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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 75: Washington's Visit.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1110-1126 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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1783 — July, Washington's tour of Mohawk Valley and visit to Otsego Lake — His letters concerning trip — Stops at Fort Stanwix, Fort Herkimer, Palatine, Fort Plain, Cherry Valley, Canajoharie and Schenectady — Colonel Clyde — Final records of Fort Plain or Fort Rensselaer — Last revolutionary foray about Fort Plain.

In the spring of 1783, an order for the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States was published in the camp of the latter, but an army organization was kept up until fall. As the initiatory step in his contemplated tour of observation in central New York, Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Philip Schuyler, from his Newburgh headquarters, July 15, 1783, as follows:

"Dear Sir: — I have always entertained a great desire to see the northern part of this State, before I returned Southward. The present irksome interval, while we are waiting for the definite treaty, affords an opportunity of gratifying this inclination. I have therefore concerted with Geo. Clinton to make a tour to reconnoitre those places, where the most remarkable posts were established, and the ground which became famous by being the theatre of action in 1777. On our return from thence, we propose to pass across the Mohawk river, in order to have a view of that tract of country, which is so much celebrated for the fertility of its soil and the beauty of its situation. We shall set out by water on Friday the 18th, if nothing shall intervene to prevent our journey.

"Mr. Dimler, assistant quartermaster-general, who will have the honor of delivering this letter, precedes us to make arrangements, and particularly to have some light boats provided and transported to Lake George, that we may not be delayed upon our arrival there.

"I pray you, my dear sir, to be so good as to advise Mr. Dimler in what manner to proceed in this business, to excuse the trouble I am about to give you, and to be persuaded that your kind information and discretion to the bearer will greatly increase the obligations with which I have the honor to be, etc." - Sparks Life, 8, 425. [i.e., Jared Sparks, Life and Writings of George Washington]

On July 16 Washington wrote the president of congress as to his intended trip. He returned to his headquarters at Newburgh, August 5, 1783, and on the following day, August 6, wrote to the congressional president a brief record of his journey. After speaking of his return, which was by water from Albany to Newburgh, he says:

"My tour, having been extended as far northward as Crown Point, and westward to Fort Schuyler [Stanwix] and its district, and my movements having been pretty rapid, my horses, which are not yet arrived, will be so much fatigued that they will need some days to recruit, etc."

In another letter, of the same date, he refers further to his tour in these words:

"I was the more particularly induced by two considerations to make the tour, which in my letter of the 16th ultimo, I informed Congress I had in contemplation, and from which I returned last evening. The one was the inclination to see the northern and western posts of the State, with those places which have been the theatre of important military transactions; the other a desire to facilitate, as far as in my power, the operations which will be necessary for occupying the posts which are ceded by the treaty of peace, as soon as they shall be evacuated by the British troops." He had his eye upon Detroit as a point to be looked after and wanted some of the well-affected citizens of that place to preserve the fortifications and buildings there "until such time as a garrison could be sent with provisions and stores sufficient to take and hold possession of them. The propriety of this measure has appeared in a more forcible point of light, since I have been up the Mohawk river, and taken a view of the situation of things in that quarter. * * * I engaged at Fort Rensselaer [Fort Plain] a gentleman whose name is Cassaty, formerly a resident of Detroit and who is well recommended, to proceed without loss of time, find out the disposition of the inhabitants and make every previous inquiry which might be necessary for the information of the Baron on his arrival, that he should be able to make such final arrangements as the circumstances might appear to justify. This seemed to be the best alternative on failure of furnishing a garrison of our troops, which, for many reasons, would be infinitely the most eligible mode, if the season and your means would possibly admit. I have at the same time endeavored to take the best preparatory steps in my power for supplying the garrisons on the western waters by the provision contract. I can only form my magazine at Fort Herkimer on the German Flats, which is 32 miles by land and almost 50 by water from the carrying place between the Mohawk river and Wood creek. The route by the former is impracticable, in its present state, for carriages and the other extremely difficult for bateaux, as the river is much obstructed with fallen and floating trees, from the long disuse of the navigation. That nothing, however, which depends upon me might be left undone, I have directed 10 months provisions for 500 men to be laid up at Fort Herkimer, and have ordered Col. Willett, an active officer commanding the troops of the state [evidently meaning state troops in this locality], to repair the roads, remove the obstructions in the river, and, as far as can be effected by the labors of the soldiers, build houses for the reception of the provisions and stores at the carrying place [Fort Stanwix] in order that the whole may be in perfect readiness to move forward, so soon as the arrangement shall be made with Gen. Haldermand [governor general of Canada]."

