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county, whether occupied by the Algonquins in prehistoric times or
later by Iroquoian tribes or their dependants, were never very
large or very important, with the possible exception of one or

While, as I have stated, the prehistoric relics outnumber the
historic, yet in many cases we find Iroquoian relics of historic
times overlaying and intermingling with the earlier, thus indicat-
ing successive occupations to a degree at least.

Possibly the most important and noteworthy prehistoric site
in Otsego county is the one between the Schenevus creek and the
Susquehanna river near Colliers. This covers from ten to fifteen
acres, but even here relics of historic times are found, showing two
occupations. This site may have been the Towanoendalough men-
tioned by Rev. Gideon Hawley in 1753. This was the first Mo-
hawk town on the Susquehanna. Towanendadon is shown on the
New Hampshire grants map as a tract of land south of Otsego
lake and near the Charlotte. It also shows a place by the same
name, which is probably the Mohawk town mentioned by Hawley.


This narrative of Hawley's journey is very interesting. He
came from Schoharie by way of an Indian trail. He describes
the village as follows : ' ' Towanoendalough has three wigwams and
about thirty souls; it was three days' journey from Onoquaga."
On June 1, 1753, Hawley went on, one party by land and one by
water, neither party meeting until they arrived at Wauteghe (this
being at or near the present village of Otsego) "at which place,"
says Hawley, "had been an Indian village where were a few fruit
trees and considerable cleared land but no inhabitants." On June
3d, ' ' Today we embarked and proceeded down the river, and about
noon passed a considerable village, some families of which were the
Houssatunnuk Indians and of the same language with the Stock-
bridge tribe." Again speaking of what is obviously the Unadilla
river he says, * ' at this place from the N. W. rolls into the Susque-
hanna, a river which is navigable with canoes a day's journey.
Its name is Teyonadelhough. "

An Indian village was located on the south side of the Sus-
quehanna just westerly of the Ad-a-quag-ti-na or Charlotte river
upon what is now known as the Slade farm and the old Murphy

The Indian village at the mouth of the Adiga (Otego) creek
I have already mentioned as described by Hawley. There was an-
other Indian village just east of the junction of the Unadilla river
and the Susquehanna river. Later this village became quite
famous, or rather notorious, from being the base of operations for
Brant and his Indians and Tories during the Revolutionary War,
being later destroyed by William Butler.

Practically all these villages were of minor importance and
had entered into decay or ceased to exist before the Revolutionary
War. We have many historic records which point to this conclu-

In 1763 Sir William Johnson made a statement of the con-
federacies with the names, numbers and situation of the nations.
The Mohawks had 160 men and two villages on this river, with
some emigrants at Schoharie. The Oneidas had two villages; one
twenty-five miles from Fort Stanwix and the other twelve miles
west of Oneida lake with emigrants in several places toward the
Susquehanna. The Tuscaroras had several small villages about


the Susquehanna. The Nanticokes and others were southern In-
dians removed to the Susquehanna and subject to the six nations,
many of the Iroquoians having no fixed residence.

At this time the towns on the Susquehanna had quite a mixed
population. In September 1763 a Nanticoke chief brought mes-
sages to Philadelphia from the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, Delawares and
Munseys living at Onohquagey; Nanticokes, Conoys, Onondagoes
and Mohickons at Chenango; Cayuga and Munsies at Chokenote.

On the 26th of September 1746, the Captains Staats and Vro-
men brought the Indians living on the branches of the Susque-
hanna before the commissioners at Albany. Colden gives an ac-
count of the meeting as follows : ' ' The reason for his excellency 's
speaking to them in this manner was because these nations living
on the Susquehanna river and its branches are known to be de-
pendents of the Six Nations." They answered and said: "We
live at Ohquago; we have not been properly taken notice of; our
settlements are scattering and some of them at a great distance
from others; we know several roads that lead to Canada; we want
to see the hatchet that we may take it up." They also stated at
this time that they would go round to all the Indian settlements
to invite them into the war against the French and their Indians.
They had no doubts but that they could bring 600 men from the
settlements on the Susquehanna river and its branches. The num-
her, however, that came at this time from the Susquehanna river
consisted of only ahout sixty men.

