It is a real pleasure for us to acknowledge and thank the many who have given us valuable and generous help toward the completion of this little history.
The gift by Miss Margaret Wager, of Lake George, New York, of old manuscripts, agreements, surveyors, notes, and other papers touching on the early days of the Point was greatly appreciated and exceedingly helpful.
We appreciate the valuable assistance given by Miss Edna L. Jacobsen, Associate Librarian of the Manuscript Section of the New York State Library in Albany, as well the help given by Miss Mary Hubble, Librarian, Lake George Library and the many kindnesses shown by the staff of the Crandall Library, Glens Falls, New York.
We want to mention also the assistance of Mrs. Richard Brayton, Mrs. W. Harold Adamson, Mrs. Ruth T. Van Vranken, William H. Hill, George A. Webster, Milton W. Hamilton, Fred B. Chapman, Carl M. Thiessen, Harold Y. Bain, and C.C. Webb, County Clerk, Warren County, New York and members of his staff. Also, the help of my wife, Elsie and son, Bob, is much appreciated.
Assembly Point on Lake George,
It has been said: "As we survey the wondrous work of the Creator's hand, we have every reason to feel that this section of our Nation has been especially favored".
We who love the lake are eager to know more about our own particular section, in this case Assembly Point and Long Island; of the emergence from the Archaic Period, the thrill of discovery by white men, the historic days of the French Wars, and so on down to our own times.
To this end we have searched through many volumes of history, dug into old files, handled crumbling old papers, finding not only much material but a goodly number of people eager to help search out the missing links in history.
There is no very early description of the Point nor of Long Island. The archeologists tell us that Indians of many tribes and periods, all the way back to the Laurentians, a very early culture of the Archaic period, 3000 to 5000 years ago, hunted in our woods and fished in our lake, just as we do today. (1)
Our lake, and mountains, and valleys have changed but little since those prehistoric days. We read of "culture sequence" down through the centuries, of changing customs and differing habits, and of people who lived right where we do today. We have found stone implements, identified by archeologists as made and used by the early inhabitants. We have found where they obtained their chert, from which they fashioned beautifully formed arrow points.
Then finally the archeologists chart brings us to the "Historic period", or the time when the first white man came to this area, and tells us what kind of people they found here. But through all the hundreds of centuries the mountains and lake and sunsets remain the same.
In the sixteen hundreds the Iroquois Indians controlled Lake George and much of the Adirondack country.
It was one of their captives, Father Isaac Jogues, who was the first white man to see the lake; historians agree that the probable date was 1646.
Father Jogues was a well educated Jesuit priest who was consumed with a desire to convert the "People of the Long House to Christianity". Instead of the converts he sought, he found instead captivity, horrible torture, and finally, martyrdom. but he left a legacy in the beautiful name that he gave to the lake; Lac du Saint Sacrament.
Another page from history is this account of affection, courage and adventure. On September 19, 1677 there was an Indian raid on Hatfield in the Connecticut River valley of Massachusetts. "Among the prisoners taken in the Hatfield raid were the wives of Benjamin Wait and Stephen Jennings. On learning that they had been conveyed to Canada, the husbands made application to the governor of Massachusetts for commissions authorizing them to proceed to that country to attempt their ransom. These being obtained Wait and Jennings commenced the adventurous journey .... engaging an Indian guide and proceeding up the Hudson thence through Lac du St. Sacrament (Lake George) to Lake Champlain, carrying their canoes upon their backs over the portage; and about the 16th of December 1677 embarked and proceeded down Lake Champlain. Meeting with ice, they left the canoe and attempted to proceed on foot, but as the lake was partly frozen they were compelled to return for their canoe which they had dragged some distance over the ice, and again embarking, they after a difficult passage, arrived at Chamblee, a French village of ten houses. At sorrel a few miles below, Mrs. Jennings and four other captives were found ...." After overcoming many other difficulties they found and ransomed Mrs. Wait and returned over the same route the following spring. The account observes that "probably these were the first tours of the lakes". (2)
It was in the summer of 1755 that William Johnson, who had no military experience, but was his Majesty's Superintendent of Indian Affairs, took command of a little army of undisciplined farmers, who were in camp near Albany. Since his object was to capture the important post of Crown Point, he advanced up the Hudson to the Great Carrying Place, where there was a stockade called Fort Lyman (Fort Edward). Undecided whether to advance toward Wood Creek
or Lac du St. Sacrament, he finally decided on the latter although it meant chopping a road out of a vast unbroken wilderness.
