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The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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setts, and Pennacook-Mahicans, had been almost totally
slain or banished from their native hunting-grounds. The
loss of the English was six hundred, or one in every eleven
of the English settlers able to bear arms.

After the Mohawk and Hoosac scouts were sent eastward
in January, 1676, to repulse King Philip's army advancing
against Albany, Governor Andros, with six sloops carrying
a detail of soldiers, ascended the Hudson in February to
relieve the garrison of Fort Albany, and to assist in building
Fort Frederick at the head of Yonkers Street, now State

It was during Governor Andros' s visit to Albany that
eventful spring after King Philip had been routed from
Schaghticoke village, that the Witenagemot (Assemblage of
the Wise) , consisting of the Board of Indian Commissioners
headed by Governor Andros and his councillors, judges, and
divines, accompanied by the militia of the King of England,
assembled near the confluence of the Tomhannac with the

•Hon. John Fitch, "The Schaghticoke Tribe of Indians," New York Hist.
Mag., June, 1870.

Tlw Witenagemot Oak. A Treaty Tree of Peace and Welfare.

Planted by the Christians for the Hoosac and Mohawk Scouts, near the
junction of the Tomha?inac Creek with the Hoosac River, in the Vale of Peace, Old
Schaghticoke, New York. Here assembled the first Council of the Christians with
Soqiion and Maquo7i after the Hoosacs' final victory over Kryn's Mohawks in
^^70. ^fid ijig-fi (g mark the lord of all,

The forest hero, trained to wars.
Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall.

And seamed with glorious scars.
Walk forth, amid his reign, to dare
The wolf, and grapple with the bear.

Bryant, An Indian at the Burial-Place of his Fathers.

52 The Hoosac Valley

Hoosac and planted the Witenagemot Oak. The famous
Council Tree of Peace was planted, not only with a view of
confirming the link of friendship between Kryn's "Praying
Mohawks" of the Caughnawaga village in Canada and
Soquon's Iloosacs at Schaghticoke village, but to strengthen
the alliance of Fort Albany militia with their River Indian
scouts, whose fugitive kindred were scattered throughout
New England, New York, and New France. It is the only
"Vale of Peace" on the continent where the Witenagemot
has ever assembled for the Indian's welfare.

Of the actual planting of the Witenagemot Oak there is
no contemporaneous record, as Col. Peter Schuyler was not
appointed recording secretary of the Indian Conference until
about 1700. Soquon, in an oration addressed to Governor
Cornbury at Albany on July 18, 1702, rehearsed the incident,
however, saying that:

About twenty-six years ago (1676), Sir Edmund Andros,
then Governor of this Province, planted a Tree of Welfare
at Schaghticoke, and invited us to come and live there,
which we very luckily complied with ; and we have increased
that tree, and the very leaves thereof have grown hard
and strong ; the tree is grown so thick of leaves and boughs
that the sun can scarce shine through it, — yea, the fire
itself cannot consume it.

The fleet-footed Un-imh-kan-kun (Runner) was sent forth
by King Aepjen in March, 1676, to invite the remnant bands
of the fugitive Mahicans of King Philip's War to meet the
Christians and the last of the Mohawks, at Soquon's Old
Schaghticoke lodge. About one thousand warriors of the
Abenakis and Iroquois nations, including the Hoosacs,
Aiahicansacs, Pequots, Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Penna-
cooks, Abnaquis, Lenni-Lenapes or Delawares, Mohawks,

The Schaghticokes' Witenagemot Tree 53

and Onondagas, assembled to hold the conference of peace
with Governor Andros.

The purpose of the Witenagemot was ostensibly to cele-
brate the Indians' Festival of the new moon of February,
which should be a harbinger of a spring of peace among the
warring savages and the Christians. There should be made
a compact of friendship, and the symbol should be the
planting of a sapling oak. Whether Governor Andros
poured only the customary deer-horn goblet of "pure
river water" over the earth, as he blessed the "tree of
welfare" and recognized the strict prohibition laws of 1664
and 1674, we shall never know. It is safe, however, to infer
that there was plenty of aqua-vitcB there for the occasion and
that the tree was blessed by having a bottle of grape wine
broken over its roots.

