Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

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forward with a brigade, did not got in motion from Albany
until Montcalm was in sight of Oswego, and was met on
his way up the Blohawk by an express bringing news of
the surrender of Oswego, with all its garrison, stores, guns,
etc., and the shipping on Lake Ontario, which took place
on the 14th of August, after an investment of three days.
Colonel Mercer was killed during the siege.

As soon as the news reached Albany, Lord London
ordered Sir William Johnson to march to the assistance. of
Colonel AVebb. It appears that the latter ofiicer had pro-
ceeded as far as the carrying-place, where he cut down
the timber along Wood Creek to obstruct the passage, and
when he heard of the surrender of Oswego he set fire to
Fort Williams and fled in haste towards Albany.f It was
in perfect keeping with what we know of his character. In
August, 1757, he was stationed at Fort William Henry, at
the south end of Lake George, and when he heard of Mont-
calm's approach, with a powerful army, he sneaked from the
fortress and hurried to Fort Edward, about fifteen miles
away, on the Hudson, where he remained at the head of a
British force of 4000 men, and when importuned by the
brave Scotsman, Colonel Munro, for a.s.sistance, he deliber-
ately sent him a note advising him to make the best terms
be could with the marquis. At this day he appears in the
character of a poltroon, and is rarely spoken of save with
the same contempt with which Americans invariably asso-
ciate the names of Arnold and Hull. Had the English
nation remained in the incompetent hands which, in 1757,
threatened to sacrifice their whole empire in America, and
Montcalm had been furnished with the necessary troops,
there is little doubt but Loudon and Abercrombie and
Webb would have fled ingloriously on board the English
ships, and the French armies would have marched from
Lake Champlain to Boston and New York.J

In June, 1757, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, was
placed at the head of the British ministry, competent gen-
erals were put in the command of the army, and from this
time the spirits of the English people revived, and their
cause began to brighten. But we are anticipating.

In 1757, as before stated, Fort William Henry, at the

+ It is claimed that Colonel Webb had positive orders from the Earl
of Loudon to destroy this fort.

X In April, 1757, Sir William Johnson, with a force of 2000 men,
encamped fifteen days at the German Flats, in anticipation of an
;ittack.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



51



south end of Lake George, was tiikeii by Moiitealm, and
tlie close of the year found the French masters of the
Ohio River at Fort Duquesne, of the great lakes at Oswego
and Niagara, and the route from Luke Ghamplain to the
Hudson at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

The carrying-place of Oneida remained unoccupied, after
the destruction of Fort Williams by the pusillanimous
AVebb, until the summer of 1758, when General John
Stanwix was sent with a body of troops to rebuild a
thorough work. This was accomplished during the sea.son,
and the fort was named, in compliment to its builder, Furt
tStanwix.* It stood on the east part of what is now block
twelve in the first ward of the city of Rome, bounded by
Dominick, Liberty, James, and Spring Streets. It w;is
about 300 yards distant from the Mohawk River, as it now
runs. Forts Craven and Williams were about 500 yards
i'arthcr down the river.

CAPTURE OF THE GERMAN FLATS, NOVEMBER, 1757.

We will now go back a little in order to give an account
of another inroad into the Mohawk Valley. Early in No-
vember, 1757, M. de Bellestre, with 300 men, marines,
Canadians, and Indians, left Montreal, and moved up the St.
Lawrence and Lake Ontario to Riviire tX la Famine, which
is variously supposed to mean both Black and Salmon
Rivers, and thence to Chotuiguen, and up the Oswego
River four leagues, and thence by land to the vicinity of
Oneida Lake. (It is probable that they left their boats and
canoes on the Oswego River and marched to the north of
Oneida Lake.) On the 11th of November this party
cros.sed the river Curtcm- ( Mohawk) in water up to the
neck, and encamped for the night five miles above the upper
fort (Fort Kmiari, or Herkimer), that protected the Pala-
tine settlements. On the 12th they attacked and captured
five forts (probably block-houses) and the village of German
Flats, all of which were destroyed. Fort Herkimer, which
was reported to have had a garrison of 350 men, was not
attacked, probably because the dutaLlmient had no artillery.

