Johnstown, N. Y.
September 8 and 9, 1922
IN COMMEMORATION OF
150TH ANNIVERSARY OF "SETTING UP" OF
TRYON COUNTY HELD AT JOHNSTOWN, NEW YORK
Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9, 1922
General Chairman - Hon. Eberly Hutchinson
Vice-Chairman - Edward Wells
Committee Chairman Pageant - Mrs. Bethune M. Grant, Jr. and Mrs. Charles B. Knox.
Executive - Edward Wells.
Speakers - Cyrus Durey.
Music - Grover E. Yerdon
Souvenir Program and Publicity - J. Clarence Hennelly
Parade - William B. White
Reception - Judge William S. Cassedy
Finance - James M. Evans
Decorating - Giles B. Fonda
Invitations - John T. Morrison
Police - Peter Joyce
Hostess for women of Johnston, Mrs. Edward Wells, assisted by Mrs. William C. Mills of Gloversville and a committee of women. Headquarters in Colonial Club, South William Street. Display of antiques in library of Club.
Rest room for women, Parish House of St. John's Episcopal Church in charge of women of the parish.
Reception hall for men, Johnstown Y. M. C. A building.
Pictures for program furnished by A. E. Hess.
"This is the Land of the Pioneer
Where a life-long feud was healed;
Where the League of the Men whose Coats were Red
With the Men of the Woods whose Skins were Red
Was Riveted, forged and sealed."
Robert W. Chambers
Sir William Johnson, Baronet
Superintendent of Indian Affairs
for all British North America,
Major General of the British Army,
"Father of Tryon County"
and founder of Johnstown,
Died July 11, 1774.
SIR WILLIAM PASSES
Opening Chapter of "The Little Red Foot', by Robert W. Chambers,
Reprinted With Permission of the Author.
The day Sir William died there died the greatest American of his day. Because, on that midsummer evening, His Excellency was still only a Virginia gentleman not yet famous, and best known because of courage and sagacity displayed in that bloody business of Braddock.
Indeed, all Americans then living, and who have since become famous were little celebrated, excepting locally, on the day Sir William Johnson died. Few were known outside a single province; scarcely one among them had been heard of abroad. But Sir William was a world figure; a great constructive genius; the greatest land-owner in North America; a wise magistrate, a victorious soldier, a builder of cities amid a wilderness; a redeemer of men.
He was a baronet of the British Realm; His Majesty's Superintendent of Indian Affairs for all North America. He was the only living white man implicitly trusted by the savages of this continent, because he never broke his word to them. He was, perhaps, the only representative of royal authority in the Western Hemisphere utterly believed in by the dishonest, tyrannical and stupid pack of Royal Governors, Magistrates and lesser vermin that afflicted the colonies with the British plague.
He was kind and great. All loved him. All mourned him. For he was a very perfect gentleman who practiced truth and honour and mercy; an unassuming respectable man who loved laughter and gaiety and plain people.
He saw the conflict coming, which must drench the land with blood and dry with fire the blackened cinders.
Torn betwixt loyalty to his King whom he had so tirelessly served and loyalty to his country, which he so passionately loved, it has been said that, rather than choose between King and Colony, he died by his own hand.
But those who knew him best know otherwise. Sir William died of a broken heart, in his great Hall at Johnstown, all-alone.
His son, Sir John, killed a fine horse riding from Fort Johnson to the Hall. And arrived too late all of a lather in the starlight.
And I have never ceased marveling how such a man could have been the son of the great Sir William.
At the Hall the numerous household was all in a turmoil; and, besides Sir Williams' immediate family, there were a thousand guests - a thousand Iroquois Indians encamped around the Hall with who Sir William had been holding fire-council.
For he had determined to restrain his Mohawks, and to maintain tranquility among the fierce warriors of the Six Nations, and so pledge the entire Iroquois Confederacy to an absolute neutrality in the imminence of this war betwixt King and Colony, which now seemed to be coming so rapidly upon us that already its furnace breath was heating the restless savages to a fever.
