Charles B Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

On East Creek, DOLGEVILLE.
Showing factories of the felt shoe industry, of which
Dolgeville is the center.

   

DOLGEVILLE.

(Herkimer and Fulton Counties)

(Over N.Y. Central (Little Falls and Dolgeville branch), N.Y., 224 m.; Buff., 231 m.; sea elevation,
760 ft.; 1920 population, 3,448.)

Mohawk Turnpike Mileage Distances.

East, by way of East Creek: St. Johnsville, 10 m.; Fort Plain, 16 m.; Canajoharie - Palatine Bridge, 19 m.; Fonda, 31 m.; Fort Johnson, 38 m.; Amsterdam, 41 m.; Schenectady, 57 m.; Albany, 72 m.

West, by way of East Creek: Fink's Bridge, 12 m.; Gen. Herkimer Homestead (over Fink's Bridge), 13 m.

West, by way of Little Falls: Little Falls, 8 m.; Herkimer, 15 m.; Fort Herkimer Church, 17 m.; Mohawk, 16 m.; Ilion, 18 m.; Frankfort, 20 m.; Utica, 30 m.; Whitesboro, 34 m.; Oriskany, 37 m.; Oriskany Battlefield Monument, 39 m.; Rome, 45 m.; Syracuse (by way of Utica), 80 m.

Dolgeville is located on both sides of the East Canada creek, at High Falls. The eastern and lesser parts of the town and the park are on the east side of the creek in Fulton county, and the larger part of Dolgeville is on the western side of the stream in the county of Herkimer. The village is the chief felt shoe manufacturing center in America.

It is picturesquely situated in a healthful, upland country where the Mohawk valley dairying-farming district is bordered on the north by the Adirondack mountains and forests. Dolgeville is a market town for the surrounding fertile dairy farming country and an industrial center of growing importance as well as a gateway to the Adirondack region to the north. The village is one of the main points on the upland highway running from Saratoga Springs through Johnstown to Dolgeville, Middleville and Barneveld on the Black river road. Dolgeville is connected to Little Falls by the Little Falls and Dolgeville branch of the New York Central R.R., with its terminus at Salisbury Center. There is also a bus connection between the two towns.

When there were thriving settlements of German and Dutch along the Mohawk, prior to the Revolution, the Dolgeville region was an unbroken wilderness. After the Revolution there was a great movement of New Englanders westward and many of them settled in the Mohawk valley. They generally bought and cleared farms on the uplands, five or ten miles north and south (but generally north) of the river, as the Mohawk flats and slopes were in the possession of the Palatine German and Holland Dutch pioneers. The first settlers of Dolgeville were New Englanders.

Samuel Low was the village pioneer coming to the site of present Dolgeville before 1794, in which year he built a saw mill and a grist mill between the site of the Dolgeville iron bridge and the upper boiler house. John Faville settled on Ransom creek in 1795, where he built a grist mill and saw mill. Here a little settlement sprang up with a blacksmith shop, tannery and school house. Families by the names of Ayers, Spencer, Ransom, Spofford, Lamberson, Brockett and Randall soon followed and settled the adjoining lands which they cleared for farms.

In 1805 a settler named Green built the first bridge over the East creek and the little village was known for some years as Green's Bridge. In 1815 a road to Little Falls was built. In 1826 a postoffice was established with Zephi Brockett as postmaster and the office was called Brockett's Bridge, which name the village took. In 1830 a store was established at which time Salisbury Center was a much more important place than Brockett's Bridge.

From 1830 to 1874 a tannery and several smaller manufacturing establishments operated here, practically all of which had ceased work when Alfred Dolge came to the place in 1874, prospecting for spruce wood for piano sounding boards. Dolge was then located in New York as an importer of piano materials.

Alfred Dolge purchased the tannery property and, in April, 1875, began manufacturing operations which later developed into felt mills, and felt shoe, piano case, piano sounding board, piano hammer factories and lumber yards. Various factory buildings were erected, including the handsome big stone factory (264 x 64 ft. and four stories high). Dolge bought 30,000 acres of Adirondack woodland and introduced electric light into his lumber mills in 1881 (in the village in 1887).

