Friday, August 28, 2015

Exploring Fort Hunter Through Maps - NYS Archives Part II

Last week we introduced some of the great Erie Canal maps that can be found in the NYS Archives Digital Collection.  We hope that you have explored those maps as well as the collection.   This week we would like to share a few of the maps regarding Fort Hunter and also make some suggestions for use of the archives.
The first image is not from the collection, however when discussing Fort Hunter it may be helpful to share this drawing of the building plan from the archives of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.   
Click to Enlarge
The fort was to accompany a church that would be supplied by this Society with clergy and supports, the church that is now known as Queen Anne’s Chapel that existed on the grounds that are part of Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.*  While there are details and records that lend themselves to debate as to the exact location of the original 1712 fort, there is indeed archaeological evidence as to the location of a blockhouse portion from the 1750’s-1770’s version of that outpost.  Many of the maps in the archives indicate either the fort and/or the chapel.  There are also maps that can be found that mention those structures into the canal era.  For the sake of this examination, we will look at maps from the 18th century as available on the NYS Archives Digital Collection.

 Map of lands at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county. NYSArchives A0273-78 Map759
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #759.
In this first map – listed as Map of lands at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county on the archives – various patents or land grant holdings are labeled.  Several of those are names that are still familiar in the region today and have deep historical ties to the site such as Mabee & Wemp.  Also what is great is that this map provides the scale as well as directional orientation.  The scale is given in chains; being that one chain “…consisted of 100 links connected by a round ring and had a total length of 4 poles or 66 feet.”  Note too that the map shows the direction of water flow in the Mohawk River as well as several islands (a couple of which no longer exist), along with the Auries Kill which was mentioned in our last post.  One of the great features of the digital collection the state archives makes accessible is simple… the zoom! (Use your mouse wheel or touchpad)
Let’s use that and move into a section of this map. 

Map 759 detail 001
What is interesting about this section is that it indicates “Fort Hunter Church” but not the fort in and of itself.  This could be interpreted as meaning the map was created at a time the fort was in disrepair and it’s concept as a fortification was not dominate.  While there is no date on the map, and within the digital archive there is a range of dates as 1725 – 1734, we could assume that this was a point in time that it was no longer seen as a defensive position. 
Another great aspect is the labelling of “About 100 acres flatt land above the road”!  Terrific information right there – the flat area now is known locally as Dufels Flatts and the road while not extremely evident on this map it becomes more prominent in later maps.  The line that extends under the labeling is the road that would eventually span across the Schoharie Creek by way of an ongoing series of bridges – some of which after 1822 would directly parallel the Erie Canal. 

Click to Enlarge
Map 759 detail 002
                Zooming into another portion of this map provides the information regarding the location of Vischer’s Patent along the Schoharie as well as Mabee’s Patent – part of the vast DeLancy holdings.  More interestingly, at least to us, is the identifier tree.  “Crondiwane tree” was most assuredly a navigation landmark for the creek and even the surveyed patent line continues directly from that point.  The meaning of “Crondiwane” in Kanyen'keha (or Mohawk) language is big tree.   We reached out to members of the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community for that translation and it is interesting that the feature is labeled “big tree tree” – a note on British colonial understanding of the native language. 
This tree is evident on other maps as well.  One such map is the Lands and Various Grants at Fort Hunter that obviously dates to a later time than the one we previously examined.

Lands and various grants at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county. NYSArchives A0273-78 Map829
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #829.
The original map is 19” x 29” and contains many of the same aspects as the last map; however there is greater detail regarding the land patents such as the date of the grant, more detailed route of the roadway, as well as difference in scale (15 chains).  Some of the names are different, for instance Barclay’s 1741 patent is recognizable on this one – perhaps the tear in the other obscures the name – and Vischer is labeled as Fisher. As a land grant map it seems only proper that the parcels would be more identifiable and indicate the dimensions for each line. 
While the archive doesn’t provide a date on this map or even a generalized range of years, all of the patent dates precede the French & Indian War.  Perhaps the label of Fort Hunter Church is again indication that the fort itself was not either in any working order nor distinct enough to identify.  Through other records and interpretation the fort was bolstered under the oversight of Sir William Johnson at the onset of hostilities in the 1750’s with (yet again) the French.
Click to Enlarge
Map 829 detail 002
That impressive big tree appears on this map as well.