All that hot June day, though physically ill and mentally unhappy, - and under a vertical sun and with head uncovered, - Sir William had spoken to the Iroquois with belts.
The day's labour of that accursed council-fire ended at sunset; sachem and chief departed - tall spectres in the flaming west; there was a clash of steel at the guard-house as the guard presented arms; Mr. Duncan saluted the Confederacy with lifted claymore.
Then an old man, bareheaded, alone, turned away from the covered council-fire; and an officer, seeing how feebly he moved, flung an arm about his shoulders.
So Sir William came slowly to his great Hall, and slowly entered. And laid him down in his library on a sofa.
And slowly died there while the sun was going down…
Then slowly the first star came out where, in the ashes of the June sunset, a pale rose tint still lingered.
But Sir William lay dead in his great Hall, all alone.
PROGRAM OF EVENTS
Historical scenes to be enacted in costume at the following places:
1:00 P.M. - At Fort Johnstown (Fulton County Jail)
1:30 P.M. - At Black Horse Tavern
2:15 P.M. - At Court House (Dedication of Tyron County Court House, Sept. 8, 1772)
3:45 P.M. - At Sir William Johnson Hall. (the Indian Council and attendant ceremonies)
5:00 P.M. - Commemorative service at Cross in Colonial Cemetery- site of the first Episcopal Church edifice, erected 1760, in charge of St. John's Parish.
5:30 P.M. - Commemorative service at grave of Sir William Johnson in churchyard of St. John's Church, conducted by St. Patrick's lodge, No. 4, F. & A. M.
7:00 P.M. - Filibuster Parade " The Tyron County Train-Band has Gen'ral Trainin'."
8:00 P.M. - "Pageant of Dances" in Court House Park under direction of Prof. Charles F. Dolan. 1. Dance of the Courts. 2. Dances of the Scotch Highlanders to the music of the bagpipes.
8:45 P.M. - Singing of plantation songs by chorus, under direction of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Wendell.
9:00 P.M. - Showing of "Cardigan" at New Grand theatre. Community dancing in Court House park, music by the Eagles' band.
10:00 A.M. - Ceremonies in Court House under direction of Bar Associations of Johnstown and Gloversville, commemorating opening of Tyron County Court House, September 8, 1772.
12:30 P.M. - Luncheon to Governor Nathan L. Miller and guests in dining-room of Baronial Mansion.
1:30 P.M. - Addresses by Governor Nathan L. Miller, Hon. Edmund F. Machold, Speaker in the New York State Assembly, Hon. James Sullivan State Historian and Mrs. Corrine Roosevelt Robinson, sister of the late Theodore Roosevelt and mother of State Senator Theodore Douglas Robinson.
3:00 P.M. - Matinee showing of "Cardigan" at Grand.
2:30 P.M. - Pageant scene "The Indian Council" from Friday's program.
4:00 P.M. - Reception in honor of Governor and Mrs. Miller and guests at the Colonial.
Evening program same as Friday's.1
TRYON COUNTY AND SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON
Historical Sketch and Revolutionary Chronicles of "The Dark and Bloody Ground"
By John T. Morrison
Westward the course of Empire takes its way." Following the irresistible march of progress, during the early part of the 18th century, the white man and his civilization penetrated westerly through the Mohawk Valley for nearly its entire length. Appreciating the fertility, indescribable beauty, the agricultural and industrial possibilities, a considerable number of Palatines who emigrated to America during the exodus from the Lower Palatinate (Pfalz) in 1710 spread through the upper region of the Mohawk. Victims of oppression, the unendurable persecutions of Louis XIV, moved by the same spirit that actuated the Puritans a century before, these poverty-stricken but hardy Germans, with the zeal and implements of the pioneer, made clearings and established rude but substantial homes along the trails and in close proximity of the castles and wigwams of the descendants of the aborigines. They settled on both sides of the river, and as far as the westerly bounds of the territory subsequently known as German Flats, twenty-six miles westerly of the present city of Little Falls.
"They sought not gold nor guilty ease
Upon this rock-bound shore-
They left such prizeless toys as these
To minds that loved them more.
