This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.


Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 36

History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 36: Mohawk Valley History from 1713 to 1744.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 510-529 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 35 | ahead to: Chapter 37

Events and life in the Valley in the great constructive peace period between the close of Queen Anne's War and the beginning of King George's, or the Old French War — 1727, Freedom of trade in Schenectady and the beginning of batteaux traffic on the Mohawk.

The period, from the ending of Queen Anne's war in 1714 to the beginning (in 1743) of the third French-British War in the Colonies, constituted a time of peace and progress in the Mohawk Valley. The latter conflict was variously called the Old French war and King George's war. This long interval, in the French and British conflict for American supremacy, was a most fruitful one for our Valley.

During this time, the river section was sparsely settled, at least, from the mouth of the Mohawk to its shores at present Frankfort — a distance of over ninety miles of the river's course. The eastern half of this was settled by Holland Dutch, while the western half was peopled by Palatine Germans. Other elements such as British and a few Huguenot French came in at this time.

In the same period, an important settlement of Scotch and Scotch-Irish was made at Cherry Valley just over the divide between the Mohawk and the Susquehanna valleys. This latter location geographically is not in the Mohawk watershed but its early history belongs entirely with that of the Mohawk Valley.

The Schoharie Valley section during this time suffered a loss of population by the emigration of two-thirds of its pioneers to the Mohawk River region and to Pennsylvania. However, this was made up by a natural increase of the population of Palatine Germans and an influx of Americans of Holland Dutch and British stocks.

The years from 1713 to 1744 marked the growth of civilized society along the Mohawk, and the development of a strong and numerous population, which materially helped toward English success in the great French war and which also constituted a vital factor in the War of Independence.

[Map: The Canajoharie Patent of 1723.]

One of the most important events of the period, following the close of Queen Anne's war in 1713, was the migration of the Tuscaroras to the Oneida country, where they became the sixth nation of the Iroquois League. They were an Iroquois people who had migrated southward and settled in Carolina. They massacred over 130 white settlers in one day in 1711, but, in 1713, they were terribly defeated and 800 of them were sold as slaves.

The remainder of this strong tribe found refuge with the Iroquois. They were received into the League as "younger brothers," and henceforth the Five Nations were known as the Six Nations. The Tuscaroras were settled in the Oneida country south of the Oneida villages.

In 1715, the Six Nations attended a council, at Albany, at which Dekanissora, the Mohawk orator, returned "the unfortunate hatchet given him against Canada, and they must never give so poor a one again," referring to the war failures of New York in Queen Anne's war.

In 1715 and 1719, the New York Assembly passed acts for repairing the Schenectady fort and yet in 1720 both Fort Hunter and Fort Schenectady were said to have been dilapidated.

In 1715, Schenectady township had two companies of militia numbering 116 men. With very few exceptions, these militiamen were Holland Dutch or Americans of Dutch descent. Their roster follows, as taken from the old records:

"1st Foot Company of Scheny. 'D Leyst van Capt. Johs Sandersa Glen zyn Compenye.

"Capt. J. Sanderse Glen, Luyt Gerret Symer feedr [Veeder], Luyt Jan Wemp, Luyt Arent Brat, Luyt Barent Wemp, Corpr Evert V. Eps, Corpr theunis V. d Volge, Corpr Manus Vedder, Abm Glen, pieter Vrooman Jur, ghysbert V. Brakel, Helmus Veeder, Sohs teller Jur, Jacob Swits, Sanders Glen, Cornelis Van Dyck, Claes franse [V. D. Bogart], Jacob Schermerhorn, Jan Schermerhorn, Symon tol, Jan Dellemont, Andries V. Pette, Jan Marselus, Jacob V. Olinda, Johs Vedder, Cornelis Viele, Cornelis V. Slyck, David Marenus, Joh Peck, Jellis fonda, Jacobus Peck Jr, Abrm D. Graef, Pieter Danyelse [V. Antwerpen], philip philips, symon folkertse feeder [Veeder], Jacob Vrooman, pieter quinez, Jelles Van Vorst, Abrm Groot, Cornelis Singerlant [Slingerland?], theunis Swart, Dirck Groot, Sweer Marselus, Jan baptist V. Eps, Arent Danyelse [V. Antwerpen], Barent Vrooman, Hendrick Vrooman Jr, Myndert Wimp, Jacob teller, Willem Marenus, Claas V. Putte jr, Jacob flipse [Philipse], Welm hael [Hall], Robert Ets [Yates], Nicolas Stensel, Arent Samuel brat, Symon Groot, Marte V. Slyck, Hendrick flipse [Philipse], Wilm Daes.

