History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 199.
White Settlements in, and Contiguous to, the Mohawk Valley. -In the course of the last century-say after an English fort was erected at Tienonderoga, or the Lower Mohawk castle, and the Palatines were established in Stone Arabia and upon the German Flats-colonies were gradually planted in the present towns of Amsterdam and Florida, Mohawk and Glen, consisting mainly of Low Dutch and English, but liberally spiced with half a dozen other nationalities. In and around Johnstown, four miles north of the Mohawk, a strong colony settled, consisting in greater part of Scotch and Irish immigrants, many of them, doubtless, drawn hither by the name and fame of Sir William Johnson ; but scattered freely among them were Dutch and Germans, some of the latter extending back to the Sacondaga, through what are now several townships. The settlers of Stone Arabia had also, in the course of a few years, found their way northward, into the now towns of Ephratah and Garoga, while a few hardy Germans had planted their families at Kringsbush, north of St. Johnsville. So, also, other colonists, mostly Germans bad found the rich lands at Snellsbush and Fairfield, and made their homes upon them. The settlements in what are now Root, Canajoharie and Minden, were gradually extending back toward the Cherry Valley and Springfield colonies, and up the Otsquago to the Chyle in Warren, while adventurers from German Flats found their way southward into the town of Columbia. In many instances venturesome families struck out into the wilderness remote from neighbors,and were too sparsedly scattered to be said to belong to any settlement.
An Interesting Period, Embracing the Life of Sir William Johnson.-Having given the reader an outline or reflective picture of Central New York in its occupancy by the aborigines, and shown some of the difficulties which its first white settlers met with for a season, and followed them down to a period when they began to live comfortably and act on the defensive, let us study briefly the history of then Western New York through its chrysalis state, or that period which for a generation preceded the Revolution-a period in which the whole colony was fitting in expression and strength to " cut her apron strings," and take on the full stature of a people's manhood.
An event demanding especial mention should be given here, and that is the coming hither of the young adventurer, William Johnson, than whom, in his after-life, no individual has ever occupied so commanding a position in the public eye in Central New York. Although some of his public acts will necessarily appear in this narrative of events, reflecting his character somewhat, yet I deem it proper here to present a brief sketch of his life, which, from having conversed with several old people who knew him personally-and who were custodians of the traditions of their fathers-I feel conscious I can the better trace.
He was born, says Drake's Dictionary of Biography, (on the authority of the Philosophical Transactions for November, 1772,) at Smithtown, Meath county, Ireland, in 1715 ; and adds; " he was younger son of Christopher Johnson an Irish gentleman of good family. Educated for mercantile life, an unsuccessful love affair entirely changed his career." Stone's Life and Times of Sir Win. Johnson, says be was the eldest son of Christopher Johnson, Esq., and was born in 1715, at Warrentown, in Down county, Ireland. His mother was Anne Warren, a sister of Admiral Sir Peter Warren. Whence this discrepancy of his birth-place, I cannot determine. As Mr. Stone seemingly hid every facility to obtain the facts connected with his birth, we must suppose his statement the correct one : and whether he was the elder or younger son is not material ; but his having been educated for a business life, it would be reasonable to infer that he was not the oldest son or heir apparent to his father's estate. "We may bless God, I think, that our country generally was peopled by the younger sons of Europe, who, born without a " silver spoon," were compelled by necessity in seeking their fortunes, to paddle their own canoes.
29, 1735, Charles Williams and six other individuals secured by patent 14,000
acres o£, land in the present town of Florida, which Admiral Warren
purchased of them not long after : when it became locally known as Warrensbush-meaning
Warren's-woods. William Johnson, having paid his addresses to a young lady
in Ireland, as tradition has it, was prevented by his friends from marrying
her, and about the time the match was broken off and " a flea was in
his ear," his uncle made him a proposition to come to America and look
after his landed estate, an offer he gladly acceded to ; its acceptance resulting
most fortunately for the welfare and prosperity of the whole colony of New
York. Coming as he did under the favorable auspices of his uncle who stood
so high at court and in the public favor, aided not a little in preparing
stepping stones to his future prosperity : but better than all for the young
adventurer was his own sterling integrity-the firm stand he at all times
look for truth and honesty. He came to this country in 1T38,* then 23
years of age, and went directly upon the lands of his uncle, which lie was
to sell in small farms when he could, and make some improvement upon the lands
for himself. He located on his arrival at what was then called Warrensbush,
eastward of Port Jackson, where he erected a small dwelling and a store, in
which his uncle was at first a partner. He dealt in such articles as the settlers
locating around him and the Indians of the country must have ; and as he was
only a few miles from the Tienonderoga castle-his trade with the natives,
whose confidence he never betrayed and whose unfitness for business when intoxicated
he never took advantage of, soon became important
and profitable. With them he bartered ammunition, blankets, trinkets, vermilion, etc., for peltries.
Johnson was enabled, from time to time, he extend his business as his capital increased. As is mentioned by Mr. Stone in the correspondence of Warren with his nephew, the latter had on
* Brod. Papers vol. 7, p. 671. His letter to Lords of Trade, October 30, 1764.
his arrival in his sylvan home a companion of whom the former said: " My love to Mick ; live like brothers, and I will be an affectionate uncle to you both." Who Mick was can now hardly be conjectured, but that he was employed as an assistant it is fair to infer, nor can we doubt that they at that period kept a bachelor's hall. The young adventurer quite early received from his uncle this good advice : " Keep well with all mankind ; act with honor and honesty ; don't be notional, as some of our countrymen are, often foolishly." This would be good counsel ; to all young men in every age ; and that young man who does ; not strive to keep within the good graces of every one, will never attain to distinguished manhood. In regard to the counsel of his uncle, Johnson wrote him at the end of a year's residence : "As to my keeping in with all people, you may assure yourself of it, dear uncle, for I dare say I have the good will of all people whatsoever, and am much respected-very much on your account, and on account of my own behavior-which, I trust in God, shall always continue." Here is one of the grand secrets of his future success : he began right at the outset, with honesty of purpose ever in view, to have a sure, steady and healthy growth with the new country.
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