1841 FULTON COUNTY N.Y. PROFILE

  

Source: Historical Collections of the State of New York
by John W. Barber and Henry Howe
New York: S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham Square, 1841


Fulton County NYGenWeb was taken from the northern part of Montgomery county in 1838; NW. from Albany 40 miles; length E. and W. 32 miles, breadth N. and S. 17. The surface of the northern part of this county is hilly, with some ranges of a mountainous character. The Kayaderosseras range of mountains enters the county on the N.E., but sinks to the general level in the town of Northampton. The county is well watered and contains several small lakes. It is divided into 9 towns. Pop. 18,038.

BLEEKER, taken from Johnstown in 1831; from Albany 53 miles, from Johnstown N. 13. There are three inconsiderable settlements in the town. The soil is quite poor and covered with small evergreens. Pop. 346.

BROADALBIN, taken from Caughnawaga in 1793; from Albany 47 miles, from Johnstown NE., 10. A settlement was made in this town in 1776, by Daniel McIntyre, and a few other emigrants from Scotland; but it was broken up during the revolutionary war. Fonda's Bush or Rawsonville, 10 miles from Johnstown, incorporated in 1815, has about 800 inhabitants. West Galway and Union Mills are small post villages. Pop. 2,728.

EPHRATA, taken from Palatine in 1827; from Albany 58 miles, from Johnstown centrally distant W. 10. This town was settled in 1724, by Germans. Pop. 2,009. Pleasant Valley, Ephrata, and Lasselsville, are small villages.

JOHNSTOWN, originally named Caughnawaga, was founded about the year 1770, by Sir William Johnson, who resided here during the latter period of his life, essentially in the rank, and with much of the splendor of a nobleman. Sir William and his family, by various means, became possessed of vast tracts of valuable land in this section of the country, and had many tenants and retainers under them. Their great possessions, however, were confiscated during the revolutionary war, on account of their adherence to the British cause. The village of Johnstown is about 4 miles N. of Fonda, the seat of justice for Montgomery county, and 44 from Albany. The accompanying engraving shows the appearance of the village as viewed from the first elevation south, on the road to Caughnawaga or Fonda village. The courthouse is the first building seen on the left with a spire; Mayfield mountains appear in the extreme distance. The village contains a bank, an academy, 4 churches - 1 Presbyterian, 1 Episcopal, 1 Dutch Reformed, and 1 Methodist - and about 250 dwellings. It is situated on a handsome plain, skirted on the N. and W. by Cayadutta creek, and on the S. by a hill of moderate elevation. It was regularly laid out by Henry Oothoudt, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and Christopher P. Yates, state commissioners, in 1784, and was incorporated in 1807. The village of Kingsboro is 4 miles NE. from Johnstown; it has a Presbyterian church, an academy, and about 40 or 50 dwellings. This village has acquired some celebrity, as being the place where great quantities of dressed deer-skin gloves and mittens have been manufactured. The town of Johnstown was originally organized by the name of Caughnawaga in 1798; its territorial limits have since been much reduced. Pop. 5,408.

The above is a southeastern view of the mansion-house built by Sir William Johnson called "Johnson Hall." This house, now occupied by Mr. Wells, is situated about three fourths of a mile NW. of the courthouse, on ground gently elevated above the village. The hall itself is built of wood, but the buildings or wings on each side are of stone, pierced with loop-holes formusketry. When Sir William occupied these buildings, he had them surrounded by a stone breastwork. While in possession of the Johnson family, this was a place of resort for the sachems of the Six Nations, and all the Mohawks repaired thither to receive their presents from the British government.

William Johnson was born in Ireland about the year 1714; he was a nephew of Sir Peter Warren, the naval commander who distinguished himself at the siege of Louisburg in 1745. Sir Peter having married a sister of Chief-justice De Lancey of New York, purchased a large tract of land on the Mohawk, and about the year 1734, sent for his nephew to come to America and superintend this estate. Young Johnson first established himself at the mouth of the Schoharie, afterward erected a house in the town of Amsterdam, and subsequently the hall at Johnstown. To fulfil the duties of his commission, he learned the language of the Indians, studied their manners and cultivated their acquaintance. His situation between Albany and Oswego presented a fine opportunity for trade, and he carried on a large traffic with them, supplying them with goods, and receiving in return beaver and other skins. By a course of sagacious measures he obtained an influence over the Indians greater than was ever possessed by any other white man.