He left 500 men at Fort Lyman and with his little army advanced slowly over the newly hewn road, reaching the head of St. Sacrament on August 28, 1755. We need not go into the fighting that was soon to begin but we are interested, although regretful that Johnson, with his King's favor in mind, ordered that the beautiful name of Lac du St. Sacrament be changed to Lake George, "not only in honor of his Majesty, but to ascertain his undisputed dominion". Shortly afterwards George II made him a baronet and parliament gave him 5000 pounds.
When Johnson with his command reached the head of the lake he found the "whole country covered with primeval woods". He wrote, though not with exact truth, "no house was ever before built, not a spot of land cleared". All this within sight of the Point and Long Island. (3)
In 1756 Captain Jackson of the British army surveyed and mapped the whole lake, even to the depths of the water. It is an excellent map. The legend or "Observations", as it was called, is of interest: "Lake George which was called by the French Lac du St. Sacrament is named by the Indians Caniad-eri-oit, that is, Tail of the Lake. It is bounded on both sides with exceeding high mountains ..... (4).
No authoritative record can be found of any actual fighting having taken place on the Point nor on Long Island during any of the French wars that kept most of this north country in dread and fear for most of the century and a half, from about 1610 to 1760. However there may very well have been a bloody chase on the Point on the night of August 2, 1757 when Montcalm was stealthily advancing up the west side of the lake for his unsuccessful attack on Fort William Henry.
Montcalm had taken advantage of the shelter offered by Cannon Point, which juts into the lake from the west shore, directly opposite Assembly Point. It formed a screen so that his advancing army, in batteaux and canoes, could not be seen from the fort. There the French forces spent the night of August 2, in the bay behind the point. Scouts from Fort William Henry, in two boats, on their regular patrol down the lake, sighted an unfamiliar object in the darkness. Approaching quietly, they heard the bleating of a sheep, which was sufficient warning for them. They turned
and fled for the opposite shore, but with scores of (DaCosta says twelve hundred) blood thirsty Indians in close pursuit. Several of the scouts were killed, two or three were captured, but the others managed to escape into the woods. Assembly Point being the nearest opposite shore, it appears quite probable that the Point was the scene of this deadly chase.
There are numerous records of Long Island being used by opposing forces at various times. After the treaty of peace was signed in 1748, at the end of King George's War, the French still kept between five and six thousand men on Long Island for the purpose of protecting their Fort St. Frederick, near Crown Point. (5)
Robert Rogers, the famous scout of the French and Indian War, spent a bitter night on Long Island with the remainder of his men after their defeat by the French in March, 1758 in what is known as "The Battle of Snowshoes".
Historians have given us many thrilling accounts of armies that have passed and repassed before the Point. Francis Parkman describes the spectacular pageant presented by Abercrombie's army on its passage through the lake: "On the evening of the fourth of July 1758, baggage, stores, and ammunition were all on board the boats, and the army embarked on the fifth. The arrangements were perfect. Each corps marched without confusion to its appointed station on the beach, (where the million dollar bathing beach now is located) and the sun was scarcely above the ridge of French Mountain when all were afloat. A spectator watching them from the shore says that when the fleet was three miles on its way, the surface of the lake at that distance was completely hidden from sight. There were nine hundred batteaux, a hundred and thirty-five whale boats and a large number of heavy flat boats carrying the artillery. The whole advanced in three divisions, the regulars in the center, and the provincials on the flanks. Each corps had its flags and music. The day was fair and men and officers were in the highest spirits".
"Before ten o'clock they began to enter the narrows; and the boats of the three divisions extended themselves into long files as the mountains closed on either hand upon the contracted lake. From front to rear the line was six miles long. The spectacle was superb; the brightness of the summer day; the romantic beauty of the scenery; the counties islets, tufted with pine, birch and fir; the bordering mountains, with their green summits and sunny crags; the flash of oars and
glitter of weapons, the banners, the varied uniforms, the notes of the bugle, trumpet, bagpipe and drum, answered and prolonged by a hundred woodland echoes. "I never beheld so delightful a prospect wrote a wounded officer at Albany a fortnight after".
