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Buckingham's Lines. Voyage of the Maid of the Mist. Romantic Marriage. The Whirlpool. The Suspension Boise
Beautifully has Buckingham expressed the reverential thoughts which fill the mind and part the lips for utterance in that majestic presence:
“Hail! sovereign of the world of floods ! whose majesty and might
“No fleets can stop thy progress, no armies bid thee stay,
“Thy reign is of the ancient days, thy scepter from on high—
Our little boat, after sweeping around as near the great Horse-shoe Fall as prudence would allow, touched a moment at the landing on the Canada side, and then returned to her moor. ings. We felt relieved when we stood again on land, for there is some peril in the voyage; yet the wonderful scene yields a full compensation for the risk. It affords an opportunity to exhibit courage more sensibly than the foolish periling of life in clambering over the slippery rocks under the Falls, and sentiment has here some chance for respectable display. The week previous to our visit a young couple, with a parson, took passage in the “Maid of the Mist." and, when enveloped in the spray of the cataract, were united in wedlock. What an altar before which to make nuptial vows! Can they ever forget the solemn promises there made or be unfaithful to the pledge there sealed !
We visited the whirlpool, and that wonder of art, the Suspension Bridge, before returning to the village. The former is at the elbow of the Niagara River, two and a half miles be: low the cataract, and should never be left unseen by the visitor at the Falls. The Suspen. sion Bridge spans the river near the head of the rapids above the whirlpool. The present structure is only the scaffolding for constructing the one intended for the passage of a train of rail-road cars. Numerous foot-passengers were upon it, and a coach and horses, with driver and two passengers, crossed it while we were there. The light structure bent beneath the weight like thin ice under the skater, yet the passage is considered perfectly safe. I visited it again toward evening, and made the accompanying sketch to illustrate the method of its construction and its relative position to the Falls." To attempt to sketch the Falls truthfully is
* vain. They ------------ == have never yet PART of NIAGARA Suspension BRIDGE.- been portrayed
* The bridge from pier to pier is eight hundred feet long. Its breadth is eight feet. The whole bridge is suspended upon eight cables, four on each side, which pass over towers fifty-four feet high, built of heavy timbers. The towers for the large bridge will be of solid masonry eighty feet high. Each cable is eleven hundred and sixty feet long, and composed of seventy-two number ten iron wires, around which is wrapped small wire three times boiled in linseed oil, which anneals it, and gives it a coat that can not be injured by exposure to the weather, and preserves the wire from rust. The cables, after passing over the piers on the banks, are fast anchored in masonry fifty feet back of them. The suspenders are composed of eight wires each, and are placed four and a half feet apart. The bridge is two hundred feet above the water.
* This view, looking up the river, comprises about one half the bridge, a portion of the bank on the Canada side on the right, the American shore on the left, and a part of the Falls, seen under the bridge, in the extreme distance.
Departure from the Falls. A Day upon the Rail-road. Syracuse. Early History of that Region. The French.
in their grandeur, and never can be. A picture can not convey an idea of their magnificence to the eye. They must be seen to be known. Art utterly fails in attempts to transfer their features to canvas, and degrades nature by its puny efforts. In their motion consists their great sublimity, and the painter might as well attempt to delineate the whirlwind as to depict Niagara in its glory. We left Niagara early on Saturday morning, stopped in Buffalo just long enough August 19. to go from one rail-way station to another, and reached Syracuse at about eight in 1848. the evening, a distance of two hundred miles. That day's journey seems more like a dream than reality, for hills and valleys, woods and meadows, hamlets and villages, lakes and rivers, the puff of the engine, the rattle of the train, men, women, and children in serried ranks, are all mingled in confusion in the kaleidescope of memory, and nothing but a map or a Traveler's Guide-book can unravel the tangled skein of localities that was spun out in that rapid journey of fourteen hours. We remember the broad Niagara, the dark Erie with white sails upon its bosom, the stately houses and busy streets of Buffalo, the long reaches of flat, new country, dotted with stumps, from Buffalo to Attica and beyond, the stirring mart of Rochester, the fields, and orchards, and groves of lofty trees that seemed waltzing by us, the beautiful villages of Canandaigua and