Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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66 The Hoosac Valley

years later Gov. Thomas Dongan granted Robert Sandersj
the Passquassic Patent, including the pine woods of Green-
bosch and Whale Island, now submerged, for an annual quit-
rent of three bushels of winter wheat. The north end of
"Stone Arabia Patent," extending from Diamond Rock
north to Paensick Kill, was granted to Johannes Wendel
by Governor Dongan, July 22, 1686.

The Kayonderossera Tract, originally known as Ochser-
antogue and later as Schuylerville Patent, was purchased of
the Mahicansac sachems. Governor Dongan, in 1682, con-
firmed the patent to Pieter Philipsen Schuyler, Cornelius
Van Dyck, Jan Jansen Bleecker, Johannes Wendel, Dirck
Wessels, David Schuyler, and Robert Livingston, for an | '
annual quit-rent of twenty bushels of winter wheat. The
Schuyler Patent covered 265 square miles, including six
miles in width on each bank of the Hudson, from St.
Anthony Kill and Hoosac River, north to the junction of
the Batten Kill.

The first settler north of the junction of the Hoosac River
was the fur-trader, Bartholomew Van Hogleboom. His
Christian name " Bart " was given to the stream known once
as Bart's Kill, now called the Batten Kill. The hamlet of
Dovegat, nowCoveville, north of Stillwater, was first settled by
Protestant Frenchmen banished by the Jesuits from Canada.
Among these were Antoine Lespinard, John Van Loon, the
Du Bisons, Lafleurs, and Villeroys. Lespinard Street, New
York City, was named in honor of Antoine Lespinard.

The venerable King Aepjen and his councillors of the
Abenakis Democracy, upon the approach of King William's
War, between 1683 and 1685, deeded Bear Island and the
Taconac Tract to Robert Livingston and other Albany
gentlemen. Governor Dongan in 1686 also granted Col.
Pieter Schuyler, first Mayor of Albany, charter privileges to
negotiate with Soquon and Maquon for five hundred acres

i



Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 67

of their Hoosac or " Schaahtecogue Tract," and a thousand
acres of the Mahicansacs' " Tionnonderoga Tract."

The most northern Dutch settlement of AllDany County,
N. Y., in 1689 proved to be that of the fur-trader, Bartel
Vrooman, and six other famiHes at Old Saratoga. A pali-
sade was built about Vrooman's house, and Lieut. Jochem
Staats, Robert Sanders, Egbert Teunise, and ten Hoosac
and Mohawk scouts were sent to defend the hamlet, until
it was burned in the winter of 1690.

The most northern English settlement of Old Berkshire,
Mass., in 1733 was the mission founded among King Aepjen's
Mahicansacs at Skatecook village on the site of Sheffield.
Jonathan Sergeant, Samuel Hopkins, ' Timothy Woodbridge,
Ephraim Williams, Sr., and others chartered the town of
Stockbridge during the summer of 1739, and Col, John
Stoddard and his militia built a meeting-house and school-
house and patrolled the frontier trails. The Scotch-Irish
who arrived from Londonderry, Ireland, in 17 18, located
farther north in Pelham and Coleraine in 1735, and several
English settlers pushed on to Charlemont and Pontoosac in

1736.

Thomas Wells of Saybrook, Conn,, and Ephraim Williams,
Sr.,of Newton, Mass., in the spring of 1739, petitioned the
General Court of Massachusetts to survey the towns of the
upper Hoosac. The accompanying survey of "East and
West Hoosuck," chartered later as Adams and Williams-
town, was rendered by chairman Ephraim Williams, Sr., in
his Report to the General Court as follows :

We the subscribers have carefully viewed the lands on and
near Hoosuck River and finding the same very accom-
modable for settlement have by the assistance of Timothy
Dwight, Esq., and Mr. Nath. Kellogg, surveys, laid out three

' Rev. Samuel Hopkins, Memoirs of the Housatunnuk Indiafis, 1734,




..A Plan of 53,040 .ces of Land lying on the Ea=t S.de of Ashuw,l,icooU Rive, and South B.ancb
of Hoosuck R.vef, beg'ing at a HemlocW -l^ree mark'd 0+.

-Sutveyed, May 1739, by the Needle of the sur.cy.ng instrument,

By Mr. NATH. KELLOGG,

Sumeiioc



68



Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 69

townships (Cheshire, Adams and Williamstown) each of
the contents of six miles square. Two of which adjoyning
and lye on Hoosuck River the other on the Mayoonsuck
(Mayoonsac), being the northern branch thereof about three
miles northward of the lowest of the two towns all which will
fully appear by the plans herewith humbly presented. We
have not perfected all the lines occasioned by the Great
Opposition we met with from Sundry Gent'n from Albany
a particular account of which we are ready to lay before
y'r Excellency and Honours if thereto required, and are
your Excellency's and Hon's most obedient and dutiful
servants.