Halsey says the Indian population of the upper Susquehanna
valley was centered in small villages. It was never large. Apple
orchards had been planted, small clearings had been made but
otherwise there was no trace that men had dwelt or were dwelling
there. This is accounted for in several ways. In the first place
the Algonquins, Delawares or other kindred tribes who occupied
the present territory comprising Otsego county, used it as a hunt-
ing and fishing country, for this country was particularly noted
for its good hunting. The historian Fiske in his book "The Dutch
and Quaker Colonies in America," says that "the Susquehan-
nocks after a long and desperate struggle with the Iroquois finally
succumed in 1675, left their old hunting grounds and wandered
southward into Maryland and Virginia." Later this region be-
came the favorite hunting grounds of the Mohawks who used it


much in the same way that their predecessors had. Never for the
most part permanently occupying any one site but using a tem-
porary camping site on the bank of some convenient stream or near
some copious spring, doubtless in a great many instances on the
same favorite , location of their predecessors. Morgan, in his
League of the Iroquois, says "parties of the Onondagas descended
the Chenango to the Susquehanna, . . . the Oneidas for the
fall himt descending the Unadilla, the Mohawks leaving their val-
ley found well-stocked hunting grounds upon the headwaters of
the Delaware and Susquehanna."

Each year the}- made hunting trips, marching to places at a
distance from their habitations. Here they constructed temporary
erections and encamped. Their wives and children usually accom-
panied them. The parties commonly consisted of from 20 to 100
men. The season was the latter part of autumn and the forepart
of winter. In hunting the deer they would build fires in a circle.
They were also accustomed to make clearings by burnings in order
that the deer would be attracted by the young, tender, second
growth which followed. This accounts for some of the early
burned clearings seen by the first white men. They also made
fishing excursions in somewhat the same manner as the hunting
trips. This accounts for the presence of numerous net sinkers
and temporary camps on the banks of our lakes and streams. In
the second place, after the defeat of the various tribes on the upper
waters of the Susquehanna, this territory remained vacant by
common consent as a hunting ground and in a way neutral terri-

If there had been any large village or collection of Indians
permanently at Otsego lake or in this county, Hawley, Kirkland,
Munroe, Smith, Oel, Moor, Freeman, Dellius, Barclay, Andrews
or some of them would certainly as missionaries mentioned the fact
or would have come here to establish a mission in historic times.
However, we find them at Ohquaga, Canajoharie, Fort Orange,
Oneida and other parts. We find that in 1764, on account of the
food supplj' being limited, a small mission was opened at Otsego
lake, according to Halsey, into which was put as a teacher a Mo-
hawk boy named Moses, educated at Lebanon. The Rev. C. J.
Smith in a letter to Mr. Wheelock states that "he expects this


school will he much larger when it comes to Oghwaga, as there are
hut a few here."

Again those assiduous and zealous workers for the greater
glory of Christ, the Jesuits, as we all know, almost contemporane-
ously with the earliest discoveries began to work with the Indians.
We find in their relations records of their having penetrated to
very many parts of New York State. Indeed Father Jogues, whom
Parkman calls one of the purest examplers of Roman Catholic
virtue which the western world has seen, may have visited the
present site of the village of Cooperstown, although no absolute
proof of this can be found. We find them describing Indian vil-
lage after Indian village, the location of which has been ascer-
tained with a reasonable degree of accuracy. But nowhere have
I been able to find accounts of Indian villages within the present
limits of Otsego county. Why not, if large or important villages
were here?

This territory in Otsego county was the principal highway for
the expeditions of the Iroquois southward and was probably the
scene of many bloody encounters. Situated as it is on the great
southern trail or the great Susquehanna trail it witnessed the
passing of many painted bands of warriors during the long war-
fare between the Iroquois and the Andastes and other enemies of
this dreaded nation. This great trail led from Tioga northward,
there being a trail on either bank. The one on the north side
passed through Owego and Binghamton and at Unadilla inter-
sected the Oneida trail, which led from the headwaters of the
Unadilla river to the Susquehanna. Passing on up the river it
led to Otsego lake. Cherry Valley and on to Canajoharie on the

