The hamlet of Fort Hunter in Montgomery County, NY, while small, has been historically significant even since before the American Revolution. It was home to people of the Mohawk Nation and was known as the Lower Castle being downstream or below Canajoharie on the Mohawk River. Being at the confluence of the Schoharie Creek and river it was always an important trade post for goods, food, and cultures. [Read more…] about Historic Fort Hunter: From Queen Anne’s War to the Erie Canal
The new book Skohere and the Birth of New York’s Western Frontier 1609-1731, Vol. I 1609-1686 (self-published, 2022) by Jeff O’Connor is a history of the Schoharie Valley and the people who helped shape its earliest colonial history.
The Schoharie Valley is one of New York’s three great colonial valleys, its history closely connected to, but overshadowed by, the more famed Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. This first volume begins a sweeping narrative that connects a far-reaching network of people, places, and events to an expansive view of New York State history. [Read more…] about New Book on the Schoharie Valley & New York’s Western Frontier, 1609-1731
The Old Stone Fort Museum and Schoharie County Historical Society have received a donation of a Revolutionary War era powder horn.
Skillfully created by horn craftsman Hank Yost, the piece presented reflects the architecture and engraving styles of the Revolutionary period and was specifically designed to represent the life and times of the Hartmansdorf House’s original occupant Philip Bartholomew. [Read more…] about Museum Acquires Revolutionary Era Powder Horn Reproduction
On the ninth of October 1818, William Huddleston, a resident of Lawyersville and a deputy sheriff of Schoharie County, rode out to the farm of John van Alstine. Van Alstine had run over and injured a child the previous summer.
Huddleston intended to collect several judgments from Van Alstine arising from the injury to the child and secure some of Van Alstine’s property as collateral against various outstanding judgments. Van Alstine picked up a wooden bar and clubbed the deputy sheriff to death. The killing was, as the ghost says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “a murder most foul.” [Read more…] about The Killing of Schoharie Deputy Sheriff Huddleston in 1818
The boom in home radio usage began in the early 1920s. The Department of Commerce issued regulations to control the chaotic spread of radio stations in December of 1921.
A listing from March 10th, 1922, included 67 stations that were officially licensed to use the public airwaves. One of those would become extremely significant in the life of Jared van Wagenen, Jr., a graduate of Cornell University and a farmer who lived at Hillside Farm at Lawyersville (north of Cobleskill) in Schoharie County.
Van Wagenen (1871-1960), though a self-proclaimed “dirt farmer,” was a prolific writer and speaker on all things agricultural. He championed an agricultural civilization where human values were prized over profit. [Read more…] about Farm Paper of the Air: WGY & The Sage of Lawyersville, Jared van Wagenen
In the first days of August, 1777, Albany seemed doomed to be overrun by the British. General John Burgoyne had taken Crown Point, Fort Ticonderoga, Fort George, Fort Anne, Fort Edward and Fort Miller, the last substantial fortified place protecting the city from the north. To the west at Fort Stanwix, a siege was underway requiring many of General Philip Schyuler’s troops being sent to that fort’s defense from their camp on Van Schaick Island, now in the city of Cohoes.
Burgoyne however, had severely stretched his supply line. He was now having problems bringing up food and supplies over primitive roads that had been severely rutted and nearly destroyed by the Revolutionaries. He had to slow down to wait for food and had to keep his supply line protected all the way back to Canada, spreading his troops more thinly. [Read more…] about Revolutionary Albany: The Battles of Saratoga & Loyalist Opposition
The Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum at what is now known as the Great New York State Fair opened officially on April 30th, 1928. Daniel Parrish Witter, a long-time New York State Assemblyman representing Tioga County was born in 1852 at Richford. Witter assumed the greater responsibility for working the family farm after his father became disabled, one of his older brothers was killed in the Civil War, and two others were seriously wounded in the same conflict. [Read more…] about The Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum: A History
The Old Stone Fort Museum‘s Hartman’s Dorf House is undergoing a restoration project with the goal of opening the building to the public. The Hartman’s Dorf House is situated between the Oliver Schoolhouse and the Dutch Barn in the center of the museum complex in Schoharie County, NY.
Some of the rehabilitation work includes floors, walls, windows, and siding. One of the key projects to bring the structure into use was a new, historically accurate fireplace and hearth, which would enable living historians to demonstrate what home life was like for 18th-century German settlers. [Read more…] about Hartman’s Dorf House Restoration at Old Stone Fort Museum
The following captivity narrative was related by Robert Brice and includes an account of the September 1781 “Dietz Massacre” that took place a few miles south of the Village of Berne, Albany County, NY. This story was taken down from Robert Brice when he was still living by Josiah Priest and published in his Stories of the Revolution in 1836 as “The Captive Boys of Rensselaerville – John and Robert Brice.” This version has been lightly edited for easier reading, but has retained much of the tone and style, including the use of disparaging terms to refer to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people who took part in these events. Additional details and background about this event can be found here. New York Almanack is presenting this story to illustrate historical attitudes about these events from a victim’s perspective.
The Brices had migrated from their native country of Scotland in the year 1774 and settled in a new place, southwest of the city of Albany. At this place, a few families had chosen a residence, which was then called Van Rensselaer’s Patent, but now Rensselaerville. Here the newcomers erected a few log houses. [Read more…] about The Captive Boys of Rensselaerville: John and Robert Brice
From the time Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson River in 1609, the area that is now Albany, NY was considered the focal point of trade with Indigenous People. For over a hundred years, Albany was the trading post furthest west and most remote in the colonies. Most of the other colonies were English; New Netherland was Dutch and settled for the purpose of trade.
With a moderate climate, abundant rainfall, a lake and river system for good transportation and plentiful natural resources, New Netherland was well-positioned. The fur trade significantly raised the standard of living of many European settlers and Native People. Arriving at Albany with a catch of furs, an native person could trade would usually trade with a representative of the Van Rensselaers, or one of his agents.
Thousands of pelts began to flow into Albany in return for Dutch, and later English, trade goods. News of the Dutch market spread and before long Native People from as far away as today’s Minnesota and Illinois were traveling across the Great Lakes and Mohawk River to Albany to obtain manufactured goods with animal pelts. [Read more…] about Albany’s Role In Three Little-Remembered Colonial Wars in the Northeast