History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXV: History of the Patent and Town of Queensbury - Part 2
This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.
While Page 350 the families we have mentioned were struggling in the wilderness, with peace for their handmaid, public events were rapidly approaching the crisis that could end only in war. The "Sons of Liberty," determined, watchful and alert, were organizing in every center along the seaboard, and preparations were made for the oncoming struggle that was felt by the wisest counselors of the nation to be imperative. At the same time the authorities of New York and New Hampshire engaged in the prolonged civil strife known as the New Hampshire grants controversy, which has been described; while a plan was also laid, the details of which are not well understood, for erecting a new province comprising all of the Northern New York and the New Hampshire grants (the western part of the present State of Vermont.) Philip Skene (1) was to be the governor of the province, with the seat at Whitehall. The plan was frustrated by the breaking out of the war two years later and the capture of the ambitious Skene; his estates were confiscated at the close of the war.
1. In 1761 Philip Skene, an English major under half pay, who had been with Amherst in 1759, established a large colony near the mouth of Wood Creek. In the autumn he accompanied an expedition against Havana, and on his return, in 1763, found the settlement reduced to fifteen persons. He immediately set about re-establishing the colony, and in 1765 obtained patents for twenty-five thousand acres of land lying on and near the creek. Here he built a stone mansion forty feet by thirty, and two stories and a half in height. In 1770 he erected a large stone building one hundred and thirty feet long, which was used for a military garrison and depot. He also built at this place a stone forge of about the same dimensions as his house, where he commenced the manufacture of iron. This was the first forge erected on the borders of the lake. Skene owned a sloop, with which he kept up a regular communication with Canada, and at his own expense he cut a road through the wilderness as far as Salem, a distance of about thirty miles, from which point it was continued by others to Bennington. This road was used during the season when the navigation on the lake was closed by ice. In 1773 Skenesborough contained a population of 379. - Palmer's History of Lake Champlain, p. 95.
The principal events of a military character in the long and bitter struggle between Great Britain and her colonies have been described in early chapters of this work; with many of these the settlers of Queensbury were intimately associated, not as participators in the strife of battle to any great extent, on account of their religious belief, which precluded such acts, but as sufferers from Page 351 the devastation and destruction that always follows in the track of war. Early in the struggle the fort at Ticonderoga was captured by Ethan Allen and his men, an event which was soon followed by the seizure of the partially dismantled fortification at the head of Lake George (Fort George) by Colonel Romans, Daniel Parke (1) (or Parks). With the seizure of this post it is not probable that the peacefully-inclined inhabitants of Queensbury were directly connected except as here stated.
1. It is related by the descendants of the Parke family, that Elijah Parke was the original settler in this region, locating on the south side of the river, opposite the site of Glens Falls. Daniel Parke was a son of Elijah and began a settlement where South Glens Falls is built and erected the first mills at that point. Mr. Holden copied the following inscription from the Parks family Bible some years ago: -
"I. S. Parks and Susannah my wife was married in 1789, May. I was 24 years old March 5, 1789. I was born in the town of Half-Moon now in the village of Waterford, when 1 was 2 months old my father moved his family to the town of Sharon in the St. of Connecticut. We lived there until 1773 and May the 10 and then my father moved his family to what was then called Wing's falls and now called Glen's falls and there built the first mills that was ever built there. And we suffered a great deal in that struggle for liberty we lost our lives and property and became poor and weak. S. Parks."
The mills, mentioned were destroyed in the Revolutionary War and rebuilt after the close of that contest by Colonel John (Johannes) Glen, who purchased the estate of Parke and from whom the villages are named. Daniel Parks died March 3, 1818, at the age of seventy-eight years, and was buried in the family lot opposite Sandy Hill. His tombstone hears the following inscription: "One of the veterans of the Revolutionary War, he was the man who took the key from the British officer at Lake George in 1775."
The Revolution grew apace. The "rebels," as they were termed by the British, seemed to almost spring up out of the earth on all sides; military organizations were perfected and the country was ablaze with preparations for war. The territory with which we are here concerned was directly affected by this situation of affairs. The eastern towns of Charlotte county were the very homes of the rebels who had captured Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and it was seen at once that hereabouts must, in the natural course of events, be enacted some of the stirring and bloody scenes anticipated by the people. William Duer, a gentlemen of prominence residing in this vicinity, wrote to the Committee of Safety early in 1775, that certain lawless persons, mostly debtors, were assembling at Fort Edward to break up the courts of justice. Captain Edward Motte, then all his way from Ticonderoga to Albany, reached there at this opportune time, and by his presence during a session of the court, prevented further disturbance.
The first colonial assemblage convened in Albany and organized on the 22d of May under the name of the Provincial Congress. The minutes of its journal show that John Williams and William Marsh, from Charlotte county, appeared with their certificates of appointment as delegates.
The campaigns of 1775 and 1776 comprised a series of military events of great importance to the American cause, with the details of which the reader has been made familiar. Notwithstanding the general uprising throughout the colonies against the tyranny of England, there was still a strong feeling in many sections of adherence to the royal cause, both with individuals and in the public Page 352councils. This feeling gave birth and strength to the bands of Tories who became, perhaps, the most dreaded enemies of the colonial armies. It is also further shown by the passage of the following resolution by the Congress: -
"Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Congress, that none of the people of this colony have withdrawn their allegiance from His Majesty, or desire to become independent of the crown of Great Britain, or to change the ancient form of government, under which this colony hath grown up from its infancy to its present state."
This proceeding occurred as late as December 13th, 1775.
The position and circumstances of the belligerents in the region with which we are here particularly interested, at the beginning of 1776, may be noted as follows: Arnold was before Quebec with a force of about two thousand, not nearly all of which was effective; the intermediate posts were all in possession of the Americans. In addition to the garrisons at Crown Point, Ticonderoga and Fort George, a small earthwork was constructed at Summer-house Point on the Sacandaga River, where part of a regiment of Continentals was stationed; this post was abandoned in the following summer.
Steps were now taken to organize the county militia, as will be seen by the following document: -
"To the Honor'l Members of the Provincial Congress:
"Gentlemen: Having received the Resolves relating to the Rules and Orders for Regulating the Militia in this Colony, we thought proper to carry it into Execution with all Convenient Speed, and ordered a meeting of the County Committee Immediately.
"There being a Contention of part of this County in regard to Title of Land [the New Hampshire grants], And it was thought proper by the Committees on the Grants to divide the County into two Parts, as they Do no Choose to joyn the other part of the County; which was agreed to by the other Committees; And Each part of the County to form One Regiment, and Recommend their Field Officers to you, desiring you will remit their commissions with all Convenient Speed, so that the Regiment may be formed as soon as Possible, In Case any Incursions may be made from Canada, as we are much Exposed to that Country.
"The following Gentlemen we recommend for Commissions, they being Friends to the present Cause and have signed the General Association:
"Dr. John Williams, Colonel, Platt Smith, Esq., Lieut. Col.,
"Messrs Nathan Hawly and Mr. John Jones, Adjutant,
"Hamilton McColister, Majors, Mr. Seth Sherwood, Quarter Master.
"Likewise the names of the inferior Officers in each district.
"District of White Creek.
"Ebenezer Clark, Esq., Captain, Edward Savage, 2d Lieut.,
"Charles Hutchinson, 1st Lieut., Daniel McClary, Ensign.
Page 353 "Argyle:
"Alexr Campbell, Capt., Peter Gilchrist, 2d Lieut.,
"Saml Paine, 1st Lieut., John McDougall, Ensign.
"Jeremh Burroughs, Capt., Elisha Tousea, 2d Lieut.,
"Levi Stockwell, 1st Lieut., Silas Granger, Ensign.
"Black Creek District:
"Alexr Webster, Capt., George McKnight, 2d Lieut.,
"John Hamilton, 1st Lieut., Samuel Crosett, Ensign.
"Asa Richardson, Capt., Nehemh Sealey, 2d Lieut.,
"Adiel Sherwood, 1st Lieut. Samuel Harris, Ensign. (1)
"Signed by order of Committee,
"Seth Sherwood, Chairman.
"County Charlotte, Dorsett, 21st Sept., 1775.
"Commissions issued Sept. 29th, 1775.
"In addition to the foregoing, warrants were issued on the 29th of June to (2)
"Joseph McCracken, Capt., John Barnes, 2d Lieut.,
"Moses Martin, 1st Lieut."
1. Calendar of N. Y. Hist. MMS. Rev. Papers, vol. 1, p. 148. Sealey and Harris are supposed to haw been residents of Queensbury.
2. Idem., p. 106.
On the 25th of January, 1776, at a general meeting of the county committee of Charlotte county it was unanimously agreed that Dr. John Williams be recommended to the Provincial Congress of New York for the command of the First Battalion of the militia of the county; Alexander Campbell, of Argyle, for lieutenant-colonel; Messrs. Timothy Bewell, of Fort Miller, and Alexander Webster, of Black Creek, for adjutants, and Mr. Samuel Fuller, of Skenesborough, quartermaster. At the same time and place it was unanimously agreed that Dr. John Williams, and Mr. Alexander Campbell should represent the county of Charlotte in Provincial Congress till the second Tuesday in May next.
During the progress of the campaign of 1776 the inhabitants of Queensbury began to feel the blows of the hand of war; property was taken with all the ruthlessness that characterizes the progress of armies, necessary though it may be; destruction followed the track of irresponsible bands of soldiery, and in various ways which we shall indicate, the settlers were called upon for sacrifices which they were illy prepared to make, and for which, as a rule, they could obtain no redress. From among the Wing manuscripts Dr. Holden secured and printed in his valuable work various statements of these losses, which possess a peculiar and important interest; quaint as many of them are, Page 354 in character, language and orthography, they still tell the story of devastation with simple eloquence. Following are the earliest of these documents:
Paper No. 1.
Endorsed, "Capt. Lammar's Account, and account of things his company stole."
"1776. Stolen, taken and carried out of my house, March 11th, by Capt. Lammar's company.
|"One blue Broadcloath Jactcoat||at||2.||-.||-.|
|"One blue quilted petticoat||at||-.||14.||-.|
|"One woolen checked shirt||at||-.||17 1/2.||-.|
|"One silk handkerchief||at||-.||5.||-.|
|"One pewter basin||at||-.||4.||-.|
|"13 Dunghill fowls||at||-.||18.||-.|
|"One short stag goad||at||-.||4.||-.|
"To one pleasure slay steel shod, painted green outside, red inside, which he carried away with him and never returned. £ 7. Abraham Wing."
Paper No. 2.
Containing Capt. Lamar's receipt, and Abraham Wing's affidavit in relation thereto.
"I hereby certify that Mr. Abraham Wing's slay was hired for the use of my company from the 13th of March to the first of April, 1776, when the icebreaking up, I was obliged to leave her in the care of Mr. Belton at Willsborough on Lake Champlain. Marien Lamar. "Capt. I, P. B."
"I do most solemnly affirm that I never received the slay mentioned within, which was taken from me by Capt. Lamar for the use of the army, nor have I ever received any compensation for the same, or any other person whatever on my account, and that the slay was worth at that time in hard cash, seven pounds. Abraham Wing, "6th March, 1786.