"Signed, John Sanderse Glen, Gerret Symonse (Veeder), Jan Wemp. In all sixty men."

"2d Foot Company Of Schen. D. Leyst van Capt. Harme van Slyck Companye ano. 1715.

"Capt. Harme V. Slyck, Luyt Hendrick Vrooman, Luyt Jacob Glen, Sergant Johs teller, Sergant Gerret V. Brakel, Sergant folcket Symonse [Veeder], Corpl Jacob V. Ghyselinge, Corpl Andries D. Graaf, Corpl Harme Vedder, Jan Barentse Wemp, Jan Vrooman Jr, Cornelus Van der Volge, Benyemen V. Vleck, Marte V. Venthuysen [Benthuysen?], Samuel Hagadorn, Willem teller, Wouter Vrooman, Jan Danyelse [V. Antwerpen], Esyas Swart, Joseph Clement, Arent Schermerhorn, Jacob Meebie, Myndert Van ghyselinge, Johs Marenus, flitoor pootman, Daniel tol, Bertolomew picker Jr., Johs Van Eps, Simon Swits, Arenout d Graef, Wilm Brouwer, Pieter mebie, Tyerck franse [V. D. Bogart], Philip Groot, ysack d Graaf, Philip Bosie, Johannes Vrooman, Abraham Meebe, Harme Vedder Jur, Jonetan Stevens, Arent Van Putte, Jacobus Veeder, Wouter Swart, Jeremy tickstoon, Sanders flipse [Philipse], Wilm Coppernol, Hendrick hagedorn, Pieter Vrooman, Harme flipse [Philipse], Robt Dyyer, Nicklas Stevens, Pieter Brouwer, pieter Clement, Adam Smith, John feerly.

"Signed Harme V. Slyck, hendrick Vrooman, Jacob Glen. In all 56 men."

The year 1715 is a most notable one in the Mohawk Valley, because one of its greatest citizens and a world famous historical figure then first saw the light of day. This infant was born in Smithtown, County Meath, Ireland. He was christened William Johnson, and when he grew to manhood he came across the seas to the Mohawk Valley where he became Indian commissioner for all the English colonies, a major general of militia, member of the governor's council and a baronet with one of the greatest landed estates in America.

In 1716, the Mohawks granted to Captain Harmanus Van Slyck of Schenectady, all the land bordering on the Mohawk River, from the Big Nose westward to the present eastern limits of Nelleston, a distance of about seven miles. This grant was made because of Van Slyck's Mohawk Indian relationship, his grandfather, Cornelis Antonise Van Slyck having married Ots-toch, a Mohawk-French halfbreed squaw. The father of Captain Harmanus was Jacques Cornelise Van Slyck, who was born among the Mohawks and who later became a proprietor under the Schenectady patents of 1664. Captain Van Slyck settled on his lands and built a house and sawmill about one and one-half miles west of present Palatine Bridge. At this time, Van Slyck may have been the most westerly settler along the river.

In 1716, Hendrick was deposed as a chief of the Mohawk tribe, probably due to politics in our nation of Caniengas or Flint People. Hendrick was then resident at the upper or Canajoharie castle. The people of this largest Mohawk village were often called Canajoharies, although they were Mohawks the same as the Indians of the lower castle at Fort Hunter. The people of Tarajories on Prospect Hill, constituted a village but not a castle, as their little town was not palisaded, as were the Upper and Lower castles. Hendrick was reinstated as a Mohawk chief in 1720.

In 1716, Vandreuil, the French governor of Canada, again started overtures to the Senecas to draw them from their friendship with the English. From this time, until the beginning of the third French-English war, there were constant intrigue and political and diplomatic activity between the French and English and the Six Nations. Council after council was held at Albany "to keep the chain of friendship bright." The English influence, during this period of peace, continued to remain stronger than the French, largely due to the fact that Albany furnished better trading facilities to the red men than Montreal, and to the influence of the Mohawks in the councils of the Six Nations.