The principal trails in Otsego county as given by McCauley
were: (1) Canajoharie to Schoharie; (2) Canajoharie or Fort
Plain to Otsego lake; (3) Nowadaga to Otsego lake; (4) German
Flats to Schuyler lake, which forked in Warren, the left fork lead-
ing to Otsego lake; (5) from Otsego lake to Ohquaga; (6) from
Cherry Valley to Springfield; (7) from Cherry Valley to the Sus-
quehanna river by way of the Cherry Valley creek; (8) path down
the Unadilla. Doubtless there were other smaller trails leading
up to the smaller streams, as the Butternuts, Otego, Wharton and
others. On aU these trails in Otsego county camp sites are found


with more or less numerous relics, some being entirely prehistoric
in character.

As soon as the white man came the great motif was the fur
trade. We find the Susquehanna valley visited in 1614 or 1615 by
a Dutchman named Kleynties, who with a comrade went down the
Susquehanna from Otsego lake. A visit to the headwaters of the
Susquehanna and from thence to its mouth was made by Etienne
Brule in 1615. The purpose of his visit had been to secure the
promised aid of 500 Andastes warriors as allies for Champlaia's
attack on the Iroquois. The allies did not reach Champlain in
time so he was forced to retreat. On finding him gone, Brule re-
turned to the Susquehanna and later made the trip down the Sus-
quehanna to the sea. He was later killed by Hurous.

Mcllwain in. his editing of Wraxall's adbidgement of the New
York Indian records 1678-1751 says that "few subjects are more
important in the history of colonial North America than the Indian
trade and the preservation of the balance against the French by
means of it." WraxaU himself says: "To preserve the balance
between us and the French is the great principle of the modern
Indian politics."

It would seem then, in the face of the fact that the early
records of the Dutch, the French and the English are full of ac-
counts of this trade with the Indians, the situation of the various
trading posts and the location of the various villages and tribes
being given with more or less exactness and particularly, that had
there been any large Indian villages in Otsego county they would
have been mentioned and more would have been said about trad-
ing posts within the present limits of the county. I do find that
Crogan erected a log hut or shed at the present site of the village
of Cooperstown, which is said to have been erected for "greater
convenience in trading with the Indians." A trading post was
recommended for Ohquaga and in 1744 Sir William Johnson
erected a log block house 36 by 24 feet, Antone, an Oneida chief,
giving him a square mile of land in connection with it. This block
house was burned by William Butler in 1778. The reason for the
erection of this post was because it was said "the Indians are more
inclined to go there."

That the Iroquois laid claim to the Susquehanna valley in
early historic times is evidenced by a speech made at Albany on


August 2, 1684, by the Onondaga and Cayuga sachems to Col.
Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York. "We have put all our
land and our persons under the protection of the Great Duke of
York, brother to your Mighty Sachem. The Susquehanna river,
which is won by our sweat, we have given to this government ; and
we desire it may be a branch of that great tree which is planted
here whose top reaches to the sun and under whose branches we
shelter ourselves from the French or any other enemy. Our fire
burns in your houses and your fire in ours and we desire it may
ever so continue. We will not consent that the Great Penn's peo-
ple should settle on the Susquehanna river; our young warriors
are like the wolves of the forest as you, Great Sachem of Virginia,
know, besides we have no other land to leave to our wives and
children, we have submitted ourselves to the Great Sachem
Charles who liveth on the other side of the Great Lake and we now
give you in token thereof two white buckskins to be sent to him,
that he may write and put a great red seal thereto, that we put
under the protection of the Great Duke of York, the Susquehanna
river above the AVasaghta or Falls together with all the rest of our
lands and to no one else." In another speech on August 5, 1684,
the Senecas refer to the fact that the other nations from the Mo-
hawks to the Cayugas having given up to the government of New
York, the Susquehanna river "they do confirm the same."

