Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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hunting-grounds about Skene Mountain, now Whitehall,
and in 1730 pushed on to Ohio Valley. Keeperdo's village
in Miami Valley became the birthplace of the grandfather of
"Black Hawk" — the subsequent leader of the Indian Revo-
lution of the Northwest against the invading Christians in
1832. Queen Esther and her Schaghticokes located near
Old Grey-Lock's Fort St. Regis lodge at Swanton Falls on
river Missisquoi in lower Champlain Valley, Vt., and her
warriors later migrated to IMississippi Valley.

Governor Crosby held a conference with the last of the
Schaghticokes in September, 1 733 , and urged them topersuade
their kindred under Keeperdo and Queen Esther to return with
their warriors and shelter beneath the branches and leaves of
the "Tree of Peace." He promised to "take care that it
flourish and grow." Queen Esther's St. Regis fugitives


















loo The Hoosac Valley

replied by letter: "We never have been otherwise than good
subjects of the King of Great Britain. . . . We are English-
men in our hearts and if any evil should happen, we shall
knock at the door and acquaint you. . . . We are but
ignorant people and poor because Rum is so plenty, which
the Traders bring to us — we can't kill a deer while we are
obliged to sell our powder and lead." The warriors never

General Rigaud's French and Indian army invaded the
Hoosac Valley during King George's War in 1746. He sent
eighteen fierce Ontario savages down the valley to plunder
and massacre about Fort Schaghticoke, but they burned only
the Dutch meeting-house. One of the warriors on the brow
of Pudding-hill, however, fired a fatal ball, which killed
Herman Van Vechten, son of Maj. Derrick Van Vechten,
standing in the dooryard of the Van Vechten homestead,
now owned by a descendant, Jacob Van Vechten.

The Kittlehuyne massacre quickly followed the death of
Herman Van Vechten. Daniel Kittlehuyne and his three
brothers were upon friendly terms with the Schaghticokes ;
little Anna, a daughter of Daniel, was a favorite with the
squaws. The Ontario warriors, however, were enemies of
the Schaghticokes and Mohawks and would as soon scalp
them as the Christians. Daniel and Peter Kittlehuyne,
while hunting deer on the banks of the Hoosac, met an
ambuscade of Ontarios, one of whom fired and killed Peter.
Daniel shot one savage and killed another with the butt of
his gun. He fled to his cottage with the dead body of his
brother thrown over his pony's back and set out at once for
a wagon at Fort wSchaghticoke to remove his family to
Albany. He had no more than arrived at the Derrick Van
Vechten house when an avenging party of Ontarios sur-
rounded his cottage with hideous war-whoops. His young-
est brother with his bride from Lake St. Sacrement, little

Fort Schaghticoke and Knickerbacker's Colony loi

Anna, and his infant son were scalped and left in the burning
cottage. His wife and brother Henry were taken captives
and marched up the Owl Kill with General Rigaud's one
hundred and five English and Dutch prisoners to Montreal
and thence to Quebec prison-pens. The Kittlehuynes were
ransomed and later settled on their farms in Old Schaghti-

I coke. Mrs. Jacob Van Vechten is a descendant of Daniel

Gov, George Clinton on April 14, 1746, requested the

; Albany Assembly to furnish regular militia to patrol the
trails between Fort Albany and Fort Clinton (the latter was
completed in March at Old Saratoga) and up the Hoosac
from Fort Half -Moon at Stillwater to Fort Schaghticoke,

; Fort St. Croix, and Fort Massachusetts. Fort Schaghti-

' coke was rebuilt from its foundation during the spring of
1746 and garrisoned by two companies of regulars; and
three companies of regulars were posted also at Fort Half-

' Moon, although it was not until November, 1746, that
Capt. Henry Livingston mustered four companies of militia
brave enough to take command of Fort Clinton.

The Dutch meeting-house was rebuilt at Old Schaghticoke
in the autumn of 1746 and Dominie Theodorus Frieling-
huysen of Albany Dutch Church preached there quarterly
until 1759. He won the enmity of the British regulars
posted at Fort Albany and its outposts by preaching against
an amusing theatrical performance entitled. The Recruiting
Officer, acted upon a stage fitted up in a barn. The actors
were all young colonels, ensigns, and other officers who, with
painted cheeks, and dressed in great hoops, linsey-woolsey
petticoats, and tow trousers and jackets, represented buxom
Dutch lasses, while others of their number represented the
lasses' "Bully Boys of Helderberg," and New England
Yankee schoolmaster varlets. But the people of Albany
considered "painted faces the very ultimatum of degen-