October 12, 1783, Washington wrote to the Chevalier Chastelleux, as follows:

"I have lately made a tour through the Lakes George and Champlain as far as Crown Point. Thence returning to Schenectady, I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort Schuyler and crossed over to Wood creek, which empties into the Oneida lake, and affords the water communication with Ontario. I then traversed the country to the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, and viewed the Lake Otsego, and the portage between that lake and the Mohawk river at Canajoharie. Prompted by these actual observations, I could not help taking a more extensive view of the vast inland navigation of these United States, from maps and the information of others, and could not but be struck by the immense extent and importance of it, and with the goodness of Providence, which has dealt its favors to us with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them. I shall not rest contented till I have explored the western country, and traversed those lines or a great portion of them, which have given bounds to a new empire. But when it may, if it ever shall happen, I dare not say, as my first attention must be given to the deranged situation of my private concerns, which are not a little injured by almost nine years absence and a total disregard of them, etc., etc."

Washington went west, probably by way of the north river shore highway to East Creek, where his party forded the Mohawk and continued westward over the south shore highway. He probably visited the General Herkimer Home, although there is no record of this. General Washington probably visited a number of places in the valley of which there is no recorded account.

The general and his party visited Fort Stanwix, which had been badly damaged by fire and abandoned in 1781. Washington then went west by road to Oneida Lake. Washington was greatly interested in inland navigation and especially in the Mohawk River ocean-to-lakes link. He was so taken with the beauty and fertility of the Valley of the Mohawk that he subsequently bought farm lands in Oneida County.

On Washington's return trip he conferred with Colonel Willett, the Valley commandant, at Fort Herkimer. This was then one of the two most advanced western army posts. Because of its closeness to the Mohawk River, which then carried all heavy freight transportation, Washington had designated Fort Herkimer as the western depot for American Army supplies, which were to be sent westward to the western British posts which were to be turned over to American control.

Detroit and Niagara were the chief of these forts. Doubtless Washington also conferred here with Willett on his westward journey. The commander took dinner under a tree in front of the Shoemaker house, about three miles west of Fort Herkimer. This house is still standing on the western limits of the village of Mohawk. The raids of 1778 and 1782 had destroyed all of the one-time comfortable Colonial farmhouses of the German Flats. The Shoemaker house had been a Tory resort during the Revolution and so had been spared by the bloodthirsty Tory and Indian bands which had destroyed this neighborhood. This house probably afforded the only comforts and conveniences in the neighborhood to accommodate the general and his staff and give them a square meal.

Washington, of course, visited Fort Dayton (in present Herkimer), but there is no detailed record of that event, which, doubtless, attracted the surviving settlers for miles around. It is regrettable that Colonel Willett, who had such a high regard for Washington, makes no mention of the general's visit, in the pages of his "Narrative". This is all the more remarkable as Colonel Willett was the commander of this frontier and must have had a large part in Washington's Mohawk Valley journey. He also conferred here with Washington on important military and army matters - probably on other than questions of supply, because Washington placed great confidence in Willett's knowledge of the frontier situation and of its Indian enemies.

Washington mentions that he gave Willett orders to build "houses for the reception of the provisions and stores at the carrying place," meaning at Fort Stanwix on the site of the present city of Rome. If these orders were carried out, there must have been a reoccupation of Fort Stanwix in 1783, for a guard would necessarily have been placed here for protection of stores and storehouses.

It is probable that Washington visited Fort Paris (Stone Arabia), Fort Johnstown, Fort Hunter, Fort Johnson and Schenectady as well as Fort Stanwix, Fort Dayton, Fort Herkimer, Fort Plain, Cherry Valley and Canajoharie.