Indicated here is that there is now a structure near the tree, presumably occupied by a family- Newkirk.
Newkirk shows up on the Maps of Corporation Lands as well but with more detail as it states, “Gerrit G. Newkirk” along with a structure and our old friend the Crondiwane Tree. 

Map 828 detail 001
This map is overall much sparser with details and there may something to be interpreted by that.  What the map emphasizes then becomes more the means to understand it in comparison to other maps and noting what is leaves out.  Acreage is noted in the “flatt” as well as the road is clearly marked by hash lines.  What else? There are buildings and names labeled within formerly noted patent or granted lands.  The church as well as the fort is not noted and no date is provided either on the map or as part of a description within the digital archive.  MAP 828 Detail 002 Could it be presumed that the map is unfinished? Or is it possible that the map was only to indicate those specific places with the name of the occupant? 

Maps of Corporation Lands at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county.NYSArchives A0273-78 Map828
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #828.

When reviewing all of these maps it should be noted on the various spelling differences or attributes to sections that may differ but also keep in mind that somewhere on that landscape were perhaps other inhabitants, Mohawk families and other features deemed not important enough by the cartographer or their employer for the purpose of their work or appropriate for the information the map intended to convey. 

Some of the other features that the Digital Archive allows are being able to share an identified part of the collection via email or Facebook as well as downloading some of the files.  For educators there are great learning activities available that utilize portions of the collection as well.  There are important source and copyright use details that should be reviewed as well as adhered to.
We have also found that the related collections links are a great way to connect items of interest.  

There are a few other Fort Hunter maps available in the digital collection and it is encouraged that if you found this article interesting that you seek them out, access them online and examine for your interpretation of their content.  Especially the December, 1785 survey by Col. Throop that also contains field notes!  This is especially remarkable to compare to the pre-American Revolution maps we commented on above.  It may present itself as a topic for another post in the future as well.

Please leave us some feedback in the comment section below and thank you for checking out our blog.  Come back again for more great content!

*More on Queen Anne’s in a future post.

     1) Map of lands at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county. NYSArchives A0273-78 Map759
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #759.
    2) Lands and various grants at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county. NYSArchives A0273-78 Map829
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #829.
    3) Maps of Corporation Lands at Fort Hunter, Montgomery county.NYSArchives A0273-78 Map828
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #828.
     4)Map of Fort Hunter lands with Field notes, Montgomery county; surveyed December, 1785, by Col. Throop. This map is not in the holdings of the New York State Archives. The digital image was created by scanning a black and white aperture card.
Source: New York State Archives. New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor. Survey maps of lands in New York State, ca. 1711-1913. Series A0273-78, Map #822. (Parts 1-5)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Erie Canal Maps in the NYS Archives Digital Collection

One of the wonderfully valuable resources that the internet allows us to have access to is the NYS Archives digital collection.  The collection can be accessed via the website: and provides a great deal of terrific information and primary documents.  Primary documents are not just letters or essays from well know historical figures.  There are a myriad of valuable bits of information that can be gained from images, painting, schematics, and more! From those that were well to-do and those that sustained or eked the meager of existence – the story told should be that of the human tale toward progress, toward betterment, toward further enlightenment and equality.

We’d like to present a couple of the many fantastic maps in the digital collection of the Erie Canal.  These are in and of themselves works of art!  There is enough detail to illustration the functions of the features as well as some of the local geography but in a simple and artistic form.  We have found that many of the engineering illustrations as well as these maps contain a wonderful sense of art.