In 1757, Johnson was intrusted with the command of the provincial troops of New York, whom he led to Lake George, where was achieved the first victory gained on the British side, in the war commencing at that period. For this victory, towards which he did but little more than barely hold the place of commander-in-chief, he received from the house of commons 5,000 sterling; and from the king, the title of baronet and the office of superintendent of Indian affairs. In 1759, being at the head of the provincial troops employed under Gen. Prideaux to besiege Fort Niagara, he became, when that officer was killed, the commander-in-chief: by his activity and skill he defeated the enemy and obtained possession of the fort and garrison In 1760, when Gen. Amherst embarked at Oswego on his expedition to Canada, Sir William brought to hoim at that place 1,000 Indians of the Iroquois or Six Nations, which was the largest number that had ever been seen in arms at one time in the cause of England. "Sir Wililam Johnson possessed considerable talents as an orator, and his influence over the Indians was not a little owing to the impression made upon them by means of his elocution.... He had wives and concubines, sons and daughters, of different colors." By Lady Johnson he had 3 children - 1 son and 2 daughters. His son, Sir John Johnson, took side with the British, in the revolutionary war, and became the scourge of the Mohawk valley. One of the daughters married Col. Claus, and the other Sir Guy Johnson. Sir William died suddently, at Johnson Hall, July 11th, 1774, aged 60 years; and was succeeded by his son in his title, and also to his post as major-general of the militia.

The following anecdote respecting Sir William, seems to evince, that in his dealings with the Indians, who has a good reputation for cunning, he was not outwitted. Hendrick, the chief of the Mohawks, was at the house of Sir William when he received several rich suits of laced cloths. "Well! what did you dream?" "I dream you give me one suit of clothes." This hint could not be mistaken or well avoided, and accordingly Hendrick received a suit. Some time afterward Sir William meeting Hendrick, said to him, "I dreamed last night." "Did you1 What did you dream?" "I dreamed you gave me a tract of land," describing it. Hendrick at first paused at the enormity of the demand, but at length said, "You may have the land, but we no dream again, you dream too hard for me." The tract of land thus obtained, is stated to have been 12 miles square, in the present county of Herkimer; the title to it was confirmed by the king, and was called the "Royal Grant."

The power which Sir William Johnson acquired over the Indians descended to his son and to his nephew, Col. Guy Johnson, who succeeded him in the agency of Indian affairs. As the family had derived most of their wealth and consideration from the crown, they were, as might be supposed, devoted loyalists. In 1775, Gen. Schuyler prevailed upon the Indians to agree to be neutral in the coming conflict. It appeared, however, that the influence of the Johnson family prevailed with the Indians, and induced them to join the British cause. It also appeare that Sir John was fortifying his house and arming the Scotch Highlanders, his tenants and adherents. Congress having hard of these movements, sent Gen. Schuyler to disarm these persons, and take other measures to secure the tranquility of Tryon county. Schuyler set out on this mission with 700 militia, but before he reached Caughnawaga his force had increased to three thousand. At Schenectady the deputation of Mohawks under the influence of the Johnsons met him, and with much artfulness endeavored to dissuade him from advancing. On the 16th of January, 1776, Gen. Schuyler despatched a letter to Sir John, requesting him to meet him on the morrow; they accordingly met, and after some subsequent delay, he and the Scotch gentlemen agreed to make a delivery of the arms of the inhabitants. Sir John likewise agreed that he would not go westward of German Flats and Kinsland district, and that six Scotch inhabitants might be taken as hostages. On the 19th, Schuyler marched into Johnstown and drew up his men in a line; the Highlanders were drawn up facing them, and grounded their arms. The military stores surrendered: and this service being performed, Schuyler and the militia returned. It was found afterward that the Highlanders had not delivered up their broad-swords or ammunition.