"This day the above signed Abraham Wing appeared before me and affirmed to the truth of the same. Adiel Sherwood, Jus. Pe."
Paper No. 3.
Being a military order and receipt for the delivery of certain property, on a requisition.Page 355
"To Mr. Wyng:
"Sir, Plese deliver that gang of saws to the bearer, to be forwarded to Chesyrs, (1) and take his receipt therefor, on the back of this order.
"Fort George, July ye 18th, 1776. Nath'l Buell,
"Ast. D. Qr. Mr. Gen'l, "
"July the 8th. Received the full contents of the within order, being 15 saws, with their stearups on. Eben'r Ashumn."
"Receive pr. me.
1. Cheshire's mill to which these saws were removed, it is supposed was situated on Fort Edward Creek in Kingsbury. In a communication from General Gates to General Waterbury dated Ticonderoga, July 15th, 1776, he says: "If we make our stand at the place proposed, it is essential that the road from Cheshire's to Fort Edward be immediately repaired and rendered easy for carriages. - Force's American Archives, fifth series, vol. 1, p. 358.
"You will also post three companies of a regiment, with a field officer at Cheshire's mill."
"Agreeably to your directions, I have ordered Captain Veeder and his company at the saw mill at Cheshire's" - Richard Varick to General gates, Albany, Oct. 14, 1776. - ldem, vol. II, p. 1037.
Dr. Holden has in his possession evidence that Cheshire's mill was situated at Kane's Falls on what is now called Half-way Brook (formerly Scoon Creek). This statement is in correction of that embodied in the first paragraph of this note, which was taken from Dr. Holden's History of Queensbury, and written upon the best information then obtainable by him.
The town records of Queensbury for the year 1776 show but little change in the officers of the preceding year. Following is a transcript from the records: -
"At an annual town meeting held in Queensbury on Tuesday ye 2nd day of May, 1776, for the township of Queensbury." Then followed a list of the officers voted in as here given: -
"Abraham Wing, Moderator; Asaph Putnam, Town Clerk; Abraham Wing, Supervisor; Asaph Putnam, Constable; Nehemiah Sealey, Constable; Daniel Jones, Constable; Ebenezer Fuller, Constable; Nehemiah Sealy and Benjamin Wing, Assessors; Abraham Wing, Path Master; Benedict Brown, Path Master; Ichabod Merritt and Nehemiah Sealy, Overseers of the Poor; Benjamin Wing, Collector; Abraham Wing, Town Treasurer; Abraham Wing, Keeper of the Pound; Ichabod Merritt, and Asaph Putnam, viewers of fence and prisers of damage; Abraham Wing, Asaph Putnam and Nehemiah Sealy, are appointed to enspect all persons that shall hunt the Deer in Queensbury, for the year ensuing."
"Voted that any person that shall harbor or entertain or assist any person or persons from any County to hunt or kill any fawn, buck or deer in Queensbury, in ye year ensuing shall Forfeit and pay to the treasury the Sum of five Pounds." (2)
2. The orthography of names in our extracts from records, ancient documents, etc., is according to the originals, though known in many instances to be either inaccurate or not according to present custom.
The Daniel Jones mentioned above as having been made a constable was Page 356 a brother of David Jones, already spoken of as the betrothed of the hapless Jane McCrea. The brothers were, according to Dr. Holden's History of Queensbury (p. 412-13), mill-wrights and the family was quite prominent in early days among the settlers on the Kingsbury patent; their large possessions were afterward sequestrated by the Commission of Forfeitures. Their house was for a short time the headquarters of Burgoyne in the following year. Daniel Jones was a son-in-law of Abraham Wing, who, with others of his family, was an undoubted patriot, while the Jones family were bitter loyalists. This is an example of the family disunions and feuds that were prevalent in the great struggle in many localities. The family of Mr. Wing, as well as those of all the prominent settlers of "the Corners," never took arms on either side.
The campaign of 1776, as we have seen, was peculiarly disastrous to the American arms, and the cause was but little better served during the succeeding year. A policy of vacillation and general weakness characterized the councils of the colonies, preventing the degree of success that was warranted by the capacity of officers and bravery of soldiers. The beginning of the year found General Schuyler in charge of the northern department, and to his wise administration may be credited the first real successes of the war. In the course of the campaign the territory within and immediately surrounding the Queensbury Patent was the scene of many stirring events and felt the terrible effects of the war to a grievous extent. Ticonderoga was recaptured by the British, Fort Anne was evacuated after stubborn resistance, and other important military operations were carried on in various parts of the province. Meanwhile General Schuyler gathered the resources of the country surrounding his jurisdiction. On the 10th of July he announced by dispatch to General Ten Broeck that he had already saved about forty pieces of cannon and fifteen tons of gunpowder by removing them from Fort George; and a few days later he wrote, "If the enemy will permit me to pass unmolested three days longer to Fort George, I shall be able to bring away all the stores from thence and then draw off the few troops we have there." Of this situation of affairs Burgoyne wrote to Lord George Germaine as follows: "The enemy are laboring to remove the magazines from Forts George and Edward, and everywhere destroying the roads and preparing to drive and burn the country towards Albany."
Several important personal incidents in which residents of Queensbury were chief participants, occurred during this campaign, to which we must allude. In one of these William Robards was a conspicuous figure. He was a brother of the Ezekiel Robards (1) and has already been mentioned herein. Dr. Holden Page 357 gives the following account of his capture (History of Queensbury, p. 421): "He with Andrew Fuller, his wife's brother, and James Higson, an uncompromising Whig and son-in-law of Abraham Wing, were captured while preparing to go fishing on Lake George.
1. The following paper is on file in the archives, of the State: "Ezekiel Roberts of Saratoga district, states that in August, 1776, he engaged as sergeant in Capt. Baldwin's Company of Rangers; was taken prisoner 19th May, 1777, and remained until December (when he was paroled and sent home with other prisoners by Governor Carleton). In May, 1780, was informed by Gov. Clinton that he was exchanged and discharged from his parole. Went over Lake George by order of his excellency in pursuit of Sir John Johnson, and soon after appointed lieutenant in the State Levies, and again taken prisoner when under the command of Capt. Sherwood at Fort Ann, 10th Oct., 1780; remained two years in confinement, and then made his escape. Has a wife and two children for whose support he was obliged to contract debts. Is now destitute of everything. Prays for relief in a petition to the Legislature, January 20th, 1783."
"They were carried to Canada and imprisoned. While in jail Robards was visited by some gentlemen, who wished him to give his parole that he would not escape and they would give him the jail liberties. He refused, saying that his family needed his services, and if there was any chance of his getting home he should make the attempt. In consequence of this declaration he had a strict guard placed over him, being confined in a room with another, a British deserter, and through the day an armed sentry was stationed in the room to watch their movements. The gentlemen who visited Robards were so well pleased with his spirit and nice sense of honor, that they frequently sent him wine and delicacies from their tables. While the sentry was out to his meals, the prisoners being in some way cognizant or suspicious that a window was boarded up in the room, amused themselves by throwing sticks of firewood against the walls until the locality of the window was determined, and it was shortly ascertained also that there was no intervening bars or bolts to prevent their escape. Taking turns night after night in cutting away the boards cautiously and carefully, with which the window was ceiled, secreting and disposing of the chips and shavings thus made, they at length achieved their purpose, and one day, while the guard was at dinner, the boarding was removed and the deserter first clambered out. Robards being lithe, supple, and active, jumped from the window, clearing the stockade which surrounded the building, and alighted in one of the streets of the French city of Montreal, where they had been imprisoned. They were fired at by the guards on duty as they ran, the Canadians on the street cheering and swearing to encourage the fugitives. The guards had to go around on the opposite side of the building, and open the gates before they could follow in pursuit.
"In the mean time, guided by some sympathizing spectators, Robards and his companion ran along through the suburbs, gaining the city wall, which they scaled at a favoring point, and made their escape to the woods. The deserter soon gave out, grew sick and tired of the adventure, and concluded to return and surrender himself, leaving Robards to make his way alone. He traveled by night, guiding his course by the stars, and lay secreted by day. At length he came to a place by the shore of the lake where a rock jutted out above the water, having a cave or recess beneath. Here he took refuge and rested a day or two. During this interval, he was suddenly aroused from a Page 358 deep sleep by an Indian yell, and, apprehending pursuit, he sprang out from his place of concealment, and looking up, saw an Indian standing on the cliff above him, making signals to a companion standing on a point of land in the distance on the other side of the lake. Fortunately the savages did not discover him. At length, after many nights' wandering, he was fortunate enough to come across a canoe and a pair of paddles, which he unhesitatingly appropriated, and from that time forth his progress was more rapid and satisfactory.
"One day his brother, Ezekiel Robards, then living in Queensbury, proposed to one of his neighbors to go up to Lake George for the purpose of fishing, and also to take a sharp look, to see if any Tories or Indians were about. While fishing near the mouth of Van Wormer's Bay, they saw a small object in the distance on the lake, which approaching them, gradually became more thoroughly defined, and, as it drewn ear, Ezekiel exclaimed, 'It's William, I know by his motions.' And so it proved. They returned together without any long delay, and, as they neared their home, Ezekiel told William to stay back in the edge of the woods, while he went forward and broke the news to his wife. The latter was carrying a plate of butter from the spring house, or out-door cellar, and as Ezekiel approached he accosted her, saying, 'Phebe, I've got good news for you, I've heard from William.' She staggered back with the shock of emotion as if she had been struck, exclaiming, 'If you have heard from him you have seen him;' and sank to the ground in a dead faint,"
The Parks narrative is even more interesting, and is handed down in traditions that are strongly corroborated by concurrent events, the connection of the family with the original Glen patent, and other testimony which is considered by most persons conversant with the early history of the locality as quite conclusive. The account was furnished to Dr. Holden by Daniel E. Parks, of Sandy Hill, N. Y.
"There was, in the British army, a captain by the name of Daniel Parks," says the narrative, "who took an active part in quelling and keeping in subjection, the savage, original inhabitants of the American continent long before the Revolution, who lived and died in some one of the Southern States, probably in Virginia, and who had a son by the name of Daniel Parks. The latter removed and settled in Salisbury, Conn., where he resided till within a few years of the Revolution, when he emigrated to Glens Falls, where he purchased a tract of eight hundred acres of land, situated along the south bank of the Hudson's River, and settled and built the first mills at that place. About the year 1777, while the Revolutionary War was in progress, and the country was swarming with marauding bands of savages and Tories, his house was attacked at night by a band of Tories, who demanded the keys to his desk, which contained his papers, etc., which the old man refused to deliver up. Thereupon one of the band clinched him, at which a scuffle ensued, which resulted in getting Page 359 the old man down, when one of the party drew up and shot him. He was supposed at that time to be about seventy-five years of age, and died in defending himself from British aggression.
"Among the band was a man by the name of Richardson, (1) who lived in that vicinity, and who had purchased of the old man a piece of land containing about one hundred acres, for which Parks held his obligation, and it is confidently believed that the murdering wretches were incited to the commission of this act of barbarism by a desire to get possession of Richardson's obligation, and thus leave his land free from incumbrance.
