History of Gloversville, NY
From: History of Fulton County
Revised and Edited by: Washington Frothingham
Published by: D. Mason & Co. Syracuse, NY 1892

By Rev. Isaac O. Rankin, of Peekskill, former pastor of the Kingsboro Presbyterian Church.

Note: This is still being worked on and will be about 8-12 large pages when completed. The first two pages are mostely prior to the incorporation of villages in 1847. Part 3 and following pages will be for the most part after that date.

THE history of any prosperous American city, could it be fully written, would be an interesting contribution to the record of man's slow conquest of an unwilling world.

Modern scientific philosophers have much to tell about environment. Even man, they say, is shaped by his surroundings; he is what he is because he is where he is, and he thus bears the stamp and seal of his locality. If, however, the average man of even a century ago and a citizen of Gloversville today should meet at the corner of Main and Fulton streets, they would behold much to modify that opinion. They would find themselves alike in many points; but the environment of the former would be changed beyond all recognition. The race would be improved in many ways, but the whole locality is revolutionized.

The comparison becomes still more impressive if we take humanity of a century earlier. The Indian of the Cayadutta and of the Mohawk was the warrior whose desire was to make himself dreaded from the Atlantic to the far west. In the arts of peace, however, he appears to less advantage. He only utilized the products of the earth as they grew, but went no further. Even with the white man's counsel and example, he learned the arts of peace with difficulty. He always bore the stamp of his environment, and was therefore in that condition which is properly termed savage.

Civilized man, however, takes possession of the land: utilizes its natural advantages and capabilities to the utmost, and supplements its deficiencies.

Judged by this standard, Gloversville and the men who made it take the highest rank as exponents of civilization. The physical advantages of the neighborhood are comparatively few. It has no harbor upon lake or sea. No commerce bearing river flows by its warehouses, or furnishes power to its mills. No fertile fields yield corn to its storehouses. No mines of coal and iron, silver and gold, supply its industry with raw material. On the south, a ridge of sand sloping away in hills and hollows, clad with yellow pine; on the north, a space of stronger land bearing a heavier forest growth and reaching to the foot wall of the Adirondack wilderness; in the midst a stream flowing through a boggy valley. It is out of such elements that man has wrought his triumphs, thus creating the city of cheerful homes and busy industries. There was tough fibre in the character of the men who wrought this miracle of transformation. The strong keen air and pure water of the mountain gave them vigor, the biting winters toughened the frame and wrought energy and endurance; but the men and women had an inborn force which enabled them to profit by such lessons. The town is their creation, under God, who gave them strength and opportunity. Had they been less self reliant and industrious, such a work could never have been done; and some other city would have handled glove leather, and perhaps have achieved wealth and distinction for this manufacture.

To tell this story of the men of Gloversville and their successful conflicts is the purpose of the succeeding chapters of this history, and its chief interest will be found in the triumph of civilized man over such a discouraging environment. A stalwart and unconquerable race has created for itself a city rich both in private comforts and in common wealth of interests, on a spot where an earlier people, brave but uninventive, hunted in the forests and fished in the streams.

When Arent Stevens and his nine partners purchased the land of the Mohawks, and when the Indian trader, William Johnson (not yet conqueror at Lake George or Niagara, or a baronet) bought the land of this ten, neither they nor he would have selected the site of Gloversville as the future seat of busy life and power. Johnson indeed made a very different choice and laid out his town on the richer lands four miles to the south.

He began a second settlement, however, on the watershed between the tributaries of the Mohawk and the Sacandaga, partly within the present city limits; but this had its natural extension eastward, and in its connection with the outer world avoided the site of the future city. To this lesser settlement, intended to be an outpost toward the wilderness, was given the name of Kingsborough, which had previously been applied to the whole patent of twenty thousand acres. Its origin, which has given rise to numerous conjectures and not a few myths, was probably an expression of honor to the king, just as a neighboring and earlier patent to the eastward was called Queensborough, and as Johnson himself more than ten years later called the royal grant "Kingsland." As an Irishman, the peculiar form of the word (borough) would be familiar from the title of an Irish nobleman, the Earl of Kingsborough, and this perhaps determined his choice.