To sum it all up, the result of my study and investigation
has led me to believe that the aboriginal occupation of Otsego
county in prehistoric times was never large at any one period nor
was that of the Iroquois in historic times ; that the occupation of
this county in prehistoric times was by successive tribes of the Al-
gonquin family; that the Lenni Lenapes or Delawares at one time
owned and occupied it, and the Satanas or Swanees were also early
occupants; that the Iroquois, the successors of the Algonquins,
never had much to do with Otsego county until historic times;
that the occupation of this county by both Algonquin and Iroquois
was mainly temporary in character, such as fishing and hunting
camps; that the villages, with very few exceptions, were of minor

As to the numerous sites, village or camp, in Otsego county,
I can do no better than to refer to that admirable work by Wil-
liam Beauchamp, "Aboriginal Occupation of New York," where


most of the sites are listed. There are many which have been dis-
covered to my knowledge since then, but it is not my purpose to
weary you with their recital. A minor correction of the camp
listed No. 26 by Beauchamp should be made. The farm is the
Mather farm instead of the Matlin farm. Near this site the past
summer a beautifully worked steatite monitor or platform pipe
was found, evidently of Algonquin origin.

It merely remains to discuss the oft-repeated inquiry as to
whether there was an Indian village at the present site of Coopers-
town. Undoubtedly, and to my mind beyond question, there was.
Cooper in his Chronicles of Cooperstown says there was. The
first settlers found relics in great abundance. Clearings had been
made and apple trees of large size were found. There is of course
the reputed mound on the east side of the Susquehanna near its
source and on land belonging to Mr. Stephen C. Clark. This
mound I am informed by reliable authority is filled with the bones
of Indians. When the new tennis courts at Fernleigh were built
a short time ago it is reported that the skeletons of two Indians
were dug up. Arrow heads and other relics have been found by
the basketful on both sides of the river. Stone mortars and pes-
tles have been found in many instances. However, the best proof
has been found this summer during the construction of the sewer
across Mr. Clark's land on the west side of the Susquehanna just
below the greenhouses at Fernleigh. There seems to have been two
sites quite close together. Veiy numerous relics have been turned
op. On making independent diggings near the edge of the bank
we have found ash pits and mingling in these ash pits innumer-
able flint chips and .broken or perfect articles, deer antlers and
many bones either of deer or bear; also broken pieces of Algon-
quin pottery and bird stones. The color of the soil for some depth
is of that unmistakable black loam which the investigator quickly
learns to recognize. The whole thing points to the fact that here
was a village site. It is Algonquin in character. Probably cir-
cular dwellings or small huts w^ere built rather than the long
house of the Iroquois. However, copper implements as well as
traders' beads, etc., have been found, showing that there has been
a historic occupation as well. One of the interesting finds was a
cache of flint stones of disk shape hidden below the surface of the
ground to a depth of five or six feet. There were upwards of a


bushel of these. These were located just below the site of the
village. Another interesting find which caused some speculation
was a pewter pipe having on its sides the Masonic insignia of the
square and compasses.

Partial Bibliography

Baker, Harry. Various papers.

Bartram, John. Observations on a Journey from Pennsylvania to Canada.

Beauchamp, William. Aboriginal Place Names in New York.

Blakely. A History of Otsego.

Bloomfield, J. K. The Oneidas.

Buell, Augustus C. Sir William Johnson.

Campbell, William W. Annals of Tryon County.

Clinton Manuscripts.

Colden, Cadwallader. History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada.

Converse, Harriet M. Iroquois Myths and Legends.

Cooper, James Fenimore. Chronicles of Cooperstown.

Cusick, David. Sketches of Ancient History of the Six Nations.

David Petersen de Vrie's Third Voyage to North America; in New York

Historical Society's Transactions, ser. 2, vol. 3.
de Charlevoix, P. F. X. History and General Description of New Fraiice
De Laet, Johann. The New World.
Documentary History of New York.
Everts & Farris. Otsego County History.
Fiske, John. The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America.
Greenhalgh's Journey, 1677.
Halsey, Francis W. Tour of Four Great Rivers.

The Old New York Frontier.

Hawley, Gideon. Rev. Gideon Hawley's Journey to Oghquaga, 1753.

Lahontan, Louis A. New Voyages to North America.

Livermore, S. T. History of Cooperstown.

Macau ley, James. The Natural, Statistical and Civil History of the

State of New York.
Megapolensis, John. Treatise on the Mohawks.
Miller, John. The Province and City of New York in 1695.
Morgan, Lewis H. League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois.
New York Colonial Documents.
Parkman, Francis. Pioneers of France in the New World.

■ The Jesuits in North America.

Pearson, Jonathan. Early Records of Albany.