"Rogers with his Rangers, and Gage with the light infantry, led the way in whale boats, followed by Bradstreet with his corps of boatmen, armed and drilled as soldiers. Then came the main body. The central column of regulars was commanded by Lord Howe, his own regiment, the fifty-fourth, in the van, followed by the Royal Americans, the twenty-seventh, forty-fourth, forty-sixth, and eightieth infantry, and the Highlanders of the forty-second, with their Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe ........ with this central column came what are described as two floating castles, which were no doubt batteries to cover the landing of the troops. On the right hand and on the left were the provincials, uniformed in blue, regiment after regiment, from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Behind them all came the batteaux, loaded with stores and baggage, and the heavy flat boats that carried the artillery, while a rear-guard of provincials and regulars closed the long procession". (6)
In 1776 Benjamin Franklin passed down the lake within sight of Assembly Point. He, with Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll, had been appointed Commissioners of Congress and were going to Montreal to try to negotiate an alliance with Canada. The account of their trip through the lake is given in Charles Carroll's Journal in this manner: "April 19th, 1776. We embarked about one o'clock, in the company of General Schuyler and landed in Montclam's Bay, about four miles from Fort George (just north of Diamond Point). After drinking tea, we again embarked, and went about three miles; then landed (the sun being set) and kindled fires. The longest of the boats, made for transportation of troops over Lakes George and Champlain, are thirty six feet in length and eight feet wide, they draw about a foot of water when loaded, and carry between thirty and forty men, and are rowed by soldiers. They have a mast fixed in them, to which a square sail or blanket is fastened, but those sails are of no use, unless with the wind abaft, or nearly so. After we left Montcalm's Bay, we were delayed considerably in getting through the ice; but with the help of tent-poles, we opened ourselves a passage through it to free water. The boats fitted up to carry us across had awnings over them, under which we made our beds ......" (7)
General George Washington passed through the lake in the summer of 1783 on his journey north to inspect Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point, returning via the same route.
The Point and the Island have looked on history being made. Some of the huge beech trees standing today were there when all these events and sights passed before them, and even when Fort William Henry fell.
(1) Ritchie, Pre-Iroquoian Culture
(2) Hoyt, Indian Wars
(3) DaCosta, Events at Lake George, p. 14
(4) Jackson, A Particular Plan of Lake George (map)
(5) Lamb, Lake Champlain and Lake George Valleys, vol. I, pg. 65
(6) Parkman, Historic Handbook of the Northern Tour
(7) DaCosta, Ibid, p. 54
Although the French and Indian War did not officially end until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, making England the dominant power in North America, the tide of war had so turned in favor of the British by 1759 that the colonial as well as the military authorities were most eager to have hardy settlers come and occupy this northern frontier. Small settlements in this area would form a certain protection for the larger towns to the south.
The eagerness of the authorities to have settlers come to this north country, which until 1760 was practically barren of settlers, is seen in this letter to Lieutenant Governor James De Lancy, written by General Amherst from his camp at Crown Point on August 5, 1759: "..... but now no time shall be lost in building such a fort as from its situation and strength shall most effectually cover the whole country & ensure the peaceable and quiet possession of this side, whereof you may, as soon as you please advise and recommend it to such of the Inhabitants of your Province as may have deserted their settlements, to come and reoccupy the same & also to encourage all those that you think proper to come and settle such parts of it as you shall please to grant and parcel out to them, and know they can have nothing to fear from the Incursions of the Enemy, which they may henceforth safely look upon to be at an end". (1)
At the end of the war there were only two small settlements north of Albany: Stillwater and Fort Edward, and at least some of the people remained in these hamlets during the hostilities. Other settlements that were started very soon after this were Salem, Cambridge, and Kingsbury (now Hudson Falls).
The Military road from Fort Edward to Lake George, built only a few years before, was an incentive for the prospective settlers. Crude as it was, it was vastly better than the old Indian trail. The Military road led through the Queensbury Tract, an area of some 23,000 acres which had just been granted to Abraham Wing and a group of Quakers from Quaker Hill in Duchess county. In 1763 the first log dwelling was erected on this tract, to form the beginning of what is now the city of Glens Falls. The Queensbury Tract was made subject to all the royal quitrent
provisos and the annual payment of two shillings and six pence for every hundred acres. It reserved to the Crown all mines of gold and silver, and also "all white pine and other trees fit for masts of the growth of 24 inches and upwards at 12 inches from the earth". At that time "..... the entire township was covered with a heavy growth of timber, the principal of which was first growth yellow pine of magnificent dimensions". (2)
Now we will follow step by step the strange course of events which finally led to the granting of that area of land that included the Point and Long Island. This was brought about, strange as it may seem, by the religious persecution directed against a Scotch Presbyterian pastor in the towns of Ballybay and Monaghan, in county Monaghan, Northern Ireland, and it is there that we must go in order to understand the background of the matter.