102 The Hoosac Valley

eracy."* Dominie Friclinghuysen, during September,
1759, upon finding a staff, a pair of shoes, and a silver
dollar beside his parsonage door, resigned and set sail for

Grandfather Knickcrbacker's Bible, bearing the date of
1682, is a long leather-bound volume with brass comers and
clasps. It contains the records of marriage, birth, and dying
days of the Hoosac Valley Knickerbacker family, and is
reported to be the only extant copy of that edition of New
Netherland Bibles in New York State. It was used on the
sacred desk of the Dutch Church in Old Schaghticoke
between 17 14 and 1759. The Knickerbacker Bible, Soquon's
deed confirmed by Queen Anne in 1707, together with a por-
trait of Col. Johannes Knickerbacker, ist, the Schaghticokes'
ceremonial calumets, implements of war and occupation of
soil were on exhibition at the Old Mansion until the death
of Joseph Foster Knickerbacker — the "Poet of the Vale."
The present proprietor of Knickerbacker IMansion has re-
moved most of the valued relics of both the Schaghticoke
and Knickerbacker races of lower Hoosac to his Bloodville
IMansion at Ballston Spa, N. Y. The Knickerbacker Bible,
for want of a lineal heir, will, after the passing of the present
possessor, be deposited in the New York Historical Society

After the opening raid of the French and Indian War on
May 28, 1754, Lieut.-Gov. James De Lancey held a confer-
ence of peace with the Alohawk and Schaghticoke sachems
between June 14th and July 8th. The Schaghticokes made
promises that they would "do as their fathers had done
before them." Six weeks later on August 24, 1754, five St.
Regis warriors posted at Fort St. Frederic, true to their
promise to Governor Crosby in 1733, arrived at St. Croix
and warned the dominie of the Tioshoke mission chapel that

'Anna McVicar Grant, Memoirs of an American Lady, 1808.

Fort Schaghticokc and Knickerbacker's Colony 103

eight hundred French and St. Francis warriors were headed
for Dutch and EngHsh Hoosac.

At that time the last of the Schaghticokes consisted of
about sixty members, including warriors, squaws, and chil-

A hand-shaved dap-board from Col. Johannes Groesbeck Mansion, riddled
with bullet-holes from the French longues Carabines — long rifles — fired from the
north bank of the Iloosac in 1756, during the French and Indian War.

dren, residing on the north bank of the Hoosac. They be-
gan a pow-wow^ on August 24, 1754, so protracted and singu-
lar as to attract the notice and excite the wonder of Fort
Schaghticoke garrison and Knickerbacker's Dutch Colony.
The warriors for four consecutive days engaged in songs and
the Kinte-kaye (Devil-dance to Great Hobbamocko) ; and on
the morning of the 29th, after the massacre and burning of

' N. Y. Hist. Mag., June, 1870.


The Hoosac Valley

Dutch Hoosac hamlets, it was discovered that their huts
were tenantless. A whiteman residing on cne borders of
Schaghticoke village reported that during the whole night

Boulder marking the grave of Col. Johanyies Knickerbocker, ist, in the
Schaghticokes' Witenagemot Burial- field, known to-day as the Knickcrbackcr
Cemetery. Colonel Knickerbocker died in iy4Q, and his father, Herman J ansen
Knickerbocker, known as "Grandfather Knickerbacker," died in 1721, and his
grave is marked by a rough botdder, a few feet west of Colonel Knickerbocker' s
grave. It is undoubtedly the oldest marked grave in the Hoosac Valley.

of August 28th, he overheard Indians running single file at
top speed past his cabin door.

On October 8, 1754, Lieut. -Governor De Lanccy reported
to the Lords of Trade that a party of St. Francis warriors
from the village Becancour on the river St. Francis, Canada,
had made a fatal incursion at Dutch Hoosac. Under cover
of darkness, during a pouring thunder storm, a hundred war-
riors visited their Schaghticoke kindred, who joined them as

Fort Schaghticoke and Knickerbacker's Colony 105

willing attendants, and marched to St. Regis and St. Francis
Indian villages.

Fort Schaghticoke and several of the neighboring man-
sions were doubly fortified during the summer of 1756.
Wouter Groesbeck's homestead near the present junction
of the Tomhannac Creek with the Hoosac, stood within a
stone's throw of the north bank of the Hoosac and it became
a target for bullets from the Canadians and St. Francis
longiies Carabines. The house was repaired by Col. Johannes
Groesbeck in 1846, who preserved an old hand-shaved clap-
board, twelve feet long by fourteen inches w^ide, pierced by
eighteen bullet holes. He emblazoned on one side of the
board in red letters : the effects of the frenxh war the
YEAR 1 756. And on the opposite side : 90 years old. The
Groesbeck Mansion was torn down a few years ago, and
the board is now stored beneath the southern eaves in the
attic of the Knickerbacker Alansion.