About 40 of the inhabitants were killed and 150 taken
prisoners. The destruction of property was immense,
though greatly overrated by the French commander. The
settlement was rich and flouriohing. The painful results
of this attack might, to a great extent at least, have been
avoided had the people of the valley paid heed to infor-
mation of the enemy's advance, which was sent them by
the friendly Oneidas fifteen days before the attack. The
entire settlements were laid waste, the grain and provisions
were all destroyed, and the stock killed or driven away.

The French began their return march on the 13tli, and
escaped unmolested with their booty and prisoners to
Canada. A few days subsequent to this affair. Sir William
Johnson dispatched George Croghan, Esq., with JMr, Jlon-
tour as interpreter, who held a council with the Oiicidaa at
the German Flas, at which the facts concerning the catas-
trophe were elicited. At this council a chief named Co-



'•' (rcnoriil Stanwix, during tlic years l7-j'J-6fl, aNo built Fort Pitt
at what is now Pittsburgh, Pii. lie filleJ many hiinurable posilions
under his government, and was lost with his fauiilj at sea, while
crossing from Dublin, Ireland, to Holyhead, in I>. ci inbev, 1706.
[/'ctniHi/h-ania Itnjiifer.']



vaffh-qiii-e-soii was the principal speaker for the Oiieulas.
This was the last raid made by the French into the valley
of the Mohawk, and from this time until the opening of
the American Revolution it was comparatively undisturbed
by the din of war, except that various expeditions destined
against the French in Canada passed through its borders.

It is said that in 1737 Schenectady, or C/ieiiecterIi,con-
tained 300 houses. The valley was sparsely settled as far
as the German Flats, and the total number of its arms-
bearing population was given at nine companies. About
the first of July, 1758, General Abercrombie moved
towards Lake George with an army variously stated at from
15,000 to 18,000 men, composed of nearly equal propor-
tions of English regulars and American troops. Colonel
Bradstreet had asked permission to lead a force via Oswego
to Frontenae, which was known to be but indiiferently gar-
risoned, but the general refused. On the 8th of July
occurred the memorable defeat of the Anglo-American
army by Montcalm, at the head (according to French
accounts) of 2992 men, in the lines of Carillon (Ticon-
deroga).

BRADSTREET's EXPEDITION.

Smith, in his history of the colony, vol. ii. page 2G6,
gives the following account of Bradstreet's expedition against
Frontenae :

" Lieutenant-Colonel Brad.street., impatient at this dis-
grace,"!' and hoping nothing from a general who, while he
calumniated his army as broken-spirited, discovered that he
wanted firmness himself, urged an attempt upon Frontenae.
He was sent to Oswego in 1755, was there again in 1756, and
had entered into Shirley's^ views of the importance of com-
manding the waters of Ontario, and offered his services
to conduct the enterprise. Abercrombie gave him a de-
tachment of 3000 men ; he rather flew than inarched
with them through that long route from Lake George to
Albany, and thence again up the stream of the Mohawk
River, then across the portage, down the Wood Creek to
the lake of the Oneidas, and the rapids of the Onondaga
to Oswego. Thence he pushed his open boats into the sea
of Ontario, traversing the southeastern coast from point to
point, till he crassed the St. Lawrence and surprised the
garrison at Frontenae. He invested it, took it, burnt an
immense magazine for the supply of the interior depend-
encies, and in twenty-four days after, having destroyed
the vessels on the lake, returned to assist in securing the
important pass in the country of the Oneidas, which Mr.
Webb had the year before [two years] abandoned to the in-
timidation of all the six Indian tribes. But either by the
fatigueof these vigorous exertions, or the bad quality of the
waters of Wood Creek [and the Mohawk River], we lost
500 men of this detachment, a great part of whom were
levies of this colony. "§

Hon. Pomeroy Jones, in his excellent compilation,

•f The defeat of the army.