The most dignified figures of the conclave included the
kings. Uncus and Aepjen, the owl, Soquon, and hero,
Maquon, and sachems, Wanalancet and Grey-Lock. King
Aepjen held the Mjio-ti (bag of peace) of the Abenakis
Nation, containing belts of wampum and the Calumet of
peace, lighted by his Runner. Aepjen and the Mohawk
King were councillors emeritus, as it were; and Maquon of
the Mahicansacs and Kryn of the Mohawks and Caughna-
wagas broke the string of their bows and buried the Pubui
(hatchet) at the foot of the Tree of Peace. The eloquent
Soquon of the Hoosacs pronounced the benediction and
assured Governor Andros that the last of the Mahicans and
Mohawks had wiped off the tears and blood on the Pubui
and should dance beneath the branches of the Witenagemot
Oak in peace. He called upon the Great Manitou to
cleanse their beds and scatter all dark clouds, and offered
Hobbamocko (the evil fiend of calamity) sacrifices, if he
would guard against digging up the buried hatchet to cut
down the Tree of Peace, planted by "Brother Corlear"

54 The rioosac Valley

and "Yonnondio" — the Governors of New York and New

The Mahicans custom * at their national councils of peace
or war was to seat the King, Runner, Owl, Hero, and other
councillors in the innermost circle; the yoimg warriors were
in the second circle, and the squaws and children in the third
or outermost circle. The business of the women was that
of recording secretary, and to note the compact of treaties.
They imprinted the transactions on their minds and com-
municated the traditions to their sons, destined to be chosen
successors to the office of Great Sachem, Owl, Hero, and
Runner of the Abenakis Democracy.

The Assemblage of the Wise was surrounded by the bril-
liant and uniformed militia of Governor Andros's staff,
while the Jesuit Fathers, probably Bruyas and Boniface of
the Mohawk missions, and the Dutch Dominies, Schaets and
Van Rensselaer, of Albany, offered prayers and sang anthems
during the closing ceremony of passing the Calumet (pipe of
peace) around the circles. The Christians, including Gov-
ernor Andros and his Council, were obliged to partake of a
whiff of the incense of peace in order to seal the alliance of
friendship. This ceremony was followed by an exchange
of belts of wampum and skins from the Indians ; and Gov-
ernor Andros presented to the River Indian scouts pipes,
tobacco, knives, axes, and a few uniforms.

The ceremonial calumet of the Mahican king was made of
hard red stone and had a long stem. Those preserved in the
Hudson-Champlain museums to-day, however, are of a
platform or trumpet style, made from slate or gypsum, inlaid
with nickel or lead symbols. The peace belts of wampum
were embroidered with symbols of the Swastika (Cross of
all Nations).

' Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Remarks Concerning the Savages of North A merica,

The Schaghticokes' Witenagcmot Tree 55

Governor Andros invited the Mahican warriors of the
Maine Woods and White Mountains to settle in the Hoosac
Valley and hold their civil councils with Soquon and Maquon
beneath the Witenagemot Oak. He promised to build the
"Praying Mohawks" a mission chapel near the junction of
St. Anthony Kill with the Hudson at Skeetecook (Still-
Water village) and Soquon's Hoosacs a chapel at Tioshoke,
near the junction of the Owl Kill with the Hoosac. After
the planting of the Tree of Peace, the Hoosacs, together with
the last of the Mahicans of New England, took the new
national name, Skatecooks or Schaghticokes — signifying
warriors of the Mingling Waters, including the Pennacooks,
Pequots, Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Abnaquis, Lenni-
Lenapes, and Mohawk scouts.

