Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 - Geology, Prehistory and Historical Background

Where to begin our story?  What came before the town of Davenport?  What of the land itself?  Who were the first inhabitants?  This chapter explores these matters and will take us up to the great formalization of land claims through royal “patents” in 1769 and 1770.  The chapter will say more about the actual settling of the land by its new, non-Indian inhabitants, the Palatine Germans (“High Dutch”), the English and Irish and, before the American Revolution especially, the Scots.

Ancient seas and glacial lakes.  Located in the highlands and northwest slopes of the Catskills (sometimes called the Delaware Hills), Davenport is drained by the Charlotte River and its tributaries on their way to the Susquehanna River.  The source of the Charlotte lies in the uplands of Schoharie County.  The river flows southwest about four miles to Harpersfield and the intersection of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties.  After forming the northernmost border of Harpersfield for about four miles, the Charlotte then runs generally west-by-south-west for another 16 miles until it meets the Susquehanna River slightly to the east of Oneonta.

Davenport, encompassing 53 square miles of land and water, is located in the northernmost part of Delaware County.  The county is bounded to the east by Schoharie County, to the north by Otsego, and to the west by Broome and Chenango counties.  Its southern boundary coincides with that of New York-Pennsylvania, placing Delaware in the “southern tier” region of New York State.

A county geological society was formed in 1821, but it had a short existence and concluded little about the geology or minerals of the county.  A report later in the century observed that the society in question had apparently misused or had even absconded with its funds and that the land was still essentially “terra incognita.”  (See sidebar.)

The year 1821 was just about the time when geologists were beginning to discover and understand the ancient role of glaciers.  It was still many, many years before they began to conceive what eventually became known as “plate tectonics.”  We now know that ancient seas once covered our area of New York and neighboring New England.  Movement of parts of the earth’s crust (a key ingredient of plate tectonics) pushed up mountains in New England during the Devonian time period.  Following their uplift, a basin was left next to them in New York State.  As these Devonian “Acadian Mountains” eroded away, their sediments filled the basin.  These deposits were covered by the sea, and over millions of years became limestone, followed by black shale, and then the sandstone of the Catskill Delta.  The delta’s sequence of sediments, hardened into rock, was eventually uplifted into what we today call the Catskills.[1]


Delaware Geological Society, 1821 – Humbug and Blind Fiddlers[2]

In the Charlotte Valley, the present landscape has been further extensively modified by the work of the several glaciers which visited the area in far more recent times, say within only the last one-fortieth of a million years.[3]  The last of these glaciers came in from the north and northeast and disappeared only 12,000 years ago.  It covered the hills and left behind a number of relatively level hilltops and north-south hilltop ponds such as Emmons, Sexsmith, and the two Mud lakes above the hamlet of Davenport.  The glacier dragged with it huge amounts of rounded rock, gravel and sand, leaving vast deposits and even small gravel hills wherever it paused in its forward or backward flow.  During the glacier’s melting and retreat, enormous quantities of water were released.  This water sometimes became dammed up by glacial ice, sand and gravel, forming pools and lakes, often quite large. Upon its eventual release, the resulting floodwater contributed further to the scouring out of the glacial valleys.[4]

Early upheavals, seas and glaciers thus set the stage for Davenport’s landscape.  It was the more recent erosion of many branching streams and rivulets that largely left the town broken into so many hills and ridges, lying at such various angles.  Davenport as a result displays a beautiful panorama of hills, ridges, valleys, lakes, streams, and cultivated farms.  Where the slopes are not too steep, fine grasses and grains can be grown.[5] 

A less scientific and more picturesque appraisal of the valley comes from a 1975 canoeing guide to the Susquehanna River and its Tributaries:


Joined with Schenevus and Cherry Valley Creeks, [Charlotte Creek] forms a trio of tributaries that join Upper North Branch Susquehanna River through parallel southwest oriented valley troughs… Of the three, however, Charlotte Creek is the most thrilling… The creek rises in rolling hill country at the head of small branching valleys, where tributary brooks spring from marshes and slopes more than 2,100 feet above sea level… Downstream the precisely cut valley trough repeatedly widens and narrows and displays a row of widely separated settlements of agricultural cast.  Areas close to communities display the common patterns of fertile fields, grazing lands, meadows and patches of woods.  It is a wholesome, pastoral setting, separated by marshes and uncultivated acreage where the creek has retained a pleasing degree of intimacy.  Beyond fine aesthetic aspects, the winding course is noteworthy for much challenging white water that will appeal to canoeists of the intermediate category.  (Burmeister, 1974, 284-5.)