Simms publishes the following account of Washington's visit to Fort Plain during his trip through this section:

"The reader will observe by Washington's correspondence that he made the northern trip by water to Crown Point, but from Schenectady to Fort Stanwix [Schuyler], or rather its site, on horseback. The tour of inspection, as shadowed in his letters, is devoid of all incident, and whether or not he halted at Fort Plain on his way up is uncertain; but as he speaks last of going to Otsego Lake, it is presumed he made no halt at the river forts going up, nor is there any account of his visiting Johnstown in his tour, but it is reasonable to conclude that he did. He did not mention Fort Plain, but it is well known that he was there, giving it another name [Fort Rensselaer]. Arriving in this vicinity [on July 30, 1783], said the late Cornelius Mabie, who was thus informed by his mother, he tarried over night with Peter Wormuth, in Palatine on the late Reuben Lipe farm, the former having had an only son killed, as elsewhere shown, near Cherry Valley. It was no doubt known to many that he had passed up the valley, who were on the qui vive to see him on his return, and good tradition says that in the morning many people had assembled at Wormuth's to see the world's model man, and to satisfy their curiosity, he walked back and forth in front of the house, which fronted toward the river. This old stone dwelling in ruins, was totally demolished about the year 1865.

"We have seen that Washington found Col. Willett in command at Fort Herkimer [then together with Fort Dayton, the most advanced frontier posts in the state], at which time Col. Clyde was in command of Fort Plain. Just how many attended His Excellency through the Mohawk valley is not satisfactorily known. His correspondence only names Gov. George Clinton. Campbell in his 'Annals' [i.e., William W. Campbell, Annals of Tryon County; or, The border warfare of New York, during the revolution] says he was accompanied by Gov. Clinton, Gen. Hand and many other officers of the New York line. The officers making the escort were no doubt attended by their aids and servants. Whether any other officer remained with Washington at Wormuth's over night is unknown. It is presumed, however, the house being small and the fort only a mile off, that his attendants all went thither, crossing at Walrath's Ferry, opposite the fort, some of whom returned in the morning to escort the Commander-in-Chief over the river [July 31, 1783]. A pretty incident awaited his arrival on the eminence near the fort. Beside the road Rev. Mrs. Gros had paraded a bevy of small boys to make their obeisance (her nephew, Lawrence Gros, from whom this fact was derived, being one of the number). At a signal they took off and swung their hats, huzzaed a welcome and made their best bow to Washington, when the illustrious guest gracefully lifted his chapeau and returned their respectful salutation with a cheerful 'Good morning, boys!' Immediately after, he rode up to the fort, where he received a military salute from the garrison.

"I suppose Washington to have been welcomed within the large blockhouse, and on introducing the guest to its commandant, Gov. Clinton took occasion to say to him: 'Gen. Washington, this is Col. Clyde, a true Whig and a brave officer who has made great sacrifices for his country'. The General answered warmly, 'Then, sir, you should remember him in your appointments'. From this hint, Gov. Clinton afterward appointed him sheriff of Montgomery County. Gen. Washington dined with Col. Clyde, after which, escorted by Maj. Thornton, they proceeded [going over the Otsquago Trail, through present Starkville and Van Hornesville, thence] to Cherry Valley, where they became the guests over night, of Col. Campbell, who had returned not long before and erected a log house. Burnt out as the Campbells had been, their accommodations were limited for so many people, but they were all soldiers and had often been on short allowance of 'bed and board' and could rough it if necessary. Besides, it is possible other families had returned to discover their hospitality for the night. They found themselves very agreeably entertained, however. Mrs. Campbell and her children had been prisoners in Canada. In the morning Gov. Clinton, seeing several of her boys, told Mrs. Campbell, 'They would make good soldiers in time'. She replied she 'hoped their services would never be thus needed'. Said Washington, 'I hope so, too, madam, for I have seen enough of war'. One of those boys, the late Judge James S. Campbell, was captured so young and kept so long among the Indians that he could only speak their language when exchanged. After breakfast the party were early in the saddle [going over the east Otsego Lake shore trail] to visit the outlet of Otsego Lake, and see where Gen. James Clinton dammed the lake, just above its outlet, to float his boats down the Susquehanna, to join in Sullivan's expedition. The party returned the same evening to Fort Plain, via the portage road used by Clinton to Springfield from Canajoharie [the present Clinton road, running from the Happy Hollow - Seebers Lane section straight south to Salt Springville, thence to Springfield] and the next day, as believed, they dropped down the valley."