The Albany authorities built two wooden buildings (15 x 75 ft.) to accommodate the many Indians who came to the councils. The Six Nations and the western Indians journeyed to the Albany councils by way of the Mohawk Indian trails and it was not infrequent for the red men to dine off one of the settlers' cattle. Complaints were made by the Mohawk River pioneers but the Indians replied in council by saying that if the Albany authorities supplied them with sufficient provisions then the cattle of the Mohawk River farmers would be untouched. The Indians and their councils were a cause of unending trouble to the Provincial authorities. They had to be constantly placated or there was danger of their allying themselves with the French, in which case border warfare would have been a constant menace.

In 1716, Philip Groat of Rotterdam, acquired from the Mohawks a strip of land in the eastern part of the present township of Amsterdam, Montgomery County. It embraced the present site of Cranesville. Groat set out in a sleigh from Schenectady, during the winter, to go to his new home. While crossing the Mohawk River, the horses and sleigh broke through the ice and Groat and a woman companion were drowned. The Widow Groat and three sons, Simon, Jacob and Lewis, made the settlement, together with some farm servants. In 1730, the Groat brothers erected a mill at present Cranesville.

In 1717, Peter Vrooman made a permanent settlement at Vroomans Land, on the grant obtained by his father, Adam Vrooman, in 1714, and where Vrooman's farm hand, Truax, had been murdered by Moore, a German, and Morter, a Vrooman family negro slave, in 1715. The Palatines thought that Vrooman would be intimidated by the murder, thus showing their ignorance of the brave and tenacious Dutch character. Peter Vrooman planted an apple orchard, which was still standing in 1845, after 130 years. Peter Vrooman was the first of the later numerous Dutch settlers in the Schoharie Valley. Dutch families by the name of Swart, Ecker, Zielley, Hagadorn, Feek and Becker soon followed Vrooman and located in his vicinity.

In 1719, the Mohawk chief Dekanissora reported at Albany that the French were building a fort at Niagara.

In 1720, Captain John Scott secured a patent for the lands extending from the Auries Kill to the line of the Yates and Fonda lands near present Fultonville.

In 1720, Simon Laraway built a grist mill on Mill Brook, a tributary of Fox Creek, near Schoharie village, which was the first mill in the Schoharie Valley. The Toll brick house in the town of Glenville, Schenectady County, is reputed to have been built in 1720.

In 1720, Hendrick was reinstated as a chief of the Mohawk Nation and henceforth he became the leader of our Valley Iroquois tribe. In a council held at Albany in that year, Hendrick strongly protested against the sale of liquor by white traders among the Mohawks, saying that rum was destroying his nation — a mere statement of fact.

Governor Burnet held a council at Albany with the Six Nations in September, 1721, at which a proposal was considered which was made by the Virginia Indians that the Potomac River and the high mountains to the westward should be the boundary of the hunting grounds between them and the Iroquois. The Six Nations agreed to this line. The demands for furs by English, Dutch and French traders during the century previous to this had greatly increased Indian warfare. To supply these unlimited demands the Indians soon exhausted the game on their own lands and then trespassed on the hunting grounds of neighboring tribes, which acts brought on bloody Indian wars.

As a result of this council, Peter Schuyler, Jr., and several young men were sent to Irondequoit in the Seneca country there to trade for a year. They were to try to attract the trade of the Indians and of the French coureurs de bois. Both the young men of Albany and Schenectady frequently went on long trading expeditions into the Indian country, which, it is said, eventually made many of them more like Indians than white men in character. Some of these young men later did good service as Indian agents, scouts, and interpreters in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars.

The years, 1722 and 1723 were important ones in the history of the Mohawk Valley. In 1722 the English built a trading post at Oswego, and in this and the following year, about 300 Palatines moved from Schoharie to the settlements of Stone Arabia and the German Flats, on or near the Mohawk River. Immigrants came into the Mohawk Valley from the Palatine German ships which arrived in New York City that year. By 1725, the population of the Mohawk Valley must have been about 2,500 white settlers. Of these we can estimate that 1,000 were Holland Dutch, 1,000 Palatine German, 500 of British stock. Adding a probable Mohawk Indian population of 1,000 to the white settlers would give a probable 1725 total of 3,500 people in the Mohawk watershed (inclusive of the Schoharie Valley), and covering the Mohawk River section from its mouth to present Frankfort, a distance of 92 miles.

