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)



2 comments:

  1. What a most incredible and professional looking website you have created here to represent and preserve the history of the Erie Canal at the Schoharie Crossing. Thank you for your time spent on such a wonderful site. It's folks like you, that will ensure our local history not be forgotten and that it will be at the finger tips of future generations. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great sentiments. This blog has some great information and thankfully those formerly of the Fort Hunter Canal Society and now the Friends of Schoharie Crossing, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site (NYSOPRHS) and many others are seeking to preserve the features as well as provide information on the site and canal.

      Delete