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

Sprakers Homestead, 1795.
At Sprakers station of the New York Central, of which, and
the Turnpike, it is a famous landmark.  Formerly a noted
Turnpike and river boat tavern.

   

SPRAKERS.

(Montgomery County)
(Over N.Y.C.R.R., N.Y., 193 m; Buff., 233 m.; sea elevation, 286 ft.)

  

Sprakers is the Central station for the hamlet of Sprakers, which lies on the south shore of the Mohawk on the West Shore R.R. An ancient ferry here crosses the river. Sprakers lies in one of the most beautiful sections of the Mohawk valley. Here the river runs between wide flats encompassed by the steeply rising highlands of the Noses. One of the most dangerous rifts or rapids on the river was located just above Sprakers, prior to the building of the Barge canal dam at Yosts, which raised the waters here. This rift (with a drop of ten feet in a short distance) was most dangerous of navigation by the old time river men.

  

The Mohawk-Catskill Trail.

Sprakers Basin, on the south shore, is a pretty little village of about 25 houses and a population of about 150. It is a station on the West Shore railroad, with a telegraph and express office and postoffice. Here is the famous century-old (Cohn) stone canal general store, which did a great business in the height of the old Erie canal traffic. A Mohawk- Schoharie-Catskills road runs from Canajoharie through Sprakers and thence southward through Currytown, Rural Grove, Charlestown Four Corners to Central Bridge, and thence along the Schoharie southward into the Catskills, with outlets at Catskill and other points on the Hudson.

 

  Spraker House, 1795.

A famous north shore river and turnpike tavern was the Spraker tavern, now the large frame house close to the Central railroad station, the old Spraker homestead (built 1795) of the pioneer (Palatine) Spraker family. The village (south side) is known as Sprakers Basin.

  

The Onagerea (Plattskill).

The Onagerea, also known as Plattskill or Flat creek, enters the Mohawk at Sprakers. In the creek about a mile south is a fall about 60 feet high, the highest cascade along the course of the Mohawk, close to the river.

Traces of lead and silver have been found along the Onagerea.

  

Senatsycrosy (1634),
Tenontogere (1642-1666) at Sprakers.

Sen-at-sy-cro-sy, a Mohawk village of 12 houses, was probably located at Sprakers in 1634.

Te-non-to-ger-a, the great upper (Wolf) castle of the Mohawks, was situated here on the hill, south of the Reformed church, from 1642 until 1666 when it was destroyed in the great French-Indian raid of that year.

The 300 Mohawk warriors had sent their women and children to safety in the woods and resolved to defend Tenontogere, which was one of the strongest castles the Mohawks ever built. When the defenders saw the 1,500 French and Indians plant their cannon, the Mohawks opened their hill gate and fled into the forest.

Following the destruction of their castle on the east side of the Onagerea, the Mohawks built a new village on the west side of the stream and remained there a few years while they were building a new Wolf Clan castle at Wagners Hollow, on the Garoga (2 m. ne Fort Plain),  which was destroyed in the great French-Indian raid and battle of 1693.

  

The Return of the Mohawk Warriors.
From the life-size group, Iroquois Indian exhibit, New York State Museum, Education Building, Albany. The scene is at Te-non-to-ge-re, on the hill above present Sprakers. A war party of four Mohawks is brining in two Mohican captives. One is about to be killed when a clan matron ransoms his life for family adoption....
The period of the group is about 1642.

The "Return of the Warriors."

The site of Tenontogere is that selected for the great Mohawk group "Return of the Warriors" on view in the Iroquois groups in the Education Building at Albany, prepared by direction of Alfred C. Parker, archeologist of the New York State Museum, himself an Iroquois of the Seneca tribe. He gives the meaning of Tenontogere as "two noses." This castle is also called Tionnontogen.

  

Where Johnson's Raiders Crossed the Mohawk, 1780.

In the great Revolutionary river raid of 1780, above Keator's rift, west of Sprakers, Sir John Johnson's main body of enemy raiders crossed the Mohawk, Oct. 19, 1780, on their way to the battlefield of Stone Arabia, closely pursued by General Van Rensselaer's American army, which continued on the south side to Fort Plain. There was some skirmishing here between Johnson's rear guard and Van Rensselaer's advance guard.

Johnson's raiders marched west, on the King's Highway, two miles and took the old Stone Arabia road through the Nellis gully (about a mile east of Palatine Bridge) and marched north to the Stone Arabia battlefield.

  

Mohawk Castle of Canagere, 1634.

In 1634 the Mohawk castle of Can-a-ger-e, of 12 houses, was located on the south shore midway between Sprakers and Canajoharie. Mr. John Fea, the historian, locates it on the Horatio Nellis farm. The Dutch explorers of 1634 here engaged a Seneca guide for their journey to the Seneca country and remained here three days, during which three Seneca women came peddling fresh and dried salmon and green tobacco. These Holland-Dutch pioneers left here Dec. 20, 1634, and went westward, crossing the Canajoharie, swollen by recent rains, with great difficulty and danger.

  

Van Slyck, First Valley Settler, 1641
-- First Children of White Men Born on the Mohawk, 1620-1640.

About 1620 a French trader named Hartell tarried awhile among the Mohawks and had two daughters by an Indian girl. Cornelisse Antonissen Van Slyck came to Rensselaerwyck in 1641. He seems to have located there near Cohoes Falls at that time, and is thus the first known white settler in the Mohawk Valley. Van Slyck was an Indian trader among the Mohawks and lived with them at times in their middle castle, where he had an Indian wife, by whom he had several children, of whom Martin, Jacques, Cornelisse, Illetje (Alice) and Leah are known. The elder Van Slyck had much influence with the Mohawks, to whom he was known as "Broer (Brother) Cornelisse." His four known children had grants of land from the Mohawks. Van Slyck was a noted Indian interpreter and the first patentee of Catskill in 1646. Jacques Cornelisse received the first grant (1662) of land in the Mohawk Valley - that of half of Van Slyck island at Schenectady and he was one of the Schenectady patentees of 1664.

  

The Two Beautiful Mohawk Van Slyck Girls.

Van Slyck's two half-breed daughters were Illetje, who married Van Olinda and settled Niskayuna about 1670, and Leah, who married Stevens and located at Alphaus, east of Schenectady, where they built the Stevens house in 1693. Both Illetje and Leah were sprightly, handsome and intelligent half-breed girls who had received considerable education, for their day, and thus often acted as interpreters and their signatures may be found on many ancient deeds given by the Mohawks for valley lands. Through Van Slyck's half-breed Mohawk children, the blood of the Mohawks flows in the veins of many valley families today and perhaps the dark beauty of the Van Slyck girls accounts for the type of seeming Indian beauty occasionally found among the Mohawk Valley girls of today.

Palatine Bridge, at its western limits, is midway, on the Turnpike, between Schenectady and Utica.

  

  

  

      

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