From "Historical Collections of the State of New York"
CHARLESTON, organized in 1788, by the name of Mohawk; part erected into a separate town, and the residue called Charleston, in 1793; from Fonda S. 8 miles, from Albany 40. Charleston, Charleston Four Corners, and Bensonville, are post-offices. Pop. 2,103.
FLORIDA, taken from Mohawk in 1793; from Albany 35 miles. Pop. 5,162. The town was settled by some Dutch families from Schenectady, who in 1750 were joined by some Germans, subsequently by Irish and Dutch, and lastly by New Englanders. Fort Hunter, 5 miles SE. of Fonda, is a small settlement. Port Jackson, on the Erie canal, is a flourishing village. Minaville, 4 miles S. of the canal, is a village of about 40 dwellings. Fort Hunter, which formerly stood on the line of the canal in this town, was a place of some importance in colonial history. At his place also stood Queen Anne's Chapel, a stone structure, built by Queen Anne of England for the use of the Mohawk Indians. The English Episcopal missions to the Mohawks appear to have been commenced as early as 1702, and continued down to the beginning of the revolutionary war.
GLEN, taken from Charleston in 1823; from Albany 43miles. Pop. 3,697. This town was originally settled by the Dutch. Fultonville, on the canal, 1 mile
S. from Fonda, 57 from Albany, and 53 from Utica, has about 50 dwellings,
and a Dutch Reformed church. Auriesville or Smithtown, on the canal, 3
miles E. of Fultonville, and Voorheesville, are small settlements.
"Somewhere between this [Schoharie] creek and Caughnawaga, commenced an
Indian road or foot-path, which led to Schoharie. Near this road, and
within the northern bounds of Schoharie county, has been seen from time
immemorial a large pile of stones, which has given the name 'stone heap
patent' to the tract on which it occurs, as may be seen from ancient deeds.
Indian tradition saith that a Mohawk murdered a brother (or two of them) on
this spot, and that this tumulus was erected to commemorate the event. A
similar practice is supposed to have been in vogue among the Hebrews; in
Scotland and in Wales, many heaps of stones, called 'cairns,' are to be
found, probably constructed for a similar purpose. May not the bones of
this Indian Abel be found here sepulchred? Every individual passing this
way made an offering to propitiate the manes of the deceased, or the
Minetto of the place; which was performed by the act of adding another
stone to the pile; and a person was but a few years since living, who had
witnessed this ceremony. It was confidently believed by the Indians that
those who neglected to do it would meet with some misfortune. . . . . . In
the early settlement of the province, Benoni Van Corlear, a great favorite
and friend of the Indians, on a certain occasion, passed this stone heap in
company with a party of Mohawks on their way to Canada. They all cast a
stone upon the pile except Van Corlear, who refused, alleging that it would
be folly for him to comply with an idle superstition. His Indian companions
considered the matter in a more serious light, and expressed great alarm
lest some mishap might befall him or the party. These presages were not
unreal, for by one of those coincidences which the Almighty sometimes
permits, Van Corlear lost his life before he arrived at the end of his
journey. He was drowned in the lake now called Lake Champlain. The Indians
in memory of this event called it Van Corlear's Lake, which name it
retained for some time, until called by the Canadian Catholic priests 'Lac
Sacrement,' for the reason they had selected, and used its waters for
MINDEN was taken from Canajoharie in 1798. The town was settled at an early period by Germans, who suffered severely from the incursions of the Indians and tories during the revolutionary war. The surface of the township is
agreeably diversified by gentle hills and fertile valleys on Mohawk river
and Otsquake creek. Pop. 3,507. The village of Fort Plain is situated on
the Mohawk river and Erie canal, 15 miles from Fonda, 12 miles from Cherry
Valley, 22 from Cooperstown, and 60 from Albany: it consists of about 80
houses, 2 churches - 1 Presbyterian, 1 Universalist - a printing office,
and a number of mills.
Ancient Blockhouse, Fort Plain.
The above is said to be a correct representation of Fort Plain, from which
the village derives its name.
"The fort was situated on the brow of the hill, about half a mile northwest
of the village, so as to command a full view of the valley, and the rise of
the ground, for several miles in any direction; and hence it doubtless
derived its name, because its beautiful location commanded a 'plain' view
of the surrounding country. It was erected by the government, as a
fortress, and place of retreat and safety for the inhabitants and families
in case of incursions from the Indians, who were then, and, indeed, more or
less during the whole revolutionary war, infesting the settlements of this
whole region. Its form was an octagon, having port-holes for heavy ord
nance and muskets on every side. It contained three stories or apartments.
