Austin Wells Holden.

A history of the town of Queensbury, in the state of New York, with biographical sketches of many of its distinguished men, and some account of the aborigines of northern New York online

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Online LibraryAustin Wells HoldenA history of the town of Queensbury, in the state of New York, with biographical sketches of many of its distinguished men, and some account of the aborigines of northern New York → online text (page 1 of 56)
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By A; W.^ HOLDEN, M.D.

' Therefore to us that have taken upon us this painful labor of abridginq


n Maccabees, ii, 26, 27.

ALBANY, N. T. :'
















Glen's Falls,

Christmas, 1873.



^HE historian is the seer looking backward. My
friend, Dr. Holden, has long held this office. For
many years, his visions of y^ olden times in
Queensbury and vicinity, have placed him far in
advance of any other person, as authority on all events of
our local history. He almost sees the fish that used to
swim in the waters that once covered our plains, and the
icebergs depositing their freights of boulders along the
mountain shores. He is never lonesome in his professional
rides ; he moves amid Indian encampments, and along In-
dian trails ; now he marches with an English, and now
with an American or French army. Here he says was
the ambush, there was the battle, and a little further on
was the massacre. He is acquainted with all the first
settlers of the town. Dear dweller in these parts, the
doctor knows your great grandfather well ; he can tell
you where he was born, whom he married, where he built
his hut, and where his bones now rest. Read this book,
it will open your eyes, as the eyes of Elisha's servant were
opened, to see on every hillside and rood of sand, now so
dull and dead, the teeming life that has moved here and
dwelt here. It will make every spot new to you, and full
of interest ; you will see the town prospering, the village
growing, enterprise increasing, the churches thriving. I
rejoice that the era, so long waited for, has at length
come, when this history, which has cost years of earnest



research, which is so critical and authentic, and which will
leave so little on this field to be undertaken by any one
hereafter, is about to fall into our hands in type. It is ■
just what we have needed ; and the author is entitled to
our lasting gratitude. I am sure that no intelligent na-
tive of this town, or permanent inhabitant, can wisely do
without this book.

Glen's Falls,

December 10, 1873.


^^fj^ll HANKS and acknowledgements are due to many
who have contributed facts and material for this
work, which have not been easily accessible to
the author ; and also to those who have aided by
their assistance and sympathy in the undertaking. Among
the names to be thus credited are those of E. B. O'Calla-
ghan, LL. D., Dr. Franklin B. Hough, the late Asahel
"Wing, Esq., Hiram Ferguson, Zabina Ellis, Fred. A. Hol-
den, Hon. James Gibson, Dr. Asa Fitch, George Brown,
Dr. James Cromwell, Daniel Parks, Esq., Rev. S. B. Bost-
wick, D.D., the late John J. Harris, and Joel Munsell, Esq.
In regard to the sources from which the material of the
historic narrative has been derived, all the standard his-
tories, and biographies bearing upon the subject, have been
consulted and compared. Credits and references have
been given only in a limited number of instances, and
those chiefly where the account has varied from the com-
monly received version. The Documentary and Colonial
Histories of New York have been the sources from which
the greater portion of the work relating to the French war-
has been compiled. This has been supplemented by in-
formation derived from such rare works as Hoyt's Anti-
quarian Researches, Pouchot's Memoirs, Kip's Jesuit
Missions, Anbury's Travels, Memoirs of an American
Lady, Carver's Travels, Rogers's Journal, Memoirs of John
Stark, Dwight's Travels, Fitch's Historical Survey of
Washington County, etc., etc.

Finally, while entire accuracy may not in all instances
have been attained, yet truthfulness has been aimed at,


with whatever sacrifice of sensation or effect it may have
been reached, tradition and legend having a subordinate,
though an important place in the relation. With a modest
hope that the reader may derive as much pleasure in its
perusal, as the author has in its compilation, this volume
is now committed to the press.

Glen's Falls.

Christmas-tide. 1873.





Aboriginal Occupation — Arch^ological Relics — Mohicans —


Francis Tribe — Legend op the Blind Rock — Father Paul.