Col. Johannes Knickerbacker, 1st, died in 1749, at th^ age
of seventy years, and his grave is marked by a rough blue
boulder in the Schaghticokes' Witenagemot burial-field.
He left six children: three sons — Herman, Johannes, 2d, and
Wouter; three daughters — Elizabeth, Cornelia, and Helena.
Herman and Wouter located in Alban}^, and Johannes, 2d,
bom in 1723, inherited the Knickerbacker Mansion; Eliza-
beth married Sybrant Quackenbosch ; Cornelia married
Teunis Van Vechten, son of Garret Tunisson-Van Vechten,
and Helena died unmarried. Johannes Knickerbacker, 2d,
was like his father commissioned colonel of the Schaghticoke
militia connected with Fort Schaghticoke, and led in various
expeditions against the hostile Indians during the French
and Indian War. He was attached to Lord Howe's staff
during the Briton's attack upon the French Fort Carillon
at Ticonderoga in 1758, when Lord How^e was slain.

After the departure of the last of the Schaghticokes from

i^^t> The Hoos.K- Willcv

lloosac WUley on Aui::iist 28, 1754. Q^eon Esther, a lineal de-
seendant of Soquon or Alaquon, made annual pilgrimages
witli her waniors and maidens of St. Regis to the "Vale'^of
Peaa\" They daneed beneath their Witenagemot Oak by
tlie light of the moon and seattered sacriiieial tokens in the
Sehaghtieokes' burial-field ^Yest of the Couneil Trtv, and
in the lloosaes' Tawasentha (vale oi the manv dead) in the
field south of Hobbamoeko's Chimney. The latter plac^
was known to the ehildren of a eentury ago. The late
venerable William Banker of East Sehaghtiwke, as a lad,
joined by the village sehoolmaster and his pupils, construc-
ted a n^t^e ladder about 70 feet in height and climbed to the
top of the limestone-breccia obelisk. The>- reported that
sulphurous fumes issued from the aperture of the chimney.
It is cN-ident that at some remote period the "Fallen-hill"
was a Mackimoodus (place of noises) . As such it was chosen
as the sacrificial slirine for pow-iirnvs to the God of Thunder.
The De\^rs Kitchen is located in a deep hollow above the
Fallen-hill north of the obelisk, and a typical sand-dune of
the mterior is located about the Drader-bach— the Dutch
designation for the third hill east of the "Vale of Peace."
The sand is slowly mo\4ng eastward over Schaghticoke
Plams. The Evil Spirit of nature has buried a grvne of
trees, and the vegetation about the place is dwarfed, peculiar
to sand-dunes. The Hoosacs recognized the natural phe-
nomena of the Fiend of Calamity about the regnon.

The last burial in the Hoosacs' Tawasentha is believed
to have taken place soon after Uncus, the last royal sachem
of Great Inami, was slain in 1757 by Mague. the red Huron
chiettam. near CHieen Esther's St. Reg^s lodge on the lower
Champlam. Uncus was temporarilv buried near St. Regis,
according to Cooper's Last of the Mohicans, and later borne
to the iMamtoulin burial-field of his fathers. His tumulus
was discernible in the centre of the Tawasentha field as late

Fort Schaghticoke and Knickerbackcr's Colony 107

as 1875 and was locally known as the "Indian-cellar." The
mound was ploughed down by the late William P. Button,
superintendent of Knickerbacker Manor, who sowed the
field to wheat. He reported unearthing many warriors'
bones and "weapons of rest" in the furrows.

During 1900, William Dyer, superintendent of Knicker-
backer Manor, enclosed the Schaghticokes' burial-field, now
known as the Knickerbacker Cemetery, with a wall and
iron fence. After the passing of the present proprietor,
William H. Knickerbacker of Bloodville Mansion at Ballston
Spa, N. Y., the key of the Schaghticoke-Knickerbacker
Cemetery will be turned over to the Mayor and Council of
the City of Albany, who will guard the historic mingled
dust of the Savage and > Christian for generations to

Mawwehu's New vSchaghticoke ' settlement was later incor-
porated by the English of Connecticut as the town of Kent.
At the opening of the nineteenth century the mixed Pequots
had dwindled down to thirty-five members, who cultivated
only six acres of their vSchaghticoke Alountain Reservation,
then containing fifteen hundred acres. During 1906, the
last fifteen Pequot-Negro half-breeds resided in six little
one-story brown cabins and two stores. To-day the Schagh-
ticoke Mountain Reservation of three hundred acres and its
buildings is valued at $3500. The whole fund of the Pe-
fiuot Colony is estimated at about $5500 and is controlled
by a superintendent, who looks after the welfare of the tribe.
The venerable Queen Vinie had a white mother. She is a
great grand-daughter of the sachem Mawwehu and resides
with her half-sister Rachel, a full-blooded Pequot, in a cottage
near that of Hen Pan, who is proud that in his veins flows
the unmixed blood of Great Unami. He has emblazoned m
large red letters on his chimney: "i am o. k." in spite of the

' C. Burr Todd, In Olde Connecticut, pp. 208-216

io8 The I loos. k WiUev

fact that his brother Jim Pan. and his white Avife, atui two
children share his cottage.