Eph'm Williams / Committee.
Thomas Wells )
Boston,
June 6, 1739.

Owing to the opposition of the Gentlemen of Albany, the
Privy Council of England on March 10, 1741, advised Gov.
Jonathan Belcher to establish the northern boundary of
Massachusetts. Richard Hazen of Haverhill was engaged to
make the survey and according to his Journal, ^ he stood on
the highest peak in the northeastern corner of the present
town of Williamstown, known as Mount Hazen, on Satur-
day morning, April 12, 1741. His piercing eye took in the
windings of the intervals at his feet. Northwest through
the Hoosac Pass of the Taconacs gleamed the sunny fields of
the "Patroon of Hoosac," lighted with fitful shadows and
sunshine amid the April showers. Hazen doubted the rights
of the hearth-logs of the Dutch burghers situated in the
Kreigger Rock neighborhood and about "Weepmg Rocks"
in Pownal, Vt., near the Massachusetts borders.

Surveyor Hazen's party arrived at the Indian war-trail
on the east bank of Hoosac River, near the junction of

^Boston Gazette, Feb. 19, 1754.



70 The Hoosac Valley |

Rattlesnake Brook, during the afternoon and recorded
that: "It was with difficuhy that we waded the River and
lodged on ye West side. ... It Clouded over before Night
and rained some time before day, which caused us to stretch
Our blankets and lye under them on ye bare ground, which
was the first bare ground we laid on after we left Northfield.
The field where Hazen encamped is to-day known as Bas-
com's Meadow.

On Sunday, April 13th, the surveyors ascended Northwest
Hill and continued west to the summit of the Taconacs
They christened the peak. Mount Belcher, in honor of Gov
Jonathan Belcher, that it might be a "Standing Boundaryi
as Endicutt's Tree." The survey was continued to the'
Hudson, and it was reported to be twenty-one miles and
sixty rods from the west bank of the Hoosac River to
the east bank of the Hudson at a point eighty poles
south of the First Sprout of the Mohawk below Cohoes
Falls.

The western boundary of Massachusetts Bay was dis-
cussed at Hartford, Conn., in 1773. After the Revolution,
on December 2, 1785, Congress appointed Thomas Hutchins,
John Ewing, and David Rittenhouse to survey the line
and it was established December 16, 1786. Controversies
arose and many years later James Duane, Robert Living-
ston, Robert Yates, John Haring, Melancthon Smith, and
Egbert Benson of New York; and John Lowell, James
Sullivan, Theophilus Parsons, and Rufus King of Massa-
chusetts surveyed the present line, confirmed by Congress,
January 3, 1855. Russell Dorr of New York and John Z.
Goodrich of Massachusetts set the present State Line
markers.

A marble post now marks the northwest corner of Massa-
chusetts, and near it stands another monument in Moon
Hollow, a mile east of the summit of Mount Belcher,



Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 71

denoting the southwest corner of Vermont. The present
western boundary of Vermont, however, was not surveyed
until June 8, 18 12.

While the Dutch and English of New York and New Eng-
land were contending over their boundaries, the French of
New France were crowding down the Champlain and Con-
necticut valleys, more for religious supremacy than for
territory to colonize. The Hoosac Valley was encompassed
by three of the most powerful strongholds of New England,
New York, and New France, including Fort Massachusetts
on the upper Hoosac, Fort Albany on the Hudson, and Fort
St. Frederic at Crown Point on Lake Champlain. Indeed
the borders of the Hoosacs' hunting-grounds were fortified
by as many as forty stockade forts within seventy-five miles
of the State Line markers of Vermont and Massachusetts.
No less than ten different forts occupied the exposed
portals along the war-trails of the interior valley between
1703 and 1777.

Some time after the English conquest, the Duke of York
ascended the throne as King James II. In July, 1688, before
the close of his reign, he confirmed the Hoosac Patent covering
the meadow-land in central Hoosac. In December, following,
he fled to King Louis XIV. of France and was succeeded by
King William of Holland. During the English Revolution,
the Roman Catholic adherents of King James II. in the
colonies met the opposition of King William's Separatist
Councils. Those religious and political bickerings among
the Albany Gentlemen resulted in the Dutch village of
Corlear, now Schenectady, being left without proper guards.
On February 8, 1690, a party of one hundred and foiu-teen
French soldiers, headed by the Mohawk sachem Kryn, with
eight of his Caughnawagas and sixteen Algonquins entered
Fort Schenectady and massacred sixty settlers and captured
ninety prisoners. The aged and children were abandoned



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'ea-i'^>' "i; "Gibraltar Fortress" on Cape

Bretr." T '-:' [ .. /aisbur^ Nova Scotia; and on May 18,



Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 79

1 73 1, a log stockade was completed at Chimney Point on
Lake Champlain and christened Fort St. Frederic. The
latter fort, a menacing one, was only forty miles north of
Fort Saratoga, and about seventy-five from Fort Albany
and the site of Fort Massachusetts of the Dutch and English.