Although prospectors and others have searched the area, they have found no valuable beds of ore or other minerals.  Sand and gravel, mentioned above, are plentiful and commercially important.  Mining of the “famous Catskill bluestone”[6] continued until recent years, especially around West Davenport.  Traces of coal have “reportedly” been found in the vicinity of Fergusonville, and some thin veins in the past have been used locally for fuel.  Some have even expressed hope of finding oil or gas, and a number of Davenport properties are covered by active oil and gas rights.  In the 1800s an exploratory well (dry) was actually drilled to the south of Davenport in Hancock, Delaware County.

A Shaggy Lizard Story[7]

A hilltop stone workshop and other ancient relics.  The Indians of the Iroquois Nation used the land in what is now Delaware County mainly for hunting.  Indian settlements or “castles,” of which some were quite large by historical times, lay mostly to the west of the county in the valley lands of the Susquehanna.  In the area of the Charlotte River it was the Mohawks and the Lenni Lenapes of the Delaware tribe who hunted and fished along its banks.  

Evidence of earlier residents and visitors comes from archeological digs begun by the archeologist, William Ritchie and later continued by Howard Hoagland[8] of Davenport, supervised by Robert E. Funk, Senior Scientist, Archeology, of New York State.  In the late 1930s Ritchie excavated an “extraordinary station…situated high upon the broad summit of a hill atop the great ridge forming the watershed between the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers…”  This hilltop site covered several acres.  It contained abundant stone artifacts and flints, but few potsherds, and only two clay pipes.  The scarcity of domestic implements and “large quantities of workshop debris” (thousands of broken and discarded flint points, etc.) led Ritchie to conclude that “in this secluded aerie lived an esoteric guild of specialized craftsmen who fabricated not only chipped stone implements, but complete hunting and war equipment.”[9] 

The site of the “Hilltop Workshop Component” was located near Monkey Run above Pindars Corners.  It was placed in the Owasco Aspect of the Late Midland period—that is. sometime after 1000 AD.  Other somewhat similar discoveries have since been made “of both large and small Early Owasco habitation sites in the hill country on the east and west sides of the Susquehanna Valley.”[10]

In 1972 Howard Hoagland opened the McCulley site on the north side of the Charlotte River, east of the intersection of Mill Road with Charlotte Creek Road.  It was probably a seasonal camp, briefly (perhaps only once) used in October and November by small groups of so-called Archaic Indians (300-1000 AD) using stone implements of the “Otter Creek” type point.[11]  The Indians had hunted for game, fished and gathered butternuts.  The fact that they traveled in four to six family units can be inferred from the hearths uncovered.  In the acid soil most bones disintegrated, though roasted nuts were found along with numerous artifacts.  Carbon dating of these artifacts indicates the presence of Archaic Indians in Davenport about 3780 BC.

Prior to the excavations at the McCulley site, Howard Hoagland organized a dig at the Davenport Center Creamery site in 1967.  This site is located on the south side of the Charlotte River just west of the confluence of the Charlotte and the Kortright Creek.  It is situated on a flood plain in Davenport Center.  Here again bone refuse and implements had disintegrated because of the acid soil; however, potsherds and hearths were found and dated by carbon testing to 325 AD ±95 years.[12]  A burned hickory nut remained, and one fire pit had obviously been used for roasting.  A layer of pebbles and cobbles had been put on top of the fire to roast meat and nuts.  Only two net sinkers were found, probably indicating that fishing was of less importance.[13]

Since some hearths were close together or overlapping, the supposition was that the site had been used sporadically by prehistoric Indians from the pre-ceramic period through the Middle Woodland period (roughly 300 BC through perhaps 1000 AD).  It could have been a way station between spring and summer fishing and fall and winter hunting territory.[14]  As we consider the later history of Davenport we can sense what a tiny part of the whole we are covering.

Larger and longer-lived Indian encampments existed in the flatlands along the Susquehanna.  One Indian town, perhaps from the 1600s, seems to have existed near the mouth of the Charlotte River.[15]  This was probably a walled Mohawk town or “castle,” presumably short-lived, whose remains were uncovered by an ice jam and flood in the spring of 1887.  The village, subsequently christened “Adequentaga,” has been imaginatively described by William E. Yager, speaking for an early Dutch traveler, “Johannes Van Dyk.”  Yager was “a leading citizen of Oneonta at the turn of the century [and] an avid collector of Indian artifacts,” whose collection is now at the Yager Museum of Hartwick College.[16]

A pre-1968 Hartwick College excavation within three miles of Oneonta uncovered a site considerably larger than those found further up the Charlotte and having at least four separate zones of occupation.  The most ancient of these may have been far earlier than previously discovered in New York State and possibly “as far back as the middle of the last ice age.”[17]  

In a No-Man’s-Land for Almost Four Centuries

 Originally the Susquehanna Valley was densely occupied by farming people, called Owasco by archeologists.  They might have been ancestors of the historic Susquehannocks, who seem to have migrated south to Pennsylvania after 1300 A.D.  Hostilities arose when the Northern Iroquois tried to invade Susquehannock territory.  After many wars the upper Susquehanna Valley of New York became a kind of no-man’s-land, with the Five Nations Iroquois to the north and the Susquehannocks to the south in Pennsylvania.  Hostilities continued between the two tribes until 1675, when the Susquehannocks were destroyed by the Iroquois.  (Yarborough, 1992, 5-6.)