On reaching Canajoharie, August 1, 1783, Washington and his company were received by Col. Clyde, who had ridden down from Fort Plain in the morning to receive the commander's party on its return from Otsego Lake. After the destruction of Cherry Valley in 1778, Clyde removed his family to the neighborhood of Schenectady, where they remained until the close of hostilities. One account says that at this time (August, 1783) they had removed to the Van Alstine stone house, in the present village of Canajoharie. Here, it is said, Washington and his party were the guests of Col. and Mrs. Clyde at dinner on August 1, 1783. Part of the distinguished party probably returned to spend the night at Fort Plain, where there were accommodations, and as many as could put up at Landlord Roof's Canajoharie tavern, where the Hotel Wagner now stands.

At all valley points people gathered to greet their national hero. At Canajoharie Washington is said to have addressed the crowd from a store near Roof's tavern, and later is said to have patted the head of a little negro boy. An eye witness says that this kindly act so displeased some "prideful whites" that they left the scene in disgust.

A considerable assemblage of patriots must have been present at Fort Plain and Canajoharie on those eventful long ago midsummer days. There had been no severe raids in the Canajoharie and Palatine districts in two years. The much tried people were rebuilding their homes, those who had removed to safer localities were returning to their abandoned farms, and, with the assurance of peace, new settlers were already coming in.

Washington and his staff rode down the valley, on August 2, 1783, the day following their stay at Canajoharie. They journeyed over the south shore road to Schenectady. Judge Sanders, in his Schenectady history, records Washington's visit there in 1783, but he had no details. On this return trip while in Schenectady, General Washington was "again quartered at the hotel of his old army acquaintance, Robert Clinch", probably on the night of August 2, as it would not take these experienced and hardened campaigners more than a day to cover the forty miles between Canajoharie and Schenectady, over the south shore Mohawk highway. Yates says that Washington rode out of Schenectady the next morning to visit his former chief of staff, General William North and the latter's guest, General Von Steuben, at the beautiful North home in Duanesburgh, which was approached by a half mile lane embowered with roses, known as "Rose Lane".

From Albany, Washington and his party returned to Newburgh by Hudson River sloops.

There is a tradition that Washington stopped at the present (1925) house of Volkert Vrooman at Randall, on his way up the Valley. There is no vestige left of the stone house of Peter Wormuth, opposite Fort Plain, where Washington spent the night of July 31, and even its site is unknown. The Myers block in Schenectady covers the place of Clinch's tavern but a bronze tablet marks the site.

At the time of Washington's trip up and down the Mohawk highways, Colonel Willett was in command of the valley posts. During the General's journey, the Valley commander is mentioned as being at Fort Herkimer, but he, doubtless, accompanied Washington to Fort Stanwix and Oriskany in order to tell the military chieftan [chieftain?] something of the famous siege and battle. Doubtless, also, some of the Valley militia commanders accompanied General Washington and told him of some of the local battles and pointed out the fields of action.

Mr. S. L. Frey gives the following list of names of persons who probably accompanied General Washington into the Mohawk valley in 1783: Gov. George Clinton, Gen. Hand, Mr. Dimler (assistant quartermaster), Col. David Humphries, Hodijah Baylies, Wm. S. Smith, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., Tench Tilghman, Richard Varick (recording secretary), Benjamin Walker, Richard K. Mead, David Cobb, and many officers of the New York line.

* * * * *

The resettlement of Cherry Valley by its old and also new settlers and the visit of Washington, in 1783, is described as follows in Sawyer's "History of Cherry Valley":

"The war was not fairly ended before the inhabitants, who had been scattered during the war, began to re-seek their old homes. It was truly a sad returning. No vestige of their once populous and flourishing settlement was left. Even the ruined foundations of their buildings were concealed amid the berry bushes and alders, which grew luxuriantly in the ground enriched by the ashes from their burned dwellings. The fields, once cleared with great labor, were covered over with sumach and poplar, intermingled with cherry and maple; while the fences marking the boundaries of their farms, or forming enclosures for their cattle, had been either burned by the Indians, destroyed by roving beasts, or rotted by the elements. The settlers who, returning from their grand struggle for liberty, poor in worldly goods and broken in health, laid the second foundations of Cherry Valley had need of even braver hearts and more stern determination than those who, forty years before, had laid the original foundations. Their trials during the Revolution had fitted them for the task and they bravely faced the labors and hardships which awaited them. The struggle though hard was not long. Soon after peace was declared that great exodus from the Eastern States to the vast, and then unknown West, which has continued uninterruptedly from that day to this, was begun. Lying on the main routes between the two sections, Cherry Valley, alike by the beauty of its scenery, its former fame, and the reputation of its inhabitants, attracted many of the emigrants and in a few years it was again the largest settlement south of the Mohawk.

