We have previously told of that spectacular display of military strength, under the command of Major General James Abercrombie, which passed down the lake that day in July 1758, with the Point and Long Island having grand stand seats. The army has been described as the "greatest flotilla of war to appear on any American lake", and was equipped with everything except a leader.
Among the British troops were: his Majesty's regiment the 80th of Foot, under the command of Brigadier General Thomas Gage, who only a few years later was to command the forces of George III at Boston; and his Majesty's 46th regiment, under General Thomas Murray. In the colorful 80th regiment was Private George Underwood, and in the 46th regiment was Private James McGowen, both of whom we will mention later, as well as Serjeant John Stinson of the 80th.
The day was beautiful, we are told, and the mountain slopes, forested with huge virgin white pine, must have made an impression on those three men which they carried with them for years.
The army of 6,367 Regulars and 3,035 Provincials could and would have captured Fort Ticonderoga if Lord Howe had been in command, for he was the only man in whom the army had confidence. He was Abercrombie's chief adviser and if Lord Howe had not fallen almost at the outsetof the attack, the victory might have been for the British. But that was not the case, and soon that same fighting army was hurrying southward, badly whipped, after losing nearly 2000, dead, wounded or missing.
Among the returning Regulars were Sergeant Stinson and Privates Underwood and McGowen. We have mentioned the King's proclamation of 1763, in which those in his fighting forces in the war could apply for military grants (instead of a bonus). John Stinson, having served as a Sergeant, has entitled to receive 200 acres of land, and the other two would receive the allotment given to privates, namely 50 acres.
The system under which the would-be settlers finally received their land was complex, due in part to a complete disregard for geography. The governors of the colonies were the agents who granted the lands, and for this service a fee was levied; in the Province of New York the fee was 14 pounds sterling on 1000 acres. The settlers were to cultivate and live on their lands and pay an annual quit-rent of 2 shillings and 6 pence per 1000 acres.
It would be well to remember the hard feelings and strained relations existing in the colonies at this time. The French and Indian War had incurred a heavy debt on Great Britain and it was felt that the colonies should help in its payment. The Americans replied that England ought to defend her colonies and that in the prosecution of the war the colonists had aided Great Britain as much as Great Britain had aided them. It was not the payments of money that the colonists dreaded most but the surrender of their liberty; as John Otis said: "Taxation without representation is tyranny".
It was in March, 1765 that the English Parliament passed the Stamp Act. The news of this swept over America leaving the people full of wrath and indignation. "Crowds of excited people surged into the towns, and there were acts of violence. The muffled bells of Philadelphia and Boston rang on funeral peal; and the people said it was the death knell of liberty. In New York, a copy of the Stamp Act was carried through the streets with a death head nailed to it, and a placard bearing this inscription: "The Folly of England and the Ruin of America".
It was at this time that Patrick Henry, in a violent debate in the House of Burgesses, cried: "Ceasar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George III....."...Treason, Treason was shouted..." and George III may well profit by their example....if that be treason, make the most of it".
Notwithstanding all this, we find those former soldiers from British regiments in the French and Indian War applying in 1767 for military grants. What is the significance? Did it indicate a change of heart - their desiring to obtain grants in a land defying their native England? If they had continued to be Torics at heart, with resistance to England increasing, would they have considered applying for a grant, even though they had the privilege?
The Public Record office in London has most kindly given us the War Office data on our three future settlers. From this we learn that the 80th Regiment of Foot was disbanded in 1763. It had been formed under Colonel Thomas Gage only 5 years earlier. (It will be recalled that Stinson and Underwood were in this regiment). However McGowen was in service with the 46th Regiment until October 24, 1766. That winter may have seen a reunion of the three, with a decision to apply for military grants on adjoining lands.
For a soldier at this period to exercise his privilege and apply for a military grant, it was necessary for him first to obtain a certificate from an officer in his old regiment. Serjeant John Stinson made his initial move when he asked for and obtained the following certificate, which is written in long hand on a paper measuring about 5 inches by 6 inches:
It will be noticed that he appeared, or applied for, land the day following the issue of the certificate. The other two soldiers that we are considering obtained their certificates at about the same date as Stinson and applied for land on May 5, 1767.
