taken, to Canada by the descendants of Col. Claus about the year 1830.

First Free School in New York.-Sir William Johnson established at Johnstown the first free school in the State ; and the first man to "use the birch " in it was a fellow-countryman of his named Wall. The older children of Miss Brant were among his pupils, but whoever chose to send children to this school, did so free of cost. Wall was a severe disciplinarian, but the Baronet's children were an exception to his clemency. Jacob Shew, a son of an early German settler, who was a patriot soldier in the Revolution, and a member of the State Legislature after the war, assured the writer that he had the advantages of this school. Having to pass Johnson hall at the time-around which were usually a dozen or more Indians-the lad Shew and several children with him manifested some fear, when Sir William spoke to a chief in their behalf, and then assured the urchins they need borrow no more trouble about their Indian neighbors. Wall took no little pains to teach his pupils politeness, requiring them to make their manners both on entering and on leaving school, and to show due respect to age at all times. The prevailing custom at an earlier period all over the land, of instructors manifesting some interest in the behavior of their pupils out of school as well as in it, has nearly become obsolete; but it was not difficult, years ago, to determine the character of the school teacher by meeting his pupils in the street. Shew was old enough, while going to school, to observe and remember much about Johnson hall and its surroundings, the benefit of whose fine memory is here given to the reader.

Some of Sir William Johnson's Heirs Seeking their Patrimony.-Directly after the Revolution, say as early a8 the summer of 1784-86, Mary Brant, with two of her children, then grown up, George Johnson, who had a dark skin, and one of his sisters then the wife of Doctor Carr, (late a surgeon in the British service), who also accompanied them; came down to recover property willed to them in Philadelphia Bush. They all visited Maj. Philip Schuyler, at Palatine church, who was them erecting mills on the Garoga creek, where Foxes mills had been burned by the enemy. Mills were rebuilt on the opposite side of the creek. Schuyler was one of the commissioners appointed by the government to look after such claims. The heirs were too young to forfeit their inheritance, and recovered pay for lands now in Mayfield and Perth. While at Schuyler's, the party conversed in the Mohawk dialect, excepting Dr. Carr, who was quite an intelligent man. Said my informant, who was then at work for Schuyler, as the party were to stay over night, Mrs. Schuyler was quite perplexed to know how to dispose of her guests; as the carpenters and mill-wrights were occupying all her beds: but Molly Brant set her at ease by assuring her that they would care for themselves-and spreading their blankets on the floor they camped down in true Indian style, to Mrs. Schuyler's relief.-Jacob Shew.

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