History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 334
A Popular Error.-In some manner an impression has gone abroad that the brick of which the Johnstown Court house was constructed, were imported from Holland. The brick in this building, says the Hon. George Yost-as also his brother Daniel-were made on the farm of the late Jacob Yost, less than half a mile from the building. This tradition is a familiar one in all the Yost family, and is, no doubt, a truthful one. In fact, a little pond on which the boys used to skate, was said to be in a cavity which was made by removing material for the brick. When the Dutch settled New York and Albany early in the 17th century, the first brick they used came from Holland; but this was at a period 150 years earlier than the one under consideration, and while it was a Dutch province. There could have been no necessity for going to Holland for the article, after we came under English rule in 1664, if brick were. not made in this country; and if brick were sent over for ship ballast at a later day, they were probably used in sea-port towns. The manufacture of brick is one of the oldest recorded trades. The Tower of Babel was constructed of brick. Indeed, the Children of Israel were some 400 years in that business in Egypt, and it would be strange if, at the end of 150 years, some Israelites had not strayed to America and started a brick-kiln. Some encyclopedia should tell us when brick making began in this colony, or even in this country, but they all fail to do so.
The Gen. Herkimer House.-A tradition has, in some manner, also gone abroad, that the brick used in the construction of this mansion below the Little Falls-erected about the time the Johnstown court house was-also came from Holland; but, in the absence of proof of that fact, I believe they were made III the State of New York.
Since the above was written the following order, found among the Maj. Fonda papers, has turned up. It is an order from Nicholas Herkimer, afterwards General; and although it shows him to have been a very poor English scholar, the orthography especially being indifferent, it happens to be upon the subject under consideration. Why it was written at Schoharie, is not defined; possibly he was looking for the article there:
CANED, SCHOHARE, 6, 1764.
"Bles do led de berer half as menne bri[c]s for a schimle as hie wants an so duing yu wiI obleygs yur humble sr.
"Capt. JOLLES FONDA."
The order has the name Conrad Fulmer, on one corner of its back, supposed to be the name of its bearer; and was indorsed, "Nicholas Herchman, order for Bricks." At a very early period nearly all country dwellings had stone chimneys. Now, if Maj. Fonda had brick for sale in 1764, did they come from Holland, or were they made in the colony of New York? Is it not reasonable to conclude that, if good brick were made in Johnstown in 1772, that the brick kept by Maj. Fonda, eight years earlier, were also made in his neighborhood, or, if not, certainly in the county of Albany?
Queen Anne's Chapel.-In the early administration of thc affairs of the colony by Gov. Robert Hunter, as I have elsewhere shown, a .military post was established at the Lower Mohawk castle, situated at the junction of the Schoharie with the Mohawk, then known by the natives as Tienonderoga.* It was constructed in 1711, a part of the contract with the builders being for the erection of a chapel in the centre of the inclosure 24 feet square. It had a garret with windows. The contract specified that the defensive works should be constructed of hewn timber, but it did not name any material for the chapel.+ I have taken some pains to learn that only one church edifice was ever erected at Fort Hunter, which was the one in question, that it was a small square building constructed of limestone, that it had a small belfry made of four upright posts-such as are often seen upon school-houses and work-shops-and which contained a small bell. Except on a few occasions, by Rev. W. Dempster, the edifice had not been used for religious services for many years, when it was demolished about the year 1820 to give place to the Erie canal. Said the late Peter I. Newkirk, of Fultonville, who witnessed the scene, "The roof of the old edifice was burned off to get its stone walls." The stone in it were used in constructing guard-locks near its site.++ Such locks were in use on both sides of all the larger creeks, at first, when the canal was carried through them, and they were used as feeders. Colden, who wrote prior to 1724, spoke of this chapel as having been built by Queen Anne [she died in 1714], whose munificence, said he, endowed it "with furniture and a valuable set of plate for the communion table."
As the written contract did not call for the erection of the chapel of stone, it is presumed that a verbal contract determined its building material. From the time of its erection down to the Revolution, over 60 years, it was under the direction of an Episcopal society in England, "for propagating the gospel in foreign parts;" which society supported a minister here as a missionary among the Mohawks, the most of that time. The
This Is an Indian word, and signified-as I was assured by the historian, James
McAuley-a cleared field, the lands being there adapted to the growth of Indian
+ Brod. Papers, vol. 6, p. 279.
++ In a correspondence in July, 1879, with Mr. Cornelius Van Buren, of Otsego county, aged nearly 87 years, who, In ,early life, resided near Fort Hunter, I was enabled to learn correctly some facts about the old chapel not attainable elsewhere. "When I was a young man," said Van Buren, "horse-racing took place almost every Saturday -at some seasons of the year-on the flats just across the creek at Fort Hunter, where the people were gathered In great numbers." Horse-racing was a pleasing pastime among tile early settlers of Central New York.
chapel in form resembled the old Dutch church in Albany, which was taken down in 1806. This old edifice had a four square roof rising to an apex in the centre, with a small belfry surmounted by a vane on which perched a chanticleer. At a front corner of this church, said the late Gen. Jacob Gebhard, of Schoharie, was to have been seen almost year in and year out, an old woman seated and patiently awaiting customers for her fruit, nuts and candy. The entrance to the Fort Hunter chapel, was on the north side near the centre of the building. The pulpit which had a sounding-board, stood on the west side. and directly opposite were two pews finished in Sir William Johnson's day for his own and the minister's families, the floor of which was slightly elevated. Johnson's pew was also furnished with a wooden canopy. Moveable benches served the rest of the congregation with seats. The little bell that called its worshippers to this place, I took pains to follow (about 1844) to the Johnstown Academy, upon the roof of which I climbed with its then principal, Mr. St. John, hoping to find some inscription upon it; there was none. The bell was of a very dark green color. The silver communion service of the chapel I was assured in 1867, by Rev. Robert James Roberts, was then in use in a church in Newport, Brant county, Canada, in which he, as an Episcopal minister, was then officiating. Who effected the removal of this service to Canada during the war is not known, but it was effectually done: and as it was designed for the Indians, I am glad they have it. Perhaps if justice was done, they would also possess the old bell.
I learned in 1851, from John S. Quackenboss, Esq., who always resided within a few miles of Fort Hunter, that, at the beginning of the war, the silver service, curtains, fringe, gold lace and other fixtures of the chapel, were put in a hogshead and buried on the side of the hill south of Boyd Hudson's place. At the close of the war, when found with iron rods, it was discovered that the service had been removed and the cask reburied, but by whom, or when done, it was never known. Most of the articles remaining were so damaged by moisture as to be unfit for use.
At my interview with Mr. Roberts, he assured me that the suit of service given the Onondaga church by Queen Anne on its completion, was then in use in a church at New York, whiter he had been to try to procure it for a church in Canada.
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