[T the time of its almost simultaneous discovery by
Samuel Champlain, and Henry Hudson, the territory
of Northern New York, was the debatable ground of
two powerful savage confederacies, the Adirondack
at the north, and the Iroquois at the south. At the same time,
on its eastern borders dwelt the Schaghticokes and a few scat-
tered remnants of their affiliated tribes, which once held their
council iires at Albany, and ruled this region with undisputed
sovereignty from the sources to the mouth of the Hudson.

Comprised within the limits of the great triangle, bounded
by Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence, Hudson, and Mohawk
rivers, was a vast reach of table laud, amid whose tangle of
streams and lakes, majestic mountain peaks and rugged
ranges, endless swamps and illimitable forests, thronged and
herded the elk, moose and deer ; their coverts and recesses af-
forded range and security for the lurking wolf and the stealthy
panther, the prowling bear and the subtle lynx. The pursuit
of these was the red man's labor and recreation. The products
of the chase furnished his food and raiment ; its attainment and
success constituted his wealth and distinction. These were the
loved and frequented hunting grounds of the aborigines, and, as
tradition informs us, the scene of many a sanguinary struggle
for supremacy, which thiimed the warrior ranks, and opened up
a pathway of conquest to the descendants of the hardy Viking,
the sturdy Saxon, and the gallant Celt.



T^he evidences of these conflicts are found imbedded along the
banks of every stream, and beneath the soil of every carrying
place from Albany to Montreal. Arrow and spear-heada, knives,
hatchets, gouges, chisels, amulets and calumets, are, even to
this late day, often found in the furrow of the plowman or the
excavation of the laborer. Few localities have furnished a
more abundant yield of these relics than the soil of Queensbury.
While gun flints and bullets, spear heads and arrow points are
found broadcast, and at large through the town, there are places
abounding with them. Among the most noteworthy of these
may be enumerated " the old Bill Harris's camp ground," in
Harrisena, the headlands around Van Wormer's, Harris's, and
Dunham's bays on Lake George, the Round pond near the
Oneida, the Ridge, the vicinity of the Long pond, the
banks of the meadow run and Carman's neck at the open-
ing of the Big bend. This last was long noted as a run-
way for deer and traditions are handed down of grand hunting
frolics at this point, where large quantities of game were hunted
and driven within the bend, and while a small detachment of
hunters served to prevent their retreat, the imprisoned game,
reluctant to take the water down the precipitous blufls, was
captured or killed at their leisure. At this point, and also in
the neighborhood of Long pond, fragments of Indian pottery,
and culinary utensils of stone, have been found in such profu-
sion, as to give coloring to the conjecture that large numbers of
the natives may have resorted to these attractive spots, for a
summer residence and camping ground. The old wilderness
trails, and military thoroughfares, the neighborhood of block
houses, picket posts, garrison grounds, and battle fields, in ad-
dition to their Lidian antiquities have yieided many evidences
of civilized warfare, in their harvests of bullets and bomb shells,
buttons, buckles, bayonets, battered muskets and broken swords,
axes and tomahawks of steel ; chain, and grape shot, coins, cob-
money and broken crockery. Such relics are often valuable
as the silent witnesses to the truth of tradition, and the verifi-
cation of history.

The eastern part of New York, at a period long anterior to
the Iroquois ascendency, was occupied by a tribe variously
known as the Ma-hick-an-ders, Muh-hea-kan-news, Mo-hea-
cans, and Wa-ra-na-wan-kongs. The territory subject to their
domination and occupancy, extended from the Connecticut to


