Tag Archives: Mohawk River

The River That Flows Both Ways: New Netherland Novel


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The earliest known written record of travel in the New York interior west of the Hudson River appears on an early map of Nieuw Nederlant (New Netherland). In 1614 a trader named Kleyntjen went west to the Mohawk along the river that now bears their name and then turned south along the Susquehanna River. If he or those who followed ever kept journals they haven’t survived, and it’s believed any records of early travels may have been tossed out when the Dutch West India Company archives were purged during a reorganization in 1674. Michael Cooney’s novel The River That Flows Both Ways recaptures some of that time, of Dutch traders, native Mohican and Mohawk people, and the fur trade that held them together in commerce.

Cooney’s novel is based on the one very early New York travelogue that has survived since the first half of the 1600s. Written by Fort Orange (Albany) barber-surgeon Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, it had somehow fallen into private hands and was discovered in an attic in Amsterdam, New York in 1895. His small party, which also included two other Dutchmen (Jeronimus dela Croix and Willem Thomassen) left in the middle of December 1634 in an effort to reach the Oneida tribe and renegotiate the price of beaver. They Oneida had nearly abandoned their trade with the Dutch in favor of the French to their northwest and Van den Bogaert, at the age of 23 was sent to correct the situation in favor of the Dutch.

The journey last six weeks and according to Van den Bogaert took them nearly 100 miles to the west-northwest of Fort Orange where he spotted the Tug Hill Plateau – a harrowing journey to say the least. Van den Bogaert experienced much generosity from the Native People he met in his travels and in 1647, when he was charged with Sodomy committed with his black servant Tobias, he fled to the Iroquois he had visited thirteen years earlier; he was captured in an Indian storehouse by a Rensselaerwyck employee named Hans Vos and in the ensuring struggle the building was burnt down. Van den Bogaert was taken back to Fort Orange but escaped – as he fled across the frozen Hudson River the ice broke beneath him and he was drowned. That incident serves as the climax of The River That Flows Both Ways.

Cooney, who writes the Upstate Earth blog, tells the story through the eyes of a young Mohican boy in a time when European diseases and war were creating chaos in the local native cultures. Using his wit and imagination, he wins over the Mohawk and finds a home with van den Bogaert. The novel brings together other historical characters like Arent van Corlaer, Adriaen van der Donck, and Isaac Jogues to weave a tapestry of life in the in the first half of the 17th century in the Upper Hudson and Mohawk valleys.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

The Two Hendricks: A Mohawk Indian Mystery


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In September 1755 the most famous Indian in the world was killed in the Bloody Morning Scout that launched the Battle of Lake George. His name was Henderick Peters Theyanooguin in English, but he was widely known as King Hendrick. In an unfortunate twist of linguistic and historical fate, he shared the same first name as another famous Native American, Hendrick Tejonihokarawa, who although about 30 years his senior, was also famous in his own right. He was one of the “Four Indian Kings” who became a sensation in London in 1710, meet Queen Anne, and was wined and dined as an international celebrity.

Both Hendricks were Mohawk warriors. Both were Christians who aided Great Britain against France in their struggles for empire. Both served as important sachems who stressed cooperation instead of bloody confrontation and who helped negotiate the relationship between their fellow Mohawks and European colonials who recognized that the Iroquois Confederacy was critical to the balance of power in early 18th century America. Both Hendricks, were later confused by historians into one man. Eric Hinderaker’s The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery sets out to unearth the lives of these two important Mohawk men and untangle their stories from a confused history of colonial Native American relations.

King Hendrick (1692-1755), whose death in battle and burial place are memorialized in almost forgotten ground along the highway between Glens Falls and Lake George Village, was already famous at the time of the Bloody Morning Scout (the same attack that claimed the life of Ephraim Williams, founder of Williams College). The year before he died he gave an important speech at the Albany Congress of 1754. His death during the French and Indian War in the cause of British Empire however, propelled his fame and ships and taverns were named in his honor abroad.

The earlier Hendrick (c.1660-c.1735) took part in King Williams War, including the failed attempt to launch an all-out invasion of Canada in retaliation for Frontiac’s raid in February 1690 which destroyed Schenectady. He was among the Mohawks of Tiononderoge (the Lower Castle), who were swindled out of their lands along the Mohawk by their colonial neighbors.