The good Scotch Presbyterians of Ballybay and Monaghan had become dissatisfied with their minister and had addressed an appeal to their Presbytery in Glasgow, Scotland. An extract from the minutes of the Associated presbytery in that city reads thus: "near two hundred families of presbyterians in and about Monaghan and Ballybay did (in 1748) leave their former teachers (pastors), because they could not find themselves edified by them, nor believe some of the things they were taught......earnestly soliciting a supply of preaching". (3)
This, together with other petitions, came before the meeting of the Presbytery. Soon a young man, newly licensed to preach, was selected to go as a missionary to preach to the several congregations in County Monaghan. The new paster, Thomas Clark, preached his first sermon in Ballybay on July 3, 1749. He proved to be a most successful preacher and his appointment as permanent paster soon followed. Great numbers came to hear this young man who preached with such "....zeal, piety and soundness of faith". (4)
His appeal to the people of his congregation created ill feeling among other groups, as more and more people became his followers. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, Rev. Clark was arrested in 1754 on trumped-up charges and jailed. The charges against him were minor that he was acquited, but only after nearly six months in the county jail. An uneasy truce existed for some time after that, and Thomas Clark considered emigrating to America, as did so many during those troubled years of Irish history.
Now a new name, that of Robert Harpur (1733-1825) appears on the scene. Born in Ballybay (his parents having emigrated from Scotland), he was educated at Glasgow University. Being a Presbyterian, he had become a close friend of the Reverend Clark. In 1761 Harpur decided to emigrate to America, and on the first of September of that year he reached New York City. (5)
His personality and his degrees from Glasgow University were sufficient basis for the authorities of King's College in New York City to appoint him Professor of mathematics and natural philosophy only three days after his arrival.
Lengthy correspondence between Clark and Harpur was carried on for some time before Clark announced his intention to emigrate to America. Almost immediately some three hundred of his congregation decided to accompany him. There was at that time considerable emigration to the New World, both from Ireland and Scotland. Letters were sent back by those who had gone over seas in search of freedom and a better chance in life, describing the new continent in glowing terms. (6)
Harpur encouraged Clark in his new endeavor and gave his wholehearted support and effort to obtaining a sufficiently large grant of land for his friends in Ireland. Then too, Harpur was hopeful that a profitable industry might be the result of the establishing of these Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the Province of New York, since these people were experienced in every phase of the cultivation of flax and hemp, and in the weaving of linen and hempcloth. (7)
It was on January 19, 1763 that Robert Harpur addressed his petition to: "The Honorable Robert Moncton, Capt. Genl. & Governour in chief in & over the province of New York & the territories depending thereon in America, Vice-Admiral of the same and Major General of his Majesty's Forces". The petition states that: "....having transmitted some favorable descriptions of this province in general, & more particularly inland navigation thereof to friends in Ireland; was in consequence applied to by between 70 and 100 families there, with their Minister and Schoolmaster; all of his majesty's protestants & dutiful subjects;.... your petitioner humbly prayeth that the grant of one thousand acres for the accommodation of each of the above families, of good lands & well situated for manufactures & commerce, & of such as are unpatented to the northward of Fort Edward....your petitioner humbly prays, that said patent be granted free from quit rents for the first eight or ten years ........" (8)
Then apparently Harpur was told that he should, in his petition, have specified the location desired for the patent. Consequently on March 14, 1763, only two months later, he again addressed himself to the Governor. This time his petition, after referring to "his majesty's protestant subjects of Ireland, employed not only in husbandry but in every branch of the linen and hempen manufactures", goes on to specify the location of the lands desired: "...one hundred thousand acres of lands situate to the Northward, Eastward and Westward of the lands already prayed for lying at or near Wood Creek, & to the Westward of the province of New Hempshire extending so far as the North branch of Hudson's River, & to the Southward of the lands prayed for by Major Robt. Rogers and others". He went on to state that he (Harpur): "...upon your Excellency's promise....of the above reservation for the above purpose, give sufficient security, to settle in the first three years....one hundred families or more on said lands; and that further, within eighteen months after your Excellency's promise of said grant...shall have at least eighty families settled on said premises". (9)
Enthusiasm was running high at Ballybay, and more and more families were becoming eager to try the new world and a better way of life.
