Villages of the Town of Canajoharie

The passages below were transcribed by volunteer Bonnie Monahan from the classic The History of Montgomery County and Fulton Counties, N.Y., by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878.


BOWMAN'S CREEK was about forty years the local name of a district in the southern part of the town, four or five miles in extent, through which in an easterly direction courses the Canajoharie creek, the stream being called Bowman's creek at this locality, after Jacob Bowman, an early settler, who about 1760 bought a large tract about its head-waters. This for a number of years was quite a business part of the town, and its first post office was named Bowman's Creek. A number of Mr. Bowman's numerous descendants reside in the neighborhood.

BUEL is the name which this post office took about 1830, and a little hamlet has since been known by that name. Its first remembered settlers, who went there about the beginning of this century, were John Bowman, Benjamin Button, an eccentric and ingenious blacksmith, with the strength of a giant and the courage of a mastiff; Hon. Peter Walrath, Benoni Bullock, a close-communion Baptist preacher; Michael Hickey, Frederick Weller, Audolph Walrath, Richard Horning, Cornelius Flint, James Smith, Noah Dodge, a justice of the peace; James Adsit, Daniel McDonald, Asa Kimball, whose place was afterward known as the Milligan farm; Adam Brown, and his son Peter, who was a merchant; Doctor Conklin, who died by falling into a kettle of boiling potash; William Bartlett, a tanner, and John Seeber, Esq., who was one of the earliest inn-keepers. He is believed to have sold out to Peter Brown and the latter to Henry Garlock, who was succeeded by his brother John Garlock, who at one time was running a grist mill and a distillery, enabling him to supply his table and his bar. The post office is believed to have been kept at Garlock's when its name was changed to Buel, in honor of Jesse Buel of Albany, then a prominent agriculturist of the State. Near this place a deaf and dumb asylum was established in 1823, which for a time had some success, but whose pupils at the end of a dozen years were removed to New York.

AMES, so called in honor of Fisher Ames, is a hamlet with a post office, in the same valley, between two and three miles east of Buel, and was at one period quite a business place. A post office was erected not long after the name of Buel was given to the Bowman's Creek office.

The first settler in the town of Canajoharie as now defined is believed to have been a man named Taylor, who cleared off some thirty-five acres half a mile south of the village of Ames, planted apple trees and built a small house of logs, with a roof of bark. When the locality began to be settled, he, having no title, had to leave his clearing. Where he came from and where he went to is unknown. He had a son called Harry Taylor, who is remembered by aged people now living as having wandered about bareheaded, though generally having two or three hats hanging to a bundle which he carried. He would spend the day beside some stream, fishing for horned dace, and at night beg a lodging on a kitchen floor and a bite of food after the family had eaten. When asked why he carried hats but wore none he would say he had lost his head (which in one sense seemed true enough) and was waiting for one to grow on.

Early in 1796 a Free Will Baptist church organization was removed to Ames (where some of the members lived, including the minister, Elder George Elliott) from a point several miles west, where it was established in 1794.

The following were the original members: Rufus Morris, William Hubbs, Jessee Benjamin, Philip Bonsteci, Ray Gulles, Nathan Richmond, Peter Frederick, Samuel Baley, Stephen Smith, Ephraim Elmer, Jonathan Elliott, Rufus Elliott, Jonah Phelps, Henry Rowland, Joseph Elliott, Jacob Elliott, Job Wood, John Thomas, Thomas Tallman, Benjamin Treadway, Stephen Howard, David Warner, Matthew Nealey, Isaac Elliott, Hendrick Pemberton, John Hodge jr., Alexander Hubbs, Gideon Elliott, Gerard Hubbs, Jonathan Parks, Stephen Griffeth, Samuel Allen, James Marvin, John Baley, Richard Kimball, Jonathan White, William Griffeth, Abiram Skeel, Jonathan Wheton, Elisha Daniels, Oliver Bartholomew, Reuben Hodge, Clemens Griffith, John Hodge, Sen., Daniel Marvin, John Bishop, John Jackson, Azariah Peck, Solomon Scipie, Orlando Mack, Simeon Perberton, James Marvin, jun., Samuel Hubbs, Isaac Van Alstine and 54 females, wives, sisters and daughters of the above.