Three years later, in 1734, the log stockade. Fort St.
Frederic, was replaced by a Hmestone, bomb-proof fortress,
second in strength only to the stronghold at Quebec. The
garrison in 1 746 consisted of one hundred and twenty soldiers,
and the ramparts, which were twenty-five feet thick, were
mounted with twenty-two guns. The citadel was an octagon
tower fifty feet in diameter and three stories high. The
third stor}', a bomb-proof chamber, had walls seven feet
thick and contained ten 9-pounder guns, twenty patararoes,
several blunderbusses, muskets, and pistols all ready for
action.

The same spring (1739) that Gov. Jonathan Belcher or-
dered the survey of the upper Hoosac towns, Lieut. -Gov.
George Clark of New York "directed that a line of forts be
erected between Albany and Saratoga." During June, 1744,
King George's War, known in New England as Shirley's
War, was declared. Gov. WilHam Sliirley that season
ordered a cordon of three or four forts built foiir or five
miles south of Hazen's Line of Alassachusetts, at intervals
of six or eight miles between Fort Dummer on the Connec-
ticut and the upper Hoosac.

Fort Shirley was completed in the town of Heath on the
upper Deerfield, October 30, 1744; ^o^^ Pelham in the town
of Rowe, five miles west of Fort Shirley, in the spring of 1 745 ;
and Fort Massachusetts in Adams on the upper Hoosac,
fourteen miles west of Capt, Aloses Rice's Charlemont
Tavern, during the summer of 1745. Governor Clinton on
June 5, 1744. also garrisoned Fort Saratoga, built in 1739,
and in 1745 rebuilt the fort from its foundation. He was



8o The Hoosac Valley

not able to obtain volunteer soldiers willing to garrison the
fort, and it was unoccupied at the time Marin's massacre
of Schuyler's Mills took place in November of that season.

The cordon of Massachusetts border forts was placed
under the command of Capt, William Williams, a nephew of
Col. John Stoddard, commander of Old Berkshire militia
during the spring of 1745. In June, Governor Shirley com-
missioned William Williams colonel of a regiment in Gen.
William Pepperell's army of New England Rangers which
was sent to capture the "Gibraltar Fortress" of the
French at Louisburgh. The command of the border forts of
Massachusetts fell to Ephraim Williams, Jr., a half cousin of
Col. William Williams. He made his headquarters at Fort
Shirley, and commanded three hundred and fifty garrison
soldiers posted at the several forts: Northfield, Falltown,
Coleraine, Shirley, Pelham, Massachusetts, Collars, Shat-
tucks, Bridgemans, Deerfield, Rhodetown, and New Hamp-
ton. He also controlled the scouts patrolling the trails
between Forts Number Four and Dummer on the Connec-
ticut, Forts Half-Moon, Saratoga, Schaghticoke, St. Croix,
Massachusetts, Pontoosac, and Deerfield.

The capture of the "Gibraltar" of the French on June 8,
1745, caused the jubilant colonists to ring the Boston and
Albany church bells. The Pilgrim Fathers exclaimed that
"God had gone out of the way of His common providence
in a remarkable and miraculous manner!" The New
England victory over the French was followed later by
revengeful forays of the Canadas. Colonel Marin and
Lieutenant Beauvais headed five hundred French and St,
Francis warriors down the Hudson during the autumn.
The chaplain, Abbe Frangois Picquet, pointed out Schuyler's
Mills on the map as a prize to capture. The settlement
then contained thirty-one dwellings, four large mills, many
barns and barracks for slaves. Schuyler's brick mansion



Mahican Boundaries and Christian Forts 8i

contained loopholes for the discharge of small guns; but,
like Fort Saratoga, half a mile south, it was without a garri-
son when IMarin's half frozen warriors entered the sleeping
hamlet on November 8, 1745.

Lieutenant Beauvais, personally acquainted with Philip
Pieterse Schuyler, entered his mansion and demanded his
surrender, promising him personal protection. The patroon,
however, refused to ask for quarter and was slain with
thirty other settlers. One hundred and one captives were
taken, half of whom were Negro slaves. The patrolling
scout, Robert Sanders, and his family were the only settlers
to make their escape to Albany. The massacre was closed
before sunrise and the captives, half clad, and many of them
barefooted, were forced to march over the frozen trail to the



Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 6 of 41)