History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and

English Times.

Perkins, Julia A. Early Times on the Susquehanna.

Schoolcraft, H. R. Notes on the Iroquois.

Shaw, Samuel M, History of Cooperstown.

Simms, Jeptha R. The Frontiersman of New York.

Sir William Johnson Papers.

Smith, William. History of the Late Province of New York from Its

Discovery to 1762.
Stone, William L. Life of Joseph Brant.

Life and Times of Sir William Johnson.

Thwaites, R. G., ed. Jesuit Relations.




Van den Bogaert, Harman M. Journal of a Journey into the Mohawk

and Oneida Country.
Van Der Donck, Adrian. Description of New Netherland.
Williams, Sherman. New York's Part in History.
Wraxall, Peter. An Abridgment of the Indian Affairs ... in the

Colony of New York.
Various early maps.



It may be worth remembering that John Peter Zenger's
formula in addressing his "subscribers and benefactors" on a
momentous journalistic occasion in the eighteenth century was not
the familiar sequence "Ladies and Gentlemen," The way Zenger
put it was, "Gentlemen, Ladies and Others."

Ladies and Gentlemen: Instead of traversing historical
ground that has been covered adequately, I am going to ask you
to tolerate a somewhat desultory attempt to link the colonial be-
ginnings with the more recent past and the present in the matter
of editorial fashions.

With regard to this impolite Zenger, the second New York
printer and the so-called Father of the freedom of the American
press, Mr, Livingston Rutherford has left little of real interest
to be said. For the records of Zenger's predecessors, contem-
poraries and successors in all the colonies we resort with complete
satisfaction to the pages of the invaluable Isaiah Thomas. The
framework of essential facts has been systematically constructed
by Dr. Simon Newton Dexter North, of Clinton, Utica and Wash-
ington, in his indispensable monograph contributed to the Tenth
United States Census, And from Benjamin Harris's Puhlick Oc-
currences of September 25, 1690 (a Boston news sheet intended
to be of monthly appearance but suppressed after its first number
by the colonial authorities for unlicensed candor) the continuous
story down to the death of Greeley in 1872 has been told by
Frederic Hudson, the titular historian of American Journalism;
but told, I am bound to add, in so sleazy, uncritical and often
grievously inaccurate a manner that the inviting field of the
nineteenth century is still open for definite treatment.

In surveying the now yellow but then quite decently white
products of the presses of the First Comers, the easiest thing in


the world and about the most inexpensive sort of intellectual
triumph for modera professional self-complacency is to set one of
these little four-page goslings of stout, flexible and well-nigh ever-
lasting linen rag paper alongside last Sunday's mammoth of clay
and pulp ; pretentious in magnitude, fair, if spotty, of counten-
ance, but doomed so soon to crumble into the junk with all the
news and headlines and halftones and alleged thought it carries;
and, making the obvious comparison, to exclaim: "Behold the dif-
ference! Look here at miserable little Lilliput and here at mag-
nificent Brobdingnag with its sixteen supplements. Do you re-
quire any better evidence of the evolution of the editorial mind
during the last hundred or hundred and fifteen years?"

Progress there has been, indeed ; stupendous improvement not
only in the processes of mechanical production but also in the or-
ganization of method in the art of news collection, in the re-
sources of presentation, in the constantly widening perception of
what the multitudinous newspaper reader wants to read; and,
consequently, in the perfection of the composite. But because of
the primitive conditions obtaining in Lilliput in respect of non-
essentials and the superficial gains exhibited by Brobdingnag as
having been accomplished in a century or a century and a half of
effort and experience, I think we are too prone to picture the
colonial journalists as workmen of rudimentary capacity, strug-
gling along in a fog, as it were, on a much lower level of mental

Therefore, please join me in recognizing and giving due im-
portance to the fact that while the twentieth century American
newspaper is the lucky inheritor of the results cf a long course of
experimenting, the possessor and beneficiary of a continually grow-
ing bequest of technical method accumulated and handed down
•from period to period, there has been absolutely no improvement,

Online LibraryNew York State Historical Association. MeetingProceedings of the New York State Historical Association : ... annual meeting with constitution and by-laws and list of members (Volume 21) → online text (page 11 of 31)