The tenants who settled on Sir William's Kingsborough farms, were therefore the first white men living upon the site of the present city. With them the name of Kingsborough become localized, no longer the designation of a wide tract of wilderness, but of cultivated farms. These tenant farmers, however, were not the fathers of the present municipality. Like their Indian predecessors, they were eventually removed and expatriated by war, and their children live far away and under another flag. A third and mingled race, from New England, and also Scotch, German, and Dutch, came on the great wave of immigration which began to flow after the revolution, and were the true fathers of the city. Their names are not only household words, but are suggestive of business power, in the city streets today. Their influence is still felt in the throbbing life about us, and their history is our inheritance. It was a cosmopolitan stock in the best sense of the word; mingled blood and mingled traits of character helping to fashion the men of Gloversville. Others came in, and have proved themselves worthy to be sharers both of their work and their reward, but these alone are the fathers of the city.

There are four stages of history since man first knew these hills and valleys, and we may appropriately call them the Indian, the Feudal, the Agricultural, and the Manufacturing periods. The "Oldest Inhabitant" can tell us of the third, which he easily remembers, the fourth is still in process of development, but the first and second go back beyond memory, and hence are not without their inevitable accompaniment of myth and legend.

The story of this immediate locality in the Indian age is almost a blank. It was a part of the wide hunting grounds of the Mohawks and nothing more. It was not even on the track of the ordinary war parties, although now and then a band of warriors crossed it on some expedition, where for special secrecy an unusual route had been taken. Its only memorials are the stone arrow heads, few in number, which have been picked up near this obliterated and almost forgotten track.

While the central village of the tribe was still at Caughnawauga, near the mouth of the Cayadutta, the Indian hunters must have often followed the stream to its head waters. When the efforts of the French missionaries were at last successful, and many of the tribe were induced to settle in the new Caughnawauga, or La Prairie, at the foot of the La Chine rapids of the St. Lawrence, the neighborhood, for a time, became less frequented.

Then it was penetrated by a new race. The Indians themselves diminished and degenerated. The settler and the land speculator trespassed more and more upon the hunting grounds, and, gradually, induced the remnant of the tribe to part with their title The Dutch, after more than a century of occupation, were growing strong in the lower Mohawk country, while the Germans had found a refuge from war and ravage at Stone Arabia and German Flats, and also in Schoharie.

Speaking of the settlement of the Highland Scotch in Kingsborough, to which we shall soon refer, it must be remembered that all the settlers in the Mohawk country brought with them the memory of conflicts in the land which they had exchanged for the wilderness. It was no chance which brought them hither, no mere hope of gain, or purpose to "grow up with the country;" but they either came with a high purpose, or they were precipitated on this new dwelling place by tempests at home.

The Dutch, whose blood flows in the veins of so many of our people, were no inferior stock. It was at the very pinnacle of its greatness that the republic of the Netherlands founded its colony in the new world. The sons of one of the greatest powers of Europe built Fort Orange and New Amsterdam. The victory over Spanish tyranny was at that time not only complete, but was recognized as such by even arrogant Spain. A few years later Van Tromp was sailing through the English channel with a broom at his masthead, showing that, by victories over both Spaniard and Englishman, he had swept it clean. The Dutch republic at this time was an aristocratic commonwealth, and had given its colony of Fort Orange (afterward Albany) as a feudal possession to the Van Rensselaers. Hence Arent Van Curler and his friends pushed on, in 1662, to the Mohawk country, purchasing lands in the "Great Flat" of the river and laying the foundations of Schenectady, "the place outside the door," as the Indians called it. Theirs was a movement for liberty, and deserves our honor, and this together with all those noble elements in the Dutch character which awaken our admiration are the inheritance of Gloversville, so far as Dutch blood flows in the veins of its citizens.