1. All I know of Richardson, I learned from the Parks family. He was ringleader of the Tories, who murdered the father of that family. He had some claim or title to the South Glens Falls water power, and to obtain the Parks title papers, is supposed to have been the principal purpose of the expedition. Old Mr. Parks saw through a window Richardson and Ferguson (a Tory tavern keeper at the Bend) looking at the Parks papers, went into the house, and was immediately killed by a gun breech blow on the head. - Letter to Dr. Holden from the late Judge Hay. In another account of the affair, it is stated that the Tory party found rest and refreshments at the house of one Ferguson, a Tory at the Bend. He had pretended to be a Whig, had attended their meetings and signed their articles of association, and up to this time was supposed to be a zealous patriot. Sending out scouts in the direction of Lake George, and keeping a watchful outlook on the movements of the Parks family, the party lurked around for a week or more, until Ferguson, in the expressive language of my informant, "was eaten out of house and home." - Holden's Queensbury, p. 425.
"Elisha and Isaac Parks, sons of the old man above mentioned, resided with their father, but the attack of the Tories was so sudden that they, not being near at hand, were unable to render the old man any assistance, and when they arrived they found their father dead, and his murderers apparently gone. (2) Elisha, a young married man, went to the door to make a reconnaissance, and while doing so, held a light in his hand, it being then dark. This attracted the attention of some of the Tories who were lying in ambush, and made a good mark for their rifles, which they took advantage of, and shot him through the bowels, his wife then standing beside him. Placing his hand over the wound, he at once fled down the river, to the house of his brother, Daniel Parks, who lived a mile below, and notified him of the presence of the Tories and what had happened. Daniel at once took down his gun and proposed to repair to the scene of action, but, upon the entreaties of Elisha, who represented that he could not contend against so many, and would only endanger his life in a fool-hardy manner, he was prevailed upon to stay and secure his family. This was done by removing them across the river in canoes. Elisha proposed to remain at his brother's house, but Daniel would not listen to the proposition. Yielding to the entreaties of the latter, he was conveyed across the river, where they took refuge in the grist-mills (3) at Sandy Hill, where he died the same night or early the following morning. His remains, and those of his father, were buried at Sandy Hill, on the site now covered by the Presbyterian Church. Two rude slabs of stone, which originally marked the place of sepulture, it is said, were incorporated into the foundation of the edifice, whose fane shades the resting place of the martyrs.
2. Ephraim Parks, a brother of Daniel, with his brother-in-law, Lewis Brown, lived in a double log house, situated on the cliff just above the site of the paper mill. They were made prisoners, but Brown afterwards escaped, as appears in the narrative. - Idem
3. Probably a mistake, for after diligent inquiry, the author failed to receive any evidence that a grist mill was built at Sandy Hill before the year 1795.Page 360
"Isaac, the other son, was taken prisoner and carried to Quebec, from whence he escaped three times, and was as often retaken, and ultimately exchanged. The third time he escaped in company with five others, who, after they had traveled through the wilderness a length of time sufficient to exhaust all of their provisions, and were in a famished condition, it was proposed to cast lots to see which should be sacrificed to serve as food for the remainder. A vote being taken, three were for, and three against the proposition, Isaac Parks being among the latter. The fugitives then separated, those voting with Parks going in one direction, and the remainder in another. The Parks party was soon visited by a dog supposed to belong to some Indians scouting near. This was killed and eaten, and they were afterwards driven to the extremity at roasting and eating their shoes. They at length became so utterly exhausted that they were unable to ascend a hill without help from each other, and whenever an elevation interrupted their progress, they were able to surmount it only by crawling on their hands and knees.
"One day, while they were ascending a hill in this manner, they were discovered and retaken by a party of Indians, who displayed the usual terrific exultation on the seizure of a captive, and prepared to inflict the customary tortures and death. In some way Parks and his fellow sufferers succeeded in satisfying their captors that they were Tories and friends escaping from imprisonment by the Whigs. Under the promise of a guinea each, the Indians were induced to escort them back to the Canada border. Crossing the St. Lawrence River they were recognized as escaped prisoners by some of the Indians there, and they would have been dispatched, but for the timely interference of some British soldiers.
"We supplement this narrative with the following relation made by a grand-daughter of Albert Baker, one of the first settlers at Sandy Hill.
"At the time when the Parkses were killed, the old lady and the rest of the women, running out of the back door of their homes, (1) escaped down the river, and crossing over, went directly to Albert Baker's house (near where Mr. Nelson Wait now lives), in the dead of the night. The family were aroused by the hysteric sobs, shrieks and moans of the old lady.
1. Another account says, the women of the household at the first alarm made for the woods and escaped. They had with them a lad of thirteen or fourteen years of age, whom they bundled up with clothing to screen him from observation. On their way they were met by two or three Indians, who asked them where they were going and what they were doing with the boy.
With great readiness of mind in the terrible emergency, one of them replied, that the boy had the small-pox and they were taking him away, so that the rest of the family should not catch the disease. The Indians immediately dropped further inquiries, and hastened away from the supposed danger of infection, the entire party of fugitives, boy included, making their way to the woods and finally escaping to Fort Edward.Page 361
"At this time Major Thomas Bradshaw, (1) son of James Bradshaw, one of the original patentees and proprietors of the township of Kingsbury, had a small reserve of militia posted at Bradshaw's farm, on Wood Creek, since known as the Bond place, between Smith's Basin and Dunham's Basin, on the northern canal.
1. Thomas Bradshaw, a son of James Bradshaw, was a major in the American service but for some reason never succeeded in obtaining a pension. - Relation of Mrs. Rachel Clary.
Among the Wing papers was found the following memorandum, without date: -
"The expenses of the men of the guard, amount to the sum of two pounds, (£2,00), for 6 eating and drinking,
"To Capt. Richardson, Thomas Bradshaw, Sarg't."
"Of the neighbors who came in as soon as the news of the massacre became known, none were found willing to go for help, until Albert Baker, jr., the narrator's father, and Rianaldo Burden Phillips, two stout, well grown lads, hardly appreciating the dangers, volunteered for the service. When they reached the Bradshaw place, they found no one, but a Tory family living in the neighborhood directed them to the barn, where they found the major alone, his militia having scattered to their homes in the vicinity, and before he could rally them together the marauders were so far away on their retreat that pursuit was useless.
"The alarm reaching Fort Edward, (2) on the following morning a party was soon made up to start in pursuit of the assassins. On the way they were joined by Daniel Parks, and his brother-in-law, Lewis Brown, who, in the confusion of his capture, had managed to make his escape. On reaching the scene of the massacre, they only found the smoking embers of the mills and the old man's house. The other dwelling on the cliff above the mill was not disturbed. It is stated that the Indians and Tories tried to reach the dwelling of Andrew Lewis, son-in-law of Abraham Wing, who then lived on the island, but were prevented by the absence of any boat.
2. Near the top of the hill above Fort Edward, not far from the site now occupied by the Grove House, there was a tavern kept by one Bell, a Tory. It was a place of considerable note, a favorite resort of loyalists, where many a scheme of rapine, violence and outrage was concerted and matured. - Communication of the late Judge Hay to Dr. Holden.
"The pursuers, taking the trail, followed the fugitives with considerable celerity, hoping to overtake them before reaching Lake Champlain, where their escape would be facilitated by canoes concealed somewhere along its shores. Hastening up the west side of the Hudson, crossing the Sacandaga at its mouth, they proceeded as far as Stony Creek, a small creek in the town of that name in the western part of Warren county. Here the fleeing party, finding they were pursued, took the bed of the stream, and made their way for many miles. The pursuers were in consequence thrown off the trail, and the chase was abandoned.
"The fruitless result of this expedition was doubtless fortunate for the few captives carried off, who were threatened with immediate death, if they were Page 362 overtaken by the pursuing party. The effect of this raid was to break up for the time being the settlement known as the Parks Mills. Daniel on the following morning procured a team and removed his family and such effects as could readily be transported within the protection of the military force at Fort Edward, and when that post was abandoned he retreated with the American army to Bemus's Heights, where he participated in that memorable action, which resulted in the surrender of one of the largest and best appointed British armies which had yet taken the field against the rebellious colonies. After the termination of the war he returned to rebuild the house, which he occupied with his family up to the time of his death. In the lapse and changes of years a large proportion of the Glen patent passed into the hands of various descendants of Daniel Parks.
"Solomon Parks, then but a mere stripling, was among the militia stationed at Fort Anne under the command of Colonel Long in 1777. About two weeks prior to Burgoyne's advance, and the capture of that post, Solomon with others was detailed to escort the inhabitants of the region to a place of safety. All the horses and oxen of the neighborhood were seized upon for that purpose, and most of the women and children of the threatened frontier were removed to join their friends in Duchess county and the adjacent county in Connecticut. At a later period these flittings and returns became so frequent, that in the language of one octogenarian, whose memory reverted back to those early days, 'they had little to carry or lose.' But with all their losses and sufferings, their unconquerable energy, perseverence and love of home were sufficient to bring them back to their desolated possessions."
Queensbury was afflicted in a particularly unfortunate degree by bands of Indians and Tories, the locality seeming to be a sort of headquarters for the latter. Dr. Holden makes the statement that "there was probably nowhere in this vicinity a stronger Tory nest than that existing across the West Mountain, some ten miles distant from Queensbury settlement, under the favor and encouragement of the brothers, Ebenezer and Edward Jessup." They had secured patents to various tracts of land both within the present town of Luzerne and also the Totten and Crossfield purchase, so-called. It is stated on the authority of Butler's Hand-book of the Adirondack Railway, that Totten and Crossfield were put forward in the securing of this enormous grant, merely as a cover to the operations of Ebenezer Jessup. He came into the wilderness about the year 1770, and built a spacious log dwelling, and there until after the beginning of the Revolutionary war, he lived in comparatively opulent style for those times. It is traditionally stated that in his house numerous hospitable entertainments were given, amid the surroundings of elegant furniture and costly paintings, where tables were laden with splendid settings and rare linen. All of this interior splendor was plundered and carried off at a later date. Scattered through this region were many other prominent Tories, among whom are Page 363 mentioned John Howell, who lived up the Sacandaga River in the direction of Johnstown. Six brothers named Lovelace, descendants of Governor Lovelace, who resided at different points on the opposite side of the river, and one of whom was, in one of the late years of the war, executed as a spy by order of General Stark, after trial by drum-head court-martial. Another was Jacob Salisbury, who was captured in a cave known to this day as the Tory house. There were also several members of the Fairchild family living a few miles farther down the river. "According to the tradition, in the month of April or May, 1777, Indian runners came and notified these families of Burgoyne's intended approach, and probably with some suggestions in regard to their co-operation with certain bands of Tories gathering in the lower part of the Saratoga district." (1)
1. Holden's History of Queensbury.
In any event notice of their intentions was received and a party of Whigs started in pursuit. So hot became the chase that, it is said, one of the Jessups (Edward, if either, as Ebenezer was at this time in Canada, where he was given a command in Burgoyne's army) could escape only by jumping across the river at the Little Falls. Thence he hurried across the town of Queensbury to Skenesborough and joined Burgoyne's army at Willsborough Falls.