Less than a month later (April 12, 1763) Robert Harpur addressed a third communication to his Excellency the governor, informing him that "....by the last paquet I received advices from the Minister (Clark)" asking "....if I could get a spot on Hudson's River....not only (to) accommodate 70 to 100 families...but a number no less (than) 200 or 300 families...(and) two or three congregations more are also on the wing...(and) he hopes to be the instrument of settling a colony of sober industrious people". Harpur goes on to state that Clark had written him that: "Collonl. McKnut now in Londonderry has advertised lands in New Scotland at 12 pence per hundred acres for which he is no daily procuring inhabitants; but that for the part of him & his people they'll keep free of all engagements with him or with any others, till they by me, are assured of success in this Government or the contrary". He then closes by asking the fate of his petition so that he can advise Clark by the "...first paquet according to his request". (10)
Harpur's mentioning that "...two or three congregations are on the wing" reminds one of the slang of nearly two centuries later and the quite obvious threat of going to New Scotland (Nova Scotia) shows that pressure was used in those days as it sometimes is today.
"At a Committee (meeting) of his Majesties Council at Fort George in the city of New York the twelfth of May, 1763," with six members present, a favorable report was addressed to his Excellency Cadwallader Colden on the Harpur petition. This report went to the extent of suggesting that 40,000 acres of land be set apart for those Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and "...that there be granted to each family, which shall arrive in the Province within two years from the date hereof...the quantity of four hundred acres...." (11)
Harpur had been eagerly awaiting this news and word was immediately sent to his friend Clark in Ballybay. During all this time, great excitement had prevailed among the people of the congregation, who were anxiously awaiting the day when they might board ship for their trip to the new world, and to a new and better way of life. But it was late autumn before word reached Harpur, from his friends in Ireland, to quickly proceed with petitioning for the survey.
Harpur thereupon took steps to accomplish this, and addressed his petition to Lieutenant Governor Colden. The petition, dated November 23, 1763 reads, in part, as follows: "...that your Honour in Council may now be pleased to grant to him a warrant to survey the ... quantity of land in one or two tracts as shall be found convenient; situate & lying to the Northward of Queensbury, parts of Kingsbury & the lands surveyed for the Artillery Officers, and also lying to the eastward of Lake George; assuring your Honour in Council that by this your petitioner does not mean but to retain such quantities of mountains as are absolutely necessary to the rearing of all sorts of young cattle, & the feeding of sheep in particular...(also)...such places as will there be most proper for mills".
"Your Honour's favorable compliance in this, will engage your petitioner immediately to prepare his friends at home for their voyage here, by writing them that now all things are ready (the warrant of survey being now issued) & that they may now with absolute certainty dispose of their effects, purchase such utensils & manufacturing implements as will be necessary here & particularly provide themselves with drafts (plans) of the newest and best approven Mills for the breaking, etc. of Hemp and Flax, & also bleaching mills; ... engaging such mechanics...to put these plans properly in execution. Such a society, your petitioner humbly hopes will contribute to the advantage of this government in general...."
When word that the survey had been petitioned for and authorized reached Ballybay, the congregation there knew that it was now simply a matter of time before they would be starting on their long journey to America. A tremendous task was faced by every one of the families. In some cases they owned their home sand farms, and buyers must be found. Also many of their household goods and personal belongings must be sold, and to do so without heavy loss would be difficult. The ships that were to take them to America were small and only the barest necessities could be taken overseas.
Every family, in those days, had several chests for storage, and undoubtedly these were used to carry their most needed things. The family Bible, we can be sure, was most carefully packed. Their clothing, the kitchen utensils, and pewter plates had to go. They probably squeezed in a brass candlestick or two and likely a choice bit of china that had been handed down in the family, and if there was room on the ship, a Windsor chair or two.
The survey seems to have been the most long drawn out of the several steps necessary in securing the Patent, nothing having been authorized until late November, probably little work was done on it before the spring of 1764.
There was nothing new ever to delay at least a portion of the colonists, who jumped the gun and preceeded the main body to the new land by six months or more. They were eager to see the area which was to be their new home.