Gen. Herkimer was left by Gen. Schuyler to complete the disarming of the hostile inhabitants. Sir John, notwithstandng his word of honor, continued his hostile intrigues with the Indians, and otherwise forfeited his promises. It was found necessary to secure him, and in May, 1776, Col. Dayton was sent on this duty. The tories in Albany gave notice to Sir John of his approach, and the knight and his followers fled to the woods, and escaped to Canada, arriving at Montreal after nineteen days of suffering and starvation. He left his residence in much haste: an iron chest with the family Bible and papers were buried in the garden. On arriving in Canada, the baronet was commissioned a British colonel, and raised the regiment of tories called the Royal Greens. By his adherence to the British, his immense estate was forfeited, and this appears to have inspired him with implacable revenge. On Sunday, the 2 1st of May, 1780, at dead of night, Sir John Johnson, with a force of about 500 men, part of whom were Indians, made an incursion into Johnstown. He had penetrated the country by way of Lake Champlain to Crown Point, and thence through the woods to the Sacondaga river. The following account of this incursion is from a newspaper published June 15th, 1780.

"By the latest intelligence from Schenectady, we are informed that Sir John Johnson, (who styles himself Lieut. colonel commanding the King's Royal Yorkers, in the parcels given to some of the prisoners,) on Lord's day evening, the 21st ult., made his first appearance at Johnson Hall, undiscovered by any but his friends, who no doubt were in the secret. On Monday, about daybreak, they began to burn all the houses except those of the tories, beginning at Aaron Putnam's, below Tripe's Hill, and continued burning to Anthony's Nose, or Acker's house, except a few which by the vigilance of the people were put out after the enemy had set them on fire. There have been burnt 33 houses and out-houses and a mill; many cattle were killed in the field, and 60 or 70 sheep burnt in a barn. Eleven persons were killed. Col Fisher [Visscher] and his two brothers fought with great bravery, when the two brothers were killed and scalped; thecolonel went up stairs and there defended himself, but being overpowered, was knocked down and scalped, on which they plundered the house, set it on fire, and then went off. The colonel recovering a little, though he was left by the enemy for dead, he pulled one of his dead brothers out of the house then in flames; the other was consumed in the house. It is said that the doctors have hopes that Col. Fisher will recover. His mother had a narrow escape for her life, being knocked on her head by an Indian; but she is like to do well. Capt. Hansen was killed by an Indian, who had formerly been used by him with kindness, and professed much gratitude. Old Mr. Fonda was cut in several parts of his head with a tomahawk. Had it not been for the alertness of Mr. Van Frank, probably more would have been butchered by their savage hands; he alarmed the people along the way to Caughnawaga, who by crossing the river saved their lives. Having done all the mischief to the distressed inhabitants they possibly could, they returned to Johnson Hall in the afternoon; when Johnson dug up his plate, and about sundown marched for the Scotch Bush, about four miles, that evening. He has 15 or 20 of his negroes who had been sold; several of his tenants and others have gone with him. He has permitted some of his prisoners to return on parole. His whole force when he landed at Crown Point, is said to be about 500 men, 200 of them British, part of his own regiment, and Indians. Capt. Putnam and four men followed them in their retreat four days, on their way to Lake Champlain. He saw him 24 miles from Johnson Hall. Some think they will take their route to Oswagatchie; but this seems improbable, as they have not provisions sufficient with them. HIs excellency the governor has collected a body of militia to intercept their way to Lake Champlain; a number have also marched from the New Hampshire grants for the same purpose; Col. Van Schaick, with 800 men, is in pursuit of him by the way of Johnstown. We hear that the enemy had their feet much swelled by their long march; and being greatly fatigued, it is hoped our people may come up with and give a good account of the Lieut. colonel and his murdering banditti."