They sought to breathe a freer air,
To worship God unchain'd;
They welcomed pain and danger here,
When rights like these were gained."
Close upon the heels of the Palatines, in 1738, followed William Johnson, a vigorous and extraordinary young Irishman, born in Smithtown, County Meath, in 1715, Johnson was a nephew of Sir Peter Warren, an admiral in the English Navy, the hero of Louisburg. He immigrated to America at the instance of his uncle and for the purpose of taking charge and supervision of a large landed estate of the latter in the Mohawk Valley. Johnson located at Warrensbush, a small settlement on the south side of the river, about four miles easterly of the junction of the Mohawk and Scoharie rivers, nearly opposite the present Village of Cranesville. No trace whatsoever of this settlement remains.
Students of colonial history appreciate that the Indians played a very important part in the great drama of life in those early days and pioneer times, and young Johnson, by reason of his honesty and integrity, his uniform kindness and fair-dealing, a quiet dignity and charm of manner, unusual physical attractiveness, won great influence over the minds and hearts of the unsophisticated children of the forest. With them his word was law. He was the only white man in America implicitly trusted by the Indians. And all this was subsequently strengthened by common law matrimonial alliances with the prominent and influential Indian families of King Hendrick, the great war chief of the Iroquois, and the Brants. Indeed his influence was boundless. He attained an ascendancy over the Indians never before or since enjoyed by a white man.
brother of Molly Brant,
protege of Sir William Johnson,
War Chief of Iroquois and
one of the most celebrated
Indians in history
Nick Stoner, celebrated
Revolutionary soldier and
noted hunter and trapper
Appreciating this fact, and the importance of establishing harmonious relations, and if possible, forming an alliance with the red men, the British government appointed Johnson Superintendent of Indian Affairs, first of the Iroquois, or the confederacy of the Six Nations, and later his jurisdiction extended throughout all of British North America. By reason of the influence that Johnson exercised over the Indians he became in many respects the most important person identified with the colonial history of America.
In 1753 signs of the great and final struggle for supremacy in America between England and France began to multiply, and as it was demonstrated in the earlier war in 1747. Concluded by the peace, or rather the truce, of Aix-la-Chapelle, that in the final contest the Indians would hold the balance of power, it was evident that whoever could control the Indians was the most important and powerful person in America; the Indians wavered, because of the less aggressive land and colonization policy of the French, and the ceaseless activities of the Jesuits, through the greater influence of Johnson, they remained loyal to England, turned the tide of war, prevented the latinizing of North America, and made possible Anglo-Saxon dominion. Indeed, the influence of Johnson has affected the destiny of the United States as long as time shall endure. Because of his military successes, especially the battle of Lake George and the reduction of Fort Niagara, in 1756, he was created a baronet of the hereditary class by the British government, and in further recognition Parliament voted him a present of 5,000 (pounds).
In August, 1760, with more than one thousand Iroquois warriors the largest force of Indians ever assembled, Sir William embarked with General Amherst at Oswego in the expedition against Montreal, the last foothold of the French in America after the fall of Quebec, and took a prominent part in the closing scenes which marked the end of French power in North America. It was through the influence; magnanimity and statesmanship of Johnson that many of the privileges were preserved that are enjoyed by the French in Canada today.
Sir William built Johnson Hall in the winter and spring of 1761-62 and moved thither in 1763. For twenty years previously he had resided at Mount Johnson, the substantial stone structure not far from the north shore of the Mohawk, in the present town of Amsterdam, now known as Fort Johnson, erected in 1742.
Sir William Johnson Hall, erected 1761-'62, only
Baronial Mansion in United States, now the property
of the State of New York; (insert) Mansion as
No sooner was Sir William comfortably quartered in Johnson Hall than the war broke out known in history as Pontiac's rebellion. He immediately surrounded the Hall by a strong stockade, flanked by two stone towers; one of these survive; the other was burned shortly after the close of the Civil War. Although the force of his rebellion soon expended itself, Pontiac himself did not surrender until 1766, in the meantime keeping the settlers on the frontiers in a state of constant terror. On the 23rd of July, 1766, the great Ottawa chieftain surrendered to Sir William at Oswego, and the occasion was the most solemn and picturesque that ever occurred in America in the pioneer days, those peculiarly picturesque times, and has often been made the occasion and theme for pageantry and song.