J Governor Shirley, of Massaehusetts. Colonel Bradstreet was it
native-born American.

g It is stated in the Documentary Iliatory that an Onciiht chief,
Kiii'd't-ttni-ta, was killed by the French, or their Indians, near Fort
Stauwi.\.



52



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



" Annals of Oneida County," gives the following summary
of Bradstreet's army :

" The force commanded by Colonel Bradstreet, and which
marched against Frontenae [now Kingston], left Lake
George early in August and proceeded to Albany, and from
thence ascending the Mohawk, rendezvoused at Fort Stan-
wix, consisted of the following troops: Regulars, 135;
Royal Artillery, 30 ; New York Provincials, 1112 ; Massa-
chusetts Provincials, 675 ; New Jersey Provincials, 412 ;
Rhode Island Provincials, 318 ; bateau-men, 300 ; Rangers,
60 ; in all, 3042. The regulars were commanded by Captain
Ogilvie, and the artillery by Lieutenant Brown. The New
York troops consisted of two detachments ; the first, com-
manded by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Clinton, of Ulster,
amounted to 440 men, under Captains Ogdon, of West-
chester, Peter Dubois, of New York, Samuel Bladgley, of
Dutchess, and Daniel Wright, of Queens. The second was
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Corse, of Queens,
and Major Nathaniel WoodhuU, of Suffolk, and amounted to
672 men, under Captains Elias Hand, of Suffolk, Richard
Hewlet, of Queens, Thomas Arrowsmith, of Richmond, Wil-
liam Humphrey, of Dutchess, Ebenezer Seeley, of Ulster,
and Peter Yates and Goosen Van Schaik, of xilbany.

" The troops left Fort Stanwix on the 14th of August,
and thence moved down Wood Creek, through Oneida Lake
to Oswego, down Lake Ontario and across the St. Lawrence
in open boats, and arrived and landed within a mile of
Frontenae on the 25th. Colonel Corse, who had distin-
guished himself in three preceding campaigns, volunteered
with a part of his detachment to erect a battery, in the
nijiht of the 26th, in the midst of the enemy's fire, and
which in the morning commanded their fort, and led to an
immediate surrender. The commander of the fort was
afterwards exchanged for Colonel Peter Schuyler, who was
taken at Oswego, and while a pri.soner had rendered much
service to the English prisoners in Canada."

On the whole, the events of the year 1758, notwithstand-
ing the defeat of General Abcrcrombie, were considered as
of vast importance to the English cause. Louisburg, Fron-
tenae, and Duquesne were taken, and a strong work was con-
structed at the Oneida carrying-place, and Lieutenant-
Governor Delaney congratulated the New York Assembly
upon the improved prospects of the colony.

The influence of the new prime minister (Lord Cliatham)
soon began to be felt, and immense preparations were made
for the reduction of Canada. A powerful British force was
raised, and the colonics were required to supplement it with
a levy of at least 20,(100 men, of which the colony of New
York was to furnish 2680 as her quota.

Three grand expeditions were planned for the campaign
of 1759 : one, under General Prideaux and Sir William
Johnson, of 2200 men, against Niagara ; one of 12,000 men,
under Sir Jeffrey Amherst (commander-in-chief), against
the forts on Lake Chaiuplain and Montreal ; and a third
under General James Wolfe, of 8000 men, aided by a pow-
erful fleet, against the stronghold of Quebec.