Since Hartwick College purchased what is now Pine Lake (see Chapter 13), professors and students have conducted a number of archeological digs on the grounds.  Traces of possible hunting parties were found in a cliff cave above the pond.  Also revealed were numerous fire pits, animal bones, stone tools, broken flint arrowheads, and camp refuse.  The dates range from perhaps 10,000 BC to as recently as 400-900 AD, with a few artifacts from even later.  Interestingly, “only a few sites in the upper Susquehanna Valley have yielded evidence of Iroquoian occupation dating between 1300-1675 A.D.”[18]  (“Adequentaga” is a possible exception.)  The explanation seems to have been constant warfare during that period between two warring Indian tribes.  (See sidebar.)

From Henry Hudson to the French and Indian wars.   World trade, a driving force for nations since before the era of Marco Polo, expanded with the strengthening of the silk route across Asia and the long sea routes among the continents. The sea powers of Europe saw trade as an opportunity for economic gain from spices, naval supplies and other goods.  The Dutch East India Company joined the search for new avenues of trade and a shorter route to the choice markets of the East. On September 12, 1609, English explorer-navigator Henry Hudson, sailing under Dutch colors happened upon the harbor at New Netherlands and the navigable river later named for him.  (New Netherlands later became “New-York” under English rule.[19])  In this fashion, contacts first began with the bountiful natural resources of Indian land.

Hudson’s expedition set up a trading station on the East River, later to become New Amsterdam.  There was no intention of establishing a permanent settlement until 1623 when 30 families under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company arrived.[20]

Peter Minuet was the first Dutch governor of the new territory.  It was Minuet who supposedly bartered with the Indians for the purchase of Manhattan Island for the equivalent of $24.  The whole purpose of the New Amsterdam community was to further the Dutch interest in world trade.

An uneasy population quarreled among themselves in the new Dutch Colony, and Peter Minuet was ultimately relieved of his duties.  Peter Stuyvesant was sent to replace him on May 11, 1647.  But political strife continued in New Amsterdam.  Externally, the French and the Indians of the Five Nations Confederacy[21] were continually hostile.  The Indians carried on constant skirmishes, raids and scalpings. 

King Charles II of England in a Royal Grant of July 1664 bestowed upon his brother James, Duke of York, (later James II) “the whole country from Maine to the Delaware Bay (including Nantucket and Cape Cod).”  Obviously, it was essential for the English to have possession of the intervening Dutch territory, New Amsterdam, its harbor, and the navigable Hudson River.  Richard Nicolls was appointed governor of the newly-claimed territory by the duke of York.  Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam, weakened by internal strife, to the Nicolls and his followers without a skirmish in 1664.

After a brief reoccupation by the Dutch (1673-74) during a subsequent war, Major Edmund Andros became the new English Governor.  His first priority was to open a waterway to the interior.  Instructions to the governor were to take possession from the Dutch as agreed in the 1674 Treaty of Peace and satisfy the inhabitants and the natives.  The new Governor was “not to molest or vex any person” and to take care that “a strict discipline” be kept among the soldiers and officers, “severely punishing any disorderly or debauched proceedings among them…”[22] The intention was not to disturb the inhabitants’ possessions, trade or religion.  Rents were to continue at the rates paid to the Dutch.

From the south, William Penn was actively trying to acquire New York for its natural harbor and rich natural resources.   Reflecting the struggles elsewhere in the world between the two nations, the English in New York and the French in Canada began sparring, often through their Indian allies.  The French about 1687 conducted skirmishes against the Iroquois.

In a 1687 “Proposition to the Five Nations,” Robert Livingston, writing on behalf of New York’s Governor Dongan, advised the chiefs as follows.



I am very gladd to see you all here in this house, and am heartily gladd also that you have sustained no greater losse by the French, tho’ I believe there intention was to destroy you all, if they could have surprised you in your Castles…  I would willingly know whether the Brethren have given the Govr  of Canada  any provocation or not…  This business may cause a warr between the King of England and the French King, both in Europe and here, and there fore I must know the truth…Now since there is a warr begun upon you by the Govr of Canada, I hope without any provocation by you given…my advice is, that as many prisoners of the French as you take, that you draw not there blood, butt bring them home and keepe them to exchange for the people of yours, which they have prisoners already, or may take hereafter.  (Brodhead, 1853, 438-9.)