The last great public work of Sir William Johnson was the ratification of a definite boundary between the territory of the Six Nations and the Colony of New York, based upon actual survey, and known in history as the "Fort Stanwix Treaty Line." Following this treaty, Sir William devoted much of his time to his private affairs, literature, husbandry, and the colonization of the Mohawk Valley. Through the acquisition of the Royal Grant of 100,000 acres and the acquiring of other large areas of land, he became the largest private land owner in America. He induced large numbers in Ireland and Scotland to immigrate to America and settle on his estate. By 1770 Johnstown included more than one hundred houses and more than five hundred inhabitants, mostly Scotch Highlanders (Roman Catholics.) Many other small settlements had evoluted through the Mohawk Valley, including Fort Hunter, Canajoharie, Burnet's Fields, etc. The need of a stronger and more thoroughly organized government became more apparent to Sir William day by day. Johnstown and the valley settlements were on the great western frontier. The seat of the county government was at Albany. This was before the advent of steam and electricity, the telegraph and the telephone and as the means and methods of transportation and communication were so slow the seat of the county was too remote from these settlements for proper effectiveness. Owing to the conduct of unscrupulous traders the relations between the Whites and Indians were fast becoming demoralized. Appreciating these facts, on January 2nd, 1772, Sir William forwarded to the Colonial Assembly, through James DeLancey, a second petition from the inhabitants praying for a division of the county, and largely through his influence, aided by Philip Schuyler and Jacob H. TenEyck, the prayer of the baronet was granted, and on March 12th Tryon County was formed from the westerly part of Tryon County and on May 10th Johnstown was named as the county seat. Tryon County was named in honor of Sir William Tryon, who had just been commissioned governor of the province and commander-in-chief, succeeding Lord Dunmore who was transferred to the government of Virginia.
At the request of Sir William the new county was divided into five districts, viz: the Mohawk; Stone Arabia; Canajoharie; Kingsland; German Flats; and included all the territory west of Albany County to the boundary line settled with the Indians at the general treaty in 1768 (Fort Stanwix;) northerly as far as the settlements extended; and southerly to the northerly bounds of Orange and Ulster counties.
Sir William immediately commenced the erection of a court house and jail. The former was completed in August and the first court of Quarter General Sessions was held therein Tuesday September 8th, 1772, thus carrying the old system of English jurisprudence to the western frontier in America. The bench was made up as follows: Guy Johnson, Judge; John Butler, Peter Conyne, Judges; Sir John Johnson, knight; Daniel Claus, John Wells, Jelles Fonda, Assistant Judges; John Collins, Joseph Chew, Adam Loucks, John Fry, Frederick Young, Peter Ten Broeck, Justices. Since its dedication this old court house has been the scene of many important and sensational legal battles. In one of these, involving a charge of bribery against the Speaker of the Assembly, presided over by the eminent Jurist, Chancellor James Kent, Aaron Burr was pitted against Thomas Addis Emmett, then Attorney General of the State, a brother of Robert Emmett, the Irish Patriot and martyr. For many years this was the only brick building, and the only court house between Albany and the Pacific Ocean.