The first story was thirty feet in diameter; the second, forty feet; the
third, fifty feet; the last two stories projecting five feet, as
represented by the drawing aforesaid. It was constructed throughout of hewn
timber about fifteen inches square; and, besides the port-holes aforesaid,
the second and third stories had perpendicular port-holes through those
parts that projected, so as to afford the regulars and militia, or settlers
garrisoned in the fort, annoying facilities of defence for themselves,
wives, and children, in case of close assault from the relentless savage.
Whenever scouts came in with tidings that a hostile party was approaching,
a cannon was fired from the fort as a signal to flee to it for safety.
"In the early part of the war there was built, by the inhabitants probably,
at or near the site of the one above described, a fortification, of
materials and construction that ill comported with the use and purposes for
which it was intended. This induced government to erect another, (Fort
Plain,) under the superintendence of an experienced French engineer. As a
piece of architecture, it was well wrought and neatly finished, and
surpassed all the forts in that region. After the termination of the
revolutionary war, Fort Plain was used for some years as a deposit of
military stores, under the direction of Captain B. Hudson. These stores
were finally ordered by the United States government to be removed to
Albany. The fort is demolished. Nothing of it remains except a
circumvallation or trench, which, although nearly obliterated by the
plough, still indicates to the curious traveller sufficient evidence of a
fortification in days by-gone." - Fort Plain Journal, Dec. 26, 1837.
Hendrick, a celebrated Indian chieftain, lived in this town. He is
sometimes called old King Hendrick, and the great Hendrick.
" 'The site of this house,' says Dr. Dwight, 'is a handsome elevation,
commanding a considerable prospect of the neighboring country. It will be
sufficient to observe here, that for capacity, bravery, vigor of mind, and
immoveable integrity united, he excelled all the aboriginal inhabitants of
the United States of whom any knowledge has come down to the present time.
A gentleman of very respectable character, who was present at a council
held with the Six Nations, by the governor of New York, and several agents
of distinction from New England, informed me that his figure and
countenance were singularly impressive and commanding; that his eloquence
was of the same superior character, and that he appeared as if born to
control other men, and possessed an air of majesty unrivalled within his
knowledge.' In the French wars he led forth his Mohawk warriors and fought
side by side with Sir William Johnson. Through all the intrigues of the
French he remained faithful to his alliance. He was also highly esteemed by
the white inhabitants. During some of the negotiations with the Indians of
Pennsylvania and the inhabitants of that state, Hendrick was present at
Philadelphia. His likeness was taken, and a wax figure afterward made which
was a very good imitation. After the death of Hendrick, an old friend, a
white man, visited Philadelphia, and among other things was shown this wax
figure. It occupied a niche, and was not observed by him until he had
approached within a few feet. The friendship of former days came fresh over
his memory, and forgetting for the moment Hendrick's death, he rushed
forward and clasped in his arms the frail, icy image of the chieftain."
MOHAWK, the ancient Caughnawaga, recently organized, was formerly the southern section of the town of Johnstown, from which it was taken in 1837. Pop. 3,106. Since the formation of the new county of Fulton, the seat of
justice for Montgomery county has
East view of the Courthouse and Hotel in Fonda.
been located in this town. The above is an engraving of the courthouse and
hotel recently erected in the new village of Fonda. The railroad passes
between these two buildings. The central part of the village of Caughnawaga
is about half a mile eastward of the courthouse, and consists of about 30
dwelling-houses, on the north side of the Mohawk, 40 miles from Albany, and
4 miles S. from Johnstown. The village occupies the site of an ancient
Indian village, one of the principal towns of the Mohawk tribe. Its name,
Caughnawaga, is said to signify "a coffin," which it received from the
circumstance of there being, in the river opposite the place, a large black
stone, (still to be seen,) resembling a coffin, and projecting above the
surface at low water.
Ancient Church, Mohawk. The annexed is a representation of the ancient Dutch church in Caughnawaga. It is a massive stone structure, and is believed to have been erected in 1763. The following is a copy of the inscription on the stone tablet which was formerly placed over the door.