"In [July], 1783, the settlement was honored with a visit from 'the Father of his Country'. General Washington, accompanied by Generals Clinton and Hand, and a number of other military officers and aides, rode up from Albany, by way of the Mohawk Valley. * * * The distinguished party [came to Cherry Valley on July 31 and] was entertained by Colonel Samuel Campbell, at his newly re-built log cabin, until the following day, when they visited Otsego Lake; returning to the Mohawk by the old Continental road [where Washington remained over night as the guest of Colonel Samuel Clyde in the Van Alstyne House in Canajoharie].

"It is related in tradition that a reception was given in honor of the party, the entire settlement gathering in the main room of the cabin, and that Washington and his companions sat up until well into the morning, listening to the wild border tales vividly related by the bolder among the settlers. And we are told that Robert Shankland, standing in the middle of the room 'fought his great battle o'er', with all the earnestness and zeal that characterized the real fight".

* * * * *

The news of the declaration of peace in 1783 was received in Schenectady amid great rejoicing and followed by a befitting celebration; a large bonfire of pine knots was built on the hill overlooking the town, and hung in the midst of the flames was an effigy of Benedict Arnold.

* * * * *

The last victims of savage marauders near Fort Plain were Frederick Young and a man named House, of the town of Minden. They were in a field when a small party of Indians shot them both down. Young was not killed and when an Indian stooped over to scalp him, the victim seized the knife, the blade nearly severing his fingers. Both were scalped but Young was found alive and taken to Fort Plank, where he died before night. The two Minden men were shot within sight of the fort but the Indians got away before the patriot militia could assemble to engage them. This event happened in 1783, eight days after the inhabitants had news that peace had been ratified, and it is probable that the savages had not heard of this, or even if they had they could pretend that they had not, in order to have the barbaric pleasure of murdering somebody.

* * * * *

The reunions of valley families with members who had been captured during the Revolution, furnish countless dramatic incidents. One of these has a homely smack of early farm life. Leonard Paneter was captured in the present town of St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, when he was but eight years old, and taken to Canada. On his release from captivity a year later he was sent to Schenectady with others who had been taken in the valley and who were now exchanged and free to return to their Mohawk homes. Young Paneter's father sent an older son down to Schenectady to bring the boy back. Here he found a number of lads drawn up in line waiting for parents or relatives to identify them. The boys did not at once know each other but Leonard upon seeing the horse that carried his brother, remembered it at once, and the brothers were soon reunited and happily on their way, probably both riding the old nag homeward.

* * * * *

Following are the principal events of 1783 summarized: The treaty of peace with Great Britain, acknowledging the independence of the United States of America was signed in Paris, September 3, 1783; 1783, November 25, "Evacuation Day", British left New York and an American force under Gen. Washington and Gov. Clinton entered New York city, shortly after which Washington bade farewell to his officers at Fraunce's Tavern in that city and left for Mount Vernon, Md., his journey through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland being a triumphal tour; 1783, December 23, Washington resigned his command of the American army to congress at Annapolis, Md.

