Hermon Camp Goodwin.

Pioneer history; or Cortland county and the border wars of New York online

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PIONEER HISTORY



OR,




CORTLAND COUNTY



AND THE



BORDBR WARS OF NEW YORK.

cf rem tbc d-arlust ^mo^ to the ^rtscnt f imr.



BY H. C. GOODWIN,

AUTHOR OF THE LIFE OF '' JOHN JACOB ASTOB," " LEGENDS OF POLAND," " THE ROSE
OF PROVINCE," ITHACA AS IT WAS, AND ITHACA AS IT IS," " EDGAR WENT-
WORTH ; A PRIZE STORY OF THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLU-
TION," " CORRESPONDING MEM. OF THE ROYAL /HISTORICAL
SOCIETY OF HAVANA, DE LA CUBA," " HON. MEM.
OP MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY,"
" CORRESPONDING MEM. STATE
HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF
WISCONSIN."



NEW YORK:
A. B. BURDICK, PUBLISHER,

No. 8 SPRUCE STREET.

1859.



Fizi



Entered according to Act of Congress, in tiie year 1855, by

DIXON & CASE,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Northern District of New York.



tDWARD 0. JENKINS,

^printer S: ^tcrrotspcr,
No. 26 Fkankfort Btkeet.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I.

Page .

Aboriginal, French, and English History, - - - 9

CHAPTER II.
Liadesay's Patent— Cherry Valley — British Oppression, - 24

CHAPTER III.

Border Wars — British Influence — Battle of Oriskany — Siege of
Fort Schuyler, - - - - - - - 36

CHAPTER IV.
Flight of St. Leger — Brant gathering his Forces— The Massacre, 44

CHAPTER V.
Sullivan's Campaign — Interesting Incidents, - - - 51

CHAPTER VI.

Pioneer Movements — Indian Reflections — Revenge — Destruc-
tion of the Mohawk Valley — Incidents, - - - 72

CHAPTER VII.

The Revolution — Its Effects Upon Emigration — Settlements —
Incidents — The Three Points from which Emigrants pene-
trated Central New York, - - - - - 87



Vlll CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VIII.

Page.
Organization of Cortland County, - - - - 94

CHAPTER IX.
Military Tract, - - - - - - 103

CHAPTER X.
Geology, Mineralogy and Meteorology, - - - - 112

CHAPTER XI.
Legend of Tioughnioga Valley, - - - 122

CHAPTER XII.
Early Settlements and Organization of Towns, - - - 132

CHAPTER XIII.

General Remarks on Early History — Past and Present com-
pared, - - - .. 273

CHAPTER XIV.
Hunting Incidents, .-. - . 307

CHAPTER XV.
Literary and Benevolent Institutions, - - - - 318

CHAPTER XVI.
Biographical Sketches, - -.-. 332

Brief Notices, - ..... 429
Conclusion, - - - - 454.



DEDICATION.



SURVIVING PIONEERS

AND THE

DESCENDANTS OF PIONEEES OF COETLAND COUNTY;

AND ESPECIALLY TO THE

VENERABLE DR. JOHN MILLER,

AND

MAJOR -GEN'L SAMUEL G. HATHEWAY,



That their future days may be happy and pleasurable as those of the past have
been arduous, honorable, and useful ; and that the evening of their lives may
draw on, gently as fades the light of day, is the sincere and devoted wish of
their friend, THE AUTHOR.



CORRESPONDENCE.

The following letter, addressed by Hon. Joseph Rey-
nolds, Prof. Hyde and others to the author of this vol-
ume, precludes the necessity of any additional prefatory

remarks :

Cortland, May 22d, 1858.

H. C. Goodwin, Esq. — Dear Sir, — The undersigned
are informed that 3^011 are now engaged in writing the
history of " Central New York," a work which will,
doubtless, be highly valued, and read with pleasure by
those familiar with the efforts jou put forth to obtain
facts relative to the early history of localities, and the
graphic manner in which you record important events.

A notice of the fact that you are still employed in
writing upon subjects which interest tlie public gene-
rally, induces us to hope that you will revise and pub-
lish in book form the history of ^'Cortland County and
the Border Wars of New York," in order that our citi-



VI CORRESPONDENCE.

zens may be able to preserve the matter which you pre-
sented to them in one of our county papers two years
since, and which proved to be highly interesting and
instructive.