Among the number, as a relic of Puritanism, is the name of "Thankful Lord." Their first meeting house was erected a mile east of where the village of Ames is situated. The society has had a successful continuance, never being without a pastor. A new church was built in 1832 at Ames, and the society organized under the statute as the "Ames Free Baptist Church," with Jeremiah R. Slark, John Bennett, Luther Taylor, Simon D. Kittle, Willard R. Wheeler, and Lawrence Beach, as trustees.

The following is a list of its pastors: George Elliott, A. Nichols, Thomas Tallman, E. Eastman, David R. McElfresh, O. F. Moulton, Phips W. Lake, G. P. Ramsey, R. Dick, William H. Waldrose, A. Bullock, J. M. Crandall, and S. F. Mathews.

Prominent among the early citizens here were Dr. Simeon Marcy, Joseph Jessup, his brother-in-law; Rufus and Charles Morris, brothers, the latter being the father of Commodore Charles Morris, of the war of 1812; Judge Phineas Randall, father of the late Governor Alexander Randall, of Wisconsin; Ira Beach, an inn-keeper; Frederick Mills, William and Squire Hills, brothers; Abial Bingham, Seth Wetmore, the first Sheriff of Montgomery county elected by the people under the Revised Statutes; three brothers, Abram, Isaac and Jacob Hodge; Gen. John Keyes, father of the eccentric Zach. Keyes, long a tavern keeper in Sharon; Ebenezer Hibbard, sen., who, with Keyes, on locating, bought a thousand acres of land; John Russell, George Mills, who had a large tannery; two or three Whites, one of them Asahel, a hatter, who sold out to Asahel Hawley, the latter afterward removing to Canajoharie; and another Abijah, who was the first surveyor in the town; one Benton, who owned a grist mill on the creek; Ebenezer Tillotson, Jabin Welch, a spinning-wheel maker; Charles Powell, Reuben Hodge, Rice Beach, a silversmith; John Schuyler, Lebbeus Kimball, Billings Hodge, Guy Darrow, Joseph Wood, James Marvin, Daniel Latimer, Elder George Elliott and Jonah Phelps. Joel White was the first white child born at Ames. Russel and Mills were the first merchants at Ames, beginning business about 1800.

Mrs. Electa Bryars, who was found at her loom weaving as lively as a middle aged lady, says that in her mother's time the neighbors would live six weeks in succession without bread, subsisting on potatoes, butter and salt. Barns were so scarce that grain had to be hauled many miles to be threshed; hence farmers put off the job until they had finished sowing their winter grain, living without breadstuffs rather than lose the time necessary for threshing. Mrs. Bryars was married in petticoat and short gown, and Mr. Bryars in linen pantaloons; neither wore shoes or stockings.

Phelps Button, of Ames, says his grandfather, Jonah Phelps, cleared the place where Button lives, and that he used to carry his grist on his back two miles and a half to Sharon Springs. He made the first payment ($10.) on his place by burning potash. Mr. Button's great-grandfather, Benjamin Button, was in the war of the Revolution five years, and died, aged eighty-eight. Being granted a furlough of three days while in the army he went home, walking seventy miles between sunrise and sunset, staid one day and returned to his regiment the next.

John Van Epps, grandfather of R. L. Wessels of Ames, was in the Revolutionary war. He was taken prisoner by the Indians and held by them for three years. When captured he was on his way to a neighbor's with some money which his father owed the latter. He had time to hide the money at the foot of a certain gate-post, where, on his return, he looked for it, to find only the pocketbook. He then enlisted as a captain. George Harring, the grandfather of Mr. Wessels, once incurred the hatred of an Indian at Fort Plain by throwing mud in his face. The insulted savage was afterward caught trying to shoot Harring, was driven off and never seen again. Most of the pioneer settlers at Buel and Ames were New England men, but the order of their coming to this town has not been preserved. About 1797, a grist-mill, a saw-mill and a wheelwright's shop were set in operation. A pottery and nail factory followed, while as yet there was no communication with other settlements, except a trail to Canajoharie.

SPROUT BROOK is the name of a small village with a post-office a mile to the westward of Buel, near which place Justus Van Deusen has an establishment for the manufacture of woolen yarn.