King William’s War between the French and English began shortly thereafter, in 1689.

Europe was emerging from the system of families bonded to feudal lords to whom they owed allegiance.  There was no hope of escape from their social status or to have a better life.  Landowners in the New World were beginning to see the commercial advantages of attracting settlers, and the more affluent were outfitting emigrants in exchange for sea passage and two to five years of subsequent bondage. 

European countries had large maritime interests to maintain.  After centuries of shipbuilding, their material resources were depleting.  The English, German, French and Spanish searched the world over for sources of pine tar and other naval stores.  The English queen, Anne, distributed posters all over the German Palatinate[23] prior to 1710 offering “Free Passage to America and Free Land in the Shorie [now Schoharie] Valley” to anyone who would work in the pine camps for a number of years.  Robert Livingston contracted with the Crown to run the camps and to provide food for the Palatines who signed on. The immigrants arrived to find the work, the housing, and the food deplorable.  Worse, when they claimed the land they had been promised, they ran into legal problems of establishing ownership.

By and large the English had compatible trading agreements and only occasional boundary disputes with the Indians of the Five Nations.  France was continuing to encroach into adjoining Indian Territory from its foothold in Canada, and this escalated in time into the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763).

Arrival of the Palatine Germans.  The Palatine Germans came in large numbers in 1709-1710 when they accepted Queen Anne’s appeal.  They went first to Livingston’s pine tar, pitch, and turpentine camps on the Hudson River and then later to the Schoharie Valley. When they tried to claim their promised land, they learned that they were expected to purchase it.  Some did.  Others moved into the Mohawk Valley, and some migrated up the Schoharie River, down the Charlotte to the Susquehanna and thence south to Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Others settled over the years in what was to become Davenport (Swart, Pross, Vroman, and John Shaver).

The early Palatines had friendly relations with the Mohawk Indians who shared with them locations for nut gathering, maple groves that supplied both maple syrup and sugar, and a location on the Charlotte River that was well situated for building the larger canoes desired for river transport to Pennsylvania.  The location of this “canoe place” (a name mentioned in many old deeds and documents) was about a mile or so downstream of the meeting of Middle Brook with the Charlotte River, probably in the vicinity of Davenport’s later Mill Road.  The spot provided a protected area near a productive “sugar bush” as well as a place for constructing canoes for the stronger waters of the Susquehanna River.

The Palatine Germans and others who chose to stay in what later became the Charlotte River, Kortright and Franklin Patents, were especially attracted by the land’s ample supply of water for powering sawmills, gristmills, and shingle mills.  In what became Davenport, they favored, at least in later years, the western part of the town along the lower reaches of the Charlotte River where the river, its volume increased by the Middle Brook and Kortright Creek, provided ample power for mills.

Non-Indians thus resided at least temporarily in the vicinity of Davenport many years before Sir William Johnson’s Charlotte River Patent of 1770.  Dutch incursion began with the “High Germans” searching for furs and minerals.  The so-called Mine Patent in what was later Davenport Center was issued, probably for lead mine exploration, in 1743.[24]  From 1748 until the American Revolution, missionaries were sent into Indian villages. They stayed with the Indians from a few weeks up to eight years.  Rev. Gideon Hawley, further down the Susquehanna, tried to Christianize the Indians from 1753 until driven out after three years by the French and Indian War.  The last of a number of missionaries in the large, Susquehanna Indian town of Onaquaga (also Oghwaga, Oquaga) was the Rev. Aaron Crosby, 1774-1777.   James Dean, an interpreter who played an important role in later land settlements, spent much of his youth in that Indian village.[25] [26]

Sir William Johnson, Joseph Brant, and the Adaquitingues.  At about age 23 in late 1737 or early 1738, William Johnson, later a British baronet, emigrated from Ireland to become a land agent in the Mohawk Valley for his mother’s brother, Peter Warren.[27] [28]   Early on the young Scotch-Irishman developed great rapport with the Mohawk Indians, much to the pleasure of the Crown.  In order to obtain amicable relationships with the confederacy known by now as the Six Nations, the English eventually appointed Johnson Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

After acting as his uncle’s trader and land developer for a few years, Johnson moved across the Mohawk to land he had purchased on his own.  His new abode, “Mount Johnson” (and later his somewhat more distant mansion, “Johnson Hall,” which was to become eventually the site of the town of Johnstown) was open to the Indians at all times.  They would be inside or outside of his home day and night.  He had an Indian wife, Mollie, the “major passion” of his life.[29]  Her younger brother was the famous (and notorious) Joseph Brant.[30]  Sir William Johnson had taken an interest in young Brant and sent him to Rev. Wheelock’s School in Lebanon, Connecticut.[31]   Brant was a brilliant student but decided to return to Indian life.[32]  He served as an interpreter for the English and later as Sir William’s liaison between the English and the Indians.  After Sir William’s death Brant traveled to England twice (in 1776 and 1786) on business with the Crown.