New York State Archives, A0848-77, Canal System Survey Maps, 1832-1843, Map no. E9-36

First, this map that is an ink, wash and charcoal map of a section of the Erie Canal in Glen. It shows the Mohawk River, the Auries Kill which forms a large basin and dam, a stream, a floating bridge that spans the Auries Kill, five other bridges, thirty buildings and the Road to Florida. The red lines indicate [more]courses and distances. The blue lines indicate canal right-of-way. The map also shows the properties of A.A. Lansing, P. Archibald and Saml. Jackson.”

Let’s zoom in a bit.  We can see here the canal but also a floating bridge, the dam, several small bridges over the canal as well as the Auries Kill as water is used from auxiliary or lateral sources such as creeks to “feed” the canal system.  Here though we see an example of a means to divert water into but also excess water from that system. 
The map also gives some indication to the topography.  Grey shading shows the elevation change from the flats along the Mohawk River to the rise up the valley walls. 
Another great image is this one below of a section in Florida, NY that … shows the Mohawk River, two islands, a gravel bank, a waste weir, three bridges and ten buildings. The red lines indicate courses and distances. The blue lines indicate canal right-of-way. The map also shows the [more]properties of J. Enders, John E. Wample and E. Wample.”  This map also has a lot of great primary information that helps understand the construction, function and operation of the complicated system of the Erie Canal.

New York State Archives, A0848-77, Canal System Survey Maps, 1832-1843, Map no. E9-41

Let’s show a detail on this as well so that the features of the basin, waste weir and bridge can be examined:

Note the bridge in the upper left of this image.  The basin is also present near there and allowed for barges to pull off either for traffic or other necessity – perhaps here the more likely reason would be the Wemple Canal Store*.  Center in this detail is the waste weir to cope with excess water on the canal and also flowing into the system from the small unlabeled stream.  Another great item to note is the “Gravel Bank” and exploration of other contemporary documents as well as the ledger for the canal store may make mention of the resources local land owners made available to other industries in the area.  However, this labeling of geographic resources is maintained throughout the mapping of the Erie Canal and at points where the soil is loose, rocky or extremely steep it is noted as a feature of that section.  This – it could be seen – is a way to determine other factors as to why or how construction and repairs would need to be addressed.

Additionally, notice in all of these images that the towpath is on the north side of the canal between it and the river. A section of the towpath at Schoharie Crossing is extremely close to the river and is nearly the only solid ground between the canal of today (on the river) and the vestiges of the Enlarged era Erie (1845-1916).  It was in this area that several breaks in the canal wall occurred between those years – the largest of which was over 200 feet long in 1904.

We encourage you to explore the Digital Collection at the New York State Archives and discover some of these great primary sources for yourself.  Also, the archives exist to be utilized – whether that is for personal enrichment or other professional research and can be accessed in person at Albany, NY

Also, several more of these Erie Canal maps will be featured on Schoharie Crossing’s Official Facebook page for #MapMonday’s in the upcoming months.  “Like” them and keep up with them, their great events, #MapMonday’s, #WhatIsIt or #WhereIsIt Wednesdays, as well as #ThrowBackThursdays and more!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fun for everyone: Some upcoming events locally!

At Schoharie Crossing there are great things happening all the time! But we also like to highlight some of the other great local history events as well.  

Below is a list of just some of the great things coming up in the area:


August 22, 2015 10:00am - August 22, 2015 3:00pm
25 Church Street, Amsterdam 12010
Free | None

For more information please contact:
R. H. von Hasseln | (518) 841-4323 |

Historic Amsterdam League's annual free guided bus/walk tour of city neighborhoods this year featuring the downtown area, and vicinity, site of the original Veddersburgh settlement. Six new area postcards and professionally printed neighborhood guide booklet available for purchase. Tours start from United Pres Church


August 22, 2015 6:00pm - August 22, 2015 11:00pm
Historic Unity Hall, 19 Center St., Fort Plain 13339
Advance, $7.50; $10 at the door |

For more information please contact:
Linda Kellett | 518-275-3606 |

Performers Leah Shaw, Aviva Jaye, The Eugene Tyler Band, & Conundrum from NJ wrap up the Mohawk Valley Collective’s 2015 summer music series. Refreshments available by Erie Station Bar & Grill. Proceeds go toward future event programming & preservation efforts. Call 518-275-3606 or 518-993-5506 for more info.