In 1881 by unanimous vote the village changed its name from Brockett's Bridge to Dolgeville. The population had grown from 325 in 1875 to about 1,500. Many dwelling houses were built and Dolgeville was a "boom town", but built on a solid basis.

In 1887 Mr. Dolge bought the Reuben Faville farm on the east side of the creek, including the picturesque High Falls of the East Canada. Dolge laid out 500 acres of this land as a park and presented this picturesque and beautiful place to the people of Dolgeville. The land here rises to a height of 1,020 ft. sea elevation.

Dolgeville was incorporated in 1891 with Alfred Dolge as president. Mr. Dolge took an advanced position with regard to both his industries and the village. He established a progressive newspaper and aided in creating a splendid system of schools. In 1890 there were over 850 employees working in the Dolge and other village industries. In 1892 the Little Falls and Dolgeville railroad was built.

From the start of his industrial operations Mr. Dolge established an "Earning Sharing" system for his employees - a plan combining insurance, endowment, pension funds and a sick fund and mutual aid society. The amount of insurance carried by the Dolge firm for its employees was $200,000 in 1892.

Financial difficulties involved Mr. Dolge in 1898 and, after his withdrawal from business here, he removed to California. Mr. Dolge died in January, 1922, at Milan, Italy, while on a trip around the world. The record of his wonderful local business developments and social and industrial achievements gives Alfred Dolge a position in history among the big men of the Mohawk valley.

After a depression the village has come back and is moving ever forward as a modern, progressive industrial community with the highest American ideals. The story of the creation of the modern town from an Adirondack hamlet is one of the industrial romances of the Mohawk valley.

Dolgeville manufactures felt shoes and slippers for the sons and daughters of Uncle Sam from little tots to the old folks - also leather shoes, piano backs and sounding boards. There are important hydro-electric plants at Dolgeville and Inghams Mills and at Sprite Creek, about 9 m. n., all on the East Canada creek. There are important lumber interests and industries at and northward of Dolgeville, in the East creek valley.

The Dolgeville hydro-electric plant of the Utica Gas and Electric Co. generates 2,000 horsepower.

Beautiful Spruce Lake, 6 m. n.w. of Dolgeville and 12 m. airline distance n. Mohawk river, is one of the most southerly Adirondack lakes and a favorite recreation ground of Dolgeville and Little Falls people.

 

TURN AGAIN TO THE MOHAWK TURNPIKE AT EAST CREEK.

West of East Creek to Fall Hill, the Turnpike runs through six miles of picturesque farming country with Fall Hill looming in the distance. Part of the run is through a half mile of attractive woods (the only bit of forest along the Turnpike) which should be preserved.

 

INDIAN CASTLE.

(Herkimer County)

(By West Shore R.R., N.Y., 205 m.; Buff., 228 m.; sea elevation, 322 ft.)

Indian Castle is a station on the West Shore R.R., with telegraph and express office. Mail is delivered via the Little Falls postoffice.

 

Indian Castle Church, 1769.
Built in 1769 by Col. Samuel Clyde for Sir William Johnson, who presented it to the Canajoharies (Mohawks of the Upper or Canajoharie Mohawk Castle) in 1770.  The only Colonial Indian mission church standing in New York State and the only surviving Colonial building of any of the Mohawk or Iroquois Castles.  It stands on the south shore highway, but it is seen from Central Railroad and Mohawk Turnpike.

 

The Great Upper Castle of the Mohawks, 1700-1779.