In this incursion, Mr. Sampson Sammons and his three sons, all stanch whigs, residing in Johnstown, were captured by the enemy and their dwelling laid in ashes. The elder Mr. Sammons and his youngest son, a youth of eighteen, were released by Sir John, but Jacob and Frederick, the other sons, were taken to Canada and confined in the fortress of Chamblee. From this place they made their escape, and after a series of dreadful suffering, in their flight through the wilderness, arrived in safety among their friends. A long and interesting account of their adventures is given in Col. Stone's Life of Brant.

"A singular but well-attested occurrence," says Col. Stone, "closes this interesting personal narrative. The family of the elder Sammons had long given up Frederick as lost. On the morning after his arrival at Schenectady, he despatched a letter to his father, by the hand of an officer on his way to Philadelphia, who left it at the house of a Mr. Levi De Witt, five miles distant from the residence of the old gentleman. The same night on which the letter was thus left, Jacob dreamed that his brother Frederick was living, and that there was a letter from him at De Witt's announcing the joyful tidings. The dream was repeated twice, and the contents of the letter were so strongly impressed upon his mind, that he repeated what he believed was the very language, on the ensuing morning - insisting that such a letter was at the place mentioned. The family, his father in particular, laughed at him for his credulity. Strong, however, in the belief that there was such a communication, he repaired to the place designated, and asked for the letter. Mr. De Witt looked for it, but replied there was none. Jacob requested a more thorough search, and behold the letter was found behind a barrel, where it had fallen. Jacob then requested Mr. De Witt to open the letter, and examine while he recited its contents. He did so, and the dreamer repeated it word for word."

In the summer of 1781, another expedition was sent against Johnstown. This was conducted with so much secrecy, that on the 24th of Oct., the enemy, about one thousand in number under Majors Ross and Butler, were upon the settlement at Warrensbush before their approach was suspected. Col. Willet, who was at Fort Rensselaer about twenty miles distant, on hearing the news, immediately marched for Fort Hunter, which he reached early on the following morning with all the forces he could muster, being about 416 men in all. When he arrived here, he learned that Ross and Butler had the preceding day crossed the river some distance below Tripe's Hill, and arrived at Johnstown about the middle of the day, killing and taking the people prisoners, destroying buildings and cattle on their way. Having effected the passage of the river, Col. Willet pushed on in pursuit of the enemy. Having ascertained their position, he detached Major Rowley, of Massachusetts, with part of his force, by a circuitous march, to fall upon the rear of the enemy while he attacked them in front, a short distance above the Hall. The battle became spirited and general, but the miltia under Col. Willet gave way, and ran in the utmost confusion to the stone church in the village. Here the colonel succeeded in bringing them to a halt. But the defeat would have been complete, had not Major Rowley, at this period of the action, emerged from the woods and fell upon the enemy's rear in the very moment of their exultation at their easy victory. The fight was now maintained on both sides with obstinacy till near sunset, when Willet was enabled to collect a respectable force, with which he returned to the field, and again mingled in the fight. The battle was kept up till dark, when the enemy, pressed on all sides, fled in disorder to the woods - nor stopped short of a mountain six miles distant. The loss of the Americans in this conflict was about forty. The enemy lost about the same number killed, and about fifty prisoners.

"Major Ross retreated up the north side of the Mohawk, marching all night, after the battle. In the morning he was pursued by Col. Willet, but was not overtaken. The region of country over which Ross retreated, after he had passed the settlements, lies twenty or thirty miles north of Fort Schuyler, and at that time was uncultivated and desolate. His army suffered much from hunger. - It was on this retreat that Walter Butler was killed: he was pursued by a small party of Oneida Indians; when he arrived at West Canada creek, about 15 miles above Herkimer, he swam his horse across the stream, and then turning round, defied his pursuers, who were on the opposite side. An Oneida immediately discharged his rifle and wounded him; he fell. Throwing down his rifle and his blanket, the Indian plunged into the creek and swam across; as soon as he had gained the opposite bank, he raised his tomahawk, and with a yell, sprang like a tiger upon his fallen foe. Butler supplicated, though in vain, for mercy; the Oneida with his uplifted axe, shouted in his broken English, - 'Sherry Valley! remember Sherry Valley!' and then buried it in his brains: he tore the scalp from the head of his victim still quivering in the agonies of death, and ere the remainder of the Oneidas had joined him, the spirit of Walter Butler had gone to give up its account. The place where he crossed is called Butler's Ford to this day." - Campbell's Annals of Tryon County.