Seventeen hundred twenty-three was also an eventful year for the Mohawk Valley, in that it marked the beginning of a fight against the trade monopoly of Albany, that brought freedom of trade in 1727, which had an important effect on business and transportation in Schenectady and the Mohawk Valley.

On June 15, 1723, Johannes Wendell and Robert Roseboom "informed against" Johannes Myndertse, a trader residing on the west corner of Mill Lane and State Street. He was charged with having "taken Indians with bever and peltry into his house." He was arrested and fined 10 pounds and placed in the Albany "gaol" for refusing to pay the fine. Myndertse escaped from "gaol" and commenced a suit against the Albany Common Council for trespass and false imprisonment. Doubtless little heed was paid to the suit of the Schenectady trader. It dragged on until 1727, when it was decided in Myndertse's favor.

Albany's grasping monopoly of the Indian trade was broken and such business was now made open to all. Schenectady was free "from the authority of those hateful ordinances that had fettered its trade for more than fifty years." The brave and militant Myndertse had taken another step in the direction of American liberty.

This decision had an important influence in stimulating business among the traders at Schenectady, and along the Mohawk, as well as upon river traffic. Formerly canoes had sufficed for the river trade but now a larger craft was needed to carry goods over the Mohawk. Albany traders now had goods frequently sent in bulk by sloop to Albany, from which place they were sent to Schenectady, and points even farther west, and distributed there by agents. As the Mohawk River highways were rough and that stream was the easiest freight route, a demand arose for larger water freight carriers than canoes and dugouts.

The batteau now made its appearance on the Mohawk and thus an important water traffic was inaugurated upon our river which lasted for a century — until the Mohawk was supplanted by the Erie Canal.

The batteau was a flat-bottomed boat with a sharp prow at each end. It was paddled, rowed, poled, sailed or towed by two, three, four, five, six or eight men — depending on the size of the boat. According to the number of men running the vessel, the batteaux were called three-handed or four-handed boats, etc. These boats varied from about sixteen to twenty feet or more in length and carried up to several tons of cargo. Cleated boards ran along each side of these batteaux on which men stood with faces toward the stern and set poles in the river bottom. Then they walked along the cleats and thus pushed the boat along.

This was the method in shallow water. In deep water the boats were rowed and in a good breeze they were sometimes sailed. They were also towed and they were towed or pushed over the rapids or riffs, of which there were over twenty difficult ones, between Schenectady and the present site of Utica.

The batteau was the first advance in navigation and the contrast between it and the former canoe was somewhat similar to that between an old Erie canal boat and an ocean steamship. It must have seemed a great advance in transportation, when the first batteaux came sailing up the Mohawk.

The batteaux men became in time a numerous class of rough, powerful fellows who added to the general turmoil and the number of fist fights at the local taverns, which now catered to the river men as well as to the carters and pack horse drivers over the Mohawk River highways. Schenectady was the center and the terminal river port of this then important river traffic. Boat yards were there established where batteaux were built and Schenectady merchants engaged actively in the river trade and built storehouses on the Binnekill, where a great variety of goods were kept to supply the Indian trade and the white settlers then located along the Mohawk for seventy miles west of Schenectady.

The river men gradually cleared out the Mohawk's channel to make navigation easier and made channels through the rifts by removing the boulders. The later development of Mohawk River navigation came with the completion of river channel improvement and the building of locks by the Inland Lock and Navigation Co., from 1791 to 1797, when the larger Durham and Schenectady boats were used. This period of development of the great Mohawk River-Oneida Lake-Oswego River waterway (running from Schenectady to Oswego on Lake Ontario) is treated in a later chapter. The batteaux began to navigate the Mohawk about 1727. They were largely used to carry military supplies and ordnance in the Colonial French-English wars and during the Revolution. The development of the batteaux and consequent increase of Mohawk River trade, constitute the first important chapter in the history of transportation through the Mohawk Valley-Gateway to the West. Our present Barge Canal is the modern development of the batteaux and the puny river improvements of the Mohawk River batteaux men, just as the New York Central, "America's Greatest Railroad" is the modern outgrowth from the cartman who guided his horse and cart over the rough and perilous first highways. The development of the batteaux and its river trade would have come about eventually but let us remember that it was the fight of one plucky Schenectady trader — Johannes Myndertse — against grinding Albany Indian trade monopoly which first brought commercial freedom and development to the Mohawk Valley.

[Randall's Map of Patents Along the Mohawk River.]