At Indian Castle was the Upper Castle of the Mohawks, the village of the Bear clan, at the outbreak of the Revolution (1775), the Lower Castle, the village of the Wolf clan, being at Fort Hunter. After the destructive French-Canadian Indian raid against the Mohawks in 1693, they built upper village here in 1700. In 1775 most of these local savages went to Canada and joined the British forces, and during the Revolution frequently raided, burned and murdered along the Mohawk. Some Mohawks here remained until 1779. Molly Brant, sister of Joseph Brant, and housekeeper for Sir William Johnson, came to the castle after the baronet's death in 1774. From Indian Castle she sent a messenger to her brother at Fort Stanwix, warning him of General Herkimer's impending march. Brant thereupon prepared the bloody ambush of Oriskany (August 6, 1777). In 1779 the few remaining Mohawks were removed to Albany and their houses given to the suffering and homeless white survivors of the many Indian valley raids, thus ending the Mohawk occupation of the valley since about 1580- 200 years.

This was also called the Canajoharie castle, it being in the Canajoharie district, the Mohawk name for the river region from the Noses to Fall Hill. Do not confuse these names with the village of Canajoharie. This upper castle was on the site of the buildings of the (1924) Willis Greene farm.

The Mohawks of the upper or Canajoharie castle were called the Canajoharies to distinguish them from the lower castle Indians at Fort Hunter, who were called Mohawks although both were Mohawk castles.

It was the presence of the fierce Mohawk Iroquois Indian nation in the Valley, which prevented its earlier settlement.

 

Fort Hendrick, 1756-1760.

During the years from 1700 to 1755, King Hendrick, or the Great Hendrick, was here resident and the Castle's leading chieftain. In 1709 Col. Peter Schuyler, at the request of the British Government, took Hendrick and four other Mohawk chieftains to London where they were the guests of Queen Anne and the British court and where they excited great popular interest. The visit was intended to impress the Mohawks with the power of the British and cement the British-Mohawk alliance against the French which it did. Hendrick was a powerful friend of Sir William Johnson and the British cause. In 1755 King Hendrick led 300 Mohawk warriors, with Johnson, to the Battle of Lake George, where he was slain with many of his followers. In 1756 Sir William Johnson built Fort Hendrick, close to Canajoharie Castle and so named it in honor of the great Mohawk warrior.

  

Chief Joseph Brant and Molly Brant-
How Sir William Fell in Love at First Sight of the Mohawk Beauty.

Both Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chieftain, and his equally famous sister, Molly Brant, were living here at the Canajoharie Castle, when Sir William Johnson met and became enamored of the beautiful Mohawk girl. Molly is said to have won the heart of the valley baronet when, at a dare, she jumped up behind a mounted, scarlet-coated British officer and rode at a mad pace around the field at a valley military review. Johnson installed Molly at Johnson Hall as his housekeeper and educated and befriended her brother, Joseph. Fiske, the historian, says Joseph Brant was "the most remarkable Indian in our history." For a century after the Revolution Brant was hated because of the murderous guerilla raids of Indians and Tories which he led and which burned and killed up and down the Mohawk valley.

While the Mohawks were valiant and terrible warriors in the forest, they were so filled with a love of cruelty and human torture that it is hard for us to truly value these neolithic men suddenly confronted with civilized Europeans. The Mohawks' ferocity and their hideous tortures of captives came from the double cause of their love of cruel spectacles and a desire to intimidate their enemies. The horrors of the Revolutionary warfare are a matter of history.

The word Mohawk comes from the Algonquin word Mohwaug, meaning "They eat living creatures," referring to their cruel cannibal rites and sacrifices to Aireskoi, their war demon. All eastern Indians, however, were similarly cruel, varying only in degree. The Dutch settlers called the Mohawks Maquaas, meaning "Bears." Father Bruyas wrote "Ganniagwari, a She Bear. This is the name of the Mohawks." Their own name was Cannienga, "Flint People."

  

Dekanawida and Hiawatha.

The white man knows of the Hiawatha legend but the real Iroquois legend has two heroes of whom the greater, Dekanawida, has semi-divine attributes, while Hayonwatha (Hiawatha) is his mortal emmisary and spokesman. According to the legend, Dekanawida was a Huron adopted as a chief of the Mohawk tribe, while Hayonwatha was an Onondaga, likewise adopted as a Mohawk chief by that nation. Dekanawida and Hayonwatha formulated the Great Binding Law (Gayanashagowa) of the Great Peace (Iroquois Confederacy) in the chief Mohawk town near Cohoes Falls. These Mohawk chiefs were real characters who originated in the Mohawk country, the League of Five Nations, which had an effect on world history. See History of the Mohawk Valley by Nelson Greene. See Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter, Auriesville and Fonda for Mohawk Indian history.