In the course of Burgoyne's campaign of 1777, as we have incidentally mentioned, occurred the evacuation of Fort George and the removal of the stores; the fort was destroyed on the 16th of July. About this time a large fortified encampment was established on the high ground now occupied by South Glens Falls village, while Colonel John Ashley was in command of a military station at the Five-mile Run in the town of Queensbury.
Previous to Burgoyne's advance it became known to the Committee of Safety that a regular system of communication was maintained between the British leaders at the North and South. It was of the utmost importance to the American cause that these dispatches should be intercepted and the system broken up. General Schuyler was, therefore, instructed to make careful inquiry for a shrewd, intelligent and courageous man, of well-known fidelity to the cause, who would volunteer upon the dangerous duty of acting as a double spy. This resulted in the recommendation to him of Moses Harris, of Duchess county, a young man of education, resources and great personal courage. As the settlement of that portion of the present town of Queensbury known as "Harrisena" was intimately connected with this man and his descendants, it becomes us to note something of his career. (2) One of the earliest settlers on the Bradshaw patent was Gilbert Harris. He owned what was familiarly known as "The Thousand Apple-tree Farm," which embraced a square mile of the fertile land in the north part of the town of Kingsbury. He was an uncompromising royalist and an efficient secret agent of the British in obtaining and transmitting intelligence through the American lines. This man was uncle to Moses Harris. Previous to the war they had been on friendly terms. To him Moses proceeded and, (1) "securing his confidence, gave him to understand that he had changed his views, that he was tired of the troubled and disturbed state of the country, and dissatisfied with the course pursued by the Whigs, and, believing that the Rebellion would be crushed out sooner or later, he had about come to the conclusion to join the British army, unless some more congenial employment was offered. At this stage of affairs the notorious Joseph Betteys seems to have been consulted, and to have completed the negotiations and arrangements by which Harris was to act as a courier in conveying dispatches between this point and Albany. He was conducted to a Tory rendezvous on the Halfway Brook, in the vicinity of the settlement now known as Tripoli, (2) where, in an underground apartment, amply furnished with arms, ammunition and provisions, he was sworn to secrecy and fidelity, and the dispatches here concealed were delivered to him for transmission to one William Shepherd, a Tory, who occupied, by arrangement, an old tenement on the Patroon's Creek, near the old Colonie in Albany, and who in turn, was to forward them to their destination for the British authorities down the river. The route pursued by Harris took him at night to the house of Fish, in Easton (the man who had recommended Harris to General Schuyler), who lived about two miles from the river. Here the papers were transferred to Fish, who hastened with them to Albany, where they were submitted to General Schuyler when present, and to his private secretary when absent, by whom they were carefully opened, examined, transcribed, scaled up and returned to Harris, who then resumed his journey, and deposited the papers in Shepherd's hands, receiving at the same time his return message when there was one. Harris, in the mean time, by his uncle's advice, stopped for refreshments at a tavern in the city, where he was on the best of terms with the partisans of freedom.
2. In a foot note in his History of Queensbury, Dr. Holden writes as follows: -
Moses Harris, jr., whose name frequently appears in the town records of Queensbury after the close of the Revolutionary War, was a surveyor by profession, and a large per centage of the early road surveys of the town were made by him. A monument to his memory (erected by his grandson, the late John J. Harris) stands in the rural burial ground attached to the Episcopal Church at Harriseua, on which are engraved the following inscriptions: -
Nov. 13, 1838.
Aged 89 years,
11 Mo's and 24
In June, 1787, I moved with two of my brothers, William and Joseph Harris, on to the John Lawrence Patten, as you may see by the records in the Living's office of the county at that age in 1786. But now I am done with this world and race, and none but God shall say, where shall be my abiding place.
He was a man that was true to his friends and his country. He was the man that carried the package for General Schuyler and from General Schuyler to General Washington. It went, and without doubt was the instrument that put General Burgoyne's journey to an end. He it was that bought the Patten granted to John Lawrence and others when wild; and settled the same, being two thousand acres, to the benefit of his children and grandchildren. For which I think I ought to do something to his memory. - J. J. H., Grandson.
1. From Holden's Queensbury; communicated to him (1850) by Moses Harris, a son of the spy, and supplemented by information from Judge Hay.
2. In an article written by William L. Stone, of Sandy Hill, and published in the Magazine of American History, July 1, 1878, a slightly different version is given, but we regard Dr. Holden's as more authentic.Page 365
"This system was followed up for several weeks, when the British leaders, finding their plans discovered and thwarted, suspicion fell upon Harris, and he was arrested at his uncle's house, taken to another of the secret rendezvous of the royalists, on an island in the big swamp cast of Sandy Hill, where he was charged with his treachery and his life threatened; but his cool self-possession never for a moment forsook him, and he succeeded in persuading them that they had done him a great injustice, after which he resumed his duties.
"On another occasion, by previous arrangement and understanding with General Schuyler for the purpose of averting suspicion, he was arrested and thrown into jail in Albany, where he remained for several days, whence by collusion with the keeper who had his private instructions, he was permitted to escape, and went to Canada, where he was handsomely rewarded and made much of by the authorities and renegade Tories.
"On this occasion he communicated false and deceptive intelligence, agreed upon in Albany, and which was near bringing him into trouble. On his return from St. Johns he was again entrusted with dispatches, which, in consequence of the sickness of Fish, he was obliged to take to Schuyler in person, and thence by his orders to General Washington. Whether he was dogged by spies or by reason of previous suspicions, Shepherd attempted to poison him for his defection; and Jo. Betters, having entrapped him, he was obliged to flee for his life. He at this-time took refuge with one Dirk, or Diedrich Swart, a Whig living at Stillwater, a friend of General Schuyler, who had requested him to afford Harris aid and protection in case of trouble. To complicate his dangers at this time, Swart informed him that one Jacob Bensen, a Whig, had threatened to 'put a ball through the cussed Tory' under the supposition that he was a loyalist, and that he was lying in wait for him for that purpose in the adjacent woods. Another danger almost as formidable arose from competition among the Tories for the position of spy and messenger, and the enhanced pay that went with it, together with the consequence and consideration that the position gave. Among the rivals floated to the surface by the turbid current were two loyalists named Caleb Closson and Andrew Rakely living in Kingsbury, and David Higginbottom, who had been a sergeant in the 31st British regiment. On his last excursion he was weakened by Page 366 a wound he had received in one of his adventures, and exhausted by the pain and fatigue, he was forced to halt at brief intervals, stopping first with one Humighaus, a Tory living on the south line of Fort Anne, and next at the house of Peter Freel at Fort Edward. From here he proceeded toward Fort Miller, but on the way was pursued by a scouting party of Whigs, and compelled to seek safety in flight across the river, and shelter in the house of Noah Payn, a Whig who resided opposite to the block-house at Fort Miller. His danger was so imminent that he was obliged to make known to the latter his relations to General Schuyler and the American army. His secret was faithfully kept, and Payn afforded him the needed protection and rest, and assisted him on the way to Easton, giving him at the same time a letter of recommendation to General Putnam, a former townsman, neighbor, and friend of Payn.
"After the battle of Stillwater, and Burgoyne's surrender, Harris received (so runs the family tradition) a purse of one hundred guineas from General Schuyler for services, and after the close of the war a pension of ninety-six dollars per annum was awarded him by the government. After the war he returned to his favorite hunting haunts in the vicinity of Lake George, where he purchased a tract of two thousand acres of land (1) to which, and the adjacent territory, the name of Harrisena was given, where the remainder of his life was passed amidst the tranquility of peaceful scenes, and where many of his descendants still reside.
1. "Mr. Benjamin Harris states that there were 21 corners to this lot, that he brought of Lawrence, Boel and Tuttle, who had a king's patent, which was surveyed by him in 1775. The three brothers, Moses, Joseph and William, came to settle on this tract in 1786. In the Calendar of N. Y. Land Papers there is a record of 16 certificates of location for about 5000 acres of land in small parels - adjoining the other main tract; all in favor of Moses Harris, jr., occurring from 1786 to 1789. In the same authority, p. 506, there is a return of survey Oct. 12, 1770, for two tracts of land of 3000 acres each within the bounds of the Robert Harpur patent, surrendered to the crown, Iying partly in Queensbury and partly in Fort Anne, to John Lawrence, Henry Boel and Stephen Tuttle."
"In a communication from Gouverneur Morris at Saratoga dated July 17th to the Council of Safety, he says: 'I left Fort Edward with General Schuyler at noon, and shall return thither some time to-morrow morning. Fort George was destroyed yesterday afternoon, previous to which the provisions, stores, batteaux, &c., were removed, and this morning at ten o'clock the last of them passed us about three miles to the northward of Fort Edward, at which place all the troops from the lake have arrived, and these, together with some others, form an advanced post towards Fort George; about twelve hundred, perhaps more, are somewhat further advanced upon the road to Fort Anne. The enemy have not yet made any motion that we know of, nor indeed can they make any of consequence until they shall have procured carriages, and then they may find it rather difficult to come this way, if proper care be taken to prevent them from procuring forage. For this purpose I shall give it as my opinion to the general, whenever he asks it, to break up all the settlements upon our Page 367 northern frontier, to drive off the cattle, secure or destroy the forage, etc.; and also to destroy the saw mills.
"'These measures, harsh as they may seem, are, I am confident, absolutely necessary. They ought undoubtedly to be taken with prudence, and temperately carried into execution. But I will venture to say that if we lay it down as a maxim never to contend for ground but in the last necessity, to leave nothing but a wilderness to the enemy, their progress must be impeded by obstacles which it is not in human nature to surmount; and then, unless we have, with our usual good nature, built posts for their defense, they must at the approach of winter retire to the place from whence they at first set out. The militia from the eastward come in by degrees, and I expect we shall soon be in force to carry on the petite guerre to advantage, provided always, Burgoyne attempts to annoy us, for it is pretty clear that we cannot get at him.'
"At the near approach of the enemy, the women and children had been collected under escort, and sent forward within the American lines to places of quiet and security for protection. Most of the residents of Queensbury, who desired to avail themselves of the privilege, took refuge in Duchess county. Some few remained behind, depending for safety upon their principles of nonresistance and their faith and reliance in God's protection. The scene of this general flitting, expedited by the frequent appearance of small bands of armed savages, is thus graphically portrayed by another: -
"'The roads were filled with fugitives; men leading little children by the hand, women pressing their infant offspring to their bosoms, hurrying forward in utmost consternation from the scene of danger. Occasionally passed a cavalcade, two and even three mounted on a single steed, panting under its heavy load; sometimes carrying a mother and her child, while the father ran breathless by the horse's side. Then came a procession of carts drawn by oxen, laden with furniture hastily collected; and here and there, mingling with the crowd of vehicles, was seen many a sturdy husbandman followed by his household and driving his domestic animals before him.'" (1)
1. Wilson's Life of Jane McCrea, p. 80. Holden's History of Queensbury, p. 450.
Following the engagement at and evacuation of Fort Anne, an interval of nearly three weeks elapsed before Burgoyne began his advance to Fort Edward. This short period was fatal to his success and opened the way for his overwhelming defeat, as chronicled in our earlier chapters.