Next to be filed was the petition, addressed "to the Honorable Cadwallader Colen, Est., Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of New York and the Territories depending thereon in America, etc." and dated May 16, 1770. This petition included not only that of John Stinson but also those of George Underwood and James McGowen, both of whom we are concerned with. There were also included in this petition the requests for land of Nicholas
Devericks (also spelled Deverly on some papers) and other former soldiers. All of the requests in this group were for military grants on lands which were a part of the Robert Harpur Patent, which was available after being surrendered to the Crown.
After naming the petitioners requesting land, the petition continues, "...That the Petitioners beg leave to inform Your honor and is Majesty's Council that there is a certain Tract of Land lying between Lake George and Lake Champlain in the County of Albany, by Patent heretofore granted to Robert Harpur, which Patent as the Petitioners are informed hath been resigned up by the said Robert Harpur and returned to the Secretary's Office....That the Petitioners would gladly take up their respective quantities of Land allowed...." (2)
Under the same date we find in the Executive Minutes of the New York Colonial Council the following: "On reading and due Consideration whereof the Council humbly advised his Honor the Lieutenant Governor of his Majesty's Letters Patent to grant to the Petitioners....the non-commissioned officer and Soldiers the respective Quantities of Lands described in these Several Petitions which they are entitled...." (3)
The next step was for the Lieutenant Governor to issue a warrant to the Surveyor General to have the lands in question surveyed. The surveys were made, and much more promptly than in the case of the Robert Harput Patent. The survey was dated June 2, 1770, but the actual "Return of Survey" for the John Stinson Grant bears the date of June 30, 1770. At the top of the sheet is a small, crudely sketched map of Assembly Point, extending as far south as the foot of Burnt Ridge. The name "John Stinson 200 acres" appears on the main part of Assembly Point (south as far as the "canal") and to the south of that is the name "Nicholas Deverick 50 acres". Below the map is the following description:
While we are considering only the land which comprises Assembly Point proper, it might be mentioned that this same survey included the area south of what has always been known as "the canal" and "next to the hill". This tract contained 50 acres of land and was granted to Private Nicholas Deverick, late of his Majesty's 80th of Foot. Almost certainly he was a friend of Stinson and Underwood, having served in the same regiment during the war.
Surveyor Tuttle made a more general survey map dated June 2, 1770 which included Long Island, with all the surveyor's data. This map has become known as the State Hall Map #101 and covers the applications of George Underwood and James McGowen. Together they were to be granted Long Island with its total of 100 acres, since as former privates they were each entitled to 50 acres. It is only reasonable to believe that they had asked for adjoining land. Not until July 4, 1770, three years after the initial application, were the final military grants awarded.
In the year 1770 the country north of Fort Edward was practically an unbroken wilderness. The forests of mammoth virgin timbers were almost without end. "Through this forest roamed great numbers of deer, moose, elk, wolves, lynx, panthers, wildcat and bears". (5)
H.P. Smith, in his History of Warren County writes: "..one of the early settlers brought in, with great trouble, a small flock of sheep, which he placed in a log pen near the house, for security from wolves. During the night ravenous beasts thrust their noses between the logs and succeeded in killing all but two of the flock. These two were killed the next day to save them".
These pioneers on the point and Long Island certainly found no roads providing access for them to their new land. To be sure they had the military road to the head of the lake but beyond that there were only indian trails or ones they had made themselves.
We wish that we might be able to say that log dwellings were built by these newcomers and such may have been the case. But nothing has yet come to light to give any indication of just what they did during the few short years when men's minds were becoming aware of the fact that it was only a matter of a short time before the frontier would again be the scene of fighting and suffering.
The Boston Massacre occurred in March, 1770, almost while the Grant itself was being prepared. We can be certain that a sense of deep concern was in the minds of these three men as they received their grants. Then too, their old regimental commander (in the case of Stinson and Underwood), was now Commander in Chief of all the British troops in America.
Sides were gradually being drawn. Even though the settlers in the Queensbury Patent, or Wing's Falls as it was then known, were Quakers, some found themselves favoring the King's cause while others were just as strongly for the party of independence and liberty.
Although the government of the Province of New York was aristocratic in its composition, nevertheless even it had been showing the first signs of refusal to follow all that Parliament doled out. For many months it refused to take favorable action on the Quartering Act.
During the past 75 years, the colonists were engaged for nearly half the time in a series of wars with the French. The determination to maintain all of those rights to which, as English colonists, they were entitled, had been slowly but surely growing. Thus we can realize what confronted these former English soldiers as their grants were handed to them.