The name Skatecook was first given to King Aepjen's
council-hill, near the confluence of Green River with the
Housatonac River, Mass., in 1664. The Pequot sachem,
Mawwehu of Old Schaghticoke, founded New Skatecook
near the confluence of St. Agnes Creek with Housatonac
River at the base of Schaghticoke Mountain, Ct., in 1726.
The name, Skatecook (mingling waters) and Skeetecook
(still waters) have many origins and over a hundred spellings.
The French and Algonquins of New France pronounced the
name Skatecook — Kaskekouke' ; King Aepjen and Mawwehu
of New England pronounced it Skatecook, Pahhakoke, and
Pishgachticok ; and Soquon and Maquon, under the Dutch
of New York, called it Skatecook and Schaghticoke.

Soquon in an oration addressed to Governor Cornbury
July 18, 1 70 1, said that the warriors of Old Schaghticoke
and Catskill villages consisted of two hundred fighting men.
He added: "Our neighbors, the Mohawks, have not been so
fortunate, for their tree was burnt. We have been so happy
and fortunate that our number is increased to that degree

' Francis Parkman, " Fort Massachusetts," Half a Century of Conflict.

56 The Hoosac Valley

that we cannot all be shaded by one tree, and, therefore,
desire that another tree besides that at Schaghticoke, may-
be planted for us."

The Mohawk scouts' Council Tree was evidently planted
by Governor Andros in 1676, in the "Duck Pond Lot" on
the bank of the Tomhannac, southwest of the Knickerbacker
Mansion, and was subsequently struck by lightning and
overthrown. It measured twenty feet in circumference, and
during 1876 the late William P. Button heaved the oak into a
grave and covered it with earth near where it fell, Joseph
Foster Knickerbacker — the "Poet of the Vale" — in his
"Musings beneath the Hoosacs' Witenagemot Oak," pub-
lished in his volume. The Arch of Truth and other Poems, in
1876, records that; "The prostrate form of thy brother oak
[referring to the Mohawks' tree] tells me it is even so ! That
there is naught however venerable, and naught however
sublime, but in a moment may be blasted by Heaven's Will
and by Heaven's power."

The Hoosacs' Witenagemot Oak still stands to-day, and
beholds the "Vale of Peace" of another century than that of
its sapling days of massacre and war. If its sturdy branches
and rustling leaves could unfold the fitful shadows of the
past, they might portray scenes of joy and sadness witnessed
within the hill-encircled vale, and reveal vistas of the return-
ing Hoosac braves headed by Queen Esther and her maidens
of St. Regis in the grove-clad Tawasentha (burial-field of the
Schaghticokes) , embosomed by the western hill-side. "And
thence, Willom, — an old man, was borne to a new-made
grave. And in after time, his son, and his son's sons, even
for many generations, each advanced to hoary eld — like
shocks of corn fully ripe — had within that sacred garner-
field been gathered to the harvest."

The sage Council Tree of the Hoosacs is twenty feet in
circumference. It is now in its third, and probably last

The Schaghticokes' Witenagemot Tree 57

century of existence. The heart of the venerable oak is
dead at its base, and through the winter months many a
squirrel takes shelter in its deep recesses. In another half
century this monarch of the Hoosacs' hunting-grounds will
have passed away. A sapling oak should replace its parent
and mark for generations to come the site of the Assemblage
of the Wise in the "Vale of Peace."





A noble race! but they are gone,

With their old forests wide and deep.

And we have built our homes upon
Fields where their generations sleep.

Bryant, The Disinterred Warrior.

Protestant Dutch Boers and French Walloons, 161 5-1 624 — English Pilgrim; ,
1620-1628 — British Charters — New Netherland — New England — New
France^Map of American Colonies — Dutch and French Hoosac Manors
1637-1688 — English and Irish Hoosac Towns, 1 739-1 749 — French and!
St. Francis Indian Incursions — King William's War, 1689 — Onondagal
War Council, April, 1690 — English and Dutch Invasion of Canada, 1
August, 1690 — Queen Anne's War, 1703-1713 — Rale's Jesuit War, 1689-
1724 — King George's War, 1744- 1748 — Marin's Massacre at Schuyler
Mills, Old Saratoga, November, 1745.