The first great blow for freedom was struck and the entire country drew a breath of relief; but the desolated hearthstones of Queensbury told plainly of the terrors of the struggle. A few families remained here during all of this struggle, and with the promise of peace now held out, the scattered and fugitive settlers returned to rebuild their shattered homes and resume the avocations of peace. (2)
2. The two following extracts from the Wing manuscripts go to show the continued occupancy of the settlement : -
I. Notice of Friend's Meeting with visitors from abroad. - Extract from Abraham Wing's Pocket Memorandum.
3d mo. 6, 1778.
George Dillwyn from Burlington in West Jersey accompanied by Edward Hallock, Isaac Vail and Paul Upton of the Nine Partners monthly meeting, were here and had a meeting.
II. Memorandum concerning some horses left with Abraham Wing.
Lake George the 12th Day of June A D 1778.
Mr. Abraham Wing I Cant have my Horses carried to Ticonderoga at Present and If you will Keep 2 Horses for me until the Hurry is over and then will send them up to Leonard Joneses and Desire him to send them to Ticonderoga and send me an account What the cost is I will send you the money or com this way & pay you If I may leave it at Leonard Joneses it will he the Handiest for me. I shall be glad to have them have good Pasture. This from yours to sarve.
to mr. Abraham Wing
&c David Welch
The Wing papers, as drawn upon in Holden's History of Queensbury, show further losses by the war, additional to those already detailed. It will be seen that they amount in the aggregate to large sums in value, particularly those borne by Mr. Wing: -
Affidavit of Abraham Wing relating to losses incurred during the retreat of the American army at the time of Burgoyne's advance towards Saratoga.
"In the month of July, 1777, the under-mentioned cattle were taken from me by General Orders and Converted to the use of the Continental Army, for which I have never received any compensation, vizt: -
|"1 Red Sorrel Horse aged 7 years and worth||£||25||00||0|
|"1 Large Mare aged 2 years worth||20||00||0|
|"1 Mare and her colt worth||18||00||0|
|"1 Cow five years old worth||8||00||0|
|"2 large fatt Calves worth when taken||3||00||0|
|"11 Best Sheep worth two Dollars each||8||16||0|
"And in the month of July, 1777, my mills were dismantled of 25 Saws, 2 Rag-Wheels, Gudgeons, Hoops, Bands, Haggles, Roundsills, Hands, Dogs, Barrs & all other utensills necessary for two Mills in Compleat Repair, for none of which articles I have ever received any compensation whatever.
"These Mill Irons were carried off in two waggons on the retreat of the Continental army from Fort George and were worth at least one Hundred and Twenty Pounds.
"Washington County, 6th March, 1786
"This Day personally appeared the above named Abm Wing and made affirmation to the truth of the above before me.
"Adiel Sherwood, Jus. Pe."
Affirmation of Abraham and Benjamin Wing, concerning grain and hay converted to the use of the Continental Army.
"We do hereby most solemnly affirm that in the month of July, 1777, the undernamed grain was taken from us for the use of the Continental Army on their retreat from Fort George for which we have Never received any Compensation in any Manner & grane, and the Quantity was apprised by Morgan Lewis and the price affixed by Phineas Babcock, Andrew Lewis and James Higson, viz.
"16 Bushels Oats
"18 Bushels rye
"30 Bushels of Oats
"66 Bushels of Corn
"36 Bushels of Wheat
"3 tons of hay
Valued at forty-three pounds five shillings
6th March 1786
This day personally appeared the above Signers and Solemnly affirmed in the presense of Almighty God that they had not received any compensation for the above articles.
"Adiel Sherwood, Juss Peice."
Certificate of the Quartermaster General to the receipt of grain the use of the Continental Army.
"60 Bushels Potatoes
"80 Skipples Wheat
"5 Tons Hay
"16 Busls Oats
"18 Do Rye
"30 Do Oats
"66 Do Corn
"36 Do Wheat
"3 Tons Hay
"The above is agreeable to appraisement made by order Maj'r Gen'l Schuyler.
"9 May 1778
D. Q. M. G."
Affidavit relating to the same.
"We do hereby solemnly swear that to the best of our knowledge the different articles as certified by Morgan Lewis which were taken from Abraham and Benjamin Wing by the Continental Army were worth vizt.:Page 370
|"from Abraham Wing||amount|
|"60 Bushels potatoes worth 25. 6d. per Bushell||£7,,10,,0|
|"80 Skipples Wheat 4s. 6d. per Skipple||18,,00,,0|
|"5 Tons Hay 60s. per Ton||15,,00,,0|
|"From Benjn Wing.|
|"16 Bushell Oats worth 25. 6d. per Bushell||£2,,00,,0|
|"18 Bushell Rye 55. per Bushell||4,,10,,0|
|"30 Bushell Oats 25. 6d. per Bushell||3,,15,,0|
|"66 Bushell Corn 4s. per Bushell||13,,4,,0|
|"36 Bushell Wheat 6s. per Bushell||10,,16,,0|
|"3 Tons Hay at 60s. per Ton||9,,00,,0|
|"Amount of the whole||£43,,5,,0|
"Washington County, 6th March 1786.
"This day personally appeared before me the above signers and made Solemn Oath in the presence of Almighty God the above estimation was to the best of their knowledge.
"Adiel Sherwood. Jus."
The following memorandum of account fixes the date of the foregoing.
|"1777||To Abraham Wing||Dr|
|"July 16th To||60 Bushels at 6s||£18,,00,,0|
|"80 Skipples Wheat at 15s.||45,,00,,0|
|"5 Tons Hay at £6,||30,,00,,0"|
Affidavit of Andrew Lewis, - relating to loss of horses.
"I do hereby most solemnly Swear that on the retreat of the Continental Army from Fort George, there was a black mare taken from me by order of Major General Schuyler, by a party Commanded by Col Morgan Lewis, which mare was worth at least Twelve pounds in Gold or Silver & under nine years of age.
"Washington county 6th March, 1786.
"This day personally appeared before me Andrew Lewis the signer of the above and made solemn oath to the truth of the above.
"Adiel Sherwood, Jus."
Benjamin Wing's affirmation respecting the loss of cattle, etc.
"I do hereby most solemnly affirm that in the Month of July 1777, the under-named Cattle were taken from me by order of Major General Schuyler for the Use of the Continental army on their retreat from Fort George, vizt
|"1 Large Young Horse worth||£26-0-0|
|"1 Large Ox worth||10-0-0|
|"1 Bull worth||5-0-0|
|"3 Milch Cows worth £7 Each||21-0-0|
|"2 Large fatt Heifers worth||12-0-0|
|"3 Calves worth||3-0-0|
"which Cattle I do solemnly affirm were worth at Least Seventy-seven pounds in Gold or Silver, when taken from me, & for which I never have received any Compensation myself nor no other person on my account.
"Washington County 6th March 1786,
"This Day personally appeared before me the above signer Benj Wing and affirmed in the presence of Almighty God that the above act. is True for which he had received no Compensation.
Adiel Sherwood, jus"
Phinehas Babcock's affidavit concerning losses.
"I do hereby most Solemnly Swear that on the retreat of the Continental Troops from Fort George
|"Captain Lyman & a party of Solders took from me one Milch Cow value||£6-0-0|
|"Capt Whitcomb & a party of Soldiers took from me 10 Sheep value 10s||5-0-0|
|"Lieut Howard & a party of Soldiers took from me 1 yoke of oxen valued at £20|
"1 Mare 3 years old value 10
"Amounting in all to forty-one pounds, for which no compensation whatever has been made to me or any other person on my behalf & I do further most solemnly swear that the above Cattle were worth the above valuation of forty-one pounds, in Gold or Silver, when taken from me for the use of the Continental Army -
"Washington County, 6th March 1786.
"This Day personally appeared before me the above Signer Phinehas Babcock
Made Solemn Oath in the presence of Almighty God that the above Estimation was true and that he had not received any pay or Compensation for any of them.
Adiel Sherwood Jus:"
In addition to the cattle heretofore enumerated were a number of milch kine which were returned to the owners pursuant to the following order of Maj. Gen. Schuyler.
"Sir: A number of Milch Cows have been brought down from beyond our lines some of which belong to Mr. Abraham Wyng and his family and as he is so situated that he cannot move I have permitted him to remain and consented that he should take back eight of his cows. You will therefore please to deliver them to him.
"I am Sir
"Your Hu Sert
"Head Quarters July 26 1777
"To Major Gray
James Higson's affidavit respecting losses.
"In the month of July 1777, the Undermentioned articles were taken from me for the use of the Continental Army By General orders & delivered to Brigadier Genl. Larned, vizt.
|"One Large Bay Mare value||£20-0-0|
|"One Large Bay Mare value||15-0-0|
|"Two very Large Milch Cows||16-0-0|
|"1 Large Heifer||4-0-0|
|"2 Store Calves||3-0-0|
"For the above cattle which when taken were worth in Specie fifty-eight pounds I do solemnly swear that I never received any compensation nor any person on my behalf.
"I do most solemnly Swear that in the month of July 1777, a quantity of corn as appraised by Col. Lewis & others to four acres, a Quantity of oats as appraised by Col. Lewis & others to three acres & Potatoes appraised by the same to one half acre were taken from me for the use of the Continental Army, for none of which I have received any compensation, nor any person on my behalf.
this day personally appeared before me James Higson and made oath in the presence of Almighty God that the above act. was Just and True.
"Fort Edward 6th March, 1786. Adiel Sherwood jus.:"
Permit from Col. Yates to Abraham Wing, jr., to keep a horse.
"Saratoga, Nov. 17th, 1777.
"I have considered about your Sons Horse and give him Leave to keep the Same until some higher Power shall order it otherwise. I also grant you Leave to keep a hunting gun in your house and forbid anyone to take the same without orders from the general.
I am Sir
"Your friend & hu Servt.
"A true copy
"To Abraham Wing."
Fortunately for the inhabitants of Queensbury, the important military operations of the next two years occurred farther to the southward along the seaboard, giving them and their property, which had not already been taken or destroyed, a little immunity from the effects of the war. A small garrison was retained at Fort Edward, which was for several months the frontier post on the northern military route.
The town book shows the results of the usual spring election in the following record: -
"At an annual town meeting held in Queensbury on Tuesday ye 5 Day of May 1778 for the Township of Queensbury:
"1 voted. Abraham Wing, Moderator.
"2 voted. Benjamin Wing, Town Clerk.
"3 voted. Abraham Wing, Supervisor.
"4 voted. James Higson, Constable.
"5 voted. John Graves, Constable.
"6 voted. Ebenezer Fuller, Phinehas Babcock and Nehemiah Sealey, Assessors.
"7 voted. Ebenezer Fuller, Pathmaster.
"8 voted. Nehemiah Sealey and Benjamin Wing, Overseers of the Poor.
"9 voted. Phinehas Babcock, Collector.
"10 voted. Abraham Wing, Town treasurer.
"11 voted. Abraham Wing, Jur., Pound keeper.
"12 voted. Nehemiah Sealey and Benjamin Wing, Viewers of fence and prizers of Damage."
With the opening of the spring campaign of 1778 General John Stark was placed in command of the northern department. The year was locally signalized by bitter strife among the Tories and their loyal neighbors. The former element had reached a position of defiance, maliciousness and cruelty, and it was determined to put them down at whatever cost. In June Serenus Parks, a Tory residing near the Harris settlement in the north part of the town, was arrested, as appears by the following letter found among the Wing papers: -Page 374
"Stillwater, 18th of June, 1778.
