Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

This article was sent to us by Elizabeth (Klock) Hoagey. It appeared at some time during the late 1920's or early 1930's in the St. Johnsville Enterprise and News. The owner of the E & N at the time was Lou D. MacWethy. His granddaughter has permitted articles from this time period to be used on the Fort Klock web site.

Teontoge 1610-1693

Readers of the Enterprise and News will recall that within recent months I have on several occasions advanced a conclusion that the sites occupied by our Mohawk Valley aborigines have all been erroneously determined with but two or three exceptions.

During which time no Iroquoian authority has taken an exception to, this statement. Is it possible what has been advanced cannot be authenticated?

Upon reexamination of some of the historical records pertaining to these excepted sites, I now find it necessary to disagree to the determination of one of the two or three sites to sites which I acceded to be sufficiently proven by the historical records.

The Jesuit Relations disclose that the Third Castle of the Mohawks, Tionontoguen of 1667-1689, was located four league (eleven miles) westerly of the first two forts, Gandaouague and Gandagara, otherwise as I have determined one and one half miles northerly of the now village of Nelliston.

Greenhalgh in 1677 informed us that the last castle of the Mohawks, Teonondogue was located "a bow shott from the river," but Greenlagh somewhat underestimated the distance, apparently assuming that the course of the river was nearer to the northerly margin of the river flats, which is apparent if judged from the site of the castle, nevertheless his bow shott did not exceed six tenths of a mile, thus he was reasonably correct.

In the Lists of Sites disclosing aboriginal occupation in the Mohawk valley compiled by former State Archeologists W. M. Beauchamp and A. C Parker, it discloses:

"A recent cemetery two and one half miles northwest of Nelliston, and north of the river on the Smith farm, formerly Lipe's northeast were about twenty caches and fifty rods north, a village of two acres with recent relies. This is south of Palatine Church."

Thus it appears that in our recent accounts the Indian village site on the "Smith Farm, formerly Lipe's" was located two and one half miles northerly of Nelliston. Surely a very careless overestimate in the distance when very accurate maps were available.

Greenhalgh in 1677 also informed us that the Castle of Canajor-ha was located "on a flatt two miles from the river" and Jeptha Simms, one of our earliest writers on the Mohawks, advanced the following comments thereon:

"Were it mentioned as on a hill, I should at once locate it on Castlebergh, a beautiful and commanding place for such a home and though hardly a mile from the river, in a forest would have seemed a much greater distance.

"This hill, known by the early Germans as Castlebergh is on the farm of the late Reuben Lipe about a mile and one half to the northward of Fort Plain and about one fourth of a mile from the Smith cheese factory at the turnpike. The reader must remember at the period named, there were no roads of any kind in the Mohawk valley.

"With flint arrow heads, glass beads and implements of European manufacture are found there, indicating something near the time of its occupancy, but not in quantities sufficient to warrant a belief that this castle was occupied for a great length of time, and circumstances I think seem to favor this site.

Well we must admit that Simms favored us with a remarkable description of the Indian village site on the Smith farm, formerly Reuben Lipes, but if Simms was conversant, with all the Castle sites, described by Greenbalgh we are somewhat surprised that he did not determine this location to be the site of the Castle of Teonondogue.

It is apparent that the opinion of all others are reasonably agreeable upon the approximate location of the Castle of Teonondogue of 1667-1689, for there is erected along the main highway eight-tenths of a mile northerly of Nelliston an historic marker that is inscribed in part as follows: Tionondogue 1668-1689.

Near here stood great upper Castle of Mohawks.

But it does disclose as if the exact location of this castle was unknown at the time of the erection of this marker.

Nevertheless the site of the Indian village on Castlebergh Hill as described by Simms is in reasonable accord with the location of the Castle of Tennondogue as reported by Greenhalgh, which site is also in perfect harmony with the location of the Castle of Tionontoguen as determined from the Jesuit Relations, as well as from Van der Bogaert's narrative of 1634.

Therefore it is convincingly and positively established that the site of the Indian village on Castlebergh Hill on the Smith farm, formerly Lipe's located one and a half miles northerly of Nelliston and six tenths of a mile easterly of the river, is the site of the castle of Teonondoge of 1667-1689.

The minutes of the proceedings of the officials of the City of Albany, under date of September 2, 1689 disclose that the following excerpt of a proposition received from the Mohawks was considered and acted upon.

"The Maquase desire by Arnout's letter to assist them with two or three pair of horses and five or six men to ride the heaviest stockades for their new castle of Tionondoge which they remove an English mile higher up."

The Albany officials consented to send three pair of horses and six men "to show their good inclination and true friendship they entertained toward their Mohawk brethren."

It is claimed and an historic marker is erected to support the claim, that the castle of Tionondoge was removed in 1689 to the easterly bank of the Garoga Creek at Wagner's Hollow.

Some authorities claim that the castle of Tionondoge of 1667-1689 was located on the Wagner's Hollow site and that the site of said castle of 1689-1693 is yet to be located.

Under such conflicting claims it was necessary to inscribe the historical marker near Nelliston that the castle of Tionondogue was located "near here." Thus it is apparent that no authority has as yet presented sufficient facts from our historical records to positively determine the site of the castle of Teontoge at any period throughout the Mohawk's occupation.

The fact is that the Wagner's Hollow site is not a typical Mohawk location for a reasonably large castle. The crown of the elevation is not sufficiently level and again the area is too deficient, although It is admirable for a small village or a place where cabins for women were maintained as outlined by our early writers and explorers.

As the three Jesuit Missionaries reported in September, 1667 that the castle of Tionontoguen was rebuilt within a quarter of a league--less than seven tenths of a mile--from the like named castle which the French burned in 1666, thus it is convincingly and positively evident that the castle of 1666 and for years prior thereto was also located upon the northerly side of the river; obviously true, for we have positively determined that the castle of Teontoge as well as all the villages and castles of the Mohawk valley aborigines, reported by Van der Bogaert in 1634 were all located upon the northerly side of the river and that the castle of Teontoge was located in the near vicinity of the same castle of 1667-1689 and that it was so located for many years prior to 1634, apparently true for the Dutch maps of 1614 and 1616 show that the five settlements of the Maquas were also located upon the northerly side of the river.

Thus it does and will appear that the castle of Teonontoge from about 1565 to 1693 was always located upon the northerly side of the river and this same castle was located by lands whereon we saw only a few trees, denoting that the entire surroundings were denuded of trees for firewood requirements for many years past.

Van der Bogaert also reported:

"This castle had been surrounded by three rows of palisades but now there are none save six or seven pieces so thick that it was quite a wonder that savages should be able to do that."

Therefore it would appear that this stockade was erected so long prior to 1634 that all the palisades had rotted down save the few mammoth timbers of such gigantic size that it was marvelous that the Indians were able to set them upright.

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