THE furs that the Dutch Boers took back to Holland in
1609 led the Amsterdam merchants to prepare a maj)
— Carte Figurative"^ — in 1614, and invite colonization in the
Mahican cantons. Capt. Hendrik Corstiaensen and
Adriaen Block fitted up the ships, Tiger and Fortune, in
1 61 5, and set sail with several soldiers, including Claessen,
Eelkins, Lyberg, Orson, Schenck, and others. They founded
Fort Nassoureen on Castle Island, opposite the present site
of Albany.

The fort was surrounded by a palisade fifty feet square
and protected by a moat eighteen feet wide. Two cannon
and eleven small guns were mounted on swivels, and the

' Chapter I., p. 23.


Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 59

cannon were adjusted to hurl small boulders when balls
were scarce. The jealous Orson shot Captain Corstiaensen
in 1616 and met death himself while in the act. Capt. Jacob
Jacobs Eelkins succeeded to the command of the fort until
it was swept away by high water in 161 8.

Meanwhile in 1606, a band of Puritans known as Brownists
or Separatists from the Church of England, met at Brewster's
Manor-house— the "Post of Scrooby" of the Archbishop of
York, on the borders of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire,

The Rev. John Robinson, together with Clyfton, Morton,
Bradford, Brewster, and other Separatists, migrated to
Leyden, Holland, and founded the Pilgrims' Church in 1607.
During 1622, several French Protestants, known as Wal-
loons, from the Rhone Valley, also migrated to Amsterdam,
to escape persecution. The Dutch never admired the
English Pilgrims, although they welcomed the industrious
French Walloons.

During February, 1620, the English Pilgrims desired to
locate near Chescodonta on the Mahicansac River and found
their Separate Church, but the Amsterdam merchants did
not encourage them as colonists. Later over a hundred set
sail on the ship Mayflower, and landed on the Wampanoags'
shore of Cape Cod Bay. The French Walloons in 1622
desired to join the English Colony in Virginia and found
their Separate Church, but the Amsterdam Gentlemen
urged several families to locate with the Dutch Boers of
Fort Nassoureen Colony.

In March, 1624, Capt. Cornelius Jacobsen Mey fitted up
his ship, Nieu Nederlandt, and thirty Walloon families set
sail for New Amsterdam Harbor. Two months later
eighteen of those families settled below Cohoes Falls and in
the pine groves of Greenbush, opposite Chescodonta. After
making a treaty of peace with the Abenakis King and his

6o The Hoosac Valley

councillors, they built log dwellings and planted cornfields.
In June, Capt. Adriaen Jorise and Daniel Van Krieckebeek
built a fort on the site of Steamboat Square, in Albany. It
was christened Aurania — the Latin for Orange, — in honor
of Prince Maurice of Nassau-Orange, a small principality;
of the Rhone Valley in southern France, then in the posses-
sion of the House of Nassau. The Grande was christened
Mauritius, * or Orange River.

The English Pilgrims, during March, 1621, also built Fort
Plymouth and a forest chapel overlooking Cape Cod Bay,
and Capt, John Smith christened their province New Eng-
land. In 1628 the Pilgrims began to explore the length
and breadth of their territory and discovered the Dutch
Boers and French Walloons in New Netherland.

England claimed all rights of colonization and traffic in
the American colonies through John Cabot's and his son,
Sebastian Cabot's, discovery of America in 1497 and 1498.
By the British Constitution the title of provincial land was
vested in the King's power to grant at pleasure, either with
or without power of government, to single individuals, cor-
porations, or governors empowered with the government of
certain described and bounded colonies, distinguished as
proprietary, charter, and royal governments.

A national enmity existed, between the English Crown
and the Holland and French officials, over Henry Hudson's
and Samuel Champlain's rights of discovery and colonization
of New Netherland and New France, between 1607 and 1664,
and the English King failed to confirm the Hollanders'
purchased rights of Hudson. The Dutch inaugurated the
Patroon's System of colonization, however, regardless of
rights. In 1631 Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a wealthy dia-
mond merchant of Amsterdam, entered into partnership with
Samuel Goodyn, Johannes De Laet, and Samuel Blommaert

'Map 1614, Chapter I., p. 23.