"Sir we have Received yours of the 16th Inst. in which you have sent us mr. Parks & Jackson's Crime as Pr. Complaint, we let you know that our Next meeting will be at the house of James Swarts at Saratoga on Thursday the 26th Inst. and as by order of Convention we are the Proper Judges of Persons of our own district in actions cognizable before a Sub Committee we therefore demand that the Sd Parks & Jackson shall be forthwith delivered to the Custody of Ensign Isac Doty - who is hereby authorized to Receive them in order that they may be caused to appear before us at the time and Place above mentioned when the Complainants may have opportunity to Produce their Evidence and proceed to trial
By order of Committee,
"George Palmer, Chairman."
It was in this season, also, that Levi Crocker was taken prisoner by a band of Tories, of which some were neighbors and supposed friends. Crocker was at work in his field when taken, and he received such abuse, indignity and insult, that he said to one of his captors, "Tom, there will come a time when I will make you bite the dust for this!" After some months' incarceration he was fortunate enough to escape from his prison, and return to his home at Fort Miller in safety. One day a member of the family discovered the offending Tory, making his way across the lower end of their garden. Crocker, who happened to be in the house, was immediately notified and, taking down his gun, which was always loaded in those exciting times, he stepped to the door and deliberately shot him. While writhing in his death agony, Crocker walked to his side and reminded him of his treachery, and his own well-executed threat.
"Among the pioneer settlers of the Bradshaw patent was Moses Harris, father of the spy whose exploits have already been in part narrated. Like his brother Gilbert, (1) the Tory, he was also a militia man at the time of the capture of Port Royal. In consequence of this service he became entitled to bounty-land, and it was probably while endeavoring to locate his scrip, that he settled in the northwestern part of Kingsbury. He was arrested about the time of the occurrence of the events just narrated, at the house of his brother Gilbert. The latter, well knowing that Moses was fully cognizant of his evil doings, insisted that he should be taken into Canada as a prisoner, even if he died on the route, he being not only advanced in years, but in feeble health at that time, but Andrew Rakely (or Rikely), who was in charge or command of the party of Tories, resolutely opposed the proposition, saying, 'He is an old man, and if he goes the exposure and fatigue will kill him.' To this Gilbert unfeelingly responded, 'Let him die then.' The matter was finally compromised Page 375 by Moses taking an oath not to reveal anything, so long as the war lasted, which would prejudice Gilbert's interests or bring him into disrepute with his Whig neighbors. After the war, Joseph Harris, Moses's son, out of gratitude for this unusual act of kindness, sent word to Rakely in Canada, that if he would come down and settle on it, he would give him one hundred acres of as good farming land as this section of country afforded.
1. Old Gil. Harris found Kingsbury an unhealthy neighborhood to live in after the war was ended. He removed, it is said, to Bolton, and died and was buried somewhere in the vicinity or Basin Bay on Lake George.
"About the same time a lad by the name of Oliver Graham, being with a party of three or four others on their way from Fort Edward, was shot at and wounded by a party of Tories concealed on the route, of whom Gil Harris was one. One of the number exclaimed as he was about to fire, 'Why that's little Oliver Graham, don't kill him;' to which Harris savagely replied, 'Yes, damn him! let's kill all.' The poor fellow, on finding himself wounded, jumped from the roadway into the woods on the opposite side from which the gun was fired, and fell into the hands of another party in ambush, by whom he was taken a prisoner to Canada, where he remained a prisoner until after the close of the war, when he returned again to Sandy Hill." (1)
1. These incidents are thus related in Holden's History of Queensbury.
In short, anarchy reigned supreme; brother was often arrayed against brother and father against son; few knew who could be trusted; the soldiery assumed a license (2) to which they were not entitled, and justice, when it did overtake the enemies of the country, was often prompt in obtaining satisfaction. The following extract from a letter written by General Stark in June to the president of the New Hampshire Congress is a vivid and blood-chilling comment upon the general condition of affairs: -
2. In a letter from General Stark to Colonel Safford, dated at Albany, May 1st, he says: "Doctor Smith complains that the troops at Fort Edward are turning out the inhabitants and destroying the buildings at that place. I should be glad that such disorders should be suppressed, and the inhabitants' property secured."
"They [the people] do very well in the hanging way. They hanged nine on the 16th of May, on the 5th of June nine; and have one hundred and twenty in jail, of which, I believe, more than one-half will go in the same way. Murder and robberies are committed every day in this neighborhood. So you may judge of my situation, with the enemy on my front, and the devil at my rear."
On the 8th of June there were only twenty men left at Fort Edward, and there is no mention of any force at Fort George or the smaller posts between.
The events of the year 1778, as far as relates to this section, were closed by a Tory raid by the way of Lake George and the Sacandaga, which is thus described in Stone's Life of Brant: -
"Much has been said in the traditions of Tryon county, and somewhat, also, in the courts of law, in cases involving titles to real estate formerly in the family of Sir William Johnson, respecting the burial of an iron chest, by his son, Sir John, previous to his flight to Canada, containing the most valuable Page 376 of his own and his father's papers. Late in the autumn of the present year, General Haldimand, at the request of Sir John, sent a party of between forty and fifty men privately to Johnstown, to dig up and carry the chest away. The expedition was successful; but the chest not being sufficiently tight to prevent the influence of dampness from the earth, the papers had become mouldy, rotten and illegible when taken up. The information respecting this expedition was derived in the spring following, from a man named Helmer, who composed one of the party, and assisted in disinterring the chest."
The reader is already familiar with the events of the year 1779, few of which bore important relation to the district under our present consideration. Skenesborough was burned in March by the infamous Joe Betteys and a party of one hundred and thirty Indians, some of the inhabitants killed and the remainder made prisoners; Fort Anne was thus left as the frontier post on the north.
The town record book shows the usual election for 1779, with no change of importance, except the substitution of Phineas Babcock for supervisor in place of Abraham Wing. In 1780 the following record appears: -
"At an annual town meeting held in Queensbury on Tuesday ye 2 Day of May, 1780, For the Township of Queensbury.
"Voted, Abraham Wing, Moderator.
"Voted, to Return this to Fort Miller, at Duer's big house, the Eight of this instant at 9 in the Morning.
"Fort Miller ye 8 AD. 1780, - The Meting mett, and opened according to appointment."
The election of the following officers is then recorded; Benjamin Wing, town clerk; Phineas Babcock, supervisor; James Higson and Andrew Lewis, constables; Ebenezer Fuller, James Higson and Andrew Lewis, assessors; Abraham Wing, pathmaster; Abraham Wing and Benjamin Wing, overseers of the poor; Silas Brown, collector; Abraham Wing, town treasurer; Abraham Wing, jr., pound-keeper; Pardon Daly and James Higson, fence viewers and appraisers of damages.
The reason for adjourning this town meeting to Fort Miller is presumed to have been the fear of some Tory irruption from Canada like that already related, of which there were several more in the course of the season.
Nearly or quite all of the families that have been mentioned as settlers in Queensbury, and others (the Seelyes, the Ferrisses, Merritts, Browns, Odells, Braytons, Harrises, Parkses, Havilands, Griffings, Folgers, etc., who have been conspicuous in the history of the town), were from Duchess county. There they had been neighbors and friends for many years, and the trying experiences to which they were subjected on the scene of their new homes only welded closer the bonds of friendship among them. Most of them belonged Page 377 to the religious sect known as Friends, or Quakers, (1) and were on that account opposed to the war; consequently they took no part in it, and as year after year of the contest passed and their own immediate locality was threatened, they at various times gathered hastily movable property and precipitately retreated to their old homes in Duchess, to return again when the danger was passed. These flittings were so frequent that, in the language of one of the old residents, "It soon got to be very easy to go, for they had but Iittle to move." But, notwithstanding these hardships and periods of absence, the existence of the settlement was maintained with persistent energy, and with the exception of the last year of the war, the inhabitants did not fail to meet annually and elect their town officers, as we have seen.
1. In the year 1813 the following named persons were returned from Queensbury as Quakers, subject to military duty, and refused: Solomon Haviland, Dilwin Gardner, Joseph Haviland, Stephen Brown, Jonathan Drown, Henry Brown, Isaac Fancher, William Sisson, Nathaniel Sisson, jr., Daniel Sisson, Jonathan Dean, David Dean, Joseph Dean, David Brown, Benjamin Lapham. Each of these was assessed four dollars in lieu of the year's military duty.
The following additional records complete the statements of losses by the inhabitants of Queensbury, as recorded in the Wing manuscripts: -
No. 1. (2)
"Memorandum of Account of Outlays, Expenditures and losses by Abraham Wing:
|"Time expended in Search of my Iron which was consealed by Sargent Williams & Company June the 20 Day 1778 6 men and myself t Day||£ 8,,8,,0|
|"2 cwt of Nails||60,,00,,0|
|"To 3 journies to Fort Stark in the Summer in pursuit of sd iron||3,,12,,0|
|"2 days at Court||2,,8,,0|
|"2 large Carpenters Sledges or Mawls||9,,12,,0|
|"8 ax, 2 Iron wedges||6,,8,,0|
2. Holden's History of Queensbury.
Statement of losses by one Jacob Ferguson.
"Capt moss I understand by Cornal mcCray that you had wheat from my fathers plase with others and as it was one third part mine please to pay Abraham Wing the money for what you Had and you will oblige your Friend.
"Queensbury the 4 of February 1780 Jacob Ferguson."
"Capt putnam I understand by Cornal mcCray that you had sum wheat from my Fathers plase which wheat was one third part mine please to pay Abraham Wing for the Same and you will oblige your friend to sarve.
"Queensbury the 4 february 1780. Jacob Ferguson."Page 378
Affidavit of Samuel Younglove relating to the destruction of property in Queensbury in 1780.
"County of Washington
Personally before me Albert Baker one of the Justices for said Washington County Samuel Younglove of Lawfull age deposeth and saith that he saw James Stinslor take out of the house of Abram Wing in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty to the amount of about one hundred panes of glass with the sashes or near there abouts and saw him have five sawmill saws and sundry other articles which the said Stinslor told the deponent he had taken from the said Wing, and the deponent further declares that the said StinsIor told him the deponent that he had got to the amount of between forty and fifty pounds from old Wing. farthermore deponent saith not.
"Sworn before me this 11th June, 1787
"Albert Baker J. Peace"
Affidavit concerning cattle seized in 1780.
"Washington County State of New York ss.
"Personally appeared before me John Williams one of Judges of the Court of Sessions & common pleas for the said County John McCrea of said County of lawful age who being duly sworn on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God deposeth and saith that in the month of October in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty that the Garrison stationed at Fort Edward were destitute of provisions and that the Commissary then at that post was directed to get Cattle where they might be had for the support of the Troops by order of General Schuyler Jonathan Jillet the then Commissary applyed to this deponent who had a pair of fatt oxen which he received and killed at the post that this deponent applied to the commissary for payment who gave this deponent a certificate for said Cattle which afterwards was destroyed with the buildings of this deponent by the enemy that he the said Commissary left the parts immediately after the Campaign ended so that this deponent could not obtain any relief in the premises & has made application to the Legislature of this State but did not receive any neither has he at any time or in any manner received any kind of restitution for said Cattle and further he this deponent has not assigned or made over said certificate to any person or persons whatever and that the certificate which this deponent received for said oxen from said Commissary was for fourteen hundred weight of Beef as near as this deponent recollects and further this deponent saith not.