the Hudson as far north as the southern extremity of Lake
George. According to Schoolcraft, these Indians were among
the tribes of the Algonquin stock. At the period of their
greatest power, their national council lire was held on the ground
now covered by the city of Albany, which was then known to
them by the name of Pem-pot-a-wut-hut, signifying the fire
place of the nation. The word Muh-ha-a-kuu-uuck, from
which the word Mohican is derived, means a great water
or sea that is constantly in motion, either flowing or ebbing."
Their traditions state that they originally came from a country
very far to the west, where they lived in towns by the side of a
great sea. In consequence of a famine, they were forced to
leave their homes, and seek a new dwelling place far away to
the east. They, with the cognate tribes of Manhattans, Pequots,
ISTarragan setts and Nipmucks, occupied the whole peninsula of
ISTew England from the Penobscot to Long Island sound. The
Brotherton community, and the Stockbridge tribe, now con-
stitute the sole remnant of this once numerous people. Pre-
vious to the establishment of the Dutch colonies in this state,
the Mohicans had been driven eastwardly by the Iroquois, and,
at the time of their first intercourse with the whites, were found
in a state of tributary alliance with that fierce people. The
early attachment which was formed with the first English colo-
nists of Connecticut by the politic Mohicans, no doubt contri-
buted in a great measure to their preservation during the
harassing wars which prevailed through the colonial peninsula
for the first fifty years of its settlement.

The Schaghticoke Indians received their name from the lo-
cality where they dwelt, derived, according to Spaffbrd, from the
Indian term Scaugh-wank, signifying a sand slide. To this, the
Dutch added the terminal, cook. The evidences of the early
Dutch occupancy, exist to day, in the current names of the tri-
butaries of the Hudson as far up as Fort Edward creek. The
settlement of this tribe was seated on the Hoosick river not far
from the town now bearing the same name. The hunting
grounds of this vicinity, as far north as Lake George, for many
years after the first white man had erected his rude habitation
within this disputed border, were occupied by theSchaghticokes,
under permission of the Mohawks, who owned the lauds, and
with whom they were upon friendly terms.


Their numbers, at all times small, were greatly diminished
about the year 1745, when a large portion of the tribe aban-
doned the village, and proceeded to Canada, where they united
with the tribes in the French interest. Their subsequent agency
in the destruction of the settlements at Hoosick, Saratoga, and
Lydius's mills gives a fearful importance to their history in
connection with the border annals of Northern New York. By
a reference to the proceedings of a council on Indian affairs
held at Albany in 1754, it will be seen that the River Indians
were usually present at the treaties and councils of the Six na-
tions, and had a voice in their deliberations.* On this occasion,
the reply of the Schaghticoke Indians, to the address of the
governor and council, represents their numbers as small, and
their representatives as young and inexperienced.

The Algonquin nation, which, at the time of Cartier's first
voyage of discovery in 1534, occupied in its affiliations, alli-
ances and dependencies, the whole extent of country, border-
ing upon the great lakes, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the
Red river of the north, according to their traditions once occu-
pied all the valley of the Lakes George and Champlain, as far
westward as the St. Lawrence river and Lake Ontario. From
these pleasant hunting grounds, after years of struggle and dis-
comfiture, they were finally driven to the north-west by their pow-
erful antagonists, the Iroquois, who in derision conferred upon
the tribe the name of Adirondacks, signifying literally, a peo-
ple who eat the bark of trees. The term Algonquin was one which
was subsequently applied by the French to a particular class
of that tribe, whose descendants are now settled in the vicinity
of the lake of two mountains, Canada West. The earlier, and
proper name by which this great family was known, was the
Nipercerinians. They were finally amalgamated with the Caugh-
nawagas, and fragments of other tribes, after many vicissitudes
and reverses, and united in a civil jurisdiction, under the name
of The Seven Nations of Canada. They were superior to the
Iroquois in arts and attainments, and, at the culmination of
their power had not only assumed in their relations to the
neighboring tribes an attitude of commanding power, alike
respected for its counsels, and feared for its strength, but had
reached a point of civilization and polish scarcely equalled

' Doc. Hist. N. T., vol. ii, p. 572.


by any of the tribes nortb of the dominions of the ancient

The Lenni-Lenape, Shawanese, Chippewas, Ottowas, "Winne-
bagoes, Illini, nearly all of the New England tribes, including
the Warapanoags, Pequots, Narragansetts, and Mohicans, had
their origin, according to their common traditions, in this pro-
lific stock. They were a mild, industrious, and brave people,
scrupulous in fulfilling their promises, trustworthy, and honor-
able according to the Indian code ; but comparatively effemi-
nate, being neither so skilled in stratagem, fierce and relentless
in war, eloquent in debate, nor politic and sagacious in council,
as their hardier and more warlike neighbors at the south.
Through the instrumentality of the earlier French navigators,
who, from the outset of their intercourse with the people, had
supplied them with fire-arms, and ammunition, a temporary
success attended their warlike efforts; but the Dutch at the
south, and the English colonists at the east, soon placed their
hereditary enemies on an equal footing, and slowly, yet surely,
they were expelled and driven beyond the mighty current of
the Hochelaga.