So also the Germans, who nearly a century later settled on the banks of the Mohawk. Theirs was the land of the grape on the banks of the Rhine, until they became the victims of the lust of war and love of cruelty, which characterized Louis the Fourteenth of France, falsely called the "Grande Monarque." He was engaged in war with England and Germany, and, in one of his campaigns, his armies ravaged the Rhenish Palatinate with fire and sword. The land was a desert behind them, and thousands were homeless and in destitution. Then Queen Anne and her people were moved with pity, and the most needy and helpless were transported from the banks of the Rhine to those of the Hudson. They founded a colony near Kingston, but did not prosper. A separation took place; one portion settling in Pennsylvania, where they are widely known for their peculiar language as the "Pennsylvania Dutch," while the other made its way to the Mohawk and the Schoharie valleys, and though less tenacious of the German tongue, is hardly less prosperous and respected. Its hero is General Herkimer, and its sufferings and victories in the land of its adoption are also the inheritance of all who partake of German blood.

At this point we meet for the first time with one of the most remarkable characters which America has ever developed. The history of the Mohawk country cannot be told without constant reference to the career of Sir William Johnson. Born in Ireland, near Dublin, about the time that the Palatines on the Hudson were separating for their second flight, he was trained as a merchant's clerk, and came to America because of a love disappointment. His uncle, Peter Warren, an officer in the navy, had married Miss Delancey, of New York, whose dowry included wild lands on the Mohawk; and Johnson came hither as his agent. The possibilities of the situation dawned at once upon the young man; he took naturally and easily to the untrammeled life of the frontier; became fur trader, and land owner; made friends with the Indians, and became a chief of the Mohawks; and thus advanced steadily to wealth and influence. He was a type of that class whose ambition craved manorial estates in the new country after the usages of England, and he was by far the most successful as well as the most deserving. The house where he accomplished most of his work, where his children were born, and whence he marched to his victories, is still known as "Fort Johnson," and may be seen by every traveler on the New York Central railroad. It stands embowered in a locust grove, three miles west of Amsterdam.

With the advance in immigration, and the increasing greed of the land speculator, the tenure of the Indian was evidently near its end. The hunter, too, was doomed, for the agriculturalist was reaching control. It became a question only how and when any property would pass into the hands of the settlers, and what pittance would be paid to its former owners. This was a question determined too often merely by the greed and cunning of the purchaser; but, to Johnson's honor, it was by him generally satisfactory to the Indians.

The territory, part of which forms the site of Gloversville and purporting to be 20,000 acres, was purchased of the Indians, October 19, 1752, by Arent Stevens and nine others; and with the confirmation of that purchase by the governor, June 23, 1753, begins the feudal tenure of the Kingsborough farms.

The original Indian deed, the petition for confirmation, and the grant by the government, may still be seen in the office of the secretary of state. The Indian deed is very interesting. It conveys the whole site of the present town of Johnstown to the king for the consideration of "three peices of Showde" (an inferior kind of woolen cloth, the precursor and namesake of our "shoddy "), "six peices of galling linnen, three barrels of Beer, six gallons Rum, and a fatt Beast." The beer, the rum and the beast, it will be noticed, are put in capitals, and no doubt represented the larger share of the immediate inducement; although winter was close at hand and the "showde" would soon be needed. Whether the Indian grantors, Esau like, simply disposed of some part of their birthright for this poor mess of "pottage," or whether in a discouraged hour they foresaw the end and were glad to get something tangible and drinkable for that which was slipping through their hands, is a matter of conjecture. Certain it is, however, that the white man's land occupation here, as often elsewhere, began with an Indian debauch.

The grantors mentioned in this deed are, "Cechehoana, Seth, Hance Ranceer, Abraham Dow, Jacob, Hendrick, Petuis Hance, the Wild Deaf Hendrick, Daniel Sayengaraghta, Native Indians, and sole and absolute proprietors of the Mohawks in the country of America, and also the Province of New York." Their names present an interesting combination of Iroquois, Dutch, and English, suggestive of the confusion of tongues and manners prevailing at that period in the Mohawk valley. Only one of their number is famous in the history of the times; this was Hendrick, better known as "King Hendrick," who was one of the greatest leaders and wisest counsellors among all the Indian chiefs. It was he that chiefly helped Sir William Johnson to hold the Mohawks in alliance during the French war, and was killed while fighting under Sir William in the battle of Lake George.