AkuYwehu's biirial-tield at New Schaghticoke is located
under a bold clitT of Sehaghtici^ke Mountain, over which the
Falls of St. Agnes tumble through many a pot-hole to the
Housatonac River. The Christians ha\e long since forced
the sons of Great Unami of MOHiiGONi^CK front the ebbing
rivers of their fathers. To-dav the vanishing warriors
munnur :

And fast they follow, as we go
Toward the setting day, —
Till they sliall till the laud, and we
Are driven into the western sea.^

» Bryant, .-!« Indian at the Burial-Ptace of his Fathers.





All beside thy limpid waters.

All beside thy sands so bright;
Indian Chiefs and Christian warriors

Joined in fierce and mortal fight.

Spanish Ballad in Percy.

Dutch Boers and French Walloons, 1615-1624 — Fort Crailo and Rensselaer-
wyck, 1 624-1 663 — Fort St. Croix and Van Ness Colony, 1724 — Tioshoke
— Nepimore — Falls Quequick — Dutch Hooesac and Kreigger Rock
Hamlets — Tioshoke Moravian Mission — Dutch Hooesac and German
Lutheran Church — English Survey of Upper Hoosac Towns, 1 739-1 749 —
Walloomsac Patent, 1739 — King George's or Shirley's War, 1 744-1 748 —
General Rigaud's Invasion of Hoosac Valley, 1746 — French and Indian
War, 1754 — Fall of Quebec and Burning of St. Francis Village of Becan-
cour, 1759.

RENSSELAERWYCK, St. Croix, and Hoosac manors
lie west of the Taconacs in New York. The distant
blue shoulders of Mount Greylock's brotherhood loom up
against the southeastern sky, through the Hoosac Pass in
Massachusetts; and southward, up the narrow defile of the
Little Hoosac, gleam the "Sugar-loaf mountains" and
"Johnny-cake hills" of ancient Rensselaerwyck, N. Y.
Eastward, through the Walloomsac Pass, tov/er the spruce
domes of the Green Mountains in Vermont. And from the
west meanders the Nepimore Creek from Rensselaer Hills
through the pine woods of "Shingle Hollow"; while the
devious Owl Kill from the north, after following the famous

war-trail of the picturesque Camhjridge, Valley, joins the


110 The lloosac Willcy

lloosac near Eaglo Bridge — twolvo miles below the blending
of the IKx^saes.

Several Freneh Walloon families joined the Dnteh Boers
in 1OJ4. settling on the site of Fort Crailo in Greenbush and
Fort Half-McXMi below C\>lu->es Falls. Fort Crailo neii:h-
borhood in i(\>o inehided the \'an Bris, \*an Cuyler, \'an
IVnburgh, \'an Hegan. \'an IVr Heyden, \'an Ness. \'an
Staats, \'an Sehaiek, WcXMuan. He PeNster. and the Alaessen
or \'an Burmi families. The latter ran a taveni and his
grandson, Martin \'an Buren. beeame President of the
United States in i8^^7.

Fort Crailo was built sometime between 1630 and 1642.
Sheriff Albert zen Plank of Fort Orange in u\^7. and Arendt
Van Corlaer, * a cousin of patroon Kiliaen Wui Rensselaer,
negotiated, \N-itli the IMahieansae s;iehems, for the Taeonac
Liike District, twenty-four miles square, on the east bank
of the Hudson; iuid during IC4J Hendriek Albertzen ran a
ferry boat between Fort Orange and Fort Crailo neighbor-

The Patroon of Rensselaerwycl: built cottages, bams,
mills, tanneries, and breweries, and partly stocked his tenants'
farms. He required half of all increased stock, fowl, butter,
cheese, and also a certain number of days of labor to be
applied in cutting wcx^d, logs, and building roads, for the
first ten years, until the forests were cleared. After that
he demanded an annual quit-rent of two bushels of winter
wheat or com, for every one hundred acres cultivated,
averaging si 20 to • '.^

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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 8 of 41)