FORT JOHNSON - A FORTIFIED HOME
DURING THE
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

BY

JAMES F. MORRISON

 


 

    The first anecdote was taken from the Journal of Captain Joseph Bloomfield of the Third New Jersey Regiment which was stationed in the Mohawk Valley during 1776.

"Sunday the 19th of May [1776]
Proceeded on our March early this Morning.  At 8 passed by the elegeant Buildings of Col. Guy Johnson & Col. Claus, Son in Law of Sr Wm Johnson & now in England doing America all the Mischief in their Power.  At 11 passed by the Very Neat and Elegeant Buildings that the late Sr Wm Johnson lived in, generally called Fort or Castle William on the East side of the Mohawk River and within four miles of the lower Castle of the Mohawk Indians called Fort Hunter".

    June 5th, Captain Bloomfield again mentions passing Fort Johnson on his way to Johnstown. This journal has been preserved by the New Jersey Historical Society and it contains a wealth of information and insight of the inhabitants in the Mohawk Valley.

    A document printed in New York In the Revolution As Colony and State, Supplement, ed. Erastus C. Knight, 1901, pp 246-249 titled "A Rent Roll of the Farms left by the Persons gone to the Enemy and forfeited to the United States and whose Possession they are now" is excerpted the following:   Sir John Johnson's Old Fort was rented to Abraham Barclay on June 7, 1777 for the amount of 100 which he is listed as having not paid this sum and as having run away.

    Sir John Johnson's mill & Fort was rented to Albert Vedder for the year 1778 for the amount of 80.

    Farm & Mill at Fort was again rented to Albert Vedder for the year 1779 for 150. The document ends in 1779 but it is assumed that Albert Vedder rented Fort Johnson for a few more years. it should be noted that the rent was collected by the Tryon County commissioners of Sequestration and was used for various military and civil expenses.

    The following information was taken from Lieutenant William McKendry's Journal from October 25, 1777 until August 19, 1779 printed in the Massachusetts Historical Collections, May 1886, pp 442-463.

March 20th 1779   Left Fort Alden [Cherry Valley] with Comy [Commissary] Woodman crossed Mohawk River at Goshen Van Alstines dind five miles West from Majr Fundas lodged at Sir Wm Castle.
March 21st 1779   Left Sir Wm Castle and dind at Schenectady at Mr. Johnstons.
March 29th 1779   Left Albany with Comy Woodman 9 o'clock AM
Dind at Schenectady & Lodged at Sir Wm Castle.
March 30th 1779   Left Sir Wm Castle 8 o'clock A.M.
July 12th 1778 Dind at Sir John Johnstons on Mohawk River Lodgd at Major Fundays in Cognawagna.

 

 The following letter was copied from The Public Papers of George Clinton, 1901, Vol. IV, page 288.

Mount Johnson Sunday Morning 2 o'clock
[November 15, 1778]

Sir,
    The inclosed letters this moment came to hand I have sent forward for your information.  I shall March my Regt for Canajohary as soon as the daylight appears, I am with respect your very Humble servant

Goose Van Schaick Colo

To General [Edward] Hand
    Colonel Van Schaick's regiment was marched from Schenectady on receiving news that the Cherry Valley settlement was destroyed on November 11, 1778 and several days later they arrived at Fort Schuyler [Fort Stanwix] where they were stationed until the fall of 1780.

    The following is excerpted from Colonel Frederick Visscher's Letter and Order Book for 1779 and 1780 and is preserved in the Rome Historical Society's Museum in Rome, New York.  Colonel Visscher was the commanding officer of the Third Battalion of Tryon County Militia and it was his duty to provide guards for Fort Johnson against any enemy raids from Canada.

    March the 29 [1780]  "ordered the Remainder of the Regt onder Arms and Stationed as folows

Captains De graaf McMaster & Yomans at ould Fort Johnson

Snocks at Tripes Hill
Mebes at Conyns
Fisher and Gardinier at Butlersbury
Yates and Veeder at Adam Fondas and Pages, Wimples, Wimps to Johnstown untill farther orders."

 

The following is extracted from the Pension Application of Daniel McGraw No. S9947 [N.Y.].

    "That in the latter part of the year [1777] he was drafted from Captain [William] Snooks company [Col. Visscher's Regiment] & stationed at Fort Johnson below Tripes Hill under the command of Captain [Hermanus] Mabee; Lieutenant [James] McMaster was also an officer under Captain Mabee; and the forces were placed on guard watching Tories and Indians and this deponant [McGraw] served eight days and was then discharged."

 

    On April 11, 1779, about 1 o'clock in then afternoon, Albert H. Vedder left his home Fort Johnson to go to the house of Colonel Daniel Claus where Justice William Harper and Colonel John Harper were residing about a few miles distant.  He had only gone about one third of the distance when near a creek he spotted several Indians running towards him but it was too late and he was taken prisoner.  He was taken to where the rest of the Indians under Captain John were waiting with several other prisoners.  The other prisoners taken were Andries Rodinburg, Samuel Kennedy, a Mr. Longs and Findley Stewart were taken earlier.  Vedder and Rodinburg were able to escape that night and the others were carried to Canada.

    The above information was taken from a letter from Justice William Harper to Governor George Clinton dated April 12, 1779 and was printed on pp 712-717, Vol. IV, Public Papers of George Clinton.  This final anecdote was taken from Captain Gilbert Tice's Journal, General Frederick Haldimand Papers, MG21 B107, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa. Captain Tice who was serving in the Indian Department was serving under Major John Ross and was with him during his October 1781 raid into the Mohawk Valley when he burned Warrensbush (a settlement in the present day Town of Florida) and at the Battle of Johnstown on October 25th.

    Oct. 24th [1781] "Then wheeled about marched up the Mohock River, crossed at Fort Johnson, and took the main road to Johnstown."

 

The anecdotes and incidents in this article are just a few of many that took place during the American Revolution at or near Fort Johnson which still stands after 200 years as an everlasting monument of the 18th Century.

 

Laura Stewart generously typed this piece.   She is searching for information on NOLAN families, who worked and resided in Johnstown. Their main occupations were as masons and construction workers; in fact, they built several of the brick houses in Johnstown. Most of the family resided on the north end of Johnstown in the vicinity of Decker, Matthew and Miller streets. Her grandmother was Alberta Pearl NOLAN, her father was William NOLAN. She is also looking for information on the name NELSON. This was her grandmother's mother's maiden name. Believed this family came from Berne, NY.

 


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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:36:30 PDT