The army destined to reduce Niagara, which was strongly
fortified and garrisoned with about 600 men, under M. Pou-
chot, a captain of the French regiment of Beam, and an
accomplished engineer, consisted of 2200 men, and a strong



force of Indians under Sir Wm. Johnson, which joined the
main army at Oswego.* This force invested Niagara in the
beginning of July. A few days subsequently General
Prideaux was accidentally killed by the premature dis-
charge of a cohorn,"!' and Sir Wm. Johnson succeeded to
the command, and pressed the siege with great vigor.
Captain Pouchot made a gallant defense, and M, de Au-
brey hastily collected a force of French and Indians from
the posts at Detroit, on the Ohio, and the Illinois, and made
a determined attempt to raise the siege ; but his motley
army was completely overthrown by Sir Wm. Johnson on
the 24th of July, and on the 25th the fort, having become
untenable, was surrendered.

Amherst advanced and carried all before him on Lake
Champlain, where the French blew up and abandoned their
works, and retired to Isle Aux Noix, at the outlet of the
lake. Wolfe was finally successful after many trials at
Quebec, and the fall of 1759 left the French with only
Blontveal, Fort Levis, below Ogdensburg, and a small area
of country around Montreal in their possession.

After the fall of Quebec, General Amherst, who had ad-
vanced as far as Isle Aux Noix, fell back to Crown Point,
where his army constructed the immense fortification whose
ruins are still to be .seen.

A small work was erected on the site of Utica in 1758,
and in 1759 forts and block-houses were erected at Oswego,
at the Oswego Falls, at the outlet of Oneida Lake, and one
called the Royal Block-House, at the east end of Oneida
Lake. The fort at Oswego was a pentagon, with bomb-
proofs and ca.semates, a ditch 35 feet broad, and a magazine
capable of storing 1000 barrels of powder. It was garri-
soned by 9 companies of troops, and there were several
small armed vessels on the lake, carrying altogether 20
guns. The fort at Utica was a small earthwork, and stood,
according to Jones, between JIain Street and the river, a
little below Seeund Street. iMr. Jones also states that a
small block-house was erected during the Revolution, which
stood upon the site of the old Utica and Schenectady Rail-
way depot, and was occupied by Moses Bagg, Sr., as a
blacksmith-shop for some time between the years 1790 and
1800.

The fort was named Fort Schuyler, in honor of Colonel
Peter Schuyler, a prominent officer of the New York troops.J
After the close of the French war it ceased to be of impor-
tance, and was suffered to go to ruin. It was generally
known as old Fort Schuyler in contradistinction to Fort
Stanwix, at Rome, which, for a tune, during the Revolu-
tion, was called Fort Schuyler, in honor of General Philip
Schuyler. The work erected a short distance below Oneida
Lake, on its outlet, was known as Fort Brewerton. It is
stated in the " Documentary History," vii. 577, that permis-
sion was obtained from the Indians to erect these works on



■■■'With this ai-niy was Thitij-eti-dan-c-fjatt (Joseph Brant), the young
Miihiiwk chief.

f A small cannon.

X There is souie uncertainty as to the relationship between Colonel
Peter Schuyler and General Philip Pehiiylcr. By most writers Col-
onel Peter is called the iiiic(c of General Philip; but Praith, in his
history of the colony (vol. ii. pa^ge SI) speaks of Colonel Philip
Schuyler as " the son of the celebrated Peter." There may have been
two of each name.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



53



condition that they should be demolished at the close of the
French w;ir. (Sir Wm. Johnson to the Lords of Trade,
Nov. 13, 1763.) A Frenchman, probably an officer, trav-
eled from Chouaguen (Oswego), as a secret agent or spy,
to Schenectady, in 1757. He kept a diary of his journey,
which he called his " Itinerary," from Avhioh we make a
few extracts as given by Mr. Jones in his " Annals," com-
mencing at Fort Williams :