"Komt laett ons op gaen tot den Bergh des Heeren, to den huyse des Godes
Jacobs, op dat hy ons leere van syne wegen, en dat wy wandele in syne
["Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord; to the house of
the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his
The following, relating to the history of this town, is taken from a
newspaper published in Schenectady a few years since.
"The Caughnawaga flats extend from the western base of Tripe's Hill to the
Cayadutta creek, a distance of four miles. A patent for 2,500 acres of
these flats, was granted in the year 1713, to John, Edward, and Margaret
Collins. These individuals aliened to Myndert Wemple, Douw Fonda, and
Hendrick A. Vrooman; and many of their descendants are proprietors at the
"Until 1695, there were no buildings on the site where Caughnawaga now
stands, except a Dutch church edifice and a parsonage. This church was
founded in 1762, by the patronage of Sir William Johnson. Its principal
benefactors were the Fonda, Vrooman, Wemple, and Veeder families. The
church edifice is still standing, but in a dilapidated condition. Its first
pastor was the Rev. Thomas Romeyn, who died in 1794. He was succeeded by
the Rev. Abraham Van Horne, of New Jersey, who continued his pastoral
duties until a few years since.
"Caughnawaga hardly deserved to be called a hamlet until 1795, when Messrs.
Douw and Henry Fonda, of Albany, erected several buildings.
"This place suffered much during the revolution. At the western extremity
of the flats, is a small hill called by the Dutch 'Teaburg' or Teahill. It
was a place of resort, during the time of the French war, by the
Caughnawaga ladies during the absence of their husbands, to indulge in
their delicious beverage of tea. It was considered a good place of retreat
from danger, and from which the approach of the enemy might be seen. The
Mohawk name of this elevation is 'Kaheka-nunda,' or 'hill of berries,'
probably because many berries are found there. The ancient Mohawks required
their male papooses to run up and down this hill, and those who flagged
under the exercise, were deemed unqualified to endure the fatigues of war.
"The first settlers of Tripe's Hill, were respectable yeomen. Nicholas
Hanson's family emigrated thither about 1725, from Albany. His son Hendrick
was the first white child born in the Mohawk valley west of Schenectady, on
the north side of the river. About 1728, a New Englander by the name of
Bowen, and a Mr. Putnam from Schenectady, took up their residence here. The
descendants of the Hansons and Putnams are to found to this day in this
region, and the creek on the eastern side of Tripe's Hill received its name
from the circumstances of the Putnam family owning the land through which
"About the time the colonies declared their independence, the Bowen, with
several other families, took part with the mother country and moved to
Canada. They were induced to take this course in consequence of their
attachment to Sir William Johnson, who, whatever his faults might have
been, possessed much warm-heartedness and benevolence. Had he lived during
the revolutionary contest, it is generally believed he would have done much
towards restraining the ferocity of the bloodthirsty tories and their
savage allies, whose murderous attacks on the defenceless inhabitants of
'the valley,' are so famous in tradition. But the mantle of Sir William did
not descend on his son Sir John Johnson. The latter with a party of tories,
most of whom had formerly resided at Tripe's Hill, and among whom Henry and
William Bowen held conspicuous stations, made an arrangement for a descent
on this settlement. The most zealous whig at the 'Hill' was Garret Putnam,
captain of a company of rangers. He had rendered himself particularly
obnoxious to the British in consequence of the fearless and zealous stand
which he had taken against them. On the 18th of May, 1780, he received
orders to repair to Fort Hunter; which he did, taking his family along with
him. He leased his house to William Gort and James Plateau, two Englishmen,
who, although tories, took no active part and were therefore unmolested by
the whigs. About midnight on the 20th of May, Sir John's party reached the
'Hill,' and stealthily entering Mr. Putnam's house, instantly killed and
scalped its inmates. The hapless victims had not an opportunity to reveal
themselves. The enemy supposed they had the scalps of Captain Putnam and
his son, and were not undeceived until the morning light revealed to them
the corpses of their two brother tories, Gort and Plateau. The same night
Henry Hanson, a zealous whig, was also murdered."=
Butler's House, Mohawk. The annexed is a representation of the house of Col. Butler the loyalist, and is probably the oldest dwelling in the town; it is now owned and
occupied by Mr. Wilson. It is situated on a commanding eminence about one
mile in a NE. direction from the courthouse, in Fonda, overlooking the
beautiful Mohawk valley at this place. At the breaking out of the
revolutionary war, John Butler was lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of the
Tryon county militia, of whom Guy Johnson was the colonel, and Jelles Fonda
the major. Sir John Johnson had been commissioned a general after the
decease of his father. "Colonel John Butler," says Mr. Tryon, in his
Annals, "had some good traits of character, and in his calmer moments would
regret the ravages committed by the Indians and tories; but Walter Butler
was distinguished from youth for his severe acrimonious disposition. After
the massacre at Cherry Valley he went to Quebec; but Gen. Haldiman,
governor of Canada, gave out that he did not wish to see him."