Perhaps encouraged by Brant’s experience and influence, Indian villages took on some English customs.  Some began using squared logs in their long houses.  Many had fruit trees and cleared land.  Brant himself owned outright and farmed 80 acres in Canajoharie and owned even more land across the Mohawk.[33]  The Patriot colonel, William Butler, reported on his 1778 destruction of Onaquaga, an important Indian village near the present town of Windsor and “second home” of Joseph Brant.  He wrote:  “It was the finest Indian Town I ever saw: on both sides the river; there was about 40 good houses, Square logs, Shingles and stone chimneys, good floors, glass windows, &c, &c.”[34]

In the future town of Davenport, the Iroquois of the Five/Six Nations occupied a site near Mickle Bridge (off Route 23 in West Davenport).  The Adaquitingues (called such after the Indian name for Charlotte River, renamed by William Johnson in honor of the English queen, wife of George III) resided to the east as far as Stamford.  Toward Otego were the Ahtiqua Indian settlements.  The Tuscaroras moved into the hunting territory beyond these settlements.  In general the Indians were friendly to the increasing number of white settlers and visitors.


Besides, “Charlotte” is SO Much Easier to Spell


 The Indians had initially a different concept of land possession from that of the Europeans.  To them the land could not be owned.  It belonged to all for producing the bounty to sustain all.  They believed the land itself belonged to the Great Spirit.  To the English, in contrast, land could be owned by individuals and provided an opportunity to accumulate personal wealth as well as natural resources.

Parceling out the Indians’ land.  On April 19, 1708, the Hardenburgh Patent was granted in the name of Queen Anne to Johannes Hardenburgh of Kingston in Ulster County.  The huge grant was south and east of the West Branch of the Delaware River.[35]  It carried the proviso that the Indian claims be “extinguished.”  In 1740 the Colonial governor granted the Arent Bradt Patent of 10,000 acres that included Hobart and South Kortright.  This was followed in 1743, as noted above, by the Mine Patent in Davenport Center.  These early patents were either not surveyed at all or were not adequately surveyed before 1769.

Much of the land covered by these patents was not officially within the boundaries claimed by the Province of New York.  The patents thus extended the implicit provincial boundaries westward into unsurveyed Indian lands with whose occupants no acquisition arrangements had been made.  Claims made on unsurveyed land carried little weight, as did any land “purchased” directly from the Indians.

In an attempt to regularize a confusing situation and to be responsive to westward pressures from European settlers, Sir William Johnson in 1768 negotiated the purchase for the Crown of a huge tract of land extending to the Allegheny, Ohio, and even the Tennessee rivers.  The demarcating line between the Indian land and the British Government holdings, the so-called “Line of Property,” followed the Ohio River northeast and then cut across Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley (a tributary to the Susquehanna).  It then followed the east side of the Susquehanna to “Oswegy” (Owego, N.Y.), near the northern boundary of Pennsylvania.  The line then ran “east to Delaware river and up that river to opposite where Tinaderha [also Tionadhera; the Unadilla River] falls into Susquehanna; thence to Tinaderha and up the east branch to the head thereof; and then by a direct line to Canada Creek where it empties into the Wood creek, at the west of the carrying place beyond Fort Stanwix.”[36] The line thus ended near the eastern end of Oneida Lake, about seven miles west of the present Rome, N.Y.[37]

King George III felt that the payment of 13,156 pounds sterling[38] (about $50,000) was too great a price for the land.  However, Sir William convinced the King that sales of the land to settlers or land speculators would readily return the investment to the Crown.  With this assurance King George approved the treaty, and it was formally accepted by the Indians at Fort Stanwix (now in Rome, N.Y.) on July 21, 1770.  The new territory, in addition to the new lands for settlement in New York and Pennsylvania, included a “corner of Alabama, most of West Virginia, much of Tennessee, and all of Kentucky.”[39]

Prior to the Fort Stanwix treaty Sir William himself had compounded the messy land situation in 1751 by acquiring from the Indians 100,000 acres bordering the Charlotte River and extending down the Susquehanna to the Pennsylvania border.  In anticipation of the Fort Stanwix treaty other “land speculators rushed in to deal directly with the Indians and secure large tracts cheaper than they could be got from the Crown.”[40] In 1768, John Harper, Sr., and others purchased from five Indians 250,000 acres lying south of the Sir William Johnson lands.  Purchases of these types were considered illegal, since only the Crown was to have full authority to sell land.  In 1769, the Earl of Hillsborough wrote that no private agreements with the Indians would be honored.  However, in deference to those patents made much earlier (1708, 1740 and 1743), some deeds were registered and sealed.