Mahicaii Boundaries and Christian Forts 6i

to found Rensselaerwyck. Gillis Hossett and Dominie Sebas-
tian Krol were engaged to negotiate with the Mahican and
Delaware sachems for twenty-four miles square on each bank
of the Hudson, making Chescodonta the centre of the manor.
On April 8, 1631, Dominie Krol secured the Indian title
of the land on the west bank of the Hudson extending from
King Aepjen's Bear Island north to Smack's Island opposite
Fort Aurania, from sachems Paep-Sikenekomtas, Mancont-
tanshal, and Sickousson. On July 27th following, he secured
the title of the Sannahagog Tract, extending from Smack's
Island north to Cohoes Lane, or the Mahicansacs' war-trail
passing through the centre of Maquon's Castle Aloenemines
on Haver (Oat) Island below Cohoes Falls from sachems
Cattomack, Nawanemit, Abantzene, Sagisquwa, and Kana-
moack. Sachem Nawanemit also owned the north end of
the Sannahagog Tract on the east bank of the Hudson, and
six years later, in 1637, Jacob Albertzen Plank, first Sheriff
of Rensselaerwyck, and Arendt Van Curler or Corlear, a
cousin of Patroon Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, purchased the
Hoosacs' Lake District, extending from King Aepjen's Bear
Island north to Soquon's Castle Unuwat. This included
the "Stone Arabia," or Diamond Rock Tract, eastward
twenty-four miles, reaching up the Hoosac Pass of the Ta-
conacs into Pownal, Vt. The sachems received for this
vast forest region certain quantities of duffels, or coats,
axes, knives, and wampum.

The New Amsterdam Dutch Boers and French Walloons

I kept a jealous eye upon the English Pilgrims migrating to
the banks of the Varsch-Fresh River of Connecticut, in 1628.
Capt. Jacobus Van Curler, an elder brother of Arendt Van
Curler of Fort Orange, built Fort Good Hope near Hartford

j in 1633, and challenged the Yankee Pilgrims' occupancy of
the New England territory east to Cape Cod Bay, by right
cf "club law."

62 The Hoosac Valley

The boundary quarrels of the Dutch, however, led to the
English conquest of Dutch New Netherland in 1664. The
New Englanders denied King Charles II.' the legal right to
regrant New England, including New Netherland, to his
brother James, the Duke of York and Albany, on March 12,

"The whiteman," says Thoreau, "came with a load of
thought, with a slumbering intelligence, as a fire raked up,
knowing well what he knew." The farmers of Rensselaer-
wyck raised apples and rye more for the brewing of mead and
beer than for pie or bread-making. A dozen boschloopers
(forest-runners) were engaged by the fur- traders to meet the
Indians on their way to Beverswyck market, bribe them with
brandy, rob them of their furs, and lodge them in jail for
drunkenness. In this manner the Mahicans and Mohawks
degenerated between the advent of the Dutch and English
Pilgrims and the downfall of New Netherland.

After the English conquest of the Dutch in 1664, Capt,
John Manning took command of Fort Albany, and the clerk,
Dirck Van Schelluyne, began to enroll the patroons and their
Dutch and French tenants as British subjects. Jeremiah
Van Rensselaer of Rensselaer wyck in 1665 was the first to
take the oath of allegiance to Charles II.

Later the Mutual Board of the King's Commissioners
agreed upon the Twenty-Mile Line east of, and parallel with, |
the Hudson River as the boundar}^ between New York and
Connecticut. After the Duke of York ascended the throne 1
as King James II., Col. Richard Nicolls, the first governor j
of New York Colony, wrote him that the adopted line was j
a favorable adjustment to be followed for the entire boun-
dary between New York and Massachusetts Bay, which at the
time was distinctly understood to extend north to Canada, j

'King Charles II., Charter of N. Y., 1664, cited in London Documents, xv'i.,
p. 253. Illustration, Chapter I., p. 38.

r.,it o|- l)i .M.loli.iK Mm|,

,„ \ »,.,.■,■,, ., ..1 n:.:,

Mitchell's Map of the British and French Dominions in North America, 175$.
It Shows the Adopted Twenty-Mile Boundary between New York and

New England Colonies.