(1) New York Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, vol. 27, p. 43
(2) Ibid., vol. 27, p. 43
(3) Executive Minutes, New York Colonial Council, P. 383
(4) New York Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, vol. 27, p. 63A
The long drawn-out boundary dispute between New York and New Hampshire was not only becoming more bitter but more complicated as well. The governors of both provinces were making grants of land, which very often turned out to be the same land, thus causing no end of difficulty and bad feeling. The most desirable land in the Province of New York had already been granted. However the surrender to the Crown of the Harpur Patent of 34,800 acres did make it possible for many small military grants to be made. The scarcity of New York land was used as an excuse for Governor Colden to make grants farther and farther into the land to the eastward, into what is now Vermont, but then known as the Hampshire Grants.
This land had all been included in Albany County until 1772, when this over-large area was divided and a part of it became Charlotte County, of which our locality is a part.
While this land dispute was a much importance to both provinces, events of much greater significance were soon to cast their ominous shadow over the land. The Boston Tea Party in 1773, was quickly followed by the Boston Port Bill, and to most men it was obvious that war was not far distant.
April of 1775 was soon at hand and with it came war. And only three weeks after Concord and Lexington, the war was to break out at the north end of Lake George, when Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, with the Green Mountain Boys, captured Fort Ticonderoga. Shortly afterwards the cannon from that fort was being dragged a distance of 200 miles through the wilderness, to help General Washington capture Boston.
Soon the isolated pioneer families of this section, as well as those people who lived in small hamlets, were caught between Indian terrorism from the north and foraging parties from the American army to the south. These pioneers, who had hoped to remain as non-combatants, soon found themselves forced to abandon their newly built homes and freshly made clearings.
"The roads were filled with fugitives", says an historian, "men, leading little children by the hand, women pressing their infant to their bosoms, hurrying forward in utmost consternation, from the scene of danger".
The nearest that actual warfare came to the Point was when Colonel John Brown advanced up the lake to attack Diamond Island in August 1777. The British had an important supply base there, in connection with Burgoyne's attempt to divide the colonies by way of Albany and New York. There were two companies of the British 47th under Colonel Aubrey stationed on Diamond Island. They were able to repulse Brown, who retreated to the east shore of the lake, were he burned his boats rather than have them fall into the hands of the British.
After Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga in October 1777, many pioneers from this section returned to find their homes burned to the ground. Some, feeling that serious threat of invasion by the British as well as raids by Tory marauders, had been eliminated for the time being, stayed and started to rebuild.
Major invasions from the north were not to be renewed for three years, but "partisan strife between hot-headed Patriots and Tories....kept the region in even greater ferment than the incursions from Canada of guerilla bands of British, Tories, and Indians". (1)
It was in 1780 that rumors of invasion again caused the settlers to leave for protected settlements like Fort Edward. By this time, says Dr. Holden, "Warren County pioneers had little to carry or lose".
The British reoccupied Fort Ticonderoga in the summer of 1780 with a large force, and while they did not advance further as an army, bands of Tory guerillas together with Indians were permitted to make the fort a base from which to operate. Many bloody raids were the consequence during all that summer and fall.
Even the Quakers of the Queensbury Patent moved down to the protection of Fort Edward, and it was well that they did because we read of Tory and Indian raids being made on any and all who remained in this section. These raids followed quickly one after another. Every dwelling or mill in their path was destroyed.
Settlements that had held out for five long years were not completely abandoned. Carlton with his Tories and Indians gave this northern country some pretty rugged months.
The triumph of General Washington at Yorktown in the fall of 1781 was practically the end of the Revolution. The final treaty of peace was signed in Paris in April, 1783, exactly eight years to the day after the first outbreak at Lexington.
The people came out of the war in a distressing condition. Business was at a standstill. Gold and silver coins were scarce. There was an abundance of paper which pretended to be money, but nobody knew what it was worth. The states quarreled with each other about boundary lines, and trade as well. Instead of being a united people, they were fast becoming thirteen hostile nations ready to draw the sword against each other. We can see this feeling in the fact that a man could not buy and sell freely outside his own state; in addition, each state felt free to impose a tax on goods brought in from a neighboring state.
With the adoption of the new constitution these impossible conditions were finally corrected. A united people was the result. In the words of John Adams: "The thirteen clocks all struck together".