We are of opinion that the work would meet with a
ready sale, and that you could not fail to secure a
worthy compensation for your labor. It is with the
hope that you may be induced to publish the history in
a more desirable form that we address you, believing
that by so doing you will perform a service ever to be
remembered by the citizens of our county.
We are, sir, yours respectfully,

Joseph Reynolds,
Horatio Ballard,
Frederick Hyde,
HiHAM Crandall,
Edwin F. Gould.



CHAPTER I.



" First in the race, that won their country's fame."

The historian is sometimes obliged to record events,
over which, if truth could be as well accommodated,
he would gladly cast the veil of forgetfulness, nor tor-
ture public sympathy with the narration of scenes that
pain even while they instruct. We pity even the ban-
ditti of Judea whom Herod's soldiers subdued ; for
lawless as they were, their women, children, and all
their hopes sank into the same ruin. But the aborigi-
nals of America come up in the annals of the past,
demanding our strongest sympathy, because their crime
was simply the accident of birth ; they were the pos-
sessors of this continent ; its untold treasure of wealth
invited the cupidity of strangers from the eastern climes,
and in their presence the proud sons of the forest of
•America have withered away. When we contemplate
our country as it is, filled with wealth and the most
wonderful improvements ; when we consider the almost
exhaustless resources, agricultural and mineral, of our
land ; and when we look upon our educated, active, and
indomitable people, with the Bible for their code, ready
to use every available and righteous means to strengthen
2



10 ABOEIGIXAL, FREXCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY.

and perpetuate the Republic, and increase its moral,
social, intellectual, and political light and liberty, we
feel that in the inscrutable providence of God, the red
man's period in time has about elapsed, and soon all
that will remain to tell that he ever existed will be the
imperfect record left by us, his exterminators.

To us, who, from this time, look back upon the events
of the past, it does not look strange that the natives
should have retired before the more powerful whites,
and that they should have made some attempts to expel
their invaders. Nor docs it appear strange, that, after
having seen the graves of their dead desecrated, their
homes made desolate, and their ancient forests laid
waste— after the apprehension had at last reached their
darkened minds that they were to be eventually exter-
minated, the}^ should have turned on their persecutors,
nerved with destruction, and armed with the desire for
'' liberty or death." S^mipathy for our countrymen who
suffered from the chafed, desperate people whose homes
we have wrested from them, and whose country we
have appropriated to our use, should never mislead us
into the supposition that the Indian of America pos-
sesses a more vindictive nature than ourselves. Could
a people as much more highly cultivated than ourselves,
as the early settlers were better informed than Indians,
approach our shores, and by friendship at first, and-
then by fraud, theft, the deceitful use of powerful exhil-
erating drinks, and finally by force of arms, get pos-
session of all our eastern cities and seaboard, would we
quietly relinquish all of our homes, and tamely bend
our necks to the conqueror's yoke ? If not, then learn
to appreciate the parallel case of the Indians.



ABOEIGINAL, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY. 11

In attempting to narrate any event of Indian warfare,
we find the most insurmountable difficulties arising,
unless we bring in the combined events that prompted
the outrage or action. The truth is, the aborigines
have no historians to record and publish to the world
the virtues, the sufferings, or the heroism of their race,
and from this fact has arisen the difficulty of presenting
the red man as he really is. As the night retires leav-
ing no trace behind, so the Indian has retired from his
country. As the day drives the night away, and then
paints a variegated dress for the landscape, so the
white man has driven away his feebler neighbor, and
left his own history.

The early settlers along the Atlantic coast had many
things to retard their progress. The woodland abounded
with game, and the rivers and creeks with fish, but the
strong desire of most of the early emigrants to become
speedily rich, prompted them to search for gold and
silver ; and when they failed in this, they commenced a
course of fraud, — capturing a native, in some instances,
and then demanding a ransom of corn, land, and skins.

As might have been expected, the settlements follow-
ing such a course were very soon reduced to abject
want. The disaffection thus generated among the In-
dians at one settlement, soon spread through nearly the
whole, and at a very early date after the settlement of
our country commenced l)y the whites, the Indians be-
came their deadly foes. After many lives, together
with much time and money, had been needlessly
expended, the New World assumed an aspect wholly
changed ; people of industry, enterprise, and morality
flocked to our shores, anxious to obtain the neces-



12 ABORIGINAL, FEENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY.

saries of life by hardy toil. The woodman's axe was
heard, and soon the busy hum of mills and machinery
mingled with the clatter of wagons, the ploughman's
song, and the lowing of herds.

The English claimed the earliest possession of this
territory, but the French, no less willing to extend their
possessions and increase their power, began a settle-
ment in the north. This led to much unpleasant feel-
ing, and at length to open collision between the settle-
ments and nations. These difficulties were all appa-
rently settled by the treaty of Utrecht, in April, 1713.
The apparent peace would have continued a permanent
adjustment undoubtedly, but for the ever restless
Jesuits. These zealots imagined that the Indians
would gladly embrace their religious dogmas, and that
the introduction of missionaries among them would
eventuate in fixing Jesuitism on a firmer and more hon-
orable basis. Prompted by such motives, this privileged
sect of the Roman See commenced their missionary
efforts among the Indians with a zeal peculiar to pro-
pagandists. The French, and especially the French
colonists, lent aid to these missionaries and their abet-
tors, who, in turn, explored the wilds, and greatly pro-
moted the interests of the French in America, and by
their glowing descriptions stimulated the desire of the
French colonists to become masters of the trade, and if
possible of the continent itself.

The fur trade presented inducements to both parties ;
and to reap a rich return from it, it became necessary
to win and retain the friendship of the Indians. The
French, prompted by their subtlety, won many Indians
in the west to their cause, and then commenced a series



ABORIGINAL, FEENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY. 13

of encroachments upon Nova Scotia in the east ; Crown
Point in the north and west ; attempted to establish a
line of fortifications, extending from the head of the St.
Lawrence to the Mississippi, and were encroaching far
upon Virginia, while the English colonists had the un-
pleasant prospect before them of being surrounded by
a belt of hostile French and Indians, closing rapidly
upon them. With this prospect clearly in view, they
commenced the most active measures to counteract the
ruin that seemed about to hurry them swiftly along the
way of the banished aborigines. Indian agents were
appointed, whose duty it was to treat with them ; to
make them valuable presents ; to redress their griev-
ances, and to act at all times as the friend of the red
man. These efforts of the English to establish amicable
relations with the Indians, were crowned with happy
results ; many individual Indians became firm friends
of the English, and eventually a majority of the tribes
were found warmly attached to the ever-conquering
English side.

Among the Indian agents. Sir William Johnson's
name stands first among those with whom we need
trace any definite connection with the incidental Indian
history of which we shall treat in future chapters.
This gentleman was for many years the Superintendent-
General of the Indians, and by his friendship and wis-
dom attached the Five Nations so closely to him, that
he exercised an almost unlimited control over them.
After the death of his amiable wife, he received to his
home "Mary Brant," sister of ''Joseph Brant,*" the

* Thayendanegea.



14 ABORIGINAL, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTOET.

celebrated captain and governor of the Six Nations,
and lived with her in the full enjoyment of that affec-
tion and fidelity consequent upon a union of minds con-
genial, and love devoutly pure. This union, so far from
being an insult to the Indians, was doubtless looked
upon as a mark of real esteem. When an Indian be-
comes a warm friend of a white man, it is no uncommon
thing for him to bring his wife, as a present, thinking,
unquestionably, that as she is most valuable to him, so
she will be most acceptable to his friend. Whether this
relationship had any tendency to tighten the cords of
confidence between him and the red men or not, we
leave the reader to judge, barely remarking, that the
influence he exerted over them was so powerful, that it
gave the controlling motion to all the subsequent events
of Indian history in this region of -country.

Sir William Johnson was born in Ireland, in the year
It 14. In 1^34 he came to this country to superintend
the estate of his uncle, Sir Peter Warren. His resi-
dence was located on the banks of the Mohawk river.
He soon ingratiated himself into the esteem and confi-
dence of the Six Nations. He studied the Indian char-
acter, became master of their language, and at particu-
lar seasons assumed their dress, invited them to his
house, and labored on all suitable occasions to extend
to them that attention and courtesy so well calculated
to impress them with peculiar reverence. He was stern
and unyielding in his disposition, yet possessed the
superior faculty of controlling his passions, and when
occasion required was conciliatory and courteous to the
unlettered aborigines of the forest.