Goldsborough Banyar, an ambitious and clever young man, had emigrated to the new provinces from England about the same time as William Johnson and “had soon risen to prominence.”[41] By 1746 “Goldsbrow” (he preferred this contraction of his first name) had become deputy to George Clarke, Secretary of the Colony of New York.  Shrewdly, he expanded his functions as Deputy Secretary and Deputy Clerk until virtually every land transaction had to pass through his hands.  He could and did either interfere with or expedite the application of the state seal and fees according to his personal interest in the property itself. 

Banyar also cultivated the acquaintance of William Johnson, by this time a man of some repute and in 1748 a colonel of the Indian services of the New York militia:


As perpetual Undersecretary of New York, Goldsbrow Banyar was manipulating the routine services of government to give himself a nice fortune and inconspicuous power.  Banyar foresaw a new war with France.  The best way for a fat little functionary to stay strong in wartime was to attach himself to a hero.  The huge Indian colonel [Johnson] looked like such a hero, and certainly needed guidance through the China shop of colonial politics.  Pointing out that it was illegal to grant more than 1000 acres to one individual, Banyar urged Johnson “to follow the custom” by suppressing his own name in all land petitions in favor of “the names of friends,” one for each 1,000 acres, who could be relied on to convey the land to him after it had been patented.  (Flexner, 1979, 113.)

Sir William Johnson had been systematically acquiring official patents for land he had less formally acquired.  When he sought the patent for the Charlotte and Susquehanna land, his “advisor” Banyar decided it was too large and should be split between them.  Banyar’s share was the 30,000-acre section running down the Susquehanna and patented in the name of John Rapelje and others, called “straw men.”  Johnson’s share, a tract of 26,000 acres lying on both sides of the Charlotte River, was patented in 1770.

Meanwhile the 250,000 acres that John Harper and others had purchased in 1768 was cut down to size, again with the help of Goldsbrow Banyar.  Only 22,000 acres finally remained in the hands of the Harpers.   A 22,000-acre portion immediately next to the Harper patent of 1769 was sold to and patented in 1770 by Lawrence Kortright and others.  Next to the Kortright property came that of Alexander McKee and others, consisting of 18,000 acres also patented in 1770.  The McKee Patent was more generally known as the Banyar Patent and sometimes, the Goldsborough Patent.  Adjoining the McKee land to the west came the Tudor Patent (also dating from 1770).  This was apparently subdivided in 1786 with the western half becoming the Lynott Patent.  The 30,000-acre Meredith Patent, more often known as the Franklin or Wharton Patent, followed this to the west.  All of these patents were bounded to the north by Johnson’s Charlotte River Patent.[42] In addition, the northern boundary of the Franklin Patent partially abutted the Wallace Patent, a continuation of the Charlotte River Patent, running along both sides of the Susquehanna down to the Unadilla River.  All but the Harper Patent included lands later incorporated into the Town of Davenport.

In the future Delaware County, following the formal acquisition by the Crown of Indian lands under the treaty of Fort Stanwix, at least fifteen patents were granted in 1770 alone.[43] The town of Harpersfield, the first in the area to be organized (1788) after the Revolution, at first included much of the original Harper purchase.  “It embraced within its limits parts of the towns of [what later became] Delhi, Davenport, Franklin, Hamden, Kortright, Meredith, Masonville, Sidney, Tompkins and Walton, in Delaware county, and parts of Afton and Bainbridge, in Chenango county.”[44] From this large territory the towns of Franklin and Kortright were formally split off in 1792 and 1793.  Kortright at its formation encompassed four entire patents (Kortright, Goldsborough, Bradish, and Meredith[45]), including a part of Stamford as well as much of what later became Davenport.[46]

A Glimpse at the Future

[1]The Acadian Mountains at one time may have been in the same height class as the Himalayas, according to Hartwick College geologist Robert Titus (Titus, 1998, 19).  This section has benefited from the comments of Robert Titus on an early draft of this chapter.  See also his The Catskills: A Geological Guide (revised edition, 1998, pp. 19-56) and The Catskills in the Ice Age (1996).

[2] Sidebar: Delaware Geological Society…  (Quoted from “The Autobiography of the Delaware Gazette,” no date given, in History of Delaware County, N.Y., New York: W.W. Munsell & Co., page 101; referred to hereafter as Munsell, 1880,101.)

[3] In the Charlotte Valley… say within only the last one-fortieth of a million years.  (The Wisconsin stage of the ice age produced most of our glacial landscape and began about 23,000 years ago.  From Robert Titus, December 2002 communication.)