Sir William Johnson died suddenly July 11th, 1774. In the spring of that year the Indians of the western tribes solicited the Iroquois to take up the hatchet against the whites. The former had several grievances. Several ruthless murders had been committed by unprincipled whites in the Ohio country, including the murder of a brother and sister of Logan, the great Mingo chief; the murder of Bald Eagle, and aged and inoffensive Delaware chief; and the murder of Silver Heels, the favorite chief of the Shawanese. The murderers of these Indians and other unscrupulous whites had also committed many other depredations in the Ohio country in direct violation of treaty agreements made with the Indians. Logan solicited the co-operation of the Iroquois, but the Six Nations would enter into no covenant with their western brethren until they had first counseled with their great white brother. War-ragh-I-ya-gey, (Sir William). Accordingly a grand council was called to be held at Johnson Hall. It was attended by more than six hundred Indians, the most prominent and influential in America. Sir William had just finished a long speech addressed to the Indians, more than two hours in duration, delivered with fire and enthusiasm, under the burning rays of a vertical July sun, when he collapsed and was carried to the library within the building where he shortly expired. He died at 6 P.M. His last words were addressed to Joseph Brant, brother of Molly, and war chief of the Iroquois. Turning his kindly eyes upon Thayendanegea, with feeble but earnest voice, he said; "Joseph, control your people-- control your people-- I am going away." To use a homely but vigorous expression, he died as he lived, with his boots on. His funeral was the most imposing spectacle ever witnessed in the Mohawk Valley in colonial times, and was attended by practically all the leading dignitaries of the country, civil, military and ecclesiastical, and by hundreds of Indians who accentuated the melancholy sentiment of the occasion by loud lamentations, expressing the grief they experienced over the irreparable loss they had sustained in the death of their great benefactor, the beloved War-ragh-igey.
Sir William died two years before the outbreak of the Revolution, and it is believed that the impending struggle hastened the end. While he was conscious of the great honors and substantial material benefits that England had deservedly heaped upon him, it is also believed that by reason of his temperament, his broadmindedness and principles, his native strength of character, his deeper feeling and sympathies were with the colonists, and that had he survived he would have espoused their cause. Many guarded utterances made shortly before his demise furnish indubitable proof that there raged in his mind and heart a conflict of feelings that caused great anguish, and perhaps was the proximate cause if his premature death. Indeed, there is much justification for the sentiment expressed by a mourning friend who, standing by the remains of the baronet in his great Hall at Johnstown, in the twilight on that July night, exclaimed: "A great light has been extinguished - Sir William died of a broken heart." In any event his untimely death was most unfortunate, for had he survived, whatever course he might have pursued, we can feel certain that the terrible outrages and unspeakable cruelties perpetrated by the Tories and Indians in the border warfare and throughout Tryon County would never have been recorded on the pages of history.
The mantle of Sir William's unbounded influence over the Indians fell upon his energetic son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson, who succeeded him as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Sir William's son John inherited the title and estates of his father. The latter was appointed brigadier-general of the militia of Tryon County in 1774, and his activities in strengthening Toryism throughout the Mohawk Valley was not only offensive to the Whigs, but filled them with apprehension.
In the spring of 1775 Guy Johnson was holding ca council at Guy Park when news from Concord and Lexington and rumors that he was about to be arrested alarmed him, and accompanied by the members of his family, Joseph Brant, whom he had appointed his secretary, John and Walter Butler, Colonel Daniel Claus, his brother-in-law, and several other prominent Tories, fled to Canada, where he formed active alliances with several tribes of the Six Nations. While Guy Johnson was thus engaged Sir John remained at Johnson Hall, which he fortified, and as military leader and manorial proprietor over a large number of Scotch retainers who were all Loyalists, exerted in a quiet way a powerful influence in favor of the Crown. So was inaugurated the coalition of British, Indians and Tories that a little later resulted in horrors and tragedies which gave to Tyron County the appropriate appellation, "The Dark and Bloody Ground."
Because of the activities of Sir John Johnson, and the apprehension felt by the Whigs throughout Tryon County, in January 1776, General Philip Schuyler, acting under the instructions of the Continental Congress, marched up the valley to disarm the Tories of Tryon County. Schuyler had called for seven hundred militia to assist him. Before he reached Caughnawaga on the Mohawk, a few miles from Johnstown, he had three thousand armed followers, including nine hundred of the Tyron County militia.
By appointment Schuyler met Sir John Johnson at Guy Park, the late residence of Guy Johnson, and the former demanded of the latter as terms of peace the immediate cessation of all hostile demonstrations, the surrender of all arms, ammunition, and stores in the possession of Johnson, the deliver to him of all arms and accouterments of the Tories and Indians, and Sir John's parole of honor not to act in a manner inimical to the patriots. Johnson was compelled to comply with these terms and gave his pledge so to do. On the following day Generals Schuyler and Herkimer marched to Johnstown where the work of disarmament was carried out. More than six hundred Highlanders were paraded on William Street in the vicinity of the Court House where they stacked their arms and turned over to the Americans all their ammunition and accouterments for warfare. With six Scottish chiefs and more than one hundred Tory prisoners, and some heavy guns as trophies, General Schuyler marched back to Albany.
That Johnson was not acting in good faith in giving his pledge to General Schuyler is evidenced by the fact that early in May the latter was informed that Sir John, Brant and others were holding conferences with the Indians and inciting them to war, and that the baronet was preparing to make hostile demonstrations in Tyron County with his Scotch retainers and the barbarians. There-upon Colonel Elias Dayton with a competent force was sent to Johnstown to arrest Sir John and take him to Albany with his Scotch retainers and their families. But Johnson had been forewarned. Before Colonel Dayton arrived at Johnstown Sir John and his retainers fled precipitantly through the woods to the St. Lawrence, and, after great and indescribable hardships, reached Montreal. Colonel Dayton retained Lady Johnson as a hostage for the good behavior of her husband. She was conveyed to Albany where she was treated with the delicacy due to her sex and social position. Lady Johnson was a very spirited woman, a daughter of John Watts, one of the king's provincial councilors. She attempted to deceive Colonel Dayton by declaring that her husband and his retainers were on their way to Niagara.
Upon his arrival at Montreal Sir John was immediately commissioned a colonel in the British service, raised two battalions of Loyalists, called the Royal Greens, and became on the most implacable enemies of the Americans that appeared during the war. He afterward scourged the Mohawk Valley and Tryon County with fire and sword, spread death and desolation among the frontier settlements, and as far south as the fair valley of the Wyoming. No chapter of American history is darker or replete with greater tales of horror and inhumanity that the revolutionary chronicles of Tryon County, and no page in history teaches more clearly to what extremes of cruelty and unspeakable acts of barbarism human beings will resort to when mercenary instincts and the grosser passions are aroused by war, especially what may be termed family feuds or civil strife.
The first onslaught upon the Mohawk Valley and Tryon County by Johnson and his followers was the attack upon Fort Stanwix, and which resulted in the battle of Oriskany, August 6th, 1777, one of the decisive, and the bloodiest battle of the war. The military campaign now planned by the British cabinet contemplated three separate enterprises by and through which they hoped and believed would result in the subjugation of the Province of New York. According to plans of the ministry Sir Henry Clinton, under General Howe, was to ascend from New York City and desolate the valley of the lower Hudson; Burgoyne was to descend from Canada by way of Lake Champlain, reduce Crown Point and Ticonderoga, invade and desolate the valley of the upper Hudson; St. Leger, Sir John Johnson, Brant and the Butlers, with an overwhelming force of regulars, Tories and Indians, were to proceed down the St. Lawrence to Oswego, reduce Fort Stanwix, ravage the Mohawk Valley and Tryon County, massacre the Whig inhabitants, burn their buildings, destroy their cattle and crops, and after accomplishing their purpose unite with the forces of Clinton and Burgoyne at Albany. But the British reckoned without their host. They did not appreciate the zeal of patriots. They could not appreciate the fire and spirit that moved men fighting for home and country as against mercenaries and hirelings. All three expeditions planned by the British proved abortive. Every student of history is familiar with the horrible details of Oriskany; how brave old Herkimer wounded, his horse shot from under him, his leg shattered, seated upon his saddle, resting against the stump of a tree, calmly smoking his pipe, directed the patriots in this decisive and sanguinary contest, the horrors of which have never been adequately described.
"Fought eye to eye, and hand to hand,
Alas! 'twas but to die;
In vain the rifle's deadly flash
Scorch'd eagle plume and wampum sash;
The hatchet hiss'd on high,
And down they fell in crimson heaps,
Like the ripe corn the sickle reaps."
On to part two: More of John T. Morrison's history and also
"History of Tryon County in Pageantry"
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