" Leaving Fort Williams, there is a road that unites with
that by which horses and cattle pass from Fort Kouari
(Herkimer), opposite the mouth of the West Canada Creek,
and Clioiutguen. This road is bad for about four leagues
after leaving Fort Williams. The country is marshy. Car-
riages (fe trains) travel it in winter and during the summer,
and it can easily be passed on horseback at all times, though
in some places there is a great deal of mud. After these
four leagues, carts can easily go as far as Fort Kouari.
Having traveled four leagues on this road, which is five
leagues from Fort Kouari, we come to the forks of two
roads, one of which, to the left, leads to the Palatine's
village (Herkimer) by fording the Mohawk River."* He
says, '' Leaving Fort Williams and taking the path on
the north side of the Mohawk is estimated to be 12 leagues"
(meaning probably to Little Falls). " This path leads over
hills and small mountains, and can be traveled only afoot or
on horseb;ick. Eight leagues must be traversed by this
path before reaching the fork of the high road that cunics
from the other side or right bank of the river."

The spring of 1700 witnessed the passage of General
Amherst's army up to the valley of the Mohawk for the
final campaign against the French. Tlie force, which con-
sisted of -iUUO Engli-sh regulars and COUO provincials, left
Albany and Schenectady on the 12th of June, and made
their tedious way up the Jlohawk, poling their bateaux,
heavily loaded with provisions, munitions of war, and siege-
artillery, and arrived at Oswego about the 1st of July.
About the last of the month (JOO Iraquins Indians, under
Sir William Johnson, joined the army, and the number was
shortly augmented to 1300. Among the prominent men
connected with this expedition, and who passed along the
valley of the Mohawk, were General Amherst, the com-
nmnder-in-chief, afterwards Sir Jefi'rey Amherst ; General
Thomas Gage, afterwards the eomniandur of the British
forces in Boston at the commencement of the Revolution,
and Governor of the colony ; Colonel Haldimand, subse-
quently Governor-General of the Canadas ; Sir William
Johnson, superintendent of Indian affairs ; General John
Brad.street, the hero of Fort Frontenac ; Israel Putnam,
then a lieutenant-colonel, and others.

Three armies converged upon Montreal: -Iniherst's,
from Oswego ; Wolfe's, under General Murray, from Que-
bec; and a strong force by way of Lake Chaniplain. Fort
Levis on Oraconenton Island, below Ogdensburg, was sur-
rendered on the 2.Kh of August; Montreal, early in Sep-
tember, and the conquest of Canada was complete.

From the conquest of Canada, in 17ii0, to the spring of
1776 the forts in the valley of the Mohawk were mostly
unoccupied, and were generally in a ruinous condition at the

*This ford was undoubtedly near the foot of Genesee Strcetj Utica.
He makes no mention of a fort at this place.



commencement of the Revolution. Sir William Johnson,
in a letter to Sir J. Amherst, of Aug. 25, 1763, speaks of
Fort Stanwix as having n very weak garrison. In a letter
replying, Amherst advises Sir William to call for a guard
for his house from Fort Stanwix. It was then spoken of
as a trading station by General Amherst, who considered it
far enough advanced in the Indian country. Nov. 13 of
the same year, Sir William recommends that an interpreter
and a smith be sent to the fort. General Gage, in a letter
to Earl Shelburno, of May 27, 1767, recommends the
abandonment of Fort Stanwix on the ground of economy.
He proposes to withdraw the garrison and grant the place
to au old half-pay officer, on condition that he shall take
care of the buildings and return everything to the Crown
when required ; and, in consideration of a small salary, he
shall take charge of all stores destined for the lakes, and
assist in transporting them over the carrying-place. f It is
probable that the work was abandoned as a. military post
soon after the latter date.

From the date of the erection of the twelve original
counties, Nov. 1, 1683, the central, northern, and western
portions of the colony had been included within the bounds
of the county of Albany, up to March 12, 1772, when the
A.ssembly erected a new county from Albany, and gave it
the name of Tryon, in honor of William Tryon, the last
royal Governor. At the commencement of the troubles
which culminated in the war of the Revolution, all the
western portions of the colony formed parts of Tryon
County.