Geneva, the falls of the Seneca, the long bridge of Cayuga, the strong prison and beautiful dwellings of Auburn, and the golden sunset and cool breeze that charmed us as we approached Syracuse. In that flourishing city of the recent wilderness we passed a quiet Sabbath with some friends, and the next morning I journeyed to Rome. Although a quarter of a century has scarcely passed since Syracuse was a village of mean huts," it has a history connected with European civilization more than two hundred years old. At Salina, now a portion of the city of Syracuse, where the principal salt-wells are, the French, under the Sieur Dupuys, an officer of the garrison at Quebec, made a settlement as early as 1655. The Onondaga tribe then had their villages in the valley, a few miles from Syracuse, and a good understanding prevailed between them and the new-comers. The jealousy of the Mohawks was aroused, and they attempted to cut off the colonists while on their way up the St. Lawrence. They, however, reached their destination in safety, and upon the borders of the Onondaga Lake they reared dwellings and prepared for a permanent colony. But the uneasiness of the Indian tribes soon manifested itself in hostile preparations, and in the winter of 1658 Dupuys was informed that large parties of Mohawks, Oneidas, and even Onondagas, were arming. Unable to procure assistance in time from Quebec, he succeeded, by stratagem, in constructing some bateaux and escaping with the whole colony secretly down the river to Oswego, and thence to Montreal. Relying implicitly upon the good faith and promised friendship of the Indians, Dupuys had neglected to preserve his canoes. To construct new ones in view of the Indians would advertise them of his intentions, and bring their hatchets upon the settlement at once. He therefore had small bateaux made in the garret of the Jesuit's house, and kept them concealed when finished. A young Frenchman had been adopted into the family of a chief, and had
* In 1820 the late William L. Stone visited Syracuse in company with Mr. Forman, one of the earliest and most industrious friends of the Erie Canal. “I lodged for the night,” says Mr. Stone, “at a miserable tavern, thronged by a company of salt-boilers from Salina, forming a group of about as rough-looking specimens of humanity as I had ever seen. Their wild visages, beards thick and long, and matted hair even now rise up in dark, distant, and picturesque effect before me. I passed a restless night, disturbed by strange fancies, as I yet well remember. It was in October, and a flurry of snow during the night had rendered the morning aspect of the country more dreary than the evening before. The few houses I have already described, standing upon low and almost marshy ground, and surrounded by trees and entangled thickets, presented a very uninviting scene. “Mr. Forman,’ said I, ‘do you call this a village 2 It would make an owl weep to fly over it.” “Never mind,” said he, in reply, “you will live to see it a city yet.'” Mr. Stone did, indeed, live to see it a city in size, when he wrote the above in 1840, and it is now a city in fact, with mayor and aldermen, noble stores and dwellings, and a population of some 14,000.
Judge Forman was one of the projectors of the Erie Canal, and the founder of Syracuse. He died at Rutherfordton, North Carolina, on the 4th of August, 1849, aged 72 years.
strategem of a young Frenchman. Escape of the French. Early Explorations. Monumental Stone. Silver-bottomed Lake
acquired great influence over the tribe. By their customs an adopted son had all the privileges of a son by birth. When Dupuys had a sufficient number of bateaux finished, this young man went to his foster-father, and in a solemn manner related that he had dreamed, the previous night, that he was at a feast, where the guests ate and drank everything that was set before them. He then asked the old chief to permit him to make such a feast for the tribe. The request was granted, and the feast was spread. Many Frenchmen were present, and with horns, drums, and trumpets, they kept a continual uproar. The French, in the mean while, were diligently embarking and loading their bateaux, unobserved by the feasting savages. At length the guests, who had been eating and drinking for hours, ceased gormandizing, to take some repose. The young Frenchman commenced playing upon a guitar, and in a few minutes every red man was in a profound slumber. He then joined his companions, and before morning the whole colony were far on their way toward Oswego. Late the next day the Indians stood wondering at the silence that prevailed in the dwellings of the whites, and when, at evening, having seen no signs of human life through the day, they ventured to break open the fastened dwellings, they were greatly astonished at finding every Frenchman gone; and greater was their perplexity in divining the means by which they escaped, being entirely ignorant of their having any vessels.”