MOVIE ON THE LAWN @ Old Fort Johnson

August 22, 2015 7:30pm - August 22, 2015 9:00pm
corner Routes 5 & 67, Fort Johnson 12070

For more information please contact:
Rachel Bliven | 843-0300 |

Outdoor screening of "A Place in the Sun"- Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Clift star in the movie version of the novel, An American Tragedy, a timeless story inspired by actual events in the Mohawk Valley. Movie on the lawn begins at 7:30 pm. Bring your own picnic dinner to eat earlier. Ice cream, iced tea and popcorn available on site.

Back to School in Fulton Co.
Sunday, August 30 • 1:30pm-4pm
Fulton Co. Historical Society & Museum
237 Kingsboro Avenue, Gloversville
Fulton County
The Johnstown School Museum’s Bill
Pollak and Fulton County Board Supervisor
Mike Gendren will lead a discussion about
their experiences in the Johnstown and
Gloversville School Districts. The event is
co-sponsored by the Johnstown School
Museum and the Fulton County Historical
Society. Free. For more information, please
contact Mike Pollack at 518-725-2203.

Lost Mohawk Valley
Sunday, September 13 • 2pm-4pm
Charleston Historical Society
Polin Road, Town of Charleston
Fultonville, Fulton County
Bob Cudmore talks about his new book
“Lost Mohawk Valley” which entails stories
of local connections with the well known:
the JFK assassination, bandleader John
Philip Sousa, TV star Ed Sullivan, Sam
Goldwyn of MGM; plus stories about mill
workers in the Amsterdam carpet industry.
Free. For more information please contact:
Andrea Hauser at 518-775-3878.


September 01, 2015 8:00am - September 07, 2015 11:00pm
21 South Bridge Street, Fonda 12068

For more information please contact:

Rides, shows, live musical entertainment, livestock and cattle shows, truck and tractor pulls, specialty foods, vendors and more!


September 12, 2015 10:00am - September 12, 2015 5:00pm
7203 State Highway 5, St. Johnsville 13452

For more information please contact:

Take advantage of Fort Klock's convenient location at one of Montgomery County's Autumn Festival Events, with well over 100 talented crafters and artisans.  This Northeastern craft fair features crafters from New York State and several other states.  Friends of Fort Klock will have homemade foods and desserts for sale on Saturday at 11:30 am.  A food wagon with fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, and refreshments is available on both days.  Please phone (518) 568-7779 to register or for more information.  Free admission and free parking.


September 12, 2015 5:30pm - September 12, 2015 8:00pm
NW corner of Routes 5 & 67, Fort Johnson 12070
$20 adults, $10 children | Advance purchase recommended

For more information please contact:
Rachel Bliven | 518-843-0300 |

Old Fort Johnson's annual fall fundraiser features a sampler of Montgomery's County's finest cooking. Enjoy over a dozen different homemade soups, breads and pies under tents in the garden of the Old Fort. Admission price includes commemorative mug. Limited seating, advance tickets recommended. All proceeds go towards our Roof Restoration project.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's lined up & what's in the works...

Schoharie Crossing has some great events and programs lined up and a few more in the works!

For more information - please "like" them on Facebook by clicking here: SXSHS on Facebook!  You can also check the events calendar on the NYS Parks website: By Clicking Here
And remember, we're on Instagram and Twitter so find us there too!

Check out these flyers!