CHAPTER VIL

LAND TITLES.



Eavly (j rants and Patients — Cc.'isions l)y the Six Nations — State Grants
— Grants and Sales by tlic Oneida Indians.

ORISKANY PATENT.

The earliest transaction in the lands lying within the
limits of Oneida County was probably in the year 1705,
during the reign of Queen Anne of England, when a tract
lying in the central part of the county, and containing over
30,000 acres, was granted to Thomas Wenham and others.
The map accompanying this chapter shows the shape and
outlines of this tract, from which it appears that it covered
portions of the present towns of Rome, Floyd, Marcy,
Whitestown, and Westmoreland.

The following description was prepared by D. E. Wager,
Esq., of Rome, and is undoubtedly the best that has ever
been given to the public. Mr. Wager has evidently taken
"•reat pains to make the research complete :

" Tkf ' Currying- FUice — Oriahiny Patent. — It has been
stated that the first mention of the site of Rome in any
written documentwas in a petition of the merchants of
New York City to the Assembly in 1724, reference being
therein made to ' the carrying-place between the Mohawk
River and the river [Wood Creek] that runs into Oneida
Lake.' But nineteen years previous to this, in 1705, it is
mentioned in the document describing the Oriskany Patent,

t Doc. Uist., vii. 085.



54



HISTOEY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



so called. This patent was originally supposed to contain
30,000 acres, and was granted April 18, 1705, by the colo-
nial Governor (and with the consent of the King* of Eng-
land) to Thomas Wenham, George Clarke, Peter Schuyler,
Roger Mompesson, and Peter Faucconnier. The land is
described in two parcels, — one two miles wide on each side
of Oiiskany Creek, oomnienoing at its mouth and running
southward, and the other, two miles wide on each side of
the Mohawk, also beginning at the mouth of Oriskany
Creek, and extending up the river. These parcels are
described in the following manner, to wit;

" ' That certain piece of land and woodland situate, lying,
and being on both sides of the creek called Ochreskennie,
beginning where it runs into the Mohawk or Scheneotada
River, and runs up the said creek on both sides four English
miles, and buck into the woods on each side two English
miles.

" ' Also, another parcel of land and woodland, situate, lying,
and being on both sides of said Mohawk or Schenectada
River, beginning where said creek runs into said river, and
up said river the depth of two English miles on each
•side to the Oneida Carrying-Place, where the path begins,
and along the .said path the same depth into the woods on
each side, to a certain swamp called Cannigoticka ; with all
woods, underwoods, trees, timbers, feedings, pastures, mead-
ows, marshes, swamps, ponds, pools, waters, water-courses,
rivers, rivulets, runs, and streams of water.'

" The pidh mentioned in the patent began not far from
the bend in the Mohawk, near where the New York Cen-
tral Railway bi'idge crosses that stream, and ran up what is
now Dominick Street, in Rome, to Wood Creek, and thence
on to Fort Bull, keeping nearer to Wood Creek than is the
present highway to West Rome. The ' swamp called Can-
nigoticka' was the one just west of Rome, where Fort Bull
was subsequently erected.

" At the period of the breaking out of the Revolution the
one-fifth interest which Peter Schuyler owned in the patent
had passed to and was owned by William Livingston and
Alida Hoflfnian ; the one-fifth originally owned by Roger
Mompesson was the property of A. Van Cortlandt ; the
Peter Faucconnier one-fifth belonged to James De Lancy ;
and the other two-fifths were held by the heirs or claimants
of the original patentees, Thomas Wenham and George
Clarke.

" James De Lancy was a Tory, and performed active ser-
vice in the king's behalf during the war, while the other
owners of the patent sided with the colonists. In October,
1779, an act was passed by the Legislature of the State of
Nevv York declaring James De Lancy and some fifty-eight



Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 13 of 192)