The profile of historic Queen Anne's Chapel in Florida was contributed by Joyce Berry, webmaster of the Three Rivers website. This edifice no longer exists, and according to Joyce, "stones were used in the Fort Hunter area when the first Erie Canal was built." The photo below is of the parsonage.


Excerpted from 'A History of St. Anne's Church'
by Rev. George E. DeMille
From: Mohawk Valley USA, Volume 1, #1, June 1980.

Mansion ALTHOUGH THE PRESENT PARISH of St. Ann's, Amsterdam, was not incorporated until the nineteenth century was well on its way, its roots go back more than a century before that incorporation. They reach back to a time when Schenectady was a tiny village perched precariously on the very edge of white civilization, when the Mohawk River west of that village ran through primeval forest, unbroken except, for the little farming villages of the Mohawk Indians. At the time when our story opens, the easternmost of such villages, their principal "castle," was located just where the Schoharie Creek empties into the Mohawk River. This location now bears the name which it has born since the beginning of the eighteenth century, Fort Hunter.

About three miles west of Fort Hunter lies Auriesville. Here the Roman Catholic Church has erected a shrine, a notable center of pilgrimage, in memory of the heroic missionaries who, in the middle of the seventeenth century, lost their lives in the endeavor to convert the Mohawks to Christianity. It must be understood that their martyrdom was not actuated by a hatred of Christianity, but rather a reaction to something they did not understand. This was compounded by the association the Indians made of Father Jogues and his companions with the hated enemy, the Hurons.

The story of St. Ann's begins in the year 1702. In that year Lord Cornbury, royal governor of the province of New York, held a conference at Albany with the sachems of the Mohawk nation. Five of these sachems, in all probability the sons of the men who had martyred the French missionaries, showed how little they were anti-Christian. They begged the governor to forward to Queen Anne their petition, that the queen would "be a good mother, and send them someone to teach them religion."

The Queen took speedy action. In October, 1703, two missionaries were dispatched from England to work among the Mohawks. One only, the Rev. Thoroughgood More, arrived in Albany in the fall of 1704. For a little over a year he worked there. But he was attempting to deal with the Indian only as he come to Albany to trade, and he soon gave up in despair. In 1708 a priest of greater vision arrived in Albany. This was the Rev. Thomas Barclay. Although he lived in Albany, and his primary work was there, he visited the Indians in their eastern castle, and by 1711 he had made a few converts.

In 1710 occurred the famous visit of the four Mohawk sachems to England. Out of this visit came results. Two missionaries, single men if possible, were to be sent to live at the Mohawk castle, each with a guaranteed yearly salary of fifty pounds. A chapel and a rectory were to be built; parts of the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible were to be translated into the Mohawk tongue; intoxicating liquors were to be prohibited within the confines of the mission; and it was even hoped that an Anglican bishop might be sent out.

In accordance with this new and realistic policy, by August, 1712, the chapel had been erected, the contractors being five Schenectady Dutchmen. It was a limestone building, twenty-four feet square, with a belfry. The cost of the building was borne by the queen, who also sent over for its furnishings, altar cloths, cushions, a surplice, prayer books, and a silver communion set. The interior is thus conjecturally described by Max Reid:

"The entrance to the Chapel was on the north side. The pulpit stood at the west end and was provided with a sounding board. Them was also a reading desk. Directly opposite the pulpit were two pews with elevated floors, one of which in later times was Sir William Johnson's; the other for the minister's family. The rest of the congregation had movable benches for seats."

As soon as the chapel was finished, a rectory, likewise of stone, was begun, and finished in the following year. They built well, those Dutchman from Schenectady; their construction still stands, the second oldest inhabited house of the Mohawk Valley.

The first service in the new chapel was held by the Rev. Thomas Barclay, who thus ended his missionary labors among the Mohawks. The date was October 25, 1712.

There followed a succession of missionaries sent to minister to the Mohawks. By 1737, in spite a gaps and setbacks, the nation of warriors and the terror of the French, were in the main a nation of Christians.

But now a still more important figure in the history of Anglicanism in colonial New York appears on the scene. In 1738 Sir Peter Warren, a British admiral who had acquired a vast estate along the Mohawk west of Schenectady sent as resident manager his young nephew. The nephew's name was William Johnson.

Although Johnson died before the outbreak of the revolution, he had been a servant of the king, and his family and followers all took the Tory side. His active Anglicanism made him an object of suspicion to the New England historians. True, he was no saint, but a full-blooded man living on a crude frontier. Unquestionably he had a greater influence than any white man before or since over the American Indian; and this influence was the Indian tribute to sheer character. He was an honest trader. His word was always good and he had a sincere regard for the welfare of the Indian.

Second only to Johnson in his power over the Mohawks and his zeal for Anglicanism was a full-blooded Mohawk who has been called "the most extraordinary man his race produced since the advent of the white man on this continent." This man was Thayendanegea, better known as Joseph Brant. Brant has been represented in one moderm novel as the typical "noble savage," the unspoiled man of the primeval forest. Actually Brant was educated at Dr. Wheelock's School, the parent of the present Dartmonth College. He was a communicant of the Anglican Church, a lay reader, who made a second translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Mohawk.

Johnson saw clearly that the work of priests who must divide their time between Albany and Fort Hunter was not enough. In 1770, aided by an increased appropriation, he was able to secure a full-time priest for the Mohawk mission. He chose for this purpose the Rev. John Stout, a native of Pennsylvania, and a graduate of the College of Philadelphia. He was just the kind of person to impress his personality upon the Mohawks - six feet two inches in height, robust, active, and athletic. Backed by Johnson and Brant, assisted by Paulus, a son of the famous sachem Hendrick, and by a resident schoolmaster who lived at the Upper Castle, where Johnson had in 1772 erected a second church for the Mohawks, he quickly became the religious leader of the Mohawk nation.

To all this flourishing work the American Revolution brought an end. It must be remembered that the Revolution was not just a war of patriotic Americans against oppressive Englishmen. It was a civil war, between men who felt that their first loyalty was to the crown, and those who were convinced that it was rather to their colony. In this colony of New York all the Mohawks, all but one of the priests of the Church of England, and a majority of the Anglican laity were Loyalists. And when they lost, the church lost with them. The Mohawks, who saw the king as their protector went on the war-path, and were driven from the Valley.

When the Treaty of Paris brought the Revolution to an end, every church had been closed, great numbers of the laity had emigrated to Canada. At Brantford in what is now the Province of Ontario and with the help of money collected in England by Brant, the mother church of Anglicanism in Ontario was built. It will be remembered that back in 1712, Queen Anne had sent the mission a set of communion silver. When the Mohawks were first driven from Fort Hunter, they buried the silver but carefully marked the spot. During one of their raids, they managed to dig it up and carried it back to Brantford where it is still in use.

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Created: 10/28/96
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