The above mentioned grant is absolute and without reserve, but it is neither made to Arent Stevens and his associates nor to Johnson, who probably paid the price of purchase; but to "our said most gracious sovereign King George the Second," in whose name Stevens and Douw Fonda in behalf of the rest, had made the purchase. The Indian signers represent the three totems, or family distinctions of the tribe, two turtles, two bears, and two wolves. They make their marks in a decidedly awkward manner, affixing each a seal, which in this instance is probably that of Johnson, who acted as interpreter, and who seems to have had a secret interest in the purchase from the first. He certifies over his signature that the Indians knew what lands they were selling, and the cloth, the liquor, and the "fatt Beast" had been properly delivered.

The purchasers represent the average population in the neighborhood. They were Arent Stevens, Barent Vroonlan, Mathew Ferran, Robert Adams, Cadwallader Colden, Junior, John Young, John Sewell, Ephraim Arnold, Douw Fonda, and Jelles Fonda. Dutch and English names predominate; one is Scotch, and one probably Irish, but the German element is wholly unrepresented. The purchasers were neighbors of Johnson in the Mohawk valley. Arent Stevens was his interpreter, agent, and messenger among the Indians. Colden was the surveyor whose certificate of survey and list of boundaries accompanies the petition for the grant, and also the son of the surveyor general (afterwards lietuenant governor and acting governor), a man well known in the history of the province, and as a botanical collector and student of Indian life. Douw and Jelles Fonda were brothers, prominent as business men in the valley, their name being now preserved by the villages of Fonda and Fonda's Bush. Jelles Fonda was a major in the provincial militia, and did good service in the French and Indian war. He was for years a close friend of Johnson, but embraced the patriot cause at the outbreak of the Revolution.

In the original deed the name by which the tract was afterwards known is not mentioned, but in the reference to the transaction, and in other deeds (in which the boundaries are referred to) it is immediately and always called the "Kingsborough Grant." Its location, and the quality of a large part of its soil gave it distinction and its importance was greatly increased by Johnson's settlement at Johnstown. How long Arent Stevens and the ten held the property is not known; and the writer has not been able to find the record of transfer to Sir William. It would be interesting to learn what consideration was mentioned in the deed, and also its exact date. It is clear, however, that the Kingsborough tract was not a royal grant in any other sense than a score of others in the valley, and also that it came to Johnson as a purchase, and not a reward. All titles in the valley then rested upon royal grants, and this no more than others, but Kingsborough, purchased by Stevens in 1752, has been confused with Kingsland, granted to Sir William as a special reward in 1769. It seems probable, however, though it cannot be proved, that the ten purchasers were originally Johnson's agents, and, if this be true, he may in one sense be regarded as the purchaser, even although his name was omitted. The government was already jealous of the large landholders, of whom Johnson, even before the Kingsborough tract was granted, was chief, and hence license to purchase Indian lands in large parcels was only obtained with difficulty, which indeed in 1763 became, by proclamation of the governor, an absolute prohibition, so that Johnson's Kingsland estate only came into his possession by special grant as an exceptional reward for brilliant service.

The landholders of Gloversville may be amused to know that their property was originally granted by King George "to be holden of us and our Heirs and Successors in free and common Soccage as of our Manor of East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, yielding at our Custom House, in our city of New York, on the feast of Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary, commonly called Lady Day, the yearly Rent of two shillings and sixpence for each and every hundred acres, except the highways," and that it was forbidden to cut trees above a certain size, or of a shape suitable for the knees of vessels, all of which were reserved for the king's use in shipbuilding.

Saccade, it may be added, is a feudal tenure, under which the rent is fixed and definite. From the old world point of view it was a favorable tenure. It bound Johnson to the king, and he in the same manner bound to himself the tenants to whom he granted leases.