It is a noteworthy fact that the New York Provincial government built a fort at Oswego in 1727, the same year that the Indian trade was made free throughout the Colony, and the same year in which trade and transportation began to develop along the Schenectady-Oswego important Colonial water route. Tradition says that a defense was built, on the present site of Rome, at the same time that Fort Oswego was erected, in 1727.

In 1724, the Provincial authorities sent four Schenectady smiths into the Seneca country, in response to requests of the Senecas as well as to prevent French smiths from locating there. Those sent were Harmen Veeder, Andries Bradt, Hendrick Wemp, and Harmen Van Slyck. They received salaries of from 15 pounds to 50 pounds yearly. They were not permanently located there, as the Senecas again asked for "smiths, gunsmiths and armorers" in 1726 and 1728.

[Photo: Ehle House.]

Rev. Johannes Jacobus Ehle came into the Mohawk Valley, in 1725, to serve as pastor of the churches in the Mohawk River and Schoharie River neighborhoods. He located at the eastern end of present Nelliston where he first built a log house and later a stone house in 1729, which served the dominie as a dwelling and also as an Indian mission house for the Mohawks of the middle village of Tarajorees then located on Prospect Hill in present Fort Plain, on the other side of the Mohawk River. The north shore, or "King's Highway," then ran along the Mohawk's north bank on the line of the New York Central tracks from the Big Nose to the present Wagner's Hollow road. Dominie Ehle built his stone house close to the King's Highway and to the river ford which became known as Ehle's ford. His son, Peter Ehle, built a larger stone addition to this house in 1752. In 1924 the smaller part of this Ehle house was the oldest structure in the Mohawk Valley west of the Schoharie. It had then been unoccupied for thirty years and was rapidly falling to ruins. Dominie Ehle, who was of the Reformed faith, ministered to the Stone Arabia congregation, which built a log church in 1729, on the site of the present Stone Arabia Lutheran Church. This was the third church known to have been erected in the Mohawk Valley, the two others having been built by the Reformed Dutch congregation of Schenectady. However, it is probable that the Palatines at present Herkimer and Fort Herkimer built log churches even previous to this time.

Seventeen hundred twenty-eight was noteworthy from the fact that an infant son was then born to Johan Jost Herkimer at "Kouari," along the upper Mohawk, who later became General Nicholas Herkimer, the leading American Mohawk Valley Revolutionary patriot and the hero of Oriskany. Herkimer's birthplace is located about a quarter mile east of Fort Herkimer Church, where it is marked by a 1912 D. A. R. marker. Tradition says that a German school was opened at present Fort Herkimer, about 1730, where the General probably obtained his only schooling.

In 1728, Rev. Thomas Brouwer, minister of the Schenectady Reformed Dutch Church, died and in the same year, Rev. Reinhardus Erichzon succeeded him. The new Schenectady dominie received a salary of 100 pounds (equivalent to about $250.00), "a parsonage in good repair, a garden kept in fence, pasture for a horse, two cows, and firewood at the door."

Schenectady and the Schenectady district had outgrown its Reformed Dutch Church, and in 1730, plans were made for the erection of a third one.

A petition was circulated by which 322 pounds were raised in Schenectady and the Schenectady district and 33 pounds in what was then called "Maquaas Landt," as the river section west of Schenectady township was designated.

In 1731, occurred the death of Captain Johannes Glen, the youngest son of Alexander Glen, pioneer settler of Scotia in 1658. Captain Glen was 83 years old at his death and had succeeded to his father's prominence as a chief citizen of the township of Schenectady. The Glens had been important figures in the first seventy-five years of the history of the Mohawk Valley.

During the years from 1732 to 1734, the third Schenectady Nether Dutch Church was building. It cost 1,167.17 pounds ($2,919.73) including a clock and bell, and stood until 1814, when a fourth Reformed Church was built, the present one being the fifth. The new church completed in 1734, was located at the corner of Church and Union streets. It was 80 feet long, north and south, and built of "gray wacke" (Dutch for blue sandstone), from the quarries east of the village. There were 304 seats in the new church in 1734, divided as follows: men's, 86; women's 218; which would indicate that the Schenectady dames and maidens were more punctual than the Schenectady burghers and young men in their attendance at church. People who object to tolling church bells will be interested in knowing that the bell was rung only three times to call the congregation to church. The number of church seats in 1734 would indicate a city population of about 600 or 700 people. The seats were increased to 432 in 1754, to accommodate the increased population.