PALATINE, organized in 1782; from Fonda, W., 14 miles. This town was first settled by the Dutch, in 1724, and though constantly under cultivation,
ever since that time its choice lands can hardly be said to have lost any
of their original fertility! Palatine is 13 miles W. of Johnstown, on the
river, turnpike, and Utica railroad. Palatine Bridge is also on the river,
turnpike, and railroad, immediately opposite Canajoharie village, with
which it is connected by a bridge. (See view of Canajoharie.) Stone Arabia
is 3 miles N. from Canajoharie. The above are all small villages. Pop.
2,845. During the revolutionary war there was a small stockade erected in
this town, at Stone Arabia, called Fort Paris. When Sir John Johnson was
ravaging the valley of the Mohawk, in 1780, this fort was in command of
Col. Brown, with a garrison of one hundred and thirty men. Gen. Van
Rensselaer, who was pursuing Sir John up the valley, having received
information that he intended to attack Fort Paris on the 19th of Oct.,
despatched orders to Col. Brown to march out and check his advance, while
he fell upon his rear. Col. Brown accordingly sallied forth, and gave Sir
John battle near the site of a former work, called Fort Keyser. Van
Rensselaer having failed to advance at the appointed time, Brown's force
was too feeble to check the progress of the enemy. Col. Brown fell
gallantly at the head of his little division, of which from forty to
forty-five were also slain, and the remainder sought safety in flight.*
ROOT, taken from Canajoharie and Charleston in 1823; from Albany 51 miles. Sprackers Basin, on the canal, 9 miles W. of Fonda, and Currytown, are
small villages. "In the rocky cliffs of the Nose, near the river, is a
remarkable cavern known as Mitchell's Cave. Fourteen apartments, some it is
said at the depth of 500 feet, have been visited. The ceilings are
ornamented with stalactites, the walls with incrustations, and the floors
with stalagmites. On the Plattekill, a mile from the river, there is a
waterfall of about 80 feet in 10 rods, with a perpendicular pitch of 50
feet." Pop. 2,000.
St. JOHNSVILLE, recently taken from Oppenheim of Fulton county. The township is small in its territorial limits, being a narrow strip of land
on the north bank of the Mohawk. Pop. 1,923. The village of St. Johnsville is about 20 miles from Fonda, and 77 from Albany.
In the fall of 1780, when Sir John Johnson ravaged the Mohawk valley, he
made a stand near the western line of this town, when pursued by Gen. Van
Rensselaer. This was at Fox's mills, about eight miles above Fort Plank,
(or as it is now called, Fort Plain,) and two miles below the upper Mohawk
"On the north side and on a flat, partly surrounded by a bend of the river,
he posted his regiment of regulars and tories. A small breastwork was
thrown across the neck of land. The Indians occupied a tract of elevated
land to the north, and in the immediate vicinity, which was covered with a
thick growth of shrub oak. In this position Sir John awaited the approach
of Gen. Van Rensselaer, who was joined by the Canajoharie militia and the
tories from Fort Plain under Col. Du Bois. After a slight skirmish, the
Indians were driven from their position, and fled up the river to the
fording place, near the castle, where they crossed, and directed their
course towards the Susquehannah. Sir John's troops made a more effective
resistance, though they were almost exhausted by the forced marches which
they had made and the labors they had performed. The attack had been
commenced late in the day. Though it was conducted with considerable
spirit, night came on before the works of Sir John were carried. In this
situation Gen. Van Rensselaer ordered his troops to fall back a mile and
encamp. Many of the militia were enraged on account of this order, and
refused to obey it. They remained during most of the night, and took
several prisoners, who informed them that the enemy were on the point of
offering to capitulate, when Gen. Van Rensselaer ordered his troops to fall
back. A detachment of the Canajoharie militia under Col. Clyde took one of
their field-pieces during the night.