The traditions of this people state, that they originally came
from a foreign country far to the north-west. They represented
the Creator under the allegory of a large bird, and the order of
the Creation in their legends, nearly corresponds with the Mosaic
cosmogony. Like the majority of the Alleghanian tribes, they
retain an account of the deluge, the waters of which covered
the whole earth, except the summits of the highest mountains,
whither their ancestors retreated, and remained in safety. They
all believe in a Supreme Being, a future state of existence, a
sensual paradise, and a state of punishment or retribution re-
sembling that of Tantalus in the Grecian mythology. They
also believe that in the beginning, the Great Spirit created an
antagonistic power of evil, with which he is ever contending for
the mastery. The sun stands to them as the representative and
symbol of the Great Spirit, and is said by their medicine men
to have been worshipped as such by their ancestors. They hold,
also, the belief in the existence of minor spirits and powers both
of darkness and light, such as furies, gnomes, and sylphs, water-
sprites, genii and personal angels which attend every individual
in the character of guardians and defenders. Their customs
and worship are based upon supernatural observances; and


though their traditions speak of sacrificial offerings, their
religious rites, since the days of the discovery, are but a little
more than a series of superstitious mummeries, which scarcely
impose on the credulity of the uneducated savage.

Though, beyond a doubt, the warriors and hunters of this
tribe once ranged the forests and hill sides of this township, in
pursuit of foe and game, yet they have left no monuments of
their occupancy, and the story of Adirondack greatness and
renown, can only be surmised from the chant of the crooning
squaw, or the relation of the half-blood borderer amid the dark
firs and icy air of the far northern wilderness.

"We now come to the consideration of the Six I^Tations, which,
in point of prowess, power, and the extent of domain, may be
considered as the first, and most important nationality among
the red men of North America, unless we make a single excep-
tion in favor of the Nahuatlac tribes of the Mexican peninsula.

On the authority of Schoolcraft, who has probably made
more thorough investigations in relation to the archseology of
this people, than any other writer, the term Iroquois, by which
they are commonly designated, is of French origin, and is de-
rived from an affirmative ejaculation or response, usually made
by their warriors and sachems, on the reception of an address
or speech. They were known to the Dutch as the Maquas, to
the early English settlers, as the Mingoes, to the Mohicans as
the Meugwe, and to the Algonquins as the ISTodowas. Although,
from time to time in the progress of their history, we hear of
various tribes joining this confederacy, yet the order of their
nationality soon became lost in the ascendancy of the original
tribes. Thus, the ISTecariages who joined them in 1723, the
Messasauges who were admitted as a seventh nation in 1746, as
also the remnant of, the Stockbridge tribe, which was annexed
to them at a later day, soon lost their individuality, and the
United People, as the Iroquois called themselves, continued to
be designated by friend and foe as the Six nations.

According to their own traditions, they originally consisted
of seven nations, which, at a later period, were merged in six.
This number they clung to as a distinguishing feature of their
nationality up to the period when its existence was obliterated,
and the brave descendants of many generations of warriors,
became pensioners upon the stinted and parsimonious charity
of the whites.


The territory over which the Iroquois held sway, extended at
different times, aud more especially at the epoch of the esta-
blishment of the Dutch rule in this state, from the Connecticut
to the Mississippi rivers; but their settlements proper, includ-
ing their castles, villages, and cultivated grounds, were limited
to the interior and south-western portion of New York, stretch-
ing westwardly from the valley of the Mohawk to the lake of the
Eries. This section they figuratively called their long-house,
the eastern door of which at Albany, was guarded by the Mo-
hawks, and the western entrance was secured with equal vigil-
ance by the Seuecas. Prior to the occupation of Canada by the
French, the Six nations had no villages or permanent settle-
ments north of the valley of the Mohawk ; although they claim
to have had villages upon the banks of the St. Lawrence at a
very early period in their history.