MAPLETOWN, a hamlet three or four miles southeast of Canajoharie village, is a place of some interest. Here as early as 1791, Jacob Ehle and James Knox, his brother-in-law, located, paying for their lands $2.62 1/2 per acre. Mr. Ehle built his house on the old Indian trail from Canajoharie to New Dorlach; and in clearing near his dwelling he left all the promising hard maple trees, which sugar-bush gave the place its name. Mr. Knox was for years an efficient supervisor of the town, and for a long time a popular justice of the peace; so conscientious was he, and so little did he covet the fees of the office, that he made it a rule to notify defendants before issuing a summons; hence his legal business did not enrich him. During the war of 1812, there were thirteen justices in the town, made such by the council of appointment, and eleven constables chosen by the people; it is not to be presumed that any of them depended on the avails of their offices for a livelihood. Mr. Knox's oldest son, the late General John Jay Knox, of Augusta, Oneida county, was one of the best and most widely known men in central New York. His brother William remained upon the homestead and died there, while his brothers Herman and James went to Illinois, and there made their mark. Other pioneer settlers at Mapletown were John St. John, Philander Barnes, Wessel Cornue, John Sweatman, a tanner and shoemaker; John Perrigs and Elisha Payton. A Reformed church was built at this place near the beginning of the present century and Domine Toll, if not its first pastor, was one of the earliest.

MARSHVILLE is a hamlet near the center of the town. Here the first extensive saw-mill in the town was built at an early day by one of the Seebers. Stephen and Henry Garlock subsequently bought the property and operated the mill successfully for several years. At this place one Joe Carley did the horse and ox shoeing for a large circle of country, being near the main route to Cherry Valley. Carley was alive after the war of 1812, and about the shinplaster period. Some sheep having been stolen from Mr. Goertner, a wealthy farmer in the vicinity, the thief was traced to a dwelling near by, where bones and horns were found under the floor. Shortly after manuscript shinplasters appeared purporting to be issued by "the Muttonville Bank," signed by "Joe Carley, President," and "payable in good merchantable mutton." Hence the name of Muttonville, by which the little hamlet is still sometimes called. George Waffy, an apprentice of Carley, bought him out and carried on the blacksmith business until his death, when he was succeeded by his son.


All pioneer settlements, not abandoned in the Revolution, made some provision for their security in the hour of peril. This usually consisted of a palisaded dwelling, a stone one being preferred if favorably located. Such defences were dignified by the title of forts. There were several in this town, the most prominent of which is still standing on the east side of the creek in Canajoharie. This was of stone, and was during the Revolution known as the Philip Van Alstine, and fifty years later as the John H. Moyer place. It became known when fortified as Fort Rensselaer.

A mile or two southeast from this, on the Mapletown road, and a mile from the creek, resided John Ehle, whose house was palisaded and called Fort Ehle. A little distance from this place, in 1780, or 1781, a party of enemy under Brant surprised and killed Adam Eights and captured Nathan Foster and Conrad Fritcher, who were taken as prisoners to Canada, enduring their share of suffering. Lieut. Cornelius Van Evera and ensign John Van Evera were on duty in and around Fort Ehle.

French's Gazetteer of the State says that a fort one hundred feet square was erected at Canajoharie at an early day as one of the chain of fortifications guarding the route to Oswego. This is an error. The fort referred to was at the upper or Canajoharie castle of the Mohawks, in Danube, Herkimer county. It had an English garrison during the wars with the French, and was sometimes called Fort Hendrick, after the famous chieftain who dwelt near it.

Johannes, or John Roof, who had located at Fort Stanwix, now Rome, in 1760, left that place by the advice of Col. Gansevoort, when it was threatened by the enemy, in 1777, leaving his buildings to be burned by Gansevoort's order to prevent their occupancy by the enemy; and dropping down the valley to Canajoharie, bought a farm upon which Henry Schremling, an early settler, had built a stone dwelling. It stood directly back of the present Eldridge or Lovett House until about the year 1840, when it was demolished. In the latter part of the Revolutionary war a small party of Indians fired on some men hoeing corn on Roof's flats, between his dwelling and the river, not far from the present river bridge, and killed one of them, but seeing the others securing their fire arms they fled to the hills and escaped. Roof had kept a tavern at Fort Stanwix, and in Canajoharie he resumed that business, continuing it for some years after the war. He was succeeded in it by his son and namesake, the late Col. John Roof.