The bell did service in this Schenectady Reformed Dutch Church and its successor, until 1840, when it cracked. It bore the inscription in Dutch:

"De Klok van de Neder-duitsch gemeete van Sconechiade door Haar self bezorght anno 1732.

"Me fecerunt De Grave et muller Amsterdam."

The translation from the Hollandisch is as follows:

"The bell of the Low Dutch Church of Schenectady, procured by themselves in the year 1732.

"De Grave and Muller, Amsterdam, made me."

The following list of subscribers to the church of 1734 is given in Pearson's "Schenectady Patent":

"Jellis Fonda, Hendrick Vrooman, Capt. Harme Van Slyck, Albert vedder, Abraham Meebie, helmis Veder, John fairley, Myndert Wymp, pieter Cornu, Daniel tol, Barent Vrooman, Wyllem Teller, Gysbert V. brakel, John Vrooman, Johannis Van Vorst, Johannis Marselis, Abram groot, Cornelis Van Slyck, Symon Veder, Reinhart Erichzon pred., Arent brat, Jacobus Van Dyck, dirk groot, Cornelus van der Volge, Robbert yets, Yacoep Swits, Wouter Vrooman, Jan Barentse Wemp, Abram D. Graaf, Cornelus Van Dyck, Joha Sanders Glen, Jacobus Peck, Arenout de Graaf, Sanders Laseng, Jacob Glen, barent hendrickse vrooman, Joseph Van Sice, Abraham Truax, Sander Van Eps, Davet Marinis, Nicolaas Groodt, Daniel Danielse [Van Antwerpen], Symon Vrooman, Johannys ouderkerck, Philip Van Putte, haerme Vedder, Reyer Wemple, Gerret Van Vorst, Johannis Vedder yu [Jr.], Abraham Glen, Arent braet yu [Jr.], hendrick Vrooman, junier, William Peters, Takel Maerseles, Yacobus Vedder, adryaen Van Slyck, Harme M. Vedder, Cornelus Veder, harmanus Vedder."

The money subscribed by these men (195 pounds) was to be paid to Arent Bratt, Jacobus Van Dyck, Dirk Groot, Cornelis Van der Valgen, Robert Yates, Jacob Swits, Wouter Vrooman, Jan Barentse Wemp, elders and deacons of the Schenectady Church.

After the new church was built in 1734, the old stone Dutch Church was fortified and strengthened at a cost of 82 pounds ($164) and used as a fort. Dominie Erichzon left Schenectady in 1736, and the church was without a pastor for some time.

The oldest known document connected with the history of the Fort Herkimer Reformed Dutch Church is a deed of 1730 by which Nicolas Wohllaben (Woolever) granted to himself and eleven other representatives of the church, an acre of land for school and church purposes. This is the "God's acre" on which the historic old stone church of 1767 now stands. The names of the twelve men were Johan Jost Herkimer (father of General Herkimer), Frederick Pellinger, Rodolf Stely, Thomas Schoonmaker, Rodolf Caring, Johannes Hess, Hendrik Spoan, Michael Ittick, Jr., Hendrick Orendorph, Nicholas Staring and Hendrick Heager. Woolever received 15 pounds for the land. Mention is made of "the church to be erected near the school now standing," so that there was already a school building standing which was doubtless used as a church, and which had probably been erected about 1725 or earlier. Some accounts say that it is probable that the erection of the stone church was begun soon after the deed of 1730.

About 1730, Hendrick Schrembling, a Palatine German, and Marte Janse Van Alstyne bought of Cadwallader Colden, 775 acres on both sides of Canajoharie Creek at the present village of that name. Shortly after Schrembling settled on the east side of the creek, while his brothers, George and John, located on the west bank of the stream, and the Schremblings thus became the founders of Canajoharie village, Van Alstyne's arrival there about 1750 is noted later. The settlement of Canajoharie, however, is disputed and some accounts of the Van Alstyne family say that they settled there in 1723.

[Photo: Abraham Glen House, Scotia, 1730.]

The erection of the earlier homes of the settlers along the Mohawk which remain to us, is of present-day and historic interest. They represent and vividly suggest the life of the times of which they are the only visible reminders. The picturesque Abraham Glen house, now standing at Scotia, was built in 1730. The Governor Yates house at Schenectady and the Arent Bradt farm house, just west of Schenectady, were built in 1735.