"On the following morning, when Gen. Van Rensselaer advanced with his
troops, the enemy had entirely disappeared. They had left their ground, and
retreated up the river a short distance, and then crossed to the south. The
river was deep and rapid where it formed the bend, which would have ensured
Gen. Van Rensselaer a complete victory had he prosecuted his attack with
more vigor. A detachment was sent in pursuit, who discovered in the trail
of the enemy evidence of the extreme state to which they were reduced by
hunger and fatigue. The whole country on the north side of the river, from
Caughnawaga to Stone Arabia and Palatine, had been devastated - which, with
the ravages of Brant on the south side of the river, in the previous
August, almost completed the destruction of the Mohawk settlements.
"If here and there a little settlement escaped their ravages, each were
like an oasis in the desert, affording temporary shelter and protection,
and, like them, liable to be destroyed or buried up by the next whirlwind
which should sweep over the land."
*Colonel Brown was a brave soldier of high moral worth. He was early in the
service, and was engaged in the disastrous campaign in Canada. Col. Stone,
in his Life of Brant, states that Col. Brown detected, or believed he
detected, a design on the part of Gen. Arnold to play the traitor when the
American army was at Sorel, by an attempt to run off with the American
flotilla and sell out to Sir Guy Carleton. During the winter of 1776-7,
while Arnold and many other officers were quartered in Albany, a difficulty
arose between him and Col. Brown. The latter published a handbill severely
reflecting on Arnold, and concluded with these remarkable words - "Money is
this man's God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country."
This publication produced quite a sensation among the officers. Arnold was
greatly excited; he applied a variety of course and harsh epithets to Col.
Brown, calling him a scoundrel, and threatened to kick him wherever he
should meet him. This coming to the ears of the latter, he proceeded to the
dining place of Arnold, where a company of officers were assembled; going
directly up to Arnold he stopped and looked him in the eye. After a pause
of a moment, he observed: "I understand, sir, that you have said you would
kick me: I now present myself to give you an opportunity to put your threat
into execution!" Another brief pause ensued. Arnold opened not his lips.
Brown then said to him - "Sir, you are a dirty scoundrel!" Arnold still
remained silent. Col. Brown, after apologizing to the gentlemen present for
his intrusion, left the room. Arnold appears to have kept an unbroken
silence on this occasion, which can only be accounted for on the
supposition that he feared to provoke inquiry on the charges of Col. Brown.
A monument to the memory of Col. Brown has recently been erected by his
son, at Stone Arabia.
The 1841 gazetteer profile of Wayne County NY was prepared by Judy Breedlove (and she didn't make one typo!). Judy has given tremendous help in assisting with this site, Wayne County GenWeb, and Ontario GenWeb. Judy's long-time mystery is that her ancestors married far from home, in an area where they seemingly had no relatives. Or did they? Maybe you know if Margaret and Jacob had family in Geneva or the Finger Lakes area.
"I'm searching for information on Jacob V. SHAFT and Margaret Jane PUTNAM/PUTMAN. In 1836, Jacob V. Shaft and Margaret Jane Putnam/Putman married in Geneva, Ontario Co., New York. However, at that time, Margaret was living in Canajoharie, Montgomery Co., New York and Jacob V. was living in Canastota, Madison Co., New York. Pension records of two sons tell us Jacob V. and Margaret's first son (John) was born in Canastota, Madison County, New York in 1837. Next son, Charles, was born in 1840 in Herkimer County, New York. From census and pension records we can estimate Jacob V. Shaft was born in 1809 or 1810 and Margaret Jane Putnam/Putman was born around 1820. Margaret and Jacob V. do not appear on any census until 1850 when they show up in Shiawassee Co., Michigan. We know Margaret died in 1861 in Shiawassee Co., Michigan and Jacob V. moved to north-central Ohio in 1862. Margaret Jane and Jacob V. had nine children: John, Charles, Jane Ann, Jacob, Jr., Mary, George Putnam, Matilda, Eliza and Helen. I have much information on descendants and am willing to share. I would greatly appreciate any information regarding the parents or siblings of Jacob V. Shaft or Margaret Jane Putnam/Putman."
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