The following is a copy of a kind of diploma, in possession of the New York Historical Society, which it would seem the Johnson family were in the habit of giving to those Indians in whom they confided. In the vignette, a British officer is seen presenting a medal, or something resembling it, to an Indian dressed in the aboriginal style, - the council fire, the pipe of peace, the chain of friendship, &c., are all represented.

  

"By the Honorable Sir William Johnson, Bart., His Majesty's sole Agent and Superintendant of Indian Affairs, for the Northern Department of North America, Colonel of the Six United Nations, their Allies and Dependants, &c. &c.
"To __________________________ WHEREAS, I have received repeated proofs of your attachment to his Britannic Majesty's Interests and Zeal for his service upon sundry occasions, more particularly _______________I do therefore give you this public Testimonial thereof, as a proof of your ________ and recommending it to all his Majesty's Subjects and faithful Indian Allies to Treat and Consider you upon all occasions agreeable to your character, Station and services. Given under my hand and seal at Arms at Johnson Hall the _____ day of ______ 17____
By Command of Sir W: Johnson"

The following inscriptions are copied from monuments in the graveyard in the village of Johnstown:

"Sacred to the memory of the Rev. Simon Hosack, D.D., minister of the Presbyterian church, Johnstown, who died May 19, 1833, in the 79th year of his age. He was born in Rosshire, in the north of Scotland, in March, A.D., 1755. He received a finished education in the University of Aberdeen, and completed his theological course in the seminary connected with that institution. As a man, he was judicious and prudent - as a Christian, his conversation was in Heaven, and whatsoever things were true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, these were his - as a minister of the gospel, he was evangelical in his sentiments, circumspect in his walk, and watchful of the spiritual welfare of his people, of which he had the oversight for the extended period of 42 years. His death, which, though deeply and sensibly felt to be a great loss by all who well knew and rightly appreciated his sterling worth, was to him great gain."

"This stone was erected by Anne McKenzie, in grateful remembrance of her affectionate husband, Dugald McKenzie, who departed this life on the 7th of Sept., 1809, aged 27 years and 7 months.

No private interest did his soul invade,
No foe he injured, no kind friend betrayed;
He followed virtue as his surest guide,
Lived like a Christian, like a Christian died."

"In memory of John Baptiste Vaumane De Fonclaire, formerly a captain in the Martinique regiment, in the service of his most Christian Majesty, Louis the XVI., and for thirty years past a citizen of the United States, who departed this life 5th January, 1811, in the 71st year of his age."

MAYFIELD, taken from Caughnawaga in 1793; from Albany 40, and from Johnstown, NE., 8 miles. Cranberry Creek, Mayfield, and Ricefield, are post-offices. Pop., 2,615.

NORTHAMPTON, taken from Broadalbin in 1801. At the confluence of the Sacandaga river and the Mayfield creek, lies the small village of "Fish House," where Sir William Johnson had his sporting lodge, or summer retreat. Northampton, or Fish House village, 17 miles NE., from Johnstown, is a small village. There is here a splendid bridge across the river, costing about $60,000. Northville and Osborn's Bridge are small settlements. Pop. 1,526.

OPPENHEIM, taken from Palatine in 1808; from Albany 63, from Johnstown, W., 18 miles. This town was settled in 1724, by Germans. Its present inhabitants are characterized by the hardy industry and frugality of that nation. Oppenheim and Bracket's Bridge are post-offices. Pop. 2,169.

PERTH, recently taken from Amsterdam, of Montgomery county; it is 10 miles E. of Johnstown, and is the smallest town in the county. Pop. 737.

STRATFORD, taken from Palatine in 1805; from Albany 63 miles. Nicholsville is a small settlement, 23 miles NW. from Johnstown, on the west line of the county. Pop. 500.


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