[Photo: The Abram Yates House, Schenectady.]

Johannes Ehle served the Stone Arabia and German Flats churches from 1725 to 1735. The first settled pastor at the German Flats (Herkimer) Reformed Church was Rev. George Michael Weiss who came there, from Hudson River charges, in 1735. He left there in 1742 and went to Rhinebeck. An octagonal log church was built at the Palatine village, at present Herkimer, some time prior to 1734. It was burned during the Herkimer massacre of 1757. There was probably a school at present Herkimer by 1725, as there was at present Fort Herkimer. The churches of the two centers were served by the same pastors for many years.

In 1733, the church society of Stone Arabia started the building of a frame church where the present Stone Arabia Reformed Church now stands. This was to supersede the first log church which stood on the site of the present Stone Arabia Lutheran Church. While the building was going on, a dispute arose between the Calvinists and the Lutherans as to the denomination of the new church. The Reformed sect was in the majority, whereupon the Lutherans withdrew from the new project, and continued to worship in the old log church. Both church buildings were burned by Sir John Johnson in his great raid of the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys in 1780.

Cherry Valley was settled by Scotch and Scotch-Irish, in 1740. While this historically important settlement lies just over the Mohawk divide, in the Susquehanna Valley, its early history is part of that of the Valley of the Mohawk and is so treated in the succeeding chapters.

In 1738, Sir George Clarke, Lieutenant-Governor and acting Governor of the Province of New York, built a stone house at present Fort Plain, where the Governor and his family spent four summers — from 1738 to 1742. Governor Clarke was interested in the Corry patent, granted in 1737, and it is supposed that Sir George located here in the wilderness to be near this great tract of 25,400 acres which lay in the present towns of Root and Charleston in present Montgomery County. The Clarke family of Hyde Bay, Otsego Lake, directly descends from Governor Clarke.

One of the most important events in the history of the Mohawk Valley was the settlement here of William (later Sir William) Johnson in 1738. Young Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715 and came to America as a young man to manage and lease the lands belonging to his uncle, Admiral Peter Warren, a notable figure in British naval annals. Johnson located on his uncle's lands at the western limits of the south side section of the present Amsterdam and, therefore probably was that city's first settler. Warren's lands in the township of Florida, Montgomery County, became known as Warrensbush.

William Johnson later became major-general of the New York Provincial militia and was made a baronet by King George II, for his services as commander of the expedition which defeated the French invasion at the battle of Lake George in 1755. Johnson was one of the greatest figures of Colonial America and his coming into the Mohawk Valley is so important that it is given space in a succeeding chapter. In 1739, Johnson bought lands on the north side of the Mohawk River, where he built Mount Johnson, to which he moved in 1742, and on which lands he later built Fort Johnson in 1749, about a half mile to the west of Mount Johnson. Both north shore houses were of stone. Johnson gave the Mount Johnson 1742 house to his daughter, Anna, who married Col. Daniel Claus.

Accounts of Johnson's first years in the Mohawk Valley say that he took his wheat to Caughnawaga to be ground. This would indicate that a mill had been built there as early as 1739, which was then or later owned and operated by Barent Wemple. The date of the erection of several of the Mohawk Valley mills is uncertain. It is probable that a neighborhood center began to be formed at Caughnawaga (Fonda) as early as 1740 and statements that Douw Fonda made the first settlement there in 1750 are probably in error. Fox's mill was probably built on Garoga Creek, at present Palatine Church, between 1720 and 1730. In 1735 a grist mill was erected in present Herkimer village by Jacob Weber.

In 1739, Iroquois scouts brought word to Albany that the French had gone from Crown Point to Wood Creek, on the carry from the head of Lake Champlain to the Hudson, and were there building a fort. New France now claimed all the waters of the St. Lawrence, and its tributaries. In 1740 Governor Clarke held an Indian council at Albany which admitted all Indians in British North America (westward to the Mississippi) into the "covenant chain."

In 1739, Hendrick Frey 2nd built the stone house at present Palatine Bridge known today as Fort Frey. It supplanted the old palisaded log house which was the British post of Fort Frey in Queen Anne's war (1701-1713). The new stone house was loopholed for defense but was never stockaded. However, it was regarded as a stronghold and neighborhood refuge in the Colonial and Revolutionary wars. "Frey's" was a trading post, for about 80 years — 1690 to 1775. There was a ford here across the Mohawk and Frey's was an important point and landmark along the Mohawk River and its King's highway.