In this point he was highly favored. A body of men to which the strictest personal dependence was perfectly familiar, and which was separated in language and religion from all other inhabitants of the valley, was ready to begin tenantry. They were the Gaelic speaking Highlanders, who, after the ruin of the Pretender's cause at Culloden, had been exiled to America. They had been treated cruelly, and did not forget the lesson they had learned, but in the breaking up of their clans and the loss of their hereditary chiefs they were ready for the control of a man like Johnson.

Macaulay in his history of England, after drawing a vivid picture of the Highlands before 1745, expressly compares the inhabitants who were the ancesters of the Kingsborough men, to American savages. An observer, he says, would have found in the character of the Highlanders "closely intermingled the good and bad qualities of an uncivilized nation. He would have found that the people had no love for their country or for their king; that they had no attachment to any commonwealth larger than the clan, or to any magistrate superior to the chief. He would have learned that a stab in the back, or a shot from behind a fragment of rock, were approved modes of taking satisfaction for insults. He would have heard men relate boastfully how they or their fathers had wreaked on hereditary enemies in a neighboring valley such vengeance as would have made old soldiers of the Thirty Years War shudder. He would have been struck by the spectacle of athletic men basking in the sun, angling for salmon, or taking aim at grouse, while their aged mothers, their wives, and their tender daughters were reaping the scanty harvest of oats. Yet even here there was some compensation. It must in fairness be acknowledged that the patrician virtues were not less widely diffused than the patrician vices. A gentleman of Sky or Lochaber, whose clothes were begrimed with the accumulated filth of years, and whose hovel smelt worse than an English hog stye, would often do the honors of that hovel with a lofty courtesy worthy of the splendid circle of Versailles. When the English condescended to think of him at ail, and it was seldom that they did so, they considered him as a filthy abject savage, a cut throat and a thief. A Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburg or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his warpaint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors" (in the sentimental period afterwards) "represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk and girt with a string of scalps." The Macdonalds, from which clan many of Johnson's Kingsborough tenants came, were among the most powerful and warlike of all the Highlanders. To them belonged some of the wildest valleys and most inaccessible retreats of Scotland; also the Western islands, Sky and Mull, the valleys of Ben Nevis, and the Grampian Hills. Their chieftain claimed the proud title of" The Lord of the Isles" and hated the Campbells who had usurped it. A maiden of their name and race, Flora Macdonald, had gained fame by aiding the escape of the Pretender after Cuiloden, while the son of an exiled clansman became one of the Marshals of France.

Such were the elements which Johnson brought into his feudal settlement, and, in their well tested loyalty as well as in their isolation from the world, they promised to be all that his ambition could require. A view of these characteristics and antecedents is necessary to render their history understood by readers of the present day. The scheme appeared promising, for Johnson was a born leader. His consummate tact, knowing how far to go, and where to stop, when to threaten and when to cajole, his real dignity and apparent familiarity enabled him to control the Indians as no other man could, and served him almost equally well when dealing with his Highland retainers. Their faithfulness to his son in the dark days of the Revolution is really a tribute to the father's genius The feudal period, however, was brief (less than twenty years in all), but while it lasted, the Kingsborough farms were held by loyal followers of the chief, sturdy fighters and unquestioning partisans.

We have no record of home life during this feudal tenure and we only know that the men became accustomed to a northern climate and had few and simple wants. The land they tilled was rough. Forests were to be cleared and crops planted amid the stumps. The grain they reaped was carried on horseback along the Indian trail and paid toll at the landlord's mill. We hear nothing of schools or even of religious service. The first years of their occupation were years of war, which left Johnson little leisure for such matters, and the Roman Catholic church, of which they were members, was still unorganized in the northern colonies. It was more than thirty years before its first bishop was ordained, so that it is not surprising if this little flock in the wilderness was neglected. Close at hand lay the wide forest, with peril from savages, but with its attraction for the hunter and the trapper. The houses were log huts and their dwellers were deerskin shod, and clothed in homespun.