During the French war, which broke out in 1154, he



ABORIGINAL, FEEXCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY. 15

rendered very great assistance to the provincial army.
At Lake George, where he held the post of Commander-
in-Chief, he gained a most brilliant victor}'' over the
French and Indian forces of Baron Dieskau. In honor
of this achievement, the House of Commons voted him
a bequest of £5,000 sterling. The king most graciously
favored him with the title of ''Baronet, and Superin-
tendent of Indian Affairs." Brigadier Gen. Prideaux
fell at the siege of Fort Niagara, when Sir William
assumed the office of Commander-in-Chief of the com-
bined English forces. He conducted the siege with
gallantry, compelled the Fort to surrender, and took the
garrison prisoners. Under his command were 1000
Iroquois. With these well-trained warriors, he united
with the forces of Gen. Amherst, at Oswego, in 1760,
preparatory to his expedition into Canada, closing his
distinguished military career at Montreal.

In his retirement from the bloody field of '' glorious
war," he lived like an eastern lord, supporting much of
the dignity of a nobleman.

He died in the sixtieth year of his age, and was in-
terred under the "old stone church" at Johnstown. In
1806, his remains were ''taken up and re-deposited."
He had been rather seriousl}^ wounded at Lake George,
and the ball, not having been extracted, was found in
the mingled dust of the brave old man.

We have deemed it necessary to take this brief
review of the early history of our country, that we might
be enabled to understand why the Indians of the con-
federacy, and many other tribes, adopted the cause of
the mother country during the Revolutionary struggle,
and that we may be better prepared to present a gene-



16 ABORIGINAL, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY.

ral sketch of the border wars of New York, waged for
the supremacy of soil, for power and plunder.

The most prominent language spoken by the aborigi-
nes was the Algonquin.

They believed in one Supreme God — the Great and
Good Spirit — the Maker of Heaven and Earth — the
Father and Master of life — the Creator of every animate
being. They adored him, worshiped him, and regarded
him as the author of all good. Different tribes knew
him by different names, such as Kiethan^ Wbo7iancl,
Ccmtanwoit and Mingo Ishto. He lived far away to
the warm south-west, amid perennial flowers, golden
fruit, and sweet-scented zephyrs. They saw him in the
glassy water, foaming surge, sparkling fire, in the daz-
zling sun, silvery moon, and radiant stars.

Among tliem were many gifted and eloquent orators.
Tall and majestic in appearance, with graceful attitude
and noble bearing, they united in extreme harmony
and degree both action and sentiment. Full of electri-
fying emotion, thrilling ideas, and pulsating, leaping
words, every sentence was instinct with exuberant, all-
motioned, panting life. They would fill the ear with
music, the mind with fire. Their speeches were like
streams of swift-running intellect, charmed and poetized
by the sweetest flowers and fairest thoughts.

At a very remote period in the annals of the past, the
aborigines had penetrated into different parts of the
territory, now embraced within the State ; and as early
as 1535 had erected the seat of their empire at Ganen-
Uiha, or Onondaga.

In 1600, tlie Five Confederative Nations, — the Mo-
hawks, Oncidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, —



ABORIGINAL, FKEXCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY. 17

had become very numerous and warlike. They had
gradually spread over the territory extending from the
borders of Vermont and central western New York,
from the great northern chain of lakes to the head
waters of the Ohio, the Susquehanna, and the Delaware.
The French called them the Iroquois, and the English
the Five Nations, Their war-paths extended beyond the
Connecticut, the Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The French made their first permanent settlement in
Canada during the year 1608. Governor Ohamplain was
the guiding spirit, and under his direction and efficient
action, Quebec was founded.

From 1609 to It 59, central and western New York
formed a portion of French Canada, or New France.
The St. Lawrence river and its shores had been ex-
plored by Cartier and portions of his crew, as early as
August, 1535 ; but no permanent settlement was made
previous to 1608.

The French looked upon the aborigines as a kind of
groveling beings, having few wants, desires, or thoughts
above the instinct of the brute creation, and labored to
locate them in villages, the first of which was founded
near the settlements of Montreal and Quebec. But the
general habits, customs and sentiments of the whites
were so dissimilar to those of the Indians, that the at-
tempt proved a failure. The presence of the " pale
face" tended rather to corrupt than improve the natives.
The plan was therefore abandoned, and another mode
adopted to" induce them to favor the French, while they
should exhibit their hostility to the English.

In 1608, the Iroquois, or Five Nations, were engaged
in a bloody and exterminating war with the Adiron-
2*



18 ABOEIGINAL, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTOEY.

dacks, a confederacy of the Algonqiiins. They had
been driven from their possessions and hunting grounds
around Montreal, and compelled to fly for safety to the
southern coast of Lake Ontario, but in turn they fell
upon their invaders with the ferocity of tigers, and
forced them to abandon their lands, situated above the
Three Rivers, and seek a rampart behind the straits of
Quebec.