King Hendrick is reputed to have made a visit to the English King in 1740, on which occasion "his majesty presented him a rich suit of clothes — a green coat set off with brussels and gold lace and cocked hat, such as worn by the court gentry of that period." The well known portrait of Hendrick, with upraised tomahawk, is said to have been painted at that time.

The first schools in the Schoharie Valley were established about 1740. Besides a German school at Schoharie there was a Dutch school at Vrooman's Land. Other schools were established later. Following the murder of Truax, of Holland descent, by Moore, the Palatine German, and Morter, his negro accomplice, at Vrooman's in 1715, there was bad feeling between the Germans and Low Dutch of Schoharie. This gradually wore away, until by Revolutionary times there were fairly good relations between these peoples.

Another prominent Mohawk River trader, Johan Jost Herkimer, in 1740, built a large stone house, store, and storehouse on the German Flats at "Kouari." (Mohawk, Ok-wa-ri, meaning "bear.") This important river and highway neighborhood and trading post was already known as "Herkimer's", the name later being applied to the Fort Herkimer of the great French and Indian war (1756-1760) and the Fort Herkimer of the Revolution (1775-1783). Herkimer's house was the center of the British Fort Herkimer. It was destroyed about 1835 in the enlargement of the Erie Canal.

In 1743, Dominie Ehle was followed, in his ministry to a number of Reformed churches along the Mohawk and the Schoharie rivers, by Rev. Johannes Schuyler, who succeeded him at Stone Arabia and elsewhere and who served a pastorate of eight years from 1743 to 1751.

The oldest building standing in Schoharie County is the original St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Schoharie. It was built in 1743 as a church and parsonage and occupied as such until 1751. Although it is a small structure and more of a house than a church yet it is the oldest church building now standing in the Mohawk Valley, antedating St. George's Episcopal Church of Schenectady by nearly twenty years. It is well worthy of preservation.

Peace had now reigned between France and England for over thirty years. In this time the English colonies in America, the Province of New York and the Mohawk Valley had all grown and developed more than in any similar period in the history of America. It was a fatal peace for France, because the English colonies had become so mighty that it was now but a question of time when they would overwhelm the scanty population of New France. It also was a fatal peace for Great Britain because her colonies had outgrown her paltry and coercive colonial policy. It was now only a matter of years before they would rebel against English political misgovernment, military bungling, and governmental tyranny.

In this period the Mohawk Valley had developed from a thin line of settlers and one little walled town, to a community stretching for nearly one hundred miles along the Mohawk River, from the Hudson to Dutch Hill, west of present Frankfort. There was a growing community of pioneer farmers in the Schoharie Valley and a little colony of Scotch and Irish settlers back of the "Brimstone Hills," now known as the Cherry Valley Mountains.

Dutch, Palatines, Scotch, Irish and English settlers now probably numbered nearly four thousand souls in the Mohawk Valley. There were churches, schools, stores, mills, blacksmith shops, boatyards and taverns along both the Mohawk and the Schoharie rivers. There was a city of nearly a thousand people at Schenectady, and there were hamlets or little towns at Caughnawaga, present Fort Plain, Fort Herkimer, Herkimer, at Middleburg, and Schoharie on the Schoharie and at Cherry Valley in the Cherry Valley Mountains.

There was a strong body of militia in the Valley of the Mohawk, of which Colonel William Johnson assumed command in 1746. In general, there was a line of civilized society along the lower Schoharie River and the middle and lower Mohawk River, and yet it was but a thin line of civilization which closely hugged the banks of these two rivers. The wilderness hemmed in the farms even along the Mohawk's course and practically surrounded the clearings of the bold settlers who ventured to establish homes back from the main roads of the white man. Life along the Mohawk and the Schoharie was still the life of the pioneer, living in a great wilderness, when, in 1744 the policies of European courts again embroiled the French and English colonists of America.

The following two chapters cover the settlement of Cherry Valley and that of William Johnson (later Sir William Johnson), at present Amsterdam. The third succeeding chapter relates to the Mohawk Valley in connection with King George's war, of the years from 1744 to 1748.

Go to top of page | back to: Chapter 35 | ahead to: Chapter 37

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 36 updated March 30, 2015

Copyright 2015 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library