* * * * *

Col. Samuel Clyde, then in command at Fort Plain, was born in Windham, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, April 11, 1732, his mother's name being Esther Rankin. He worked on his father's farm until 20, when he went to Cape Breton and labored as a ship carpenter, whence he went to Halifax and worked on a dock for the English navy. In 1757 he came to New Hampshire and raised a company of batteaux men and rangers, of which he was appointed captain, by Gen. James Abercromby [Abercrombie?], said company being under Lieut. Col. John Bradstreet. This commission was dated at Albany, May 25, 1758. He marched his company to Albany and to Lake George, where he fought in the battle of Ticonderoga, when Gen. Howe was slain and the British defeated. Clyde was afterward at the capture of Fort Frontenac, and, returning from the campaign to Schenectady, in 1761, he there married Catherine Wasson, a niece of Matthew Thornton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Judge Hammond, who knew Mrs. Clyde, wrote of her in 1852 as follows: "Mrs. Clyde was a woman of uncommon talents, both natural and acquired, and of great fortitude. She read much and kept up with the literature of the day. Her style in conversing was peculiarly elegant, and at the same time easy and unaffected. Her manner was dignified and attractive. Her conversation with young men during the Revolutionary war, tended greatly to raise their drooping spirits, and confirm their resolution to stand by their country to the last". Not a few noble women of the frontiers thus made their influence felt in the hour of need.

In 1762 Clyde settled at Cherry Valley and while here he was employed, about 1770, by Sir William Johnson to build the church for the use of the Indians at the upper Mohawk castle in the present town of Danube. At the beginning of the country's trouble with England, a company of volunteers was raised in Cherry Valley and New Town Martin for home protection, of which Samuel Clyde was commissioned its captain by the 40 men he was to command, and John Campbell, Jr., was chosen lieutenant and James Cannon ensign.

Captain Clyde's commission was dated July 13, 1775. October 28, 1775, the state provincial congress commissioned him as a captain and adjutant of the first (Canajoharie) regiment of Tryon county militia. September 5, 1776, he was commissioned second major of the first (Canajoharie) regiment commanded by Col. Cox.

After the battle of Oriskany and death of Gen. Herkimer, many of the officers of the brigade wanted Major Clyde to consent to accept the office of Brigadier-General, whose appointment they would solicit. To this he would not accede, as other officers in the brigade outranked him and he would not countenance an act that would originate jealousies, however well merited the honors might be. It has ever surprised the student that Gen. Herkimer's place remained unfilled during the war. That the eye of the army was fixed upon Major Clyde for this honorable promotion is not surprising when we come to know that of all men in that bloody rapine, no one better knew his duty or acquitted himself more valiantly than he. He was in the thickest of the fight, and in a hand to hand encounter was knocked down by an enemy with the breech of a gun, while in another he shot an officer whose musket he brought from the field to become an heirloom in his family. Besides Gen. Herkimer slain, and Brigade Inspector Major John Frey a prisoner, he is believed to have been the only man at Oriskany who ranked as high as a captain in the French war, which doubtless had something to do with the confidence reposed in him.

After Cherry Valley was destroyed in 1778, Col. Clyde removed with his family to the neighborhood of the Mohawk, where he lived six or seven years, at least part of the time in the Van Alstine house in the present village of Canajoharie.

June 25, 1778, Major Clyde was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Canajoharie regiment, Samuel Campbell then being colonel. His commission as such passed the secretary's office with the signature of Gov. George Clinton, March 17, 1781. That Clyde was acting colonel of this regiment long before the date of his commission as lieutenant-colonel, there is positive evidence. The acting colonels of the Tryon county militia in May, 1780, so recognized by the government at Albany, were Cols. Klock, Fisher, Clyde and Bellinger. Col. Clyde seems to have been on duty every summer in the bounds of his regiment until the close of the war. As colonel of the Canajoharie district regiment, he would naturally have been, as he was, on duty at its principal fortification, Fort Plain, during Washington's visit in 1783. On the organization of the state government in 1777, he was a member of the legislature. March 8, 1785, true to Washington's pertinent suggestion at Fort Plain, he was commissioned as sheriff of Montgomery county by Gov. Clinton, which office he discharged with conscientious fidelity. It is said he frequently swam his horse across the Mohawk at flood tide at Canajoharie in order to attend court at Johnstown.

Simms says: "After the destruction, in 1778, of Cherry Valley, Col. Campbell made his home at Niskayuna and is not remembered to have taken any part in military affairs [in this vicinity] after that date." It is doubtless true that, although he held a lieutenant-colonel's commission, Samuel Clyde was recognized by the Albany military authorities and the Tryon county militia as colonel of the Canajoharie regiment, which Clyde says was "the best regiment of militia in the county". Col. Clyde was the leading figure in militia affairs in the district of Canajoharie, Tryon county, during the years 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782 and 1783. He died November 30, 1790, aged 58 years, and is buried in the Cherry Valley Cemetery, where a monument marks his grave, which is beside that of Col. Alden, who was killed in the Cherry Valley massacre. Both grave markers are immediately north of the Cherry Valley massacre monument erected in 1778 [1878?] on the occasion of the massacre centennial.