Ten years afterward another French colony settled in what now is called Pompey, about fourteen miles from Syracuse, and for three years it prospered, and many converts were made to the Catholic faith from the Onondaga tribe. A company of Spaniards, having been informed of a lake whose bottom was covered with brilliant scales like silver, arrived there, and in a short time the animosities of the respective adventurers caused them to accuse each other to the Indians of foul designs upon the tribes. The Onondagas believed both parties, and determined to rid themselves of such troublesome neighbors. Assisted by the Oneidas and Cayugas, they fell upon the colony on All-Saints' day, 1669, and every Frenchman and Spaniard was massacred.”
Evidences of much earlier visits by Europeans have been found in the vicinity, among which was a sepulchral stone that was exhumed near Pompey Hill. It was of an oblong
- figure, being fourteen inches long by twelve wide, and about eight inch
es in thickness. In the center of the surface was a figure of a tree, and a serpent climbing it; and upon each side of the tree was an inscription, as seen in the cut: “Leo X., De Wiz, 1520. L. S. + Q.” This inscription may be thus translated: “Leo X., by the grace of God; sixth year of his pontificate, 1520.” The letters L. S. were doubtless the initials of the one to whose memory the stone was set up. The cross denoted that he was a Roman Catholic, but the meaning of the inverted U is not so clear. It has been supposed that the stone was carved on the spot by a friend of the deceased, who may have been one of several French or Spanish,adventurers that found their way hither from Florida, which was discovered by the Spaniards in 1502. They were amused and excited by stories of a lake far in the north, whose bottom was lined with silver, and this was sufficient to cause them to peril every thing in searching it out. De Soto's historian speaks, in the course of his narrative of the adventures of that commander in the interior of America, of extreme cold at a place called by the natives Saquechama. It is supposed that this name and Susquehanna are synonymous appellations for the country in Central New York, and that the silver-bottomed lake was the Onondaga, the flakes and crystals of salt which cover its bottom giving it the appearance of silver.”
* See extracts from a MS. history of Onondaga county, by Rev. J. W. Adams, of Syracuse, quoted in the Historical Collections of New York, p. 398.
* Dewitt Clinton's Memoir on the Antiquities of Western New York.
* See Clinton's Memoir, &c.; also, Sandford's.Aborigines, note on page 114. The crystals of salt on the bottom of the lake, into which the salt springs flow, were, like the scales of mica discovered on the eastern coast by Gosnold and his party, mistaken for laminae of silver. There are not many salt springs near the
Rome. Site of Fort Stanwix. Forts Newport and Ball. The Portage and Canal. The Mohawk Valley.
We have already noticed the expedition of the French, under Frontenac, as far as the Onondaga Valley. From that time nothing but Indian feuds disturbed the repose that rested upon Onondaga Lake and the beautiful country around, until business enterprise within the present century began its warfare upon the forests and the rich soil. I arrived at Rome, upon the Mohawk, toward noon. It is a pleasant village, and stands upon the site of old Fort Stanwix, on the western verge of the historical ground of the Mohawk Valley. Here was the outpost of active operations in this direction, and here was enacted one of the most desperate defenses of a fortress that occurred during our struggle for independence. The village, in its rapid growth, has overspread the site of the fortification, and now not a vestige of antiquity remains, except a large elm-tree by the house of Alvah Mudge, Esq., which stood within the southwest angle of the fort. Mr. Mudge kindly pointed out to me the area comprehended within the fort, and the portion of the village seen in the picture covers that area. The mason-work in the foreground is a part of the first lock of the Black River Canal, at present an unproductive work. The large building in the center of the picture is the mansion of John Striker, Esq., president of the Rome Bank, and stands near the site of the northeast angle of the fort. The whole view is only a few rods northwest of the Mohawk River, and a mile eastward of Wood Creek, the main inlet of Oneida Lake. Here was a portage of a mile, and the only interruption of water communication between Schenectady and Oswego. This inconvenience was obviated by the construction of a canal between the Mohawk and Wood Creek, in 1797. Fort Stanwix was built in 1758, under the direction of General Stanwix, after the defeat of Abercrombie at Ticonderoga. It was a strong square fortification, having bomb-proof bastions, a glacis, covered way, and a well-picketed ditch around the ramparts. Its position was important in a military point of view, for it commanded the portage between the Mohawk and Wood Creek, and was a key to communication between the Mohawk Valley and Lake Ontario. Other, but smaller, fortifications were erected in the vicinity. Fort Newport, on Wood Creek, and Fort Ball, about half way across the portage, formed a part of the military works there, and afforded not only a strong post of resistance to French aggression in that direction, but also a powerful protection to the Indian trade. The works cost the British and Colonial government two hundred and sixty-six thousand four hundred dollars, yet when the Revolution broke out the fort and its outposts were in ruins. From the commencement of hostilities the Mohawk Valley was a theater of great activity, and all through the eventful years of the contest it suffered dreadfully from the effects of partisan warfare. Every rood of ground was trodden by hostile parties, and for seven years the fierce Indian, and the ofttimes more ferocious Tory, kept the people in continual alarm, spreading death and desolation over that fair portion of our land. So frequent and sanguinary were the stealthy midnight attacks or open daylight struggles, that Tryon coun
surface, but under the marshes that surround Onondaga Lake, and beneath the lake itself, there seems to lie a vast salt lake, and shafts are sunken from the surface above into it. The water or brine is pumped up from these shafts or wells, and vast quantities of salt are manufactured annually in the neighborhood of
Syracuse. A great number of men find employment there, and the state derives a handsome revenue from the works.
Sir William Johnson and his Associates. Effect of Political Movements upon the People. Formation of Parties.
ty' obtained the appropriate appellation of “the dark and bloody ground,” and, long after peace blessed the land, its forests were traversed with fear and distrust. Here was the seat of Sir William Johnson,” agent for the British government in its transactions with the Six NATIONs. He was shrewd, cunning, and licentious, having little respect for the laws of God or man, and observed them only so far as compliance was conducive to his personal interest. By presents, conformity in dress and manners, and other appliances, he obtained almost unbounded influence over the tribes of the valley, and at his beck a thousand armed warriors would rush to the field. He died before the events of our Revolution brought his vast influence over the Indians into play, in active measures against the patriots. Yet his mantle of power and moral sway fell, in a great degree, upon his son, Sir John Johnson, who succeeded to his title, office, and estates. The latter, his cousin Guy Johnson, Thayendanegea (Brant) the Mohawk sachem, Daniel Claus, and the Butlers were the leading spirits of loyalty in Tryon county, and the actors and abettors of scenes
-o- 2 & o __ that darken the blackest page in the history of our race. These will be noticed hereafter. For the present we will % confine our thoughts to the most prominent local events
/. immediately antecedent to the siege of Fort Stanwix, or Schuyler, upon the site of which, at Rome, we are standing. 1765 The excitement of the Stamp Act reached even the quiet valley of the Mohawk, and implanted there the seeds of rebellion, and the people were eager listeners while the conflict of power and principle was going on upon the sea-board, during the ten years preceding the organization of the Continental army.” The meeting of the general Continental Congress caused opinions to take a definite shape and expression, and in the autumn of that year the demarkation line between patriots and Loyalists was distinctly drawn among the people of this inland district. In the spring of 1775, just before the second Congress assembled at Philadelphia, at a court holden at Johnstown, the Loyalists made a demonstration against the proceedings of
* Tryon county then included all the colonial settlements in New York west and southwest of Schenectady. It was taken from Albany county in 1772, and named in honor of William Tryon, then governor of the province. The name was changed to Montgomery in 1784. The county buildings were at Johnstown, where was the residence of Sir William Johnson (still standing).
*Sir William Johnson was born in Ireland, about the year 1714. He was a nephew of Sir Peter War. ren, the commodore who was distinguished in the attack on Louisburgh, Cape Breton, 1745. Sir Peter married a lady (Miss Watts) in New York, purchased large tracts of land upon the Mohawk, and about 1734 young Johnson was induced to come to America and take charge of his uncle's affairs in that quarter. He learned the Indian language, adopted their manners, and, by fair trade and conciliatory conduct, won their friendship and esteem. He built a large stone mansion on the Mohawk, about three miles west of Amsterdam, where he resided twenty years previous to the erection of Johnson Hall at Johnstown. It was fortified, and was called Fort Johnson. It is still standing, a substantial specimen of the domestic architecture of that period. In 1755 he commanded a force intended to invest Crown Point. He was attacked by Dieskau at the head of Lake George, where he came off victorious. For this he was made major general and a knight. He commanded the assault upon Niagara, after the death of Prideaux, and was successful there. He was never given credit for great military skill or personal bravery, and was more expert in intriguing with Indian warriors, and sending them to the field, than in leading disciplined troops boldly into action. He died at Johnson Hall (Johnstown) on the 11th of July, 1774, aged 60 years.