Governor Champlain, unhappily for the colonists, and
unwisely for himself, entered into an alliance with the
Adirondacks, furnishing them with men and munitions
of war, which tended strongly to turn the current of
success. Their pomp, parade, and haughty movements,
their glittering armor and polished steel, waving plumes
and richly decorated banners, the blaze of musketry and
the roar of the deep-mouthed bellowing cannon that
flashed lightning and spouted thunder,, bewildered their
untutored minds, and sent horror and consternation
among the combined forces of the Iroquois, and they
were as a consequence defeated in several battles, and
finally driven from Canada. Undismayed, however, by
their reverses, they turned their arms against the Sata-
naus or Shawnees, defeated them, and set about a
renewal of the contest with their rival foes.

A Dutch ship had entered the Hudson river, having
on board the colonists who made a location where we
now see the city of Albany. It was an easy task to
obtain of them weapons similar to those which had been
so successfully used in their defeat and dishonor. Be-
ing now fully prepared for a more severe contest for
power, they resumed the fight with their old enemies.
Their efforts were attended with the fullest success, and



ABORIGINAL, FRENCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY. 19

the ■ Adirondacks were completely annihilated. Gov.
Champlain, too late to retrieve his mistake, learned
that he and his friends had united their fortunes with
the conquered instead of the conquerors. This action
on the part of the French originated that bitter enmity
and undying hatred which for a long period existed
between them and the Five Confederated Nations.

From this time the confederacy rapidly rose to the
first power east of the Mississippi. Their war parties
ranged from Hudson's Bay on the north to the moun-
tains of Tennessee on the south, from the Connecticut
on the east to the Mississippi on the west ; and every
nation within these vast boundaries trembled at the
name of the Akonoshioni, or united people.

During the reign of the Dutch governor, Peter Stuy-
vesant, the province of New York, in 1644, was sur-
rendered to the English, who exerted themselves to
preserve the friendl}^ feelings which were created be-
tween the Five Nations and the Dutch, through the
agency of the latter, who were so opportune in lending
that species of arms which enabled the former to con-
quer the Adirondacks, and regain their former honor,
their homes and hunting grounds. This timely aid on
the part of the Dutch, enabled the hardy German to
penetrate with safety into the Indian settlements, and
traffic with the natives. The English were successful.
They called conventions at Albany, were liberal, and
even extravagant in distributing among the Indians
munitions of war, merchandize, and various gaudy tin-
selled trappings of fancy. The French, unwilling to
see the English reap all the fame and glory derived
from Indian friei^dship, redoubled their exertions to win



20 ABORIGIXAL, FREXCH, AND ENGLISH HISTORY.

their favor and weaken their alliance with the English.
If the confederacy could be dismembered, they presumed
it an easy matter to conquer the English,

In 1665, Courcelles, Governor of Canada, dispatched
a party of the French to attack the Five Nations ; but
being unaccustomed to long and secret expeditions,
they lost their way amid the wastes of snow which
retarded their progress, benumbed their faculties, and
reduced them to a state bordering on starvation, and
finally, without knowing where they were, made a stand
at Schenectady, then but recently founded. Reduced
by cold, starvation, and the consequent results of a
rapid march, they resembled an army of beggars over
which the buzzard and vulture had hovered, and were
ready to descend and devour. The appetite of a hyena
would hardly have been satisfied with a meal from their
wasted forms. Many Indians were then in the village,
and could have easily destroyed them, and perhaps
would, had not the friendly aid of a Dutchman interfered,
by way of advice and artifice, to spare them, that they
might be the more fully prepared to meet and contend
with a stronger foe, which he contrived to make them
believe was advancing.

The French were not so anxious to instill morality
and the more noble lessons of virtue into the minds of
the savages, as they were to make allies for France.
That they partially succeeded is evident from the fact
that they induced the Caughnavvagas, in 1671, to leave
the banks of the Mohawk and locate in Canada. French
vanity, and their advantages of polite bearing, were
better calculated to influence the native, than the stiff,
overbearing pride and self-conceit of the English ; and



Online LibraryHermon Camp GoodwinPioneer history; or Cortland county and the border wars of New York → online text (page 1 of 30)