64 The Hoosac Valley

The Twenty-j\Iile Line was subsequently described on Dr.
Jno. Mitchell's Map of the British and French Dominions in\
North America, published in London during 1755. The
following certificate is found inscribed on the back of the
original map, which is six feet square:

This Map was undertaken with the approbation and
request of the lords Commission for trade and plantations
and is chiefly composed from draughts, charts, and actual
surveys of different parts of his Majesty's Colonies and
plantations in America; great part of which have been lately
taken by their lordship's orders and transmitted to this
office by the Governors of said Colonies and others.

John Pownall,

Plantation Office, February 13, 1755.

Among the first manors purchased of the Indians in Hoosac
Valley was Rensselaerwyck, which reached east twenty-four
miles from the Hudson in 1637. It was confirmed by the
English in 1665, according to adopted boundary twenty
miles east of the Hudson. The original Ochserantogue or
Sarachtogie Tract of the Mahicansacs began north of
Mathahennaheh or Manitou-aseniah (Spirit-rock) about
Nack-te-Nack, the islands below Cohoes Falls ; and extended
north indefinitely on both sides of the Hudson. Portions of
this vast tract were subsequently deeded by the Alahican
sachems to several individuals. The "Halve-AIaen" Tract
north of Rensselaerwyck was deeded to the Albany brewer,
Capt. Goosen Garretse Van Schaick, and Philipsen Pietersen
Schuyler in 1662 in order to prevent "those of Connecticut"
purchasing it, and this transfer was confirmed by the King
in 1664. The south line ran east and west along the Boght
(Manor) Avenue of Rensselaerwyck through the centre of
Castle Moenemines on Haver Island ; and the parallel north


Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 65

line began at the junction of St. Anthony Kill with the
Hudson and extended west to the Mohawk Flats. Hilete
(Alice), the wife of Pieter Danielse Van Olinde, a daughter
of a Mohawk squaw and Cornelius Antonissen Van Slyck,
mentioned by the French Labadist missionaries, Jasper
Dankers and Pieter Sluyter, as an intelligent Indian in-
terpretress, owned the Mohawk Flats above Cohoes Falls.

The first settlers on Haver Island of the Half-Moon
Patent included Oldert Onderkirk and Harmon Lievens.
The island contains one hundred and twenty-five acres,
and Fort Half-Moon was built about Lievens's house and
commanded by his son-in-law, Captain Van Schaick, until
his death in 1667. Captain Van Schaick also owned Cohoes
Island, now Van Schaick Island, below the Third Sprout or
fork of the Mohawk, which contains three hundred acres.
The subsequent tenants of the region were Guert Hendrickse
Van Schoonhoven, Roeloff Garretse Van Derwerken, Henry
Lansing, Cornelius Onderkirk, Dirck Heamstreet, and
Frederick Clute. The site of Moenemines Castle of Ma-
quon's Mahicansacs on Haver Island, and a portion of the
mainland on the site of Waterford was sold by Captain Van
Schaick's widow, Annetie, to Jan Jacobse Van Noorstrand,
June 26, 1677, for "sixty and six beavers" at the market
price or in grain or labor. The quaint deed was recorded
at the Albany County Clerk's Office by Robert Livingston,
in the presence of Garret Banker and Harmon Rutkers.
Fort Half-Moon was removed after King William's War,
and in 1703 rebuilt, during Governor Cornbury's office, on
Leland's and Taylor's farms near the junction of St. Anthony
Kill, partly in Half-Moon and partly in Saratoga.

Gov. Francis Lovelace, as early as 1670, granted Robert
Sanders a portion of the south end of "Stone Arabia," or
Diamond Rock Patent, extending from Unuwat's Castle of
Soquon's Hoosacs, south to Piscawen's Kill in Troy. Nine

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