[4] Much of the Charlotte Valley was once filled by such a glacial lake, perhaps dammed up by valley-narrowing glacial deposits and ice near Davenport Center.  (Inferred from Titus, 1996, 111, Figure 25-1.)  The lake was only one of perhaps five to six such bodies of water in the upper Susquehanna (Titus, 1996, 110). Two of these early glacial lakes remain, Otsego and Canadarago.  “Till,” dropped by the glacier into “moraines” and “drumlins,” continues to be mined for sand and gravel near Davenport and Davenport Center.  Fossils in the sedimentary shales laid down by the much more ancient seas are found in such places as the deep gorge running into the Charlotte River at Simpsonville.

[5] Much of the valley lands are Chenango-Valois soils.  These are described as “very deep, somewhat droughty to well-drained, medium textured soils in valleys and along valley sides below 1750 feet elevation...Suitability for agriculture is good to excellent where slopes are <15%.”  Above these soils are found those of the Mardin-Bath-Valois group, also rated “good” for agriculture where slopes are under 15%.  (Delaware County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, 2000, 41-2.)

[6] Mining of the “famous Catskill bluestone” (Titus, 1998  102-104.) .

[7] Sidebar:  A Shaggy Lizard Story (Munsell, 1880, 101, under "Geological Features of Delaware County.") 

[8] Evidence of earlier residents… archeologist, William Ritchie and…Howard Hoagland…  (William A. Richie was later New York State Archeologist.  His first publication of the Hilltop Workshop site appeared in 1938. Howard Hoagland, an avid searcher for Indian artifacts, was manager of Elmore’s Feed Store in Davenport. )

[9] “in this secluded aerie lived an esoteric guild… hunting and war equipment.”  (Ritchie, 1944, 90-94.)

[10] “…of both large and small Early Owasco habitation sites… sides of the Susquehanna Valley.”  (Ritchie and Funk, 1973.)

[11] It was probably a seasonal camp,… using stone implements of the “Otter Creek” type point.  (Funk and Hoagland, 1972b, 21.)

[12] …potsherds and hearths were found and dated by carbon testing to 325 AD ±95 years.  (Funk and Hoagland, 1972a.)

[13]The author thanks Jeffrey B. Walsh of Oneonta for providing copies of the two Funk and Hoagland reports and other materials.  Mr. Walsh as a boy, along with his brother and father, a teacher in the Charlotte Valley Central School, assisted the archeologists at both the Davenport Creamery and the McCulley sites

[14] It could have been a way station… fall and winter hunting territory.  (Funk and Hoagland, 1972a, 9.)

[15] See map of “The Journey of Johannes Van Dyk Among the Maqua 1634-1635,” in Yager (1953).  Ed Moore also refers to the “famous village of ‘Adequentaga’ on the Slade Flats at the outlet of the Charlotte…probably occupied by the Mohawks not later than 1630 and by the Algonquin tribes before that,” in “Indian Village Hidden,” The Oneonta Star, November 23, 1962.

[16] “a leading citizen of Oneonta at the turn of the century [and] an avid collector of Indian artifacts,” (Yarborough, 1992, 3 & 6.)

[17] The most ancient of these …“as far back as the middle of the last ice age.”   (Newspaper clipping, 1968, Davenport Historical Society Scrapbook SCR-II, p. 22.)

[18] “only a few sites in the upper Susquehanna Valley… occupation dating between 1300-1675 A.D.”  (Yarborough, 1992, 6.)

[19] The hyphen in the spelling of “New-York” persisted in some uses at least until 1853 when Brodhead’s Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York” was published (see Brodhead, 1853, in the References).  By 1861 when E. B. O’Callaghan published an index to Brodhead’s collection, the hyphen had been dropped.

[20] … until 1623 when 30 families under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company arrived.  (Brodhead, 1853.)

[21] The Confederacy consisted of the Iroquois, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Senecas.  Beginning about 1710 various bands of the Tuscaroras, an Iroquois people from the Carolinas, joined the alliance which ultimately became known as the Six Nations.  (Kelsay, 1984, 14.)

[22] The new Governor… “severely punishing any disorderly or debauched proceedings among them…” (Brodhead, 1853, 216-7.)

[23]The Lower or Rhenish Palatinate was in southwest Germany between Luxembourg and the Rhine River, including land on both sides of that river.  Its capital at the time was Heidelburg.  The land was ravaged by troops of Louis XIV during the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), leading to considerable emigration.  (From, “Palatines to America? What is the Palatinate?,”  August 21, 2002.) 

[24] The old mine entrance can still be seen off Pumpkin Hollow Road (on the old Briggs farm, 1851-1978), but no lead or other commercially exploitable minerals were found.  The 800-acre patent was issued to Bartholomew Vrooman, Martinus Vrooman, Barent Vrooman, Jesayus Swart, and Harmonimus Greslaer, the names suggesting the Dutch origin of the prospective mine owners.  (Secretary of State Office, Albany, N.Y., Liber 12, p. 182.) 