Even before the end of hostilities, a committee of Forfeiture was appointed under the laws of New York to sell lands that had been abandoned by their Tory owners. In 1788 this authority was passed to the Surveyor General of the State. "Sales were made in this way until several decades of the nineteenth century had passed away". (2)
James Caldwell, who had been a merchant in Albany, obtained a large patent of land situated around the head of the lake. There had been a small settlement there following the French and Indian War but it had been deserted for a long time. Caldwell was the leader of a group of settlers and their families who reached the head of the lake in 1787 and soon had the beginning of the present village of Lake George well underway.
In 1785 the Quakers of Queensbury built a meeting house, the first church and school in Warren County, on the banks of Halfway Brook. The Quakers had built a road out to that point, and that road was to become the present Bay Road. (3) In 1787 it was continued in the direction of what is now called Dunham's Bay. This was to open up the lands named in many of the military grants of 1770. These grants to former soldiers extended as far south as the northern boundary of the Queensbury Tract. This north line seems to have been just a little to the north of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, on the Bay Road, as we know it today.
In the course of our research we located a choice little map in the safekeeping of the Department of Public Works in Albany. It shows the area from Woods Point around to Elizabeth Island. The purpose of this map was to give the surveyor's data on what is now Cleverdale, although then it was called Long Point. The original map was done with pen and ink, with the addition of a considerable amount of water coloring, and measures about 11 by 14 inches.
We were much interested in the little map, although a bit baffled by the fact that there was no date given on it. Possibly it was torn off by some early owner. However the question of the date was finally resolved in this manner. The eastern shore, on the map, bears the words: "part of Westfield, very rocky and mountainous", and likewise a section of the west shore of the lake had this notation: "Part of Thurman". Knowing that the Town of Westfield was formed in 1786 and later changed to Fort Ann in 1808, and that Thurman was formed in 1792, but that its lake frontage was taken over by Bolton and Caldwell in 1810, we reached the conclusion that the date of the map was between 1792 and 1808. Probably we can safely consider the date as 1800 or slightly earlier.
The map reveals several interesting facts as well as quaint descriptions. Some of these include: (1) a notation near Woods Point reads: "the French Mountains and here". (2) Dunhams Bay was then known as West Bay. (3) Rocky point was applied to what is now Assembly Point. This probably was descriptive rather than a place name since the word "point" has a small first letter; from the top of Burnt Ridge the point would appear rocky. (4) The name "Long Point" is applied to what we know now as Cleverdale. Prior to seeing this map we had only know of that name (Long Point) being applied to Assembly Point, as it was at a later date. (5) "Fisher Landing" is the name given to the point where the Pilot Knob Road today joins route 9L near the head of Warner Bay. (6)
A road coming from the south is marked "Road from Queensbury to Fisher Landing. excessively bad". This is the present Ridge Road. (7) "Road to Butternut Brook", is the term applied to the trail which joins the previously mentioned road near Fisher Landing. This virtually states that there were settlers located here as early as 1800. Butternut Brook flows into the lake a little to the north of Pilot Knob. (8) The swamp south of Fisher Landing is described on the map as "A most extensive and mirey Marsh".
When settlers arrived at what was to be his new home in this north country, his first and most important consideration was to get a roof over his head, to clear some ground, and to get some crops started. This accomplished, he could then enlarge and improve his cultivated land. To do this meant a great deal of work, including chopping down trees, burning them, clearing out stumps, and removing rocks. His source of food was largely from his land or through barter with other settlers, or perhaps through the use of his rifle. These settlers were of necessity frugal and self-sufficient; most were newly married, young, and just starting their first homes and families. Many there were who made the start between the years 1785 and 1790.
The first decade of the nineteenth century found lumbering of local importance, here in this land of virgin forests. The settlers' families were growing up and the father had help with his farm work. Soon he could think of taking time off from his farming to devote his efforts to earning some money, of which there had been little in the past. Lumbering was the logical answer to the search for an easily available method of supplementing income.
The wealth of the forests seemed unlimited. Men in the towns wanted lumber, and with a vast source of it surrounding the pioneer clearings, the natural answer was to chop it down and sell it. It is recorded that white pines averaged 130 to 150 feet in height and from 40 to 48 inches in diameter. Some of the giants that had been spared for royal ships' masts towered as high as 160 feet with trunks 72 inches in diameter.
"The little community of Caldwell, now Lake George Village, began to assume importance because of the shipping facilities for logs afforded by its location at the head of the lake.
Huge rafts were floated from this port to Ticonderoga at the other end of Lake George, thirty two miles away. These rafts were made in square sections by fastening the logs in layers at right angles to each other, often fifteen logs deep, so that the top was lifted above the surface of the water by the buoyancy of the logs below. Many sections were bound into a single raft, and the crews rigged sails to help propel the unwieldy mass which had to be steered through the deep channels as they threaded their way among the islands of the narrows".(4)
By the time that Warren County became an entity, from Washington County, in 1813, "the giants of the forest were being felled at a fearful rate".
Undoubtedly the Point was lumbered over early in the new century. The fine old beech trees now standing here are the only survivors, since the hardwood trees were not considered as valuable as the pines in those days. Some of the beech trees on the Point today are well over two hundred years old.
The Surveyor General was selling some of the confiscated Tory lands as ordered. To accelerate the sale, "in 1820 a bonus of 25% was allowed to persons who discovered any unsold lands belonging to attainted or convicted loyalists". (5) By 1808 these sales became less frequent.
In the fall of 1810 the Surveyor General of New York ordered that a survey be made of our immediate locality. The result was the "French Mountain Tract map of 1811, done according to law, Simeon DeWitt, Surveyor General". The original of this map is carefully preserved in Albany; among our papers we have a photostatic copy of this map.
The legend on the map reads: "Map of a Tract of unappropriated Land in the town of Queensbury, county of Washington called the French Mountain Tract. Surveyed and laid out into 48 Lots in the Winter and Spring of the Year 1810. Together with nine islands in Lake George. Done by order of Simeon DeWitt, Esq. Surveyor General. George Webster, D.S. May 1811." Then follows a description of the John Stinson grant of 200 acres and the grant to Nicholas Deverick of 50 acres. Stinson's name appears on the land that was granted to him. The lots that comprised the Point are numbered 35, 36 and 37.
The map contains a good deal of material relating to the Point and to other lands close by that were granted in 1770. Our greatest interest, of course, is in the Point and Long Island.
What of Serjeant Stinson? The map is inconclusive, as it lists the lots on the Point (Stinson Patent) among "the unappropriated lands" but then goes on to describe the grant to these lots to Stinson. It is contradictory, to say the least.
Forty-one years and a great war had passed since John Stinson received his grant. He had been in the British army in 1758 and was likely 18 years old, or more. In 1811 he would have been close to 71 years old. Considering man's life span in those days, he could very easily have died by that date. Furthermore, the first Census of population was made in 1790 and in those times the names of heads of families were listed, but Stinston's name does not appear either in Queensbury nor anywhere in the state. However his grant of 1770 was apparently recognized in 1811 or it would not have been referred to on the map. Moreover, as we have mentioned, there was that bonus of 1802 allowed to those who should discover unsold land belonging to "attainted or convicted loyalists". The bonus seems not to have been collected, so it may be that Stinson became a true and loyal American. We hope so.
When we come to the subject of Long Island, with its 100 acres, which had been granted to those two soldiers from the British army in 1758, George Underwood and James McGowen, there is no mention whatever of them and we must assume that they fled to Canada during the early days of the Revolution.
The name Hugh McNab appears on the map which we have been discussing. Though it is placed on Long Island we cannot find any mention of his having bought or received it by grant. It is not mentioned in the New York Colonial Manuscripts indorsed Land Papers. This Hugh McNab was a non-commissioned officer in the 80th Regiment (Stinson's old regiment) and was entitled to a military grant of 200 acres. He received his grant on July 16, 1774, for land on the east side of Lake George, close to and including Elizabeth Island. (6) In the surveyor's description the "north end of Long Island" is mentioned but solely for the purpose of locating by angles a "walnut tree marked with the letter H Mc. N standing on the Banks of the said lake" from which the McNab boundary lines began.
This map of 1800 contains much interesting material pertaining to the early days of this section of Queensbury. It gives the name of Harris Bay to what we today call Dunhams Bay. Another fact that the map reveals is that the lands granted to several other former British soldiers was still in their names in 1811. The map credits the little bay on the west side of the neck of land (the "Canal) leading to the Point with the name of Boat Bay.
We wish that roads were shown on this map as they were on the "Long Point" map of a few years earlier, but even without them the map is priceless to those interested in the early days of the Point.
(1) Warren County Guide, 1942
(2) Loyalism in New York, Alexander C.Flick, 1901
(3) History of Warren County, Smith, pg. 389
(4) Warren County Guide, pg. 166
(5) Loyalism in New York, Alexander C. Flick
(6) New York Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, vol. 34, pg. 53