Part of the value of The Two Hendricks, however, lies not only in its untangling of the two men, but also in coming to grips with the ways in which the swindling often worked both ways. Hendrick, a common Dutch name equivalent to Henry, was just one part of their names, but Mohawk names comprise the other part. Hinderaker demonstrates that both Hendricks gave as well as they got in building alliances, fame, and power that left them among the most famous Native Americans in history.

Photo Above: Henderick Peters Theyanooguin (King Hendrick), wearing the English coat he wore on public occasions and his distinctive facial tattoo. This print published just after his death and titled “The brave old Hendrick, the great Sachem or Chief of the Mohawk Indians” is considered the most accurate likeness of the man.

Photo Below: Hendrick Tejonihokarawa, one of the “Four Indian Kings” who traveled to London in 1710 The print, by John Verelst, is entitled “Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, Emperor of the Six Nations.” The title “Emperor” was a bit of a stretch, he belonged to the council of the Mohawk tribe, but not to that of the Iroquois Confederacy as a whole.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Oldest Dutch Farm in Mohawk Valley Seeks Interns


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The Mabee Farm Historic Site on the Mohawk River in Rotterdam Junction, Schenectady County, is considered the oldest house in the Mohawk Valley. The Schenectady County Historical Society is continuing to develop the farm site as a museum and educational center for the community and holds Colonial events, workshops, tours and educational programs which reflect the historical significance of this early Mohawk River farmstead. Continue reading

Symposium: Early Transportation in The Mohawk Valley


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The 2009 Western Frontier Symposium, “Moving Frontiers: Early Transportation in the Mohawk Valley,” will be held this weekend, October 17 – 18, 2009, at Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnstown. This year’s symposium will explore the ways that transportation changed the culture, economy and social life in the Mohawk Valley from 1700 to 1890. As turnpikes, canals and railroads made it easier to move people and goods, New York¹s colonial frontier became the central corridor into America’s midlands.

The events keynote speaker will be Daniel Larkin, noted author of books on railroad and canal engineering, and editor of Erie Canal: New York’s Gift to The Nation. He will talk about the central role of Mohawk Valley transportation and technologies in shaping the New York State we know today.

Other symposium scholars will present fascinating insights into various aspects of the region’s transportation history – from native American trails and early canals, through the glory days of the Erie Canal and into the railroad age and the first bicycle craze.

Participants can learn about early roads, the businesses that served merchants and travelers, and the impact of these movements on the Palatine and Dutch settlements of the Mohawk Valley and then spend a day at historic sites throughout the region, viewing special exhibits related to transportation history and discussing specific topics with additional speakers in the field.

All presentations are free and open to the public, thanks to the generosity of the New York Council for the Humanities a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tickets for Special Events & Packages are available for a fee. (Pre-registration required.)

The event is sponsored by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, NYS Archives Partnership Trust, Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor & related Mohawk Valley historic sites

For additional details visit the website: www.oldfortjohnson.org/symposium.html

49th Annual Schenectady Stockade Walkabout


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With a slogan that says “Party Like It’s 1662,” the Schenectady County Historical Society, the Stockade Association and the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation present the 49th Annual Stockade Walkabout and Waterfront Faire on Saturday.The Walkabout showcases the oldest continuously occupied historic district in the United States, which was designated the first Historic District in New York state in 1962. During the event, from 11 a.m to 5 p.m., you can interact with historical characters from Olde Schenectady, stroll through the neighborhood, tour privately owned 18th- and 19th-century homes, visit historic churches, view the Stockade’s only archaeological dig and join an archaeological tour or an architectural tour.

The Walkabout House Tour includes: guided tours of historic homes, churches and public buildings; an archaeological dig at a historic house garden; an architectural tour; an archaeological tour; historic boats along the Mohawk River; carriage rides along the river path and through the streets; children’s activities in the park; live music and refreshments throughout the day; an antique car exhibit; guided tours of the old Erie Canal; and Colonial artisan demonstrations and fine crafts.

Tickets for adults purchased in advance are $18, and the day of the event are $25; tickets for children younger than 12 are $7. Park free at Schenectady County Community College and other public lots.

The free Waterfront Faire features arts and crafts vendors; family activities; live entertainment and music; food and refreshments; carriage rides; Schenectady County Faire — Colonial artisans and demonstrators; and an authentic bateau and turn-of-the-century launch boat.

For more information, visit http://www.stockadewalkabout.com. You can also find information or purchase tickets with credit cards by calling 374-0263. Tickets can also be purchased at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY 12305.