The Canajoharie district, which Col. Clyde commanded during the Revolution, embraced a territory along the south shore of the Mohawk River, from Fall Hill eastward to the Noses and south to the Pennsylvania line. It embraced the present Herkimer County towns of Danube and Stark, the present Montgomery County towns of Minden, Canajoharie and part of Root and the eastern half of Otsego County and the extreme western half of Schoharie County, including the settlements of Springfield, Cherry Valley and New Dorlach (Sharon).

The Revolutionary Canajoharie District contained Fort Plain and its surrounding forts - Fort Windecker, Fort Willett, Fort Planck, Fort Clyde - Fort Van Alstyne at Canajoharie, Fort Ehle, Fort Currytown, and Fort Alden at Cherry Valley - Fort Ehle and Fort Van Alstyne were not regular army posts but, doubtless, were used by the militia. Thus there were nine palisaded forts in the Revolutionary Canajoharie District - posts over which Colonel Clyde probably had more or less general command and jurisdiction. All of them housed or protected the majority of the surviving Valley settlers in the latter years of the war.

* * * * *

We see, from the foregoing letters of Washington, that at Fort Plain [Fort Rensselaer] the commandant of the army of the United States engaged "a gentleman whose name is Cassaty" as his personal emissary to Detroit to observe the conditions at that important post on the lakes, preparatory to its American occupation. So that it becomes evident that two messengers at Washington's orders, left Fort Plain in 1783 on momentous errands for the British lake posts of Oswego and Detroit. Washington's emissary, Colonel Thomas Cassaty, was arrested by the British commandant at Fort Oswego. Cassaty escaped and returned to Fort Plain without being able to accomplish his mission.

Colonel Thomas Cassaty married Nancy, a daughter of Peter Wormuth and a sister of Lieut. Matthew Wormuth, who was shot by Brant near Cherry Valley in 1778. Cassaty was living near or at his father-in-law's when Washington stopped there (in Palatine near Fort Plain) during his valley tour of 1783. This probably readily led to his engagement in the service mentioned. Colonel Cassaty as a boy and young man was stationed at the British post of Detroit, where his father, James Cassaty, was a captain in the English service. At the outbreak of the Revolution the two Cassatys, both American born, sided with the colonists. The commandant of Detroit denounced Capt. James Cassaty and in the altercation young Thomas Cassaty, then a youth of seventeen, shot down the British officer. He then fled into the Michigan woods and escaped. He lived with the Indians and there is one report which says he was the father of the noted chief, Tecumseh. Toward the end of the war he appeared in the Mohawk Valley. Colonel Cassaty died at Oriskany Falls, Oneida County, 1831, aged about 80 years, leaving two sons and five daughters. After the Detroit affray, Capt. James Cassaty was confined in a Canadian dungeon for three years.

* * * * *

It will be noted that Washington speaks of Fort Plain as "Fort Rensselaer", this being the name it bore in the last four years of the Revolution - it being named for the Gen. Van Rensselaer, whose conduct was so dubious when there at the operations of 1780, ending at Klock's Field.

As previously shown, at the court-martial of Gen. Van Rensselaer in Albany for dereliction in the campaign of 1780, witnesses referred constantly to "Fort Rensselaer or Fort Plain" or vice versa.

Dr. Hough published some years ago an account of the Klock's Field campaign and the subsequent court-martial of Gen. Van Rensselaer, showing that the latter officer writing from Fort Plain - a name which had been established for years - dated his papers at "Fort Rensselaer"; anxious, as it would seem, to have this principal fort take his own name. It is believed that never before that time had it ever been called by any other name than Fort Plain. About three years later General Washington was here and dated his correspondence from "Fort Rensselaer," and others probably did so, unaware that the name of the fort had been changed. The following document, from the papers of the late William H. Seeber, shows how the vanity of the inefficient soldier had temporarily affected the name Fort Plain:

"By virtue of the appointment of his Excellency, George Clinton, Esq., Governor of the State of New York, etc., etc.

