Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Castle of Teonondoge 1565-1610

A Continuation of the Red Man article

Now that the sites of all the Castles of Teonondoge subsequent to 1610 have been reasonably and convincingly established, together with the fact that I have also determined that the three tribes of the Ganniege, that of the Turtle, the Bear and the Wolf, first entered the valley of the Mohawk somewhat prior to 1569, thus it would appear as if the original location of this castle is yet unknown.

As the aborigines of this castle, the Tribe of the Wolf, resided on but one location from about 1610 to 1666-a period of about 56 years, thus it is reasonably possible that they occupied the original location from the time of their entry into the Mohawk Valley to about 1610.

Accordingly for some time past I have been exceedingly interested to learn where this original site is located.

From the list of sites disclosing aboriginal occupation in the Mohawk Valley compiled by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, former State Archeologist, we find described: "Village site on Crum Creek, examined by M. R. Harrington for the Peabody-Harvard Museum. This is the Ganda Site near St. Johnsville."

Of course we must admit that this is a very syncopated record by our Department of Archeology of an important Indian village site that was thoroughly excavated in 1905, and apparently hitherto unknown.

Upon a restudy of all the facts relating to the Castle of Teonondoge, I finally arrived at an opinion that the "Ganda Site" was the original location of this castle, but the question developed, how can this claim be confirmed? I am aware that my opinion as well as all others, upon the history of our aborigines is absolutely of no value unless historical records or convincing facts are produced and outlined to prove our claims.

Upon inquiry to the Department of Archeology of our state to learn what further information could be obtained upon sites of Indian villages in the vicinity of St. Johnsville, was informed that the department was unable to furnish additional information other than contained in Parker's accounts.

Undaunted I made may inquiries, with indefinite replies, but always able to determine leads to the facts involved, until finally an energetic searcher for Indian remains gave me the exact location of this site and also informed me that he recovered a stone axe therefrom. Of course this stone axe enhanced my enthusiasm.

But, upon inquiry, the Peabody Museum most graciously favored me with an exceptional outline of the most outstanding facts upon this site taken from an unpublished report thereon made by Mr. M. R. Harrington who excavated this site for the Museum in 1905 and the following are excerpts therefrom: "The archeological environment is simply told. Canada is thought to be the last Mohawk site on the north side of the river going west."

"The specimens found at Canada were first of all characteristically Iroquoian, and secondly typical Mohawk.

Taking up the stone implements first we have axes represented by Celts only, or different sizes and material-mostly broken. Several were very narrow, like chisels, but grooved axes were wanting. Hammerstones were abundant in the three usual types. Only one pestle was secured.

"Pottery of the typical Mohawk variety was very abundant, altho no perfect pieces were discovered. All the vessels had been of the smooth, globular bodied form, with a constricted neck surmounted by a rim whose projecting cornice was decorated with combinations of straight lines and notches and which exhibited raised points bearing elaborations of the pattern.

General conclusions: "In the first place the specimens show that Ganda Site to be Iroquoian and Mohawk beyond the shadow of a doubt. In my opinion there were tow periods of habitation here, the first an early one, say in the last half of the 17th century, soon after the white traders had begun to do business in the Mohawk Valley and recorded by the class of pits containing little or nothing European.

The second period was probably late in the 18th century and is recorded by the "pits" near the point, like No. 16 and No. 19 and the small refuse dumps south of the site, with their abundant European remains indicating long contact.

Mr. S. L. Frey thinks the earlier village may have been the Tionondogue visited in 1677 by the Trader Greenhalgh (Trans. Oneida Hist. Soc. 1898, "The Mohawks") which as been searched for by local antiquarians. There was no sign of previous exploration at Ganda and the site does not seem to have hitherto known.

For Mr. Frey to think that the early occupation of the Ganda site was simultaneous with the time that Greenhalgh visited the Mohawks Castles in 1677 and for Mr. Harrington to confirm the same with an opinion that the first habitation was in the last half of the 17th century-surely is not founded in conformity with the remains recovered from this site.

From the accounts of Champlain describing his battle with the Mohawks on Point Ticonderoga on the 30th day of July, 1609, he informed us that the Mohawks, "fell trees with poor axes which they sometimes get in war, and others of stone." Thus it is clearly evident that the Mohawks were not in a position to secure iron axes from Traders prior to this battle.

But upon the arrival of Henry Hudson, near Albany, in September, 1609 and traded "beades, knives and hatchets" for furs and the establishment of a Trading Post at Fort Orange by the Dutch immediately thereafter; and from the fact the Dutch aided the Mohawks in their was with the aborigines on the Delaware, in 1614, as Champlain informed us, the Mohawks were surely supplied with iron axes as speedily as possible for no Indian would use a stone axe if an iron one was obtainable.

Thus it may be positively concluded that the Mohawks discontinued the use of stone axes and stone implements, excepting arrow points, somewhat prior to 1620; and this fact is fully confirmed by the sties of the six new villages and castles which the Mohawks established about 1626 that they do not disclose stone implements but they do disclose Indian pottery but to a lesser extent than on the earlier sties.

In October, 1666, all the Mohawks' villages and castles were burned by the French and those erected thereafter do no disclose stone implements or the use of Indian pottery, but arrow points have been found.

Of course if the period of occupancy of a site overlaps or continues through the various periods of changes to the use of certain white man's wares, we must construct our conclusions to conform with the remains.

It is also Mr. Harrington's opinion that the habitation of the Ganda Site in the second period was probably late in the 18th century.

The fact is there were no Indian settlements in the Mohawk River valley subsequent to 1777. Their villages were raided and burned by the Oneida Iroquois in September, 1777 and all departed for Canada.

Furthermore the only settlements on the Mohawk River subsequent to February, 1693 were:

The Three tribes of the Ganniege, Mohawks at Fort Hunter, from 1693 to 1777.

The Ononjota Indians about a mile westerly of Sprakers from 1693 to 1700 and thereafter at Schoharie and

The Canajoha Indians on Prospect Hill in Fort Plain from 1689 to 1715 and at Indian Castle from 1715 to 1777.

Thus it becomes clearly evident that there was no second period of Tribal habitation of the Ganda Site.

But was we have disclosed that many of the principal Sachems of the Iroquois resided in private cabins at some distance from their Tribal Castles and preferably on sites of abandoned villages or castles.

Moreover the Ganda Site was without doubt a most favorable fishing place-near the outlet of the Crum Creek and the Mohawk River and Dominie Megapolensis informed us in 1644 that the water of the Mohawk River "is clear as crystal and as fresh as mil," In this river is a great plenty of all kinds of fish, pike, shad, bass, eels, perch, lampreys, sucker, catfish, sunfish, etc. In the spring in May, the perch are so plenty that one man with a hook and line will catch in one hour as many as ten or twelve can eat. My boys have caught in an hour fifty, each a foot long. They have three hooks on the instrument with which they fish and draw up frequently two or three perch at once.

Thus it would appear as if the Ganda Site was continuously occupied, more or less throughout the entire period that the Mohawks occupied the valley and more especially during 1689-1693 when the final castle of Teonondoge was located on the easterly point of Fort Hill, only a mile distant.

From our historical records an from the facts which they disclose as well as from the Stone implements recovered from the Ganda Site it is clearly and convincingly evident that it was the site of the castle of Tionondoge from about 1565 to 1610 and this is apparently the only site in the country of the Mohawks that its occupation has been entirely prehistoric.

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