"Sworn before me this 25th december 1790
John Williams Jud Curia."
Official certificates in favor of Abraham Wing and son.
"This Certifies that Mr. Abraham Wing hath supplied the Publick with 150 Plank and 50 Boards Price not known of the above Boards.
"This Certifies that Abraham Wing hath Supplied the Public with Two tuns of Hay at One hundred and Sixty five Dollors pr tun Amounting to One Hundred and Thirty two Pounds for Which Sum this Shall be a Sufficient voucher Given under my hand and Seal --- of September 1780 £ 132-0
"Chris Yates D Q M G
"Fort George 22d march 1780"
"These to Certify
"That abraham Wing Jun hath been two days Imployed in Public services at the garrison at fort George with a sleigh and two Yoke of Oxen one day and with one Span of Horses the other Day for which he hath Recd no pay.
"To Whom it may concern
pr Wm Moulton Captn Commandt."
Deposition of James Higson concerning two oxen, the property of Benjn. Wing - taken for the public service in 1781.
"The Peblic to Bcnjn. Wing Dr. 15th May 1781
"To Two Oxen Taken from Fort Miller by Lieut. Bagley, by order of Lt. Col. Van dike.
This Day personly appeared Before me James Higson of Lawfull age and made solomn oath in the presence of Almighty God, that he Saw the above named Lt. Bagley Take the Oxen from Fort Miller with a party of Soldiers and said he had orders from Col. Van Dicke to Do So, and that he the sd Deponant knew the oxen to be the property of the above named Benjamin Wing.
"Sworn before me at Fort Edward this 6th Day of March, 1786.
"Adiel Sherwood Jus Peace
"We Do hereby Solemnly Sware that to the best of our knowledge the Two oxen above specified which were taken from Benjn. Wing for the use of the Continental Army, were worth at that time in specie Thirty pounds york money.
this Day personly appeared before me the above Phis. Babcock, Andrew Lewis and James Higson and made oath to the same
"Fort Edward 6th March 1786. Adiel Sherwood, Jus Peace
"6th March 1786, this day personly appeared before me Benjn Wing and
Most Solemnly affirmed in the presence of Almighty God that he had not received any Compensation for the within mentioned oxen.
"Adiel Sherwood, Jus. Peace."
It is presumed that no part of these claims was ever adjusted.
Queensbury was destined to still further devastation before the triumph of liberty was secured. The Tory element in this section continued to increase in numbers and vindictiveness, and the annals of the times are filled with thrilling incidents in which they and their loyal neighbors were the chief participants. The Sacandaga River and Lake George, with frequent forays into Queensbury, were the favorite routes for the incursions of the Tory bands. It was early in this season (1780) that Justus Seelye (according to the narrative of his son given to Dr. Holden), then a small boy and later a resident of this town, was smuggled into a neighbor's house at Fort Miller, where a meeting of Indians, as supposed, was held, and to whose consultations and proceedings he thus involuntarily became a witness. After they left he escaped to his home and related the events and conversation of the evening. A party was immediately organized in pursuit, which overtook and captured them, when one of them was discovered to be a neighbor and a Tory painted up in the fitting semblance of a savage. He with the rest of his party, all Tories, were sent to Albany and imprisoned, tried by court martial and hung.
In the autumn of the same year, when Captain John Chipman was in command at Fort George and Captain Adiel Sherwood at Fort Anne, both of these posts were captured by the British and the latter named unimportant fortification burned, the details of which, with those of other operations and the sanguinary engagement at Bloody Pond, have been given in an earlier chapter. The prisoners taken at the two forts were conveyed by way of Lake Leorge and transferred to the vessels on Lake Champlain, and Fort George was destroyed. The detachment of Tories and Indians that proceeded south from Fort Anne hastened on through Kingsbury street, burning and destroying as they went. In local traditions this year has ever since 'been termed" the year of the burning."
Of the incidents bearing a local interest and connected with these events, Dr. Holden notes the following in his work on Queensbury: "Among the number comprising this expedition [against the two forts] was a former resident of Sandy Hill named Adam Wint, who, espousing the royal cause, went to Canada in the early part of the war. He with another Tory from the same neighborhood acted as guides to a party of Indians to whom was assigned the incendiary work of destruction. At this time Albert Baker, sr.; (1) was attending Page 381 court in the eastern part of the county. While his sons and hired men were at work, a part of them in the barn and the rest in the fields near by, a neighbor by the name of Thomas Lyon came rushing by exclaiming, 'Boys what are you about? Don't you see that all Kingsbury's ablaze? You'd better be getting out of this!' After warning the family, the boys hitched up two yokes of oxen to a cart, and loading it hastily with what few things came readily to hand they made their escape by the way of Fort Edward. Even then the Tories had formed their ambuscade by the road side, for Gil Harris, who was one of the party, with others lay concealed behind a log on the route between Sandy Hill and Fort Edward, afterwards told Mrs. Baker that he saw her passing with a tea-kettle in her hand, and that she would have been taken a prisoner to Canada had it not been from a fear of being pursued by the soldiers at Fort Edward.
1. The Bakers were or Scotch or North English origin. For political reasons the original or pioneer emigrant of the name was obliged to flee his country, and seek refuge in this, country, during Cromwell's protectorate. Albert Baker, jr., was born 10th November, 1765. When he was four years of age his father moved to Sandy Hill. Caleb Baker, son of Albert, was the first child born of white parents in the town of Kingsbury. Albert, jr., was sent to school at Glens Falls before there was any school at Sandy Hill. He boarded at Abraham Wing's.
"A portion of the same party followed down the river on the west side as far as Stillwater, burning and destroying as they went. The fugitive settlers from Kingsbury and Queensbury are said to have been guided on their retreat by the blaze of the burning buildings.
"A widow Harris, who kept tavern nearly opposite the Baker house, had a little daughter captured by the enemy, but they shortly let her go again and she returned to her mother; home she had none, for it was burned. There were seventeen families living in Kingsbury at this time. Of all the buildings and betterments everything was destroyed but two.
"At this time Queensbury was abandoned by its inhabitants, its dwellings and improvements were again burnt and destroyed and the settlement remained deserted for the next fifteen months, during which no record exists of town meetings, nor is there any other evidence of occupancy."
Of the situation after the era of destruction in Queensbury we have a vivid picture in the Travels in North America, by the Marquis de Chastellux, under date of December 30th, 1780, wherein he says: "I had scarcely lost sight of Fort Edward, before the spectacle of devastation presented itself to my eyes, and continued to distress them as far as the place I stopped at. Peace and Industry had conducted Cultivators amidst the ancient forests [who] were content and happy, before the period of this war. Those who were in Burgoyne's way alone Experienced the horrors of his Expedition; but on the last invasion of the Savages, the desolation has spread from Fort Schuyler (or Stanwise) even to Fort Edward; I beheld nothing around me but the remains of conflagrations; a few bricks, proof against the fire, were the only indication of ruined houses; whilst the fences still entire, and cleared out lands, announced that these deplorable habitations had once been the abode of riches and happiness."
"Among the prisoners taken at this time by a party of savages and Tories accompanying the expedition to Fort George, were Eben Fuller (brother-in-law to William Robards, before mentioned) and his son Benjamin; Andrew Page 382 Lewis, who was held a prisoner in Canada to the close of the war, James Higson, soon afterward liberated through the intercession of his brother-in-law, Daniel Jones, Moses Harris the elder and his son William.
"The morning following the surrender of the fort, the dwelling where they lived was surrounded by the invading party, and before they could make any preparations either for defense or escape, they were made prisoners. The elder Harris was treated with uncalled for severity and harshness. His shoes and stockings were taken off, and he was loaded with a heavy pack of plunder, with which, after his house and out buildings were burned, he was compelled to travel the rough road which led along the western banks of Lake George to a point on Lake Champlain north of Ticonderoga, probably Bulwagga Bay. (1) The son begged the privilege of carrying his father's pack, and also to allow the old gentleman the use of his shoes and stockings, while he would go barefoot. Through the malignity of one of the Tories, who had an old grudge to revenge, this request was denied, and the old man's trail might, for many miles, have been traced by his bloody foot-prints. After reaching Lake Champlain the party, consisting of eighteen prisoners with their captors, were embarked in boats and bateaux, which had been concealed at that place on their way up, and after many privations, hardships and indignities, were finally landed at Quebec.
1. "It is proper to state," says Dr. Holden in a foot note, p. 485, "that this, narrative and the other Harris traditions were taken down by the author about the year 1850 from the relation of Moses Harris, nephew of William, the principal actor in this life drama, by whom my informant had heard the events related many times. In one respect, and perhaps without sufficient cause, I have varied my account from the original version as given to me; which made the date of the capture of the Harrises, and other prisoners at the time of Burgoyne's advance, which the following reminiscence would seem to confirm; for William's son Benjamin informed me that his father's name was afterwards found on the muster and pay rolls in Sherwood's possession, as one of the militia drafted for that emergency, and that he was present in the fort as a soldier, and was made a prisoner at the time of the surrender of Fort Anne. It is gratifying, also, to record his justification of the surrender; inasmuch as, according to his judgment, the fort was wholly untenable against any considerable force.
"Here the captives were ransomed from the savages, and became prisoners of war. For a period they were held in close confinement, but after awhile the rigor of their discipline was somewhat relaxed, and the old man was permitted to follow the occupations of farming and also of dressing and tanning deerskins, with which he was familiar. In due course of time, he with other prisoners was sent to Halifax and exchanged, after which he returned to his former home in Duchess county. The younger Harris, with thirteen other prisoners, through the same Tory influence that had made both his march and imprisonment of unusual rigor and severity, was placed for more perfect security where they were guarded by a patrol of soldiers and kept at work. With the opening of spring a yearning for freedom possessed the hearts of the prisoners, and they concerted a plan for escape, which was afterward matured and carried into effect as follows: A boat from the main land furnished them daily with provisions Page 383 and such necessary supplies as their condition required. From these supplies, they commenced saving up from their daily rations such portions as could be most easily preserved, until they had accumulated sufficient to last them for three days. When the critical moment of departure arrived, however, only seven of the fourteen could be prevailed upon to undertake the perilous journey. The most the others would do was to take a solemn oath not to make any disclosure or raise any alarm which would lead to their apprehension, until the evening following, when the sentries were changed, and the discovery would be inevitable. They seized the boat which brought their provisions in the morning and made their escape during the forenoon, landing upon the south shore of the St. Lawrence, on the borders of the vast wilderness stretching toward the New England colonies. Harris, being an excellent woodsman, here took the lead, and they struck boldly into the wilderness, pursuing their way southward for several days and nights with but little rest and scant refreshment, husbanding their slender stock of provisions to the utmost. These soon gave out and they were obliged to depend upon such chance fare as the forest afforded. At length, utterly worn out with fatigue they made a halt, and to avoid the intolerable annoyance of the mosquitos and flies, it was proposed to build a fire, or more properly a smudge, as it is called in woodman's parlance. Harris opposed the project and endeavored to dissuade them from it, on the ground that it would inevitably lead to their discovery and recapture, if they were pursued, which was exceedingly probable. He was overruled, however, by the majority, and a place was selected on a low marshy spot of ground, where the fire was started and then smothered with damp, rotten wood, which prevented it from blazing and made a dense, heavy smoke which kept off the insects. Around this they camped for the night, and exhausted with the protracted march and unwonted fatigue the entire party was very shortly buried in a profound sleep. About midnight they were aroused from their slumbers by a volley of musketry, by which one of their number was killed outright, and two others were desperately wounded. Harris, who was a large, muscular man, with limbs powerfully knit together, and of herculean proportions and strength, arose in time to parry a blow from a tomahawk, which was aimed by a gigantic savage at one of his companions. The Indian immediately grappled with him, and after a struggle for some minutes Harris succeeded in throwing him upon the now brightly blazing fire, when putting his feet upon his neck he pressed the savage's head beneath the flames. At this juncture, a near neighbor and former friend of Harris before the war, a Tory by the name of Cyrenus Parks, approached him with his musket, clubbed, and ordered him to release the savage. (1) This he refused to do, and as he drew back to strike him, Harris exclaimed, Page 384 'You won't kill an unarmed man will you, Parks, and an old neighbor too?' Parks made no reply, nor for an instant wavered in his fell purpose, and the blow descended. Harris warded it off as well as he could with his arm, which was broken by its force, the remainder of the blow falling upon his head, the lock of the gun cutting a large gash through the scalp, down the sides of the head to the ear.