Martin Roof, a brother of the last-named, was a druggist at an early day in Canajoharie village, and one of its first postmasters, also an acting justice of the peace. John Roof, Jr., married a daughter of George Spraker, of Palatine, and for a time they kept the Roof tavern as one family. During this time, probably about 1795, the house was robbed one night of a heavy iron chest, which was chained to the post of a bed on which some of the family were sleeping; a trundle-bed was also quite near it. The chest usually contained several hundred dollars in specie, and no inconsiderable sum was in it when it was so mysteriously abducted. Not long before it was stolen it was lifted only with great effort by two girls in their teens, one of them the young inn-keeper's wife's sister, who is now living at the age of ninety-seven. It was never known who took the safe, or what became of it. A small tin trunk within it, containing valuable papers, was afterward found in an abutment of the bridge over the creek. Of Henry Schremling, above mentioned, little can be learned. Capt. Martin C. Van Alstine, and Captain or Sheriff John Winn, married respectively his daughters Catherine and Elizabeth. Schremling, in the latter part of the last century, had a mill near the site of Arkell & Smith's dam in Canajoharie. His name was pronounced Scrambling, and the place was called from him "Scrambling's Mills." (Note: original long paragraph broken here.)

At some period before the Revolution, three brothers, Henry, Nicholas and John Failing, Germans, located on the rich intervale lands just westward of Canajoharie village. Henry pitched his tent where Joshua Williams now resides. It was known after the war as the Roger Dougherty, and still later as the Adam I. Roof place. Nicholas resided nearly a mile farther west, where he built, just before the war, one of the better class of stone houses, in a commanding position upon a knoll. It is remembered as a large two-story dwelling, having a spacious hall and stairway in the centre. In the autumn of 1833 or 1834 this edifice, then occupied as a tenement house by several families, took fire one night from a keg of ashes under the stairs, and burned down. This house, as was learned many years ago from the late Jacob H. Failing (a son of Henry and grandson of Nicholas Failing), who was a boy living in it at the time, was rendered defensible during the Revolution by the following process: A staging was erected across its rear or hill side a few feet wide, with an oak floor, and was planked up breast high, access being gained to it by the chamber windows. The lower windows and outer doors were also planked up so as to be bullet-proof; and as the house had several families in it during the war, especially after so many had been burned out by the enemy, it was believed it might be defended against a large attacking force; but it was never molested. (Note: original long paragraph broken here.)

After the war the place went into the possession of Rev. John Daniel Gros, who, after owning it for a time, traded it to Col. Hendrick Frey for property in Freysbush, where he built a large brick mansion, now standing, in which he lived for some years, and where he died in 1822. Col. Frey occupied the Failing place for some years, and in it, at a good old age, he died. From it, with a field-glass, he could oversee his men at work on the flats of the Mohawk for half a mile east, north and west. His farm here embraced 200 acres, and his entire possessions south and west of the site of Canajoharie village, 3,200. From him Freybush was named. Col. Frey was a justice of sessions of Tyron county, and a postmaster, and carried on a lucrative trade with the Indians and settlers. He was buried near his house above mentioned, but no monument marks the spot. Col. Frey was a loyalist during the Revolution. His brother, Major Frey, was a prominent patriot, once Chairman of the Tryon County Committee of Safety.

This entire section was typed by Bonnie Monahan in 1997. This page, and her other Canajoharie efforts, was a lot of work and very much appreciated. Bonnie is searching [NOTE: in 1997] for her elusive Herkimer County couple Ernest Sutherland and Susan Mountain, married 1-4-1838. Ernest's children were split into separate homes by the 1850 census; his siblings and children moved to Oswego, Kendall County, IL. Bonnie would like to hear from researchers of the local surnames Sutherland, Mount/ Mountain, Ohle, Samse/ Sansen, and Strossman/ Stropman. [NOTE: The site coordinators don't know if Bonnie's email address is still valid after 15 years and do not have a current address for her.]

I am writing because a Bonnie Monahan was looking for researchers of the surnames Sutherland and Strossman/Stropman. However this was back in 1997 so I don't know if she is still looking or not. I have been researching the latter (Strossman/Stropman) because I am a direct descendant. As for Ernest Sutherland and Susan Mountain, they are indeed an elusive couple. All I know is that they both died in 1849. I don't know of the details, though.

Bill Strossman
March 5, 2012

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Created: 11/1/97
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