[25] “While it is well-known that numerous Euro-American children learned Indian languages as part of a captivity experience, it is less widely appreciated that some youths were sent to live among Indians voluntarily, as a small but crucial aspect of a larger colonization effort…During the second half of the eighteenth century, missionaries personally recruited young men for training as interpreters, since competent translators were always in great demand.”  At age nine or ten, young James Dean was one of these young men.  (Karin M. Tiro, “James Dean in Iroquoia,” in New York History, vol. 80, no. 4 [October 1999], pp. 393-4.)

[26] James Dean… spent much of his youth in that Indian village. (Hinman, 1975, 7, 15.) 

[27] Johnson’s mother, Anne Warren, was from an illustrious and originally English family.  She married beneath her social station to Christopher Johnson, a tenant on a nearby estate.  Catholics at the time were forbidden to buy land and could rent for no more than 32 years.  (Flexner, 1979, 7-8.)  Christopher Johnson, according to another source, was in fact Scotch-Irish, “a descendant of the MacIan branch of the Macdonells of Glencoe.”  (Mathews, 1965, xi.)

[28] …William Johnson… a land agent in the Mohawk Valley for his mother’s brother, Peter Warren. (Flexner, 1979, 11-13.)

[29] He had an Indian wife, Mollie, the “major passion” of his life.  (Flexner, 1979, 185.)

[30] According to Hinman (1975, 12) “By far the most important figure in the Border Wars was Joseph Brant, the unofficial head of the Iroquois Nation throughout the Revolution.   One biographer of Sir William Johnson speaks of “Degonwadonti, known as Molly Brant, the Mohawk wife and then widow” of Johnson, as herself  “a major military commander: she controlled the Indian armies that, as allies of the British, fought the revolting whites, decimating the Mohawk and Wyoming Valleys.  ‘One word from her,’ wrote the colonel officially in charge of His Majesty’s Indian forces, ‘goes further with them than a thousand words from any white man without exception.’”  (Flexner, 1979, xvii.)

[31] This school, after a later move to New Hampshire, became Dartmouth College.  Among Joseph Brant‘s classmates was John Harper, Jr., with whom he formed a lifelong friendship despite their opposite sides during the American Revolution.  (Munsell, 1880, 217.

[32] Meredith Town Historian Bernice Graham Telian points out that returning to “Indian life” in Brant’s case refers largely to Indian pride and customs.  “While still at Canajoharie and young, he [Brant] owned a farm and lived in a frame house with a great stone foundation and basement.”  (Personal communication.)

[33] Some began using squared logs …  Brant himself owned … even more land across the Mohawk. (Kelsay, 1984, 115-6.)

[34] “It was the finest Indian Town I ever saw:… glass windows, &c, &c.”  (Hinman, 1975, 13, 57.)

[35] Monroe (1949, 13) gives the date as April 20, 1708, and the size as 1,500,000 acres.  Munsell (1880, 45) shows April 23, 1708, as the date of the original grant.  The grant was not surveyed until 1749 at which time a new agreement (1751) was reached with the Indians and the patent was found to contain about two million acres—more than half of Delaware County.  (Munsell, 1880, 46.)

[36] The line then ran “east to Delaware… carrying place beyond Fort Stanwix.”  (Munsell, 1880, 45.)

[37] The line thus ended near the eastern end of Oneida Lake… (Flexner, 1979, 325, 328.)

[38] £10,470.7.3 went to the Indians in cash, resulting in “one of the greatest [Indian] binges in history” and fortunes to the rum traders.  (Flexner, 1979, 330.)

[39] The new territory… “corner of Alabama, .. and all of Kentucky.”  (Flexner, 1979, 331.)

[40] In anticipation of the Fort Stanwix treaty …got from the Crown.”  (Mathews, 1965, 10.)

[41] Goldsborough Banyar,… “had soon risen to prominence.”  (Mathews, 1965, 5.)

[42] Meanwhile the 250,000 acres that John Harper…bounded to the north by Johnson’s Charlotte River Patent.  (For maps and other details of these several patents, see Davidson ,1976, pp.38, 54, 60, 70).

[43] In the future Delaware County… at least fifteen patents were granted in 1770 alone.  (Munsell, 1880, 47.)

[44]  “It embraced within its limits…and parts of Afton and Bainbridge, in Chenango county.” (Munsell, 1880, 224.)

[45] Kortright at its formation… entire patents (Kortright, Goldsborough, Bradish, and Meredith; Murray, 1898, 461)

[46] From this large territory… as well as much of what later became Davenport.  (Munsell, 1880, 232.)


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