1. Cyrenus Parks had a brother named Joseph, who, after the war, lived on his brother's place, near neighbor to William. As he was a Whig and patriot in sentiment, he and the Harrises were very amicable in their relations, until a misunderstanding arose between them in regard to some business transaction, when a gradual coolness ensued, which, for a while, estranged them. One morning Joseph called upon William, manifesting a disposition to conciliate and make friends again. In great good humor he related several anecdotes and border adventures, until he thought his listener had reached a genial frame of mind; when, leading his way quietly and gradually to the subject, he asked William if he would not be willing to overlook the past and forgive his brother Cyrenus, if the latter would make a suitable acknowledgment and ask his forgiveness. Springing from his seat in a tempest of rage, the old scout replied with an oath: "No, he tried to kill me in cold blood, and if I ever get a chance I'll shoot him." Joseph still pressed and argued the matter until Harris's suspicions were aroused, and he exclaimed: "Joseph, Cyrenus is at your house, and if he wants to live he had better keep out of my way."
The next night Cyrenus made his escape to Canada. The popular tradition that Harris tracked him to the St. Lawrence River and shot him as he was crossing that stream, is declared by the family to be without warrant, and untrue.
"Harris fell stunned and remained insensible for many hours. When he awoke to consciousness he found another gash on the opposite side of his head, caused by the blow of a tomahawk, two wounds upon his forehead caused by the muzzle of a musket, jammed down with considerable force with the intent of dispatching him, and a bayonet thrust in the chest, which had been given to see if he was still alive. All his companions were gone, as well as his coat, shoes and knapsack, which he had taken off the evening before, and which had served him as a pillow during his fatal sleep. He staggered to his feet, dressed his wounds as well as he could, slung his broken arm through his neck handkerchief, and, maimed and crippled, resumed his slow and toilsome progress towards home. He subsisted upon roots, leaves and herbs, such as he could find suitable for the purpose upon his route, and an occasional frog dressed with his remaining hand, aided by his teeth, and eaten raw.
"At length he came out on the bank of a stream. While standing upon the gravelly beach, looking around for materials with which to construct a raft, the stream being deep and rapid, and he unable to swim, he suddenly caught sight of two men cautiously reconnoitering from some distance above him. He immediately concealed himself among the thick bushes and rank vegetation along the stream and crept back into the woods to an old tree top, which had been his place of concealment and lodging the night before. After waiting some time, and reflecting that his situation could be made but little worse even by a return to captivity, he resolved to go back and surrender himself to the lurking foe. He accordingly went back and again discovered the two men cautiously peering at him through the brushwood. Stepping boldly out in sight, he beckoned them to approach, when, to his great joy, he found that they were two Dutchmen from the Mohawk Valley, comrades of his, who had also escaped on the night of the attack. They dressed his wounds, which Page 385 were found in a putrid condition and swarming with maggots. They also adjusted his broken arm, dressing it with splints prepared from barks of trees and bound it together with his handkerchief. The next day they constructed a raft and crossed the stream. Fortunately, Harris had a hook and a line in his pocket, and coming to a good sized brook, they encamped and caught a fine string of trout, which they cooked and ate, the first warm meal they had enjoyed since they left the island.
"Continuing their journey they came, after some days' travel, upon a small clearing and log house. One of the three went forward, after carefully and cautiously reconnoitering to see that no enemy was around, and begged of the woman of the house. She proved to be French. They were still in Canada. She gave the messenger to understand that she had no food to give, that her husband was away from home, and that their place was visited almost daily by armed bands of Indians and Tories. A loaf of corn bread baked in the ashes was, after some search, discovered carefully hidden away, which the fugitive eagerly seized and carried to his companions. They made what haste they could to get out of the dangerous locality. After many more days' wandering they came out upon the settlements of the Lower Goos, now Bellows Falls, on the Connecticut River. Here the trio parted, the two Dutchmen proceeding to Cherry Valley by way of Albany, and Harris repaired to New Perth, now Salem, in Charlotte county, where his wounds were first regularly and properly dressed by Dr. Williams, then member of the Colonial Legislature, and colonel of militia. His wounds were a long time in healing. After his recovery it is stated that he served as a minute man, or one of the reserve militia, until the close of the war." (1)
1. This narrative is given in Dr. Holden's History of Queensbury, p. 485, etc.
During the two years following the occurrence of the events narrated, the history of Queensbury remains a blank, so far as local records are concerned. It was practically wiped out of existence as a settlement. Our early chapters have chronicled the public operations in this region which came down to the spring of 1783, when on the 19th of April (the day which completed the eighth year of the war), the cessation of hostilities and the triumph of the colonists was announced throughout the country. No sooner was peace restored than the proprietors of Queensbury again entered upon their duties. On Tuesday, May 6th, of that year the town meeting was held and the following officers elected: -
Moderator - Abraham Wing.
Town Clerk - Benjamin Wing.
Supervisors - Nehemiah Seelye, and Phineas Babcock.
Constables - William Robards, and David Blick.
Assessors - David Bennett, Wm. Robards, and James Higson.
Pathmasters - Benjamin Wing, and Silas Brown.
Page 386 Overseers of the Poor - Abraham Wing, and Benedick Brown.
Collector - Nehemiah Seelye.
Treasurer - Abraham Wing.
Fence Viewers - Phineas Babcock, David Bennett, and Jeremiah Briggs.
In July of this year the locality was visited by General Washington and a portion of his staff (probably on the 19th or 21st of the month) on their way to inspect the posts at Lake George, Ticonderoga and Crown Point. On this occasion the party halted, and calling Walter Briggs, who was at work in an adjoining field, he came and helped them to water from the upper branch of the Butler Brook.
With the advent of peace came all of the beneficent influences that soon lifted the country from the terrors and depression of a long and destructive war to the plane of prosperity - a transition that was nowhere else more welcome than to the harassed and distressed inhabitants of the region with which this history is most concerned.
This portion of out work may be appropriately closed with the following description of Queensbury and Glens Falls, as they appeared to the Marquis de Chastellux at the end of the year 1780: -
". . . . . On leaving the valley, and pursuing the road to Lake George, is a tolerable military position which was occupied in the war before the last; it is a sort of entrenched camp, adapted to abatis, guarding the passage from the woods, and commanding the valley. . . . . . Arrived at the height of the cataract, it was necessary to quit our sledges and walk half a mile to the bank of the river. The snow was fifteen inches deep, which rendered this walk rather difficult, and obliged us to proceed in Indian file. In order to make a path, each of us put ourselves alternately at the head of this little column, as the wild geese relieve each other to occupy the summit of the angles they form in their flight. But had our march been still more difficult, the sight of the cataract was an ample recompense. It is not a sheet of water as at Cohos, and at Totohaw; the river confined, and interrupted in its course by different rocks, glides through the midst of them, and precipitating itself obliquely, forms several cascades. That of Cohos is more majestic, this, more terrible; the Mohawk River seemed to fall from its own dead weight; that of the Hudson frets, and becomes enraged, it foams, and forms whirlpools, and flies like a serpent making its escape, still continuing its menaces by horrible hissings. . . . . . On their return, the party stopped again at Fort Edward to warm by the fire of the officers who command the garrison. They are five in number, and have about one hundred and fifty soldiers. They are station ed in this desert for the whole winter."
Mention has been made in another chapter of the settlement of Jacob Glen on the south side of the river, where he obtained, according to traditions of the Parke family, his title of Elijah Parke, the original settler in that neighborhood.Page 387
After the Revolutionary War Glen rebuilt the mills destroyed during the struggle, manufactured lumber and passed some weeks every summer at a cottage originally built by one of the Parke family and standing on the hill overlooking the present paper-mill site. Here he lived in what was grand style for that period. It was during one of these visits, as related by Dr. Holden, that, "in a convivial moment, it was proposed by him to pay the expenses of a wine supper for the entertainment of a party of mutual friends if Mr. Wing would consent to transfer his claim and title to the name of the falls. Whether the old Quaker pioneer thought the project visionary and impracticable, or whatever motive may have actuated him, assent was given, the symposium was held, and the name of Glens Falls was inaugurated. (1)
1. The name of the village has passed through several changes of orthography, and is found printed as "Glens," "Glenns," in each instance both with and without the indication of the possessive case, and has finally, in recent years, settled down to the common usage adopted in this work - "Glens Falls."
"Mr. Glen hastened to Schenectady and ordered some hand-bills printed, announcing" the change of name. These were posted in all the taverns along the highway and bridle paths from Queensbury to Albany, and the change of name was effected with a promptitude that must have been bewildering to the easy-going farmers of the town in those days. The following letter, written in elegant running hand, and still existing among the Wing MSS., is believed to determine the date of this enterprise: (2) -
"'Mr. Glen's compliments, to Mr. Wing, and requests the favor of him to send the advertisement accompanying this by the first conveyance to his friends at Quaker Hill.
"'Mr. Glen hopes Mr. and Mrs. Wing and the family are all well.
"'Glen's Falls, April 29th, 1788.'
"Superscribed, 'Mr. Wing, Queensbury.'"
2. "Colonel Johannes Glen, after whom the village was named, was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Johannes, jr., who was the son of Jacob, the eldest son of the original immigrant, and brother of Captain Johannes Glen, of Schenectady. According to Professor Pearson's record, he was born 2d of July, 1735, and baptized in Albany, where his father lived and died. His mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Cuyler. He was quartermaster in the French and Revolutionary Wars, stationed at Schenectady; in 1775 bought lands on the Hudson, above Fort Edward, of Daniel Parke, which tract was afterwards called Glens Falls."