"We do hereby, in pursuance of an act entitled an act to amend an act, entitled an act to accommodate the inhabitants of the frontier, with habitations and other purposes therein mentioned, passed the 22d of March, 1781 - Grant unto William Seeber, Peter Adams, George Garlock and Henry Smith, license and liberty to cut and remove wood or timber from the lands of John Laile (or Lail), George Kraus, John Fatterle, John Plaikert, Wellem (William) Fenck, George Ekar, John Walrath and Henry Walrath, lying contiguous to Fort Plain, being a place of defense, for fuel, fencing and timber for the use of the first above mentioned persons.

"Given under our hands at Canajoharie, this 8th day of November, 1782.

"Christian Nellis,
"M. Willett,
"Commissioners."

This instrument was drawn up in the handwriting of Squire Nellis and taken to Col. Willett to sign. In the handwriting of the latter and with the ink of his signature, Willett crossed off the word "Plain" and interlined the name "Rensselaer". Simms says: "It seems surprising that Col. Willett, who so disapproved of changing the name of Fort Stanwix, should have connived at changing the name of Fort Plain; and it can only be accounted for by presuming that he was thereby courting the influence of wealth and position". The foregoing quotation does not coincide with Willett's sturdy character, and it seems entirely probable that Van Rensselaer had succeeded in having his name adopted, at least for the time, as the official designation of Fort Plain.

S. L. Frey says, in his interesting paper on "Fort Rensselaer", (published in the Mohawk Valley Register, March 6, 1912):

"In 1786 Capt. B. Hudson was in command of the place, taking care of the stores and other government property. As this is the last time that 'Fort Rensselaer' is mentioned as far as I can find, I give a copy of an old receipt:

Fort Rancelair, Aug. 22d, 1786.
State of New York, Dr.
To John Lipe, Senior.

For Timber Building the Blockhouse, for fire wood, Fancing & Possession of the Place by the Troops of the United States Under the Command of Colonel Willet one hundred & fifty Pounds, being the amount of my Damage.

John Lipe.
X his mark

Witness Present
B. Hudson.

From this it will be seen that Johannes Lipe had not been paid for his timber, used in the blockhouse six years before. Following this receipt is a note by Rufus Grider, the former antiquarian of Canajoharie:

"Copy of a paper found and obtained on the Lipe Farm, where Fort Plain and Fort Rensselair was located. The present owners are descendants of the Lipe who owned it during and after the Revolution; the ownership has not gone out of the family.

"R. A. Grider.

June 17, 1894."

Mr. Frey continues:

"We thus have a continuous mention of 'Fort Rensselair', as another name for Fort Plain, from September 4, 1780, to August 22, 1786. It would be well if the old Revolutionary families in the vicinity would examine any paper they may have relating to that period; possibly we might find that 'Fort Rensselair' is mentioned after 1786."

Thus we are able to trace the history of the Fort Plain fortifications through a period of ten years of important service. Although the fort and blockhouse probably stood for some years after 1786, reference to Fort Plain, after that date, implies the Sand Hill settlement (which took its name from the fort) and the later village which thus became known during the construction of the Erie canal. The name has thus been in existence for a period of almost 140 years. How long Fort Plain or Fort Rensselaer continued to exist as an army post after 1786 is not now known.

* * * * *

It is a fitting place here to refer to the difficulty experienced in the foregoing Revolutionary chapters in naming, as a whole, the forces invading the valley. They are generally spoken of as the "enemy" "destructives" or the "raiders" or some such term, for the simple reason that they cannot be referred to as "English" or "British," because they were composed of such varying elements. British, Tories, Indians and Germans composed the army under St. Leger and under Sir John Johnson at Stone Arabia and at Klock's Field, and in almost every other case of battle and invasion. The Americans looked upon the British use of Indians in the conflict as a brutal, uncivilized proceeding and England's employment of hired Hessian troops was a still further cause of the just hatred of our countrymen against Britain. True, America had many friends in England but the ruling party countenanced the savagery referred to and brought about a deplorable state of affairs in the relations of the two countries for a period of nearly a century, following the Revolutionary War.

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