For Johnson, however, and in some degree for his Kingsborough followers, those were glorious and heroic days. He became a great military hero and led the savages to the defence of British interests. Assisted by the New England men he won the famous victory at Lake George, and also captured Fort Niagara. Washington at the south and Johnson at the north were the only chieftans who knew the wilderness and could meet the enemy on their own ground, and also in the use of their own weapons. If their advice had been heeded Braddock's defeat would have been prevented and Montcalm would have been deprived of his Indian allies, by which that long war would have been far earlier brought to a close. Unfortunately it was not heeded. Englishmen had still to learn how to adapt themselves to a wilderness and to a savage foe. Washington's time had not yet come, but Johnson soon had his opportunity, which he improved. He was rewarded with a baronetcy, which was a high exaltation for a provincial, and also by a liberal gift of money, and the confirmation of his title to a wide extent of wilderness which he had previously bought of the Mohawks, and which was long known as Kingsland, or the Royal Grant.

The story of Johnson's life is elsewhere told at large in this book and only so much of it is recalled here as is required in the outline of the earlier days at Kingsborough. Most of the able bodied men of the settlement were absent at the war, serving under Johnson's command, and hence the labor of clearing and cultivating fell on the few who remained at home. Women thus became accustomed to severe outdoor employment, but they were women of an indomitable spirit and bore the burden so bravely that Gloversville may be proud that they once occupied this historic spot.

At last Fort Niagara fell and then Quebec. The troops came home again and Johnson, in the intervals of his work of pacifying the Indians, began to build his house on the land which he had bought ten years previously of Arent Stevens. Honors and rewards fell richly upon him and the clansmen shared the honor even if they had but little of the reward.

To picture life during the peaceful days of the Kingsborough settlement we cannot do better than to follow the children of these same Highlanders to their quiet Nova Scotia villages. The martial spirit sleeps for want of opportunity, but the old time simplicity remains The mental action of the community is but little modified by the lapse of time, more democratic than of old, for lack, perhaps, of leaders and also a cause, but it is isolated from the world, and they are Gaelic speaking Scotchmen still. They are also faithful adherents to the Roman Catholic faith, farmers and fishermen whose simple self dependent life presents a striking contrast with the feverish activity of the outer world.

Ten years of peace followed Johnson's success at Fort Niagara and Wolfe's crowning victory at Quebec. The dread of Indian forays ceased. The open land again encroached upon the woods. The quiet life of the Kingsborough farms promised to become a permanence. The varied season brought their changes in labor, and they knew no greater excitement than the merry makings at Johnson Hall or the Indian councils and the rough Irish games of which Johnson was so fond, with glimpses of the visitors of rank and fashion who were so often his guests. Methods of farming were improved under his supervision; improved breeds of stock imported; fruit trees planted and peace and content bade fair to make the feudal experiment a success.

Troubles however were even then rising under all this peaceful surface. Johnson's son and sons in law were men of less ability and far less tact than their father, and the power which he held so easily was certain to slip from their grasps. The democratic spirit was rapidly increasing in the Mohawk valley, and while loyalty to the king was in common parlance, there were open threats of opposition to his advisers. The Albany Congress of 1754 had opened the eyes of the colonists to the possibilities of strength in union, and race prejudices helped the growing discontent.

Just as this spirit of independence reached bold utterance, and revolutionary discussion became rife, Johnson died. It was fortunate for his fame, for it was just before the decisive question could have been forced upon him. Men were heard saying that he had killed himself because he was afraid to face the choice between the king's cause and that of the people. It was a cruel and baseless rumor and only showed what extremes can be reached by conjecture. Johnson's degenerate son hesitated, temporized, and at last broke his parole, and fled to Canada, and with him went the loyal hingsborough tenantry. Under the strain of popular revolt the fabric which had been built so carefully in the wilderness went to immediate ruin.

It is not surprising that the elder Johnson's baronial experiment should have failed in the hands of his weak and arrogant son. The personal force of its architect, and the Highland blood and training of the Kingsborough men alone had made this possible. The land was too wide for a system of tenantry to which neither the Dutch nor the German took kindly, and still less the New Englander. Hence, the whole structure went down; not only from internal weakness, but from irresistible external pressure.

