THE TOWN OF MOHAWK
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, NY
Our section for the town of Mohawk is particularly strong on early general history, including two 1790 censuses, excerpts from "The History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties," the Hamilton Child 1869-70 Directory, the 1870 profile of the township, and other great features for your reading pleasure. If you've researched ancestors in Mohawk, Fonda or Tribes Hill, we'd love to receive small items about your family.
PLEASE HELP THIS PAGE GROW! We're not kidding when we say WE NEED YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS! Material on this site is visitor generated, i.e. it comes from you the researchers. If you have something to contribute for this town about your ancestors or the town's history, please contact the site coordinators.
GAZETTEER AND BUSINESS DIRECTORY OF MONTGOMERY
COUNTY FOR 1869-70: MOHAWK
Boyd's 1872-73 Business Directory for Mohawk
Fulton/Montgomery Farm Directory 1939
EARLY MOHAWK HISTORY
History of the Town of Mohawk: selections from "The History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, N.Y." by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878
Early Mohawk Business: selections from "The History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, N.Y." by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878
Raids on the Mohawk Valley in 1780: selection from "The Frontiersmen of New York" by Jeptha R. Simms
11/3/10 Montgomery Courthouse Mystery Photo
Old Postcards of Fonda, N.Y.
1898 High School Commencement, Fonda, N.Y.
1790 Census of Caughnawaga
1790 Census of Mohawk
MOHAWK FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS OF NOTE
Will of Peter J. Graff of Mohawk
The Loss-Claim of Johannes Veeder
Wilson Family Obituaries
Rescued Personal Letters & Documents
History of Fonda Reformed Church
Fonda Reformed Church: the first third of this article discusses pre-Revolutionary War life in Caughnawaga and its citizens; the remainder discusses changes in the place of worship and the progression of ministers since its organization in 1758.
1916 Fonda DRC Treasurer's Report: list of pew rentals
Caughnawaga Cemetery - Surnames A - J
Caughnawaga Cemetery - Surnames K - W
Fonda Cemetery Inscriptions - this is a LINK OFF-SITE
Old Fonda Cemetery
Wilson Family Cemetery
Wilson Cemetery Condition Report
1890 Surviving Civil War Veterans and Widows of the Town of Mohawk
History of old Plank Road School District No. 7 - link to one-room schoolhouse site
PROFILE AND HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF MOHAWK
from the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Montgomery County, N.Y. 1869-70
(Note: the red lettering is for emphasis in place of italics in the original text, and not links to further information)
Mohawk was formed from Johnstown, April 4, 1837. It lies upon the north bank of the Mohawk River and near the center of the north border of the County. The surface is uneven and gradually rises from the river to the north line of the town, where it attains an elevation of about 400 feet above the valley. The principal streams are Cayadutta and Dadenoscara Creeks. The soil generally is a good quality of gravelly loam.
Fonda, (p.v.) named in honor of Douw Fonda, who settled here in 1751, is pleasantly situated on the Mohawk River and N.Y.C.R.R. It is the County Seat and contains besides the County buildings, three churches, viz., Reformed, Methodist and Episcopal; four hotels, two flouring mills, a bank, a newspaper printing office, several other manufactories of various kinds and about 1,800 inhabitants. The principal business street was paved during the last season.
The Cayadutta Mill has a capacity for grinding 150 barrels of flour daily, and the Empire State Mill 700 bushels of corn daily. A plaster mill and saw mill are owned by the same parties, G.F. Mills & Co.
Zion Episcopal Church of Fonda is a stone structure in the gothic style of architecture. It was consecrated by Rt. Rev. Wm. C. Doane, D.D., May 29, 1869. It will seat about 200 persons and cost between $5,000 and $6,000. Rev. R.T. Howard is the present pastor.
The Methodist Church was organized in 1842 with seven members, under the pastoral charge of T.W. Pearson. The church edifice was erected in 1844 at a cost of $4,000. The present membership is 116, and the present pastor, P.P. Harrower.
Tribes Hill, (p.v.) on the border of Amsterdam, is partly in this town and contains about 400 inhabitants.
A Fair Ground of fifteen acres is located a short distance east of Fonda.
The Saw Mill and Cheese Box Factory of Thomas S. Sammons are located on the north border of the town, on Cayadutta Creek.
Mohawk Cheese Factory is located about five miles west of Fonda, and makes about 100,000 pounds annually.
Mohawk Valley Cheese Factory, about two miles west of Fonda, makes about 80,000 pounds annually; and Sweetzer Hill Factory about 100,000 pounds.
The site of the present village of Fonda was called Caughnawaga by the Indians, a name signifying "Stone in the Water", or "At the Rapids". It was one of the favorite resorts of the Mohawks. It was the scene of some of the earliest labors of the French Jesuits among the Five Nations, two of whom lost their lives here in 1646. The names of the first white settlers are not known. Patents of one thousand acres each, on the Mohawk, were granted to Nicholas Hausen and his brother Hendrick, July 12, 1713. Nicholas Hausen settled at Tribes Hill previous to 1725, and others by the name of Fonda, Vanderworker, Doxtader and Fisher, settled at an early day. Among other residents of the town before the Revolution were Col. John Butler and his son, Walter N. Butler, who gained an infamous notoriety by their inhuman atrocities inflicted upon their old whig neighbors. The "Butler Place", where these infamous Tories resided, was about a mile north-east of Fonda, on an open eminence overlooking the Mohawk, and now owned by Mr. Wilson. Alexander White, Colonial Sheriff of Tryon County, resided on the present site of the Court House. He was a zealous Tory and was obliged to flee to Canada. He was succeeded by John Frey, appointed by the Provincial Congress.
The incursion of Sir John Johnson, in May, 1780, fell chiefly on the settlements of Tribes Hill and Caughnawaga. The detachment against Tribes Hill was led by Henry and Wm. Bowen, who had lived in the vicinity. The principal object of the incursion was to obtain the silver plate and other valuables which Sir John was obliged to leave on his hasty retreat from Johnson Hall in 1776. The enemy proceeded to the house of Garret Putnam, a staunch Whig. Unknown to the invaders, he had rented his house to two Tories, named Gort and Platto. The assailants broke into the house in the night, scalped the two men and did not learn of their mistake until daylight, supposing that they had killed Putnam and his son instead of two of their own friends. From this point the proceeded up the river, plundering and burning the buildings and murdering their old friends and neighbors. Several slaves and white male prisoners were taken to Canada. The women were not generally molested on this occasion.
The enemy met a warm reception at the house of Col. Fred Fisher. The Colonel's wife and children had been sent to Schenectady for safety, and his two sisters and an old negro fled to the woods and escaped on the first alarm, leaving the Colonel, his mother and two brothers, John and Harmon. The Indians made a desperate attack upon the house and the inmates responded by a constant fire, until their ammunition gave out. They then all retreated to the chamber except John, who stationed himself in the stairway, and defended it with a hatchet until he had killed seven Indians. He then retreated above, and slipping upon some peas which lay upon the floor, he fell and was dispatched with a tomahawk. Harmon leaped from the window to put out the fire that had been applied to the roof, and while standing on the fence was shot dead. The mother was knocked down with the breech of a gun and left for dead. The Colonel was also knocked down by a tomahawk, dragged down stairs by his hair and thrown upon the ground, when an Indian leaped upon him and drew a knife across his throat, cutting it from ear to ear, as was supposed, then cutting around the scalp, seized it with his teeth and tore it from the head, then giving him a blow upon the shoulder with a hatchet, he fled. The Colonel had retained his senses through all this mangling, and his throat, protected by a leather belt worn inside of his cravat, was only slightly wounded. As soon as the Indians disappeared, he arose, went up stairs and brought down his mother, placed her in a chair and leaned her against the fence, then brought down the body of his brother John and laid it on the grass. By this time he became so much exhausted from the loss of blood and the wounds that he had received, that he lay down to die, as he supposed. (Note: we are splitting up the original long paragraph here)
The old negro and the girls returned in a short time and found the house burned and the dead and wounded as described. By signs, the Colonel made known his desire for water, which was brought, and his head bathed, and after drinking a little, his speech was restored. A Tory named Clement passing by, the negro asked him what he should do. The reply in German was, "Let the rebel die." The negro, following the directions of the Colonel, caught some colts which had never been broken, harnessed them to the wagon and took him to the house of Putnam, at Tribe's Hill. From this place the whole family, including the bodies of his brothers, were conveyed to Schenectady in a canoe, arriving about sunset. Here for the first time he had his wounds dressed. After five years of suffering he nearly recovered from the effects of his wounds. He erected a new house on the site of the old one, and lived twenty-nine years after receiving his wounds, holding the office of First Judge of the County for several years. His mother also recovered from her wounds and lived with him. (Note: we are splitting up the original long paragraph here).
After the close of the war, the Indian who scalped him returned to the settlement and stopped at a tavern kept by a Tory at Tribes Hill. The wife of the landlord sent word to the house of Col. Fisher that the Indian was there and would soon call at his house. The family, knowing that the Colonel had sworn revenge on the Indian, and not wishing further bloodshed, kept the news from him. As they wre all in the front room about the time the Indian was expected, they upset a pot of lye and requested the Colonel to go into the back room until it should be cleaned up. The Indian came to the door soon after and was met by the old lady who addressed him in the Indian language, told him her son's intentions and pointed to a gun which was always loaded in readiness for him. The Indian listened, gave a grunt and ran away with all possible speed.
In the fall of 1780, Sir John made another incursion and destroyed what was left at the previous one and all that had been rebuilt.
The first birth north of the river, of which there is any record, was that of Henry Hausen. A man by the name of Collins taught the first school, in 1774. Jellis Fonda is said to have been the first merchant west of Schenectady. He carried on an extensive trade with the whites at Forts Schuyler and Stanwix, and the forts at Oswego, Niagara and Schlosser. His ales consisted chiefly of blankets, trinkets, ammunition and rum, and his purchased consisted of peltries, ginseng and potash. At one time, previous to the Revolution, his ledger showed an indebtedness of $10,000 in the Indian country.
John Chaley was an early settler at Tribes Hill. Douw Fonda was living at the time of the Revolution on the flat between the turnpike and river, a short distance east of the road leading to the bridge. Here on the 22d day of May, 1780, he was murdered by the Indians under Sir John Johnson. He was eighty-four years old and had been on the most friendly terms with Sir William Johnson and had greatly aided him at the time of his settlement. His three sons, John, Jellis and Adam, were staunch Whigs and resided in the neighborhood.
In the spring of 1775, after the Tories of Johnstown had made a demonstration against the authority of the Continental Congress, and had obtained signatures to a declaration disapproving of its acts, the Whigs, who composed a majority of the white population, became greatly aroused and held public meetings in every district in the County. The first was held at the house of John Veeder, in Caughnawaga, where patriotic speeches were made and a liberty pole was erected, which was a most offensive object in the eyes of loyalists. Before the whole was accomplished, Sir John Johnson, Col. Claus, Guy Johnson, Col. Butler and a large number of their adherents, arrived upon the ground, armed with swords and pistols, and interrupted the proceedings. Guy Johnson mounted a high stoop, near the old church, and harangued the people, expatiating upon the strength of the Kind and Government, and the folly of opposing the authority of the Crown. He denounced the proceedings of the people in the most virulent and irritating language, becoming so offensive that Jacob Sammons, a stanch Whig and a leader among them, boldly denounced him as a liar and a villain. This was too much for the irate Tory, and leaping from the high stoop upon which he stood, he seized Sammons by the throat, while another of the party felled the patriot to the ground by a blow from a loaded whip, and immediately bestrode him. Sammon recovered in a moment and, hurling the fellow from him, sprang to his feet, stripped off his coat and prepared for a fight, but was again knocked down. Most of his Whig friends had fled and he was carried to his father's house, "bearing upon his body the first scars of the Revolutionary contest in the County of Tryon."
At the commencement of the war there were four brothers of the Visschers, or Fishers, as they were afterwards called. A very bitter hostility existed against the family among the loyalists, caused by an unpleasant altercation between Sir John and Col. Frederick Fisher, which took place in the fall of 1775. Col. Fisher held his commission from the Colonial Congress and had ordered his regiment to parade for review on a plain near the ancient inn of Peggy Wemples, in Caughnawaga. While the parade was going on, Sir John Johnson and his lady drove along the river road. Seeing the regiment, he ordered his coachman to drive up to the parade ground, and on arriving asked the first person whom he met, who had called the assemblage together and for what purpose. The reply was that Col. Fisher had ordered his regiment to parade for review. Sir John then stepped up to the Colonel and repeated his question. On receiving an answer he ordered the regiment to disperse, but the Colonel ordered them to keep their ranks. Enraged at such presumption the Baronet raised a sword cane, with which he was armed, to strike the Colonel. The latter seized the weapon and in the scuffle the sword was drawn, the scabbard being in the hands of Fisher. Sir John threatened to run him through, and was coolly told to act his pleasure. The scabbard was given up at his request and he proceeded to this carriage and requested Lady Johnson to rise that he might take his pistols from the box. She remonstrated with him but to no purpose.Taking his pistols he again ordered the regiment to disperse for they were rebels, and at the same time threatening to shoot the Colonel if it was not done. "Use your pleasure", was again the cool reply of the Colonel. At this moment a young Irishman, a servant of the Colonel, stepped up and declared with an oath, "If ye offer to lift a hand or a finger against my master I will blow you through." Not relishing such decided opposition Sir John returned to his carriage and drove away.
A church was erected at Caughnawaga in 1763. It was of stone and built by voluntary subscription, Sir William Johnson contributing liberally towards the enterprise. It had no bell until the confiscation of the property of Sir John Johnson, when his father's dinner bell, weighing over one hundred pounds, was purchased and placed in the steeple. It contained the following inscription, "S.R. William Johnson, bart, 1774. Made by Miller and Ross, Eliz. Town." In 1845 the edifice was fitted up as an academy, under the management of Rev. Douw Van Olinda, but the school was discontinued after a few years. The church was erected for the Reformed Protestant Dutch denomination, and its first pastor was Rev. Thomas Romeyn, who died in 1794 and was buried beneath the pulpit. He was succeeded by Rev. Abraham Van Horn, one of the earliest graduates of Kings (now Columbia) College, in New York city. He continued pastor for thirty-eight years. He died in 1840, having during his ministry united in matrimony 1500 couples. The present pastor is Rev. J.C. Boyd. The present house of worship was erected in 1843. During the last year it was removed to a new location, raised, so as to afford a basement for Sunday school and other purposes, and extensively repaired, at an expense of about $10,000. The present membership is about 115.
The population of the town in 1865 was 2,948 and its area 19,112 acres.