Sir William Johnson of Johnson Hall wrote to Lieutenant Governor Colden early in 1764 concerning the possibility of his securing certain grants in the Lake George - Fort Edward section, and on March 26 Colden replied, in part, as follows: "All lands between Fort Edward and Lake George are either patented or granted to Mr. (Robert) Harpur in behalf of a number of Irish settlers, part of them arrived and the rest expected". (12)
It was on the 16th of May 1764 that the main body of the colonists, headed by the Reverend Clark, sailed from the little port of Newry, only a few miles from Ballybay. It was nearly two and a half months before they sailed into New York harbor, on July 28, 1764. To quote the Reverend Clark; "The all gracious God carried three hundred of us safely over the devouring deep of the sea in the arms of his mercy. Praised be His name". (13)
On disembarking they met Harpur, who had represented them so well in the long drawn-out procedure to secure a patent of sufficient size for them. He had succeeded and the survey was being made at that very time of the 40,000 acres.
The survey was proceeding but was far from completion. After the boundaries had been plotted and checked, the individual lots of 400 acres each had to be mapped out. Robert Harpur had done everything possible and it was now a question of waiting for the completion of the survey. He could truthfully tell them that "....to all intents and purposes the land was theirs", (to quote from History of Washington county, by William L. Stone).
There is no doubt that the newly arrived settlers were disappointed, for they had anticipated getting their dwellings under way before the leaves turned, only a short ten weeks away. A temporary location had to be found for the group to spend the winter, and not in New York City. Dr. Clark thought it desirable that they spend the winter months, while waiting for the completion of the survey, as near as possible to their intended homes. He accordingly moved up the Hudson with the main body of his colonists as far as the settlement of Stillwater; here work was found for those whose funds were nearly depleted. (14)
Some of the colonists were so eager to see their new lands that they continued northward from Stillwater to Fort Edward, where they found a small group of dwellings around the fort. From there they continued on the Military Road, built by Sir William Johnson only nine years earlier, and soon reached the infant settlement, one of the "spots of cleared ground", a mere opening in the wilderness. (15) It was the "spot at Halfway Brook, sufficient for half a dozen dwellings and a saw mill", to which Abraham Wing had led his band of sturdy Quakers from Quaker Hill, in Duchess County, to settle on the Queensbury Patent early in 1763. (16) That infant settlement finally became the city of Glens Falls.
In 1759 a proclamation by his Majesty's Lieutenant governor James DeLancy had told of these clearings with the "wooden hutts and coverings" that the army had left after the French and Indian War, and which awaited the coming of some sturdy settlers.
We can now see how the military posts of Fort George on the Lake, and Fort Edward on the Hudson, influenced the settlers to come to this frontier land. Very few could be induced to try to establish a home beyond the sound of the guns of the forts.
It must have been mid-winter (1764-65) when this little group of Scotch-Irish settlers slowly made their way northward over the Military Road. There was a tavern at Halfway Brook where they likely spent a night or two, glad enough to get in out of the deep snow. From Halfway Brook it was only a few miles to the southern boundary of their new tract, but except for the small clearings at the brook, it was an unbroken wilderness that the Military Road led them through.
It might be well if we looked ahead to the 4th of April 1765 when the survey report was made by the Surveyor General, Alexander Colden. It will give us a better idea of the size and location of the Harpur Patent, toward which these colonists were making their way. Following the lengthy first paragraph, addressed to the Lieutenant Governor, it states: "Surveyed for Robert Harpur for the Accommodation of Sundry Protestant Families, from Ireland: two Tracts of Land,......being in the County of Albany to the Northward of Queensbury Patent and part of Kingsbury and the Lands surveyed for the Officers of the Royal Artillery". Then follows, in surveyors' parlance, the number of degrees from a white elm tree, marked PRH, or from a chestnut tree marked Rh, followed by the distance in chains and links. That is all very well and good but suppose that we try to roughly outline the patent in this way: starting at the lakeshore, just north of East Lake George, the line follows the shore for some 15 miles to Elizabeth Island (about 6 miles in a straight line). From Elizabeth Island it follows cast for 9 or 10 miles to south Bay (southern end of Lake Champlain). From there the boundary line followed first southerly, then westerly, then again southerly direction for a distance of about 14 or 15 miles, to a point near where Fort Ann stands today. Then from there west along the north lines of Queensbury and Kingsbury patents for about 10 miles, to a point southwest of the head of the lake, then it runs about 4 or 5 miles to the northeast to the lake shore starting point.