 

Indian Castle Church, 1769.

This church is seen from the Turnpike. Sir William Johnson, in 1769, built it as a mission church for the Mohawks of the Upper Castle here then located. The church was built on land then owned by Joseph Brant, the famous Mohawk chieftain, who was noted for his piety and who translated the gospel of St. Mark into the Mohawk language. Many missionaries to the Iroquois preached here, including Samuel Kirkland, founder of Hamilton college (see Utica). The Indian Castle church is the only Colonial Indian mission church standing along the New York-Buffalo highway, and it is also the sole remaining structure which was part of the last two valley Mohawk villages - that at Fort Hunter (1700-1779) and here at Indian Castle (1700-1779).

During the Revolution Mohawk Indian raiders, formerly resident here, attempted to steal the bell of their old church. They neglected, however, to secure its clapper and its ringing awakened the patriot settlers who armed themselves, sallied out and recovered the old church bell.

The Indian Castle church may be reached (1924) by running east over the south shore state road, crossing to it on Fink's Bridge, three miles west; also by road west from Fort Plain and St. Johnsville.

At Indian Castle, the Now-a-da-ga creek enters the Mohawk. Its Indian name means "mud turtle creek."

Westward of the outlet of Nowadaga creek, the Rocky Rift dam is seen in the old river channel, the land cut of the Barge canal lying just southward.

Running westward, the motorist sees, in the distance, on the south shore, a tall gray stone monument close to a large red brick house over which the American flag is daily flying. This famous landmark is the Gen. Herkimer Home on a State park of 160 acres, reached by a detour over Fink's Bridge, 3 m. w. of Nowadaga creek.

Six miles west of East Creek is

 

Fink Tavern.

Major Andrew Fink, a noted Revolutionary soldier, settled near here and his son built the inn close to the bridge, which was a famous Turnpike and river tavern of early days. The ferry here and later suspension bridge and old Erie canal south shore hamlet of Fink's Basin, all took their names from the Finks. Major Fink was born in Stone Arabia and enlisted in the New York Line at the beginning of the Revolution, serving under Washington. In 1781-3 he was a major of Col. Willett's valley regiment with headquarters at Fort Plain.

The Summary of this book is in error in stating that the Fink house here was built by Major Fink and that the red brick farm house near by was willed to Molly Brant. The Fink-Bidleman-Garlock brick house here was built by a son of Major Fink about 1825.

 

Fall Hill, 738 Feet Above the Mohawk.

From the bridge Fall Hill rises steeply on both banks of the river. The north shore hill has a sea elevation of 1,060 feet, and a river elevation of 738 feet. The south ridge is more precipitous, but lower with 920 feet sea, and 598 feet river elevation. The Fall Hill ridge, two miles southeast of here rises to 1,380 feet sea and 1,017 feet river elevation.

Fall Hill is a mountain ridge connecting the Adirondacks with the northern foothills of the Catskill system, which rise to considerable heights around and between Otsego and Canadarago lakes to the south.

 

DETOUR TO GENERAL HERKIMER HOMESTEAD OVER FINK'S BRIDGE.

Fink's bridge is the detour point for the famous General Herkimer home on the south shore, about one mile distant, which historical and picturesque place, the motorist will find most interesting to visit. Turning to the left after crossing Fink's bridge and keeping to the left, going east on the south shore road, you come to a left hand sign marking the entrance to the State reservation of the Gen. Herkimer Home. A run of about a quarter mile, through ravine and woods, brings you to the

 

GENERAL HERKIMER HOME.

  

  

      

Return To Main Index

 

Fulton County NYGenWeb Herkimer/Montgomery NYGenWeb

   

Copyright 2002
Fulton County NYGenWeb
Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb
All Rights Reserved.