Respecting their origin, their traditions are various and con-
flictins:. One of their own writers claims that their ancestors
were called forth from the bowels of a mountain by Tar-en-ya-
wag-on, or the Holder of the Heavens. Their relations gene-
rally agree in the statement that they originally migrated from
a country far to the south-west, and had continued their progress
to the sea, from whence they retraced their steps, and settled
by tribes in the order in which they were discovered by the
whites as follows, viz : commencing with the Mohawks on the
east, next came the Oneidas, the Onondagas, Cayugas and
Seuecas. The Tuscaroras, who became members of the confed-
eracy at a later day, had their seat between the Oneidas and
Onondagas. It is conjectured that of these groups, the Mohawk
was the parent stock, from which the other clans were derived.
This tribe was known as the elder brother among them, and
it always commanded a prominent place and consideration in
the councils of the league. Its territorial jurisdiction included
that portion of Eastern New York which extends from the
sources of the Delaware and Susquehanna to Lake Champlain
and the St. Lawrence.

The Oneidas were an offshoot from the Onondagas. Ac-
cording to their own myth, they were the offspring of the once
celebrated Oneida stone in the town of Stockbridge, Madison
county. The name signifies, the people who sprang from the
stone. They were called younger brothers by the rest of the


The Onondagas. or people of the swamp, asserted that their
lands were the first settled, and their chief villasje as the long
established capital of the federation. They claimed their origin
from an eminence near the falls on the Oswego river.

The Cayugas, who were settled around the fertile and plea-
sant borders of the Cayuga lake, occupied a distinguished
place in the history of the Iroquois. They also are conjectured
to have sprung from the Onondagas, migrating at an early
period, and planting themselves in the lovely region, over which
they held undisputed sway for upwards of two centuries.

The Senecas, or, as they termed themselves, Nundowaga, the
people of the hills, were the most numerous of the six cantons.
They have a legend, that they descended from a couple who
dwelt on a hill, at the head of Canandaigua lake. Their
name, though coincident with that of the great Roman poet
and philosopher, is believed to be of Mohawk derivation, and
its use has been traced to within fi:ve years of Hudson's first
discovery. They contributed more than either of the tribes to
the extension of the Iroquois dominions, and their war parties
were the scourge and terror of all the tribes from the great lakes
to the Gulf of Mexico.

It is impossible, at this late day, to determine w^ith any accu-
racy the date at which the Iroquois federation was adopted.
That it took place as early as the discovery of this continent
may be justly inferred from the few gleams of truth to be
derived from their wampum belts and picture annals. Accord-
ing to tradition, their compact was formed on the banks of the
Onondaga lake, a powerful and influential chief by the name
Thannowaga having not only originated the idea, but pushed it
forward to a successful accomplishment. Whatever specula-
tions may be hazarded in relation to this vague point, it is
certain, from their prowess and achievements, that they had
long been banded together for purposes of mutual aid and co-
operation long before the whites mingled in their dusky coun-
cils, or added the weapons of civilized life to the fierce passions,
and untamed energy of the savage state. From their legends
we learn of the total extinction of a tribe called the Allegrha-
nians at a period indefinitely remote in their history. At a later
date, the Eries, a powerful nation, dwelling on the shores of
the lake which bears their name, were overwhelmed, and their
national existence blotted out. The Kahkwas were obliterated


from the catalogue of forest nations. The Susquehannocks
were annihilated.

The Satanas were whirled before them like the thistle down
before the tempest, and their identity forever lost. The Hu-
rons, Wyandots and Quatoghies, were driven from their hunt-
ing grounds, and scattered in isolated hamlets among the islands
and peninsulas of the far lakes, where they alone found safety

Online LibraryAustin Wells HoldenA history of the town of Queensbury, in the state of New York, with biographical sketches of many of its distinguished men, and some account of the aborigines of northern New York → online text (page 1 of 56)