Harpur had stated on November 23, 1763 in his petition that: "....your petitioner does not mean but to retain such quantities of mountains as are absolutely necessary". Consequently French Mountain is not included and the failure to include it results in the Patent being cut into two separate tracts. Likewise the range of mountains which includes Buck, Pilot Knob and Sugar Loaf are left out of the second tract and almost divide that portion into two parts. The principal mountain that was included was Putnam Mountain.
Now to quote from the Survey report: "The said two tracts together with an Island commonly called and known by the name of Long Island, which Island contains Eighty-five acres of Land and lies in Lake George opposite to the said tract, contain thirty-four thousand and eight hundred acres of land....given my hand and seal this fourth day of April, One thousand seven hundred and sixty-five. Alex. Colden, Surveyor General". (17)
Now we will return to that little band of farmers from Ireland. They were not accustomed to the rigorous winters of northern New York; and the winter of 1764-65 was more rugged than usual. If they had traveled over this same road three months earlier when the forests were aflame with autumnal coloring, their initial impression would have been totally different. The winter being what it was, their reactions were anything but favorable.
Since the Military Road was the only road in the area at this time, it is doubtful whether the cold disheartened group ever did succeed in seeing the land to the east of French Mountian. If they had they probably would have carried a different story back to Clark and the others at Stillwater, for in the valley east of French Mountain and in the area beyond that were some of the best acreage of the whole Harpur tract.
As it was, when they returned to Stillwater they only had thoughts of the severe conditions that they had encountered, and of the deep snow, the dreary, rugged, inhospitable country, the ".... vast forests of gloomy hemlocks...." and so on.
It was not long before the colony as a whole was "....adverse to settling there". Notwithstanding the prospects of 400 acres of land to each family. (18) Dr. Clark also had been persuaded that they had better "....look around for a more congenial region". (19) Consequently because of the severe winter and the effect that it had on these few men, the whole Harpur tract was summarily abandoned.
Finally it was decided to negotiate for a portion of the Turner Patent, which was located close to what is now the Town of Salem, N.Y.
Meanwhile Harpur carried out to the letter the role that he had started in January, 1763. And on April 19, 1765 the document was filed, bearing the names of Robert Harpur and 86 others, heads of families, who had desired the grant. It was actually the formal reiteration needed before the actual patent could be granted. This was proper even though the patent was not then desired. The final papers of the patent were received by Harpur on May 15, 1765.
The rejection of the patent must have been a most severe blow to Harpur. He had worked diligently to secure the patent for his friend Clark and the congregation, and he had been hopeful that the flax and hemp industry would prove beneficial to the general economy of the Province. He had even hoped to have a township established bearing the name of Harpurville. That wish was realized in his latter years when he purchased 30,000 acres in Broome County, N.Y. and founded the village of Harpurville, which lies today on Route #7 some twenty miles northeast of Binghamton, N.Y.
The Patent to "Robert Harpur and 86 others", as it was known, was soon surrendered to the Crown, with the reason given as: "Land not suitable to cultivation", rather than "too dreary and gloomy".
It was soon to be cut up into small grants, such as the portion that became a part of the Harrisena Patent, as well as many others, as we shall see. Then too, the proclamation by the King of October 7, 1763 had given the officers and soldiers of the French and Indian War the right to apply for military grants. This act was bringing individuals and groups into this north country, looking for small, ungranted tracts. The grants contemplated by the Proclamation were the concession of a certain number of acres, determined by the rank of the individual while in the service: 5000 acres to a field officer; 3000 acres to a captain, 2000 to a sub-altern officer, 200 to a non-commissioned officer, and 50 acres to a private.
(1) Colonial Documentary History of New York, vol. 7 pg. 403
(2) Holden, History of Queensbury, p. 360
(3) Wallace, The Salem Book
(5) Ibid, and Dictionary of American Biography
(6) Stone, History of Washington County
(7) New York Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, vol. 16, p. 162 Harpurs Peterson, Mar. 14, 1763
(8) Ibid. vol. 16, p. 145
(9) Ibid. vol. 16, p. 162
(10) Ibid. vol. 16, p. 163
(11) Ibid. vol. 17, p. 2
(12) New York Historical Society, vol. 9, p. 312
(13) Wallace, Ibid.
(14) Stone, Ibid.
(15) Documentary History of New York, vol. 4, p. 556
(16) Smith, History of Warren County
(17) New York Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, vol. 18, p. 152
(18) Stone, Ibid., p. 385