It may seem strange that the Highlanders who had fought so fiercely to overthrow George Seconds, should be so ready to take up arms for George Third, but it was really true to character. They cared little for the government, but everything for their leader. The old clan instinct was as strong as ever. They had few interests in common with their neighbors, but they were Johnson's men, and where he went they followed. In the barbarous forays by which Sir John Johnson laid waste his native valley, and killed his former friends and neighbors, they bore a congenial part. Disguised as savages they shot and scalped, enacting the Indian role with more than savage spirit, and rendering the names of Johnson and Kingsboro detested in the valley.

In May, 1777, the final Tory exodus took place. The men of the settlement had gone to Canada with Sir John in his precipitate flight the year previously, but the women and children remained, and the settlement became at once the centre of information and the base of supplies to the enemy. Spies and messengers came and went. The trail along the Sacandaga and through the Adirondack woods was in incessant use. Sympathy and supplies were always to be had from the loyal Highland women. There were meeting places in the woods where swift attacks upon unwary settlers further south and east were planned. Agents of the king were active in their efforts to win the lukewarm and wavering. Driven out of the other settlements, Kingsborough was the beginning of the loyalist's safety on his way to Canada. Hence, as viewed by the revolutionary leaders, the whole neighborhood was a nest of treason. Military force could not be employed against women and children, but it was decided that they should be removed to a place where they could do no further harm. In April, 1777, it was proposed to arrest and remove all who remained, "to the number of four hundred." The matter was discussed by General Schuyler with General Herkimer and the Tryon County Committee, and became generally known, so that when the troops arrived the expected captives were gone. It must have been a painful journey for the aged and also for the children, but they were used to hardships; and there was no one to record their trials. It was the exodus of a people whose very existence has been well nigh forgotton on the lands which they cleared and cultivated, and where they hoped to make a permanent home. Jacobites in Scotland, and Tories in America, they had twice joined their fortunes with a sinking cause.

With them fell the fortunes of their leader. They did their best, after their savage fashion, to restore him to his own, but their senseless cruelty only made more inevitable his final loss. A Kingsborough Macdonald would have had small chance of life in the Mohawk valley after the massacres of Cherry Valley and Schoharie. Popular feeling ran high, and too many of the victims survived, with bitter memories of what they had seen and suffered.

All the vast estates of the Johnsons were confiscated. The innocent suffered with the guilty. There were to be no more great holdings in the Mohawk country, and no more "loyal tenants." Thenceforth the freeholder took the place of the soccager, and democracy expelled feudalism.

There was some compensation, however, for both master and men. The Johnsons continued to hold office under the British government, and received large grants of land in Canada, while the Kingsborough fugitives were provided for in Nova Scotia. The cruelties of their campaigns will never be forgotten in the Mohawk valley, but let them have at least the merit of an unquestioning loyalty.

Thus ended the feudal period at Kingsborough. The neglected fields and ruined houses passed into the hands pf the administrator of forfeitures, and for a while lay vacant, awaiting the slow processes of the law, and the rising of the tide of immigration. It was not however a complete relapse into the wilderness. The story of the Johnson lands and the Johnson confiscations was familiar to many in New England. At Lake George and Ticonderoga, the militia had seen Johnson and his Kingsborough troopers, and inquired, with Yankee curiosity, about them. The very fact that the farms were partly cleared was an attraction at a time when the emigrant's heaviest work was his preliminary battle with the forest. Squatters from the neighborhood came and took possession. Some few of the former tenants, who were not of the Highland blood, found their way back, but for the most part the fields lay fallow under the summer sun, and buried by the snows of winter. The law continually worked through its tedious processes, and the land was sold; plans of settlement began to be put in operation, and, with the newcomers, the enduring life of the locality began.

Gloversville History

Part 1 - Early History.

Part 2 - Early Hisotry Continued.

Part 3 - Incorporation as a City - Schools.

Part 4 - Libraries. - Gloversville Water Works. - Opera House.

Part 5 - Fire Department- Board of Trade - Gas - Electric Lighting

Part 6 - Churches 1

Part 7 - Churches 2

Part 8 - YMCA, Secret Societies, Newspapers

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates

All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy