The Story of Old Fort Johnson

W. Max Reid




The acquisition of the old baronial mansion of Sir William Johnson through the successful efforts of a few members of the Montgomery County Historical Society and the generosity of Maj.-Gen. J. Watts de Peyster, to whom this volume is dedicated, suggested the idea of a short account or history of Old Fort Johnson, as this stone building on the Mohawk has been named. It has been called various names: Castle Johnson, Mount Johnson, and, lastly, Fort Johnson, each one, in a way, a misnomer.

The few pages of statistics that I had in mind has unaccountably grown to a generous-sized volume, with numerous illustrations by my dear friend and companion in many a delightful outing on stream and plain and in the forest, John Arthur Maney.

The title, The Story of Old Fort Johnson, indicates the character and purpose of this work. It is not intended as a history of the life of Sir William Johnson, the grand old man of frontier literary fame, but, as I reread the manuscript which is before me, I find that his name dominates nearly every page.

It seems strange that a valley that was and is the highway to the great west, the Gate to India, has not had more attention from historians and writers of fiction, until this, the twentieth century.

It is true that W.L. Stone, Sr., and Col. W.L. Stone, Jr., have given us an authentic history of the valley in The Life of Joseph Brant and of Sir William Johnson (from both of which books I have quoted freely), but until the advent of Harold Frederic and Robert Chambers, novelists, and of Augustus C. Buell, historian, the valley seems to have been neglected. Augustus C. Buell is dead, but I desire at this time to express my appreciation for many kind words and great assistance from the author of Sir William Johnson, Paul Jones, William Penn, and other successful books. He died while his last book, William Penn was in the hands of the publisher.

It would be a considerable task to enumerate all of the early writers to whom I am indebted for valuable information in regard to the dates and material used in this volume. It is sufficient to say that every man, be he novelist or historian, who writes a book must take advantage of the researches of others, if he is to give to his readers trustworthy information; and I may close this preface with the remark that a history would be of very little value if all of its pages were evolved from the mind of one individual.

W. M. R.

Amsterdam, N.Y., July, 1906.



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