Learning About New York Part XVI

Clinton is a village of about 2,000 inhabitants, 9 miles S. W. of Utica, on the line of the Chenango Canal. It contains 5 churches, the Liberal Institute, and several other literary institutions, male and female. The buildings of Hamilton College are a mile distant, standing on a most commanding eminence westward of the Oriskany valley. About the year 1791, Mr. Kirkland, a devoted missionary among the Oneida Indians, conceived the project of establishing a seminary which should be accessible to the Indian youth as well as the whites. Through his exertions, a charter of incorporation was obtained for the Institution in 1793, under the name of "Hamilton Oneida Academy." This was afterward raised to the rank of a college, with the style of "Hamilton College."

The following inscription is copied from a monument standing in the college graveyard:

Skenandoa. This monument is erected by the Northern Missionary Society, in testimony of their respect for the memory of Skenandoa, who died in the peace and hope of the gospel, on the 11th of March, 1816. Wise, eloquent and brave, he long swayed the councils of his tribe, whose confidence and affection he eminently enjoyed. In the war which placed the Canadas under the crown of Great Britain he was actively engaged against the French; in that of the revolution, he espoused that of the colonies, and ever afterward remained a firm friend to the United States. Under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, he embraced the doctrines of the gospel, and having exhibited their power in a long life adorned by every Christian virtue, he fell asleep in Jesus at the advanced age of one hundred years."

"Skenandoa"s person was tall, well made and robust. His countenance was intelligent, and displayed all the peculiar dignity of an Indian chief. In his youth he was a brave and intrepid warrior, and in his riper years one of the noblest counselors among the North American tribes; he possessed a vigorous mind, and was alike sagacious, active and persevering.

As an enemy, he was terrible. As a friend and ally, he was mild and gentle in his disposition, and faithful to his engagements. His vigilance once preserved from massacre the inhabitants of the little settlement at German Flats. In the revolutionary war, his influence induced the Oneidas to take up arms in favor of the Americans. Among the Indians he was distinguished by the appellation of the 'white man's friend.'

Although he could speak but little English, and in his extreme old age was blind, yet his company was sought. In conversation he was highly decorous, evincing that he had profited by seeing civilized and polished society, and by mingling with good company in his better days.

To a friend who called on him a short time since, he thus expressed himself by an interpreter: 'I am an aged hemlock. The winds of an hundred winters have whistled through my branches; I am dead at the top. The generation to which I belonged have run away and left me; why I live the Great Good Spirit only knows. Pray to my Jesus that I may have patience to wait for my appointed time to die.'

Honored Chief! His prayer was answered; he was cheerful and resigned to the last. For several years he kept his dress for the grave prepared. Once and again, and again, he came to Clinton to die, longing that his soul might be with Christ, and his body in the narrow house near his beloved Christian teacher. While the ambitious but vulgar great look principally to sculptured monuments and to riches in the temple of earthly fame, Skenandoa, in the spirit of the only real nobility, stood with his loins girded waiting the coming of the Lord."

Rome, the semi-capital of Oneida county, is twelve miles north-westward of Utica and 112 from Albany, on the summit level between the ocean and Lake Ontario, 435 feet above the tide of Albany. It is situated on the Mohawk River, Erie Canal, and Central Railroad, at the southern terminus of the Watertown and Rome Railroad, and the Black River Canal. The borough contains a court-house, 12 churches, manufactories of cotton, iron, and other articles. Population about 8,000.

Rome is the site of Ft. Stanwix, originally built in 1758, during the French war, and named after Gen. Stanwix. It occupied a position commanding the carrying place between the navigable waters of the Mohawk and Wood creek, about a mile apart, and was regarded as the key to the communication between Canada and the settlements on the Mohawk. It was originally a square fort, having four bastions, etc. The principal fortress was erected at an expense of $226,400, an enormous sum at that period, but at the commencement of the revolutionary war it was mostly in ruins. On the incursion of Burgoyne toward Albany, Col. St. Leger, with a considerable body of loyalists and Indians under Brant, intended to pass down the Mohawk valley and join him near that point. St. Leger with his motley force proceeded down from Oswego, and arrived before Ft. Stanwix, August 3, 1777. This fort had been repaired, its name changed to Ft. Schuyler, and garrisoned by 750 men under Gen. Gansevoort. St. Leger sent a flag into the fort with a manifesto advising submission to the mercy of the king, and denouncing severe vengeance against those who should continue their rebellion. The garrison, however, determined to defend the fort to the last extremity. After the battle of Oriskany, the siege of the fort still continued, and the situation of the garrison becoming somewhat critical, Gen. Arnold was dispatched with a body of troops to their relief. The following is the account of the stratagem used by Arnold for the dispersion of the enemy who were besieging the fort:

"As he was advancing up the Mohawk, he captured a tory by the name of Hon-yost Schuyler, who being a spy was condemned to death. Hon-yost 'was one of the coarsest and most ignorant men in the valley, appearing scarce half removed from idiocy, and yet there was no small share of shrewdness in his character.' He was promised his life if he would go to the enemy, particularly the Indians, and alarm them by announcing that a large army of the Americans was in full march to destroy them, etc. Hon-yost being acquainted with many of the Indians, gladly accepted the offer; one of his brothers was detained as a hostage for his fidelity, and was to be hung if he proved treacherous. A friendly Oneida Indian was let into the secret, and cheerfully embarked in the design. Upon Hon-yost's arrival, he told a lamentable story of his being taken by Arnold, and of his escape from being hanged. He showed them also several shot holes in his coat, which he said were made by bullets fired at him when making his escape. Knowing the character of the Indians, he communicated his intelligence to them in a mysterious and imposing manner. When asked the number of men which Arnold had, he shook his head mysteriously and pointed upward to the leaves of the trees. These reports spread rapidly through the camps. Meantime the friendly Oneida arrived with a belt and confirmed what Hon-yost had said, hinting that a bird had brought him intelligence of great moment. On his way to the camp of the besiegers, he had fallen in with two or three Indians of his acquaintance, who readily engaged in furthering his design. These sagacious fellows dropped into the camp as if by accident; they spoke of warriors in great numbers rapidly advancing against them. The Americans, it was stated, did not wish to injure the Indians, but if they continued with the British they must all share one common fate. The Indians were thoroughly alarmed, and determined on an immediate flight, being already disgusted with the British service. Col. St. Leger exhorted, argued, and made enticing offers to the Indians to remain, but all in vain. He attempted to get them drunk, but they refused to drink. When he found them determined to go, he urged them to move in the rear of his army, but they charged him with a design to sacrifice them to his safety. In a mixture of rage and despair, he broke up his encampment with such haste that he left his tents, cannon and stores to the besieged. The friendly Oneida accompanied the flying army, and being naturally a wag, he engaged his companions, who were in the secret, to repeat at proper, intervals the cry, "They are coming! they are coming!" This appalling cry quickened the flight of the fugitives wherever it was heard. The soldiers threw away their packs, and the commanders took care not to be in the rear. After much fatigue and mortification, they finally reached Oneida Lake, and there probably, for the first time, felt secure from the pursuit of their enemies. From this place St. Leger hastened with his scattered forces back to Oswego, and thence to Montreal."

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part XVI
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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