Three Rivers
Hudson~Mohawk~Schoharie
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Canajoharie Castle 1689-1715

Continuation of the Red Man Article

From the foregoing historical records it is also clearly and conclusively evident that there were only two castles of Indians along the Mohawk River after the year 1700-the first castle on the bank of the Schoharie Creek and the second or the last or the Canajoharie Castle on Prospect Hill in fort Plain, from 1687 to 1715 and at Indian Castle from 1715 to 1777.

Of course, I am well aware that it is most enthusiastically claimed that "Two Mohawk Indian villages were located on Prospect Hill, Otsquago of 1634 and Tarajorees 1700-1775."

But no records of sufficient convincing nature are presented upon which to conclusively establish such claim, excepting the reference was made in the description of the lands granted by the Van Slyck Patent, dated September 2, 1716: "Beginning at the outermost side of a flat that lies over against the castle of Tarigioris by the three islands," etc.

It is also stated that a similar reference is made in a survey of 1723, apparently in the Francis Harrison patent which tract of land begins at the same point as the Van Slyke patent.

Certainly the above references made by some unnamed and unknown individual, whether the surveyor or some unknown ignorant assistant for brush chopper or chain carrier, may have pointed out the cabins across the river occupied by Sachem Tarigoris which records are decidedly inferior and of no material consequence to devalue in the least the records we have presented, made and confirmed by the least the records we have presented, made and confirmed by the most influential citizens of Albany, as well as officials of the Colony, accompanied by the official interpreter of the Colony, so that the events of their official conferences with the Iroquois were correctly reported and recorded.

Nevertheless the reference to the castle of Tarigioris cannot be wholly ? (This part of the clipping came off the page.)

In addition to the cabins or "The Cassel" of Sachem Tarigiorus on Prospect Hill, it appears as if the entire elevation as far as Happy Hollow was extensively used for summer camping, thus it was a "Hill of Health" in the days of the far distant past; but, I seriously doubt if Sachem Tarigioris was known to the members of his Nation and to the other Mohawks as "A Hill of Health" for I find his name was written variously such as 'Tarigioris,' 'Terachjorie,' 'Tarrachioris,' 'Tarraghioris,' 'Taraghorees,' etc.

I also find that Conrad Weiser an interpreter of the Mohawk tongue, in 1743 wrote the name of an Onondaga Chief as 'Tachnadoarus' and 'Taghneghdoarus' and thereafter informed us that it signified "spreading oak."

Surely a tree with spreading branches had great significance with the aborigines and apparently more so a tree of such endurable wood.

The question arises, can it still be maintained that the word, "Tarigioris" or its many variants, signifies "Hill of Health." I am frank to say 'I am a new convert.'

From the traditional history of our locality written by Jeptha Simms, we excerpt: "At some period, believed near the beginning of the last century, the Mohawks had a castle .:. so says reliable tradition and so say numerous relics, in the easterly part of Fort Plain known as Prospect Hill, was called by the Indians Ta-ragh-jo-rees, which may have been the name by which in its day this castle was known. There is a tradition that this castle was called The Canajoharie Castle. This is not improbable as it existed prior to the Canajoharie Castle of King Hendrick's life time."

Surely Simms' "reliable tradition" is in precise accord with our most convincing historical records-that about 1700 the Canajoharie Castle was located on Prospect Hill in Fort Plain and that it existed prior to the Castle of the same name near the Nowadaga Creek about eleven miles farther westerly. Thus there was no "Middle Castle."

Our eminent Iroquian authority W. M. Beachamp has also given us this information: "Canajoharie, the middle castle in 1730 was on Prospect Hill in Fort Plain and on the east side of Otsquago Creek. There are many recent graves and relics. This was described in a survey of 1723 as 'The Cassel of Ta-re-gi-o-rus'. There were one or two earlier Canajohaires."

Thus, it was Beauchamp's opinion that "The Canajohaire Castle" was located on Prospect Hill as late as 1730, regardless of the fact that it was referred to as the Cassel of Taregiorus" in a survey of 1723. He also referred to this village as the "Middle Castle" but he does not describe a more westerly castle. Nevertheless, we all agree that the only castle westerly of the Otsquago Creek after 1700 was the Canajohaire Castle near the Nowadaga Creek.

The fact that ONLY "Recent Graves and Relics" were recovered from the Prospect Hill site, positively precludes its occupation by aborigines as early as 1634.

The fact is that Prospect Hill was occupied only by the Castle of Canajohaire from about 1689 to 1715 and there are sufficient records to support this claim.

Of course we have a vast plethora of other historical records made by many other influential and outstanding citizens of our Colony among which are The Commissioners of Indian Affairs, the Rev. Henry Barclay, Conrad Weiser, the Colonial Governors and Sir William Johnson and nowhere throughout their voluminous accounts is it disclosed or from which it can be deduced, that a "Third Castle" or a "Middle Castle" or the "Castle of Taragiourus" ever existed along the banks of the banks of the Mohawk River, after 1700, excepting the two references in the description of the lands granted by the Van Slyck and the Harrison Patents which lands began at the same point opposite to the abandoned Castle of Canajoharie on Prospect Hill where apparently Sachem Taregiorus still maintained his private cabins and of course it could be referred to as "his Cassel."

And yet upon these two inferior references and in direct contradiction to the exceedingly reliable and convincing records we have herein presented-it is frequently and most enthusiastically claimed that a "Middle Castle" or the "Castle of Taregiorus" was located on Prospect Hill in Fort Plain from 1700 to 1775-apparently for the purpose of building up an historical background and thereafter to petition the Department of Archives and History for a suitable bronze (or brass) tablet to commemorate such event, with another that never existed.

Surely such extravagant claims are o f no progressive advantage whatever to our local history. Obviously true, for it is clearly evident what has been advanced upon the sites occupied by our aborigines as Tribal villages or castles, is not and cannot be authenticated with historical records, or with reasonable convincing records we have herein presented-it is frequently and most enthusiastically claimed that a Middle Castle or The Castle of Taregiorus was located on Prospect Hill in Fort Plain from 1700 to 1775, apparently for the purpose of building up an historical background and thereafter to petition the Department of Archives and History for a suitable bronze (or brass) tables to commemorate such event, with another that never existed.

Surely such extravagant claims are of no progressive advantage whatever to our local history. Obviously true, for it is clearly evident what has been advanced upon the sites occupied by our aborigines as Tribal villages or castles, is not and cannot be authenticated with historical records or with reasonable convincing facts; and all conclusions thereon still remain in a state of utter confusion, orally , literally and scientifically contradicted and extreme if not complete, doubt is usually expressed thereon with no solution of this ancient problem is as yet in sight, for each authority and his supporters are exerting all possible efforts and means to maintain their claims, without presenting clearly defined and convincing facts amply supported with historical records.

I am unable to comprehend how it is possible to advance a claim that the site of a certain Indian village is located here or there without presenting a single convincing fact based upon a clearly defined historical record. Surely no one is inspired. Yet strange as it may seem nearly all of the Mohawk's villages have been established upon this order-with the result that not over one or two villages have been correctly determined.

I am thoroughly convinced that historical enthusiasm should coincide exactly with our historical records, for otherwise, it not only tends to disrupt accounts adequately and correctly outlined upon other localities, but may also become seriously misleading to many others interested in our history who are not in a position to become cognizant with all the facts.

For, twist and turn as we may,

Our records have the final say.

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