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If it can be said that we suffer here from want, it is because we are destitute of good water. It is the custom of the inhabitants to take their water from the river. It looks impure, and the practice seems to be an improper one, where the waters are taken for common use from that dock into which is washed all the filth of the city. It would be more tolerable, were the people to take their water from the stream; but they seem to pay little regard to this, but take it up among the vessels, and at the wharves. There are wells in town; it is said, however, that the water from them is not good. There are just back of the city very high grounds, which are filled with good water, and might with great ease be drawn by pipes to all parts of the city, even into the upper chambers of their houses ; so that instead of their present situation, which, if irremediable, would excite our pity, they might enjoy the best water, did it not arise from indolence and a want of attention to an article essential to our wellbeing. What makes this neglect the more extraordinary is, that the labor expended in carrying the waters from the river one year would probably exceed the expense of conducting the purest waters from the hills in pipes through the whole extent of the city. However, the citizens do not seem to consider this matter an evil; consequently do not feel as strangers do on the occasion.
May 4. I went to Schenectady in General Schuyler's wagon, in company with him. On our arrival there, we found our boats in forwardness, and had an assurance from Mr. Van Slyk, the contractor, that every thing would be ready on the 8th, the time originally fixed.
I found this a village of much more importance than I expected. It stands on the bank of the Mohawk river, about sixteen miles from the city of Albany. It is approached from high lands, from which you have a pretty view of the town, and a most pleasing one of a fine body of meadows, rich inrterval. The high lands are but indifferent. The rich meadows, with the advantages of the Indian trade, were the enticements which led the people to make an early establishment here. It was originally a Dutch settlement; and the inhabitants are principally descendants from the first settlers, and retain their manners and language, though all of them speak English also. The town, in which are three places of public worship, is prettily laid out. There are three very handsome streets running parallel with the river, and a number of streets crossing those at right angles. There are in the compact part of the town about three hundred dwelling-houses, built mostly after the Dutch form.
There has been lately established among them an academy for the instruction of the youth in English grammar, the dead languages, philosophy, &c. The instruction is under the direction of two preceptors in separate rooms. The one teaching the highest branches has five hundred and sixty dollars a year, and the other, four hundred and twenty-five. This expense is discharged by the pupils, in proportion to the importance of the studies which they are pursuing, and amounts to a sum from two dollars up to fifteen for each quarter. Though this is a heavy expense on some, yet the exertion is greatly to the honor, and will promote the interest and happiness of the society. It will, however, confine the education to those families who can discharge the expense of it. Schools have been greatly neglected among them, and the people are what might be expected from that circumstance, and their being very much excluded from the world.
I left the town towards evening and returned to Albany. It is a very unpleasant road to pass, there being but a few settlements on it, the sand deep, and the lands covered with pitch-pine.
May 5, Sunday. At meeting. Towards evening, I came out with strong prejudices in favor of my own minister.*
May 6, Monday. Nothing particular took place. Spent the day in strolling through the different parts of the town and on the hills in the rear of it, growing impatient that the vessel with part of our company and stores did not arrive.
May 7. I arose in the morning under great expectations that, as the wind had continued fair all night, I should see our missing vessel ; but was again disappointed. My impatience had now arisen to anxiety for their safety, who were on board the vessel. Could I at this moment have been assured that all were well, I should have been quite satisfied that no evils would arise from the delay; as General Chapin had just come in from the Indian country, and assured me that we should
[* Gen. Lincoln was born and resided at Hingham, Massachusetts. His minister, of whom he here speaks, was the Rev. Henry Ware, now Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard University.-- Pub. Com.)
be quite in time, and on the treaty ground long before the Indians.
May 8. In the morning the remainder of the gentlemen and our stores arrived from New York. Our next attempt was to procure teams to carry across the remainder of our stores to Schenectady. I left Albany towards evening for that place, (that I might be on the spot in the morning to direct the loading of the boats,) after a long delay occasioned by a difficulty in procuring a horse and carriage. I could not apply to a gentleman for his private carriage, though I should have been exceedingly gratified had one been offered ; but, as I said before, they have been so much excluded from the world, that their manners are such as to give the appearance of the want of hospitality. I arrived at Schenectady about dark.
May 9. Commenced loading our boats in the morning; completed this business about noon. We dined, and the boats left the landing about two o'clock. Mr. Storrs and myself remained behind to settle our accounts, knowing that, from the rapid waters in the river, the boats would be so long detained, that we could overtake them in the morning. Mr. Van Slyk, who has been our agent here, has offered to take us up the river in the morning in his wagon, the carriage commonly used in this country for travelling. The boats passed on to Mr. Maybees, six miles from Schenectady, where they remained during the night.
May 10. About six o'clock in the morning we went into our wagon, and proceeded up the Mohawk, on the south side, about four miles, through a very rich and well cultivated interval meadow, of about one mile wide. We then crossed the river in the wagon ; here the Mohawk is about four hundred yards wide. We then continued up the river on the north side, generally on high stony lands, though sometimes we touched on the intervals, which extend to this place, sometimes on one side of the river and sometimes on the other, (Mr. Maybees,) six miles from Schenectady, where we halted and took breakfast. The interval lands for the first four miles are, one place with another, one mile wide.
These settlements, which are just on the edge of the low lands, as also Schenectady itself, have been often harassed by the Indians, and they were greatly distressed as lately as the last war. The trees here are in blosson, and the forest tree
just putting out its foliage. There are a considerable number of apple-trees, and also the cherry, on every farm, and is a pretty good country for cider. As we continued our passage up, the lands had much the same appearance, as also the river, which is in general very shoal ; the boats were frequently on the ground in the best water. This time of the year the river is generally fordable by wagons, horses, &c. In our passage this day we observed a painted spot on a high rock on the margin of the river. From this place a number of Indians set off in their canoes to war; none however returned ; this painting, which is often renewed by the Indians, is continued to preserve from oblivion the important event.
About five o'clock, P. M. we reached a small house a little above Fort Hunter, where we put up for the night. About this place was the old Mohawk town, which was abandoned in the spring of the year 1780. They left behind some valuable farms. They could generally speak the English language, had been in a great degree civilized, and many of them were professors of the Christian religion. A very handsome church was built for them in Queen Ann's time, at which they used to attend public worship. They are now fixed on the westerly side of Lake Erie.
We came to sail about five o'clock in the morning. Stopped, at the distance of five miles, at a place called Caghnawaga, a settlement which has been made nearly eighty years, and was nearly destroyed by the British in the year 1780, who were joined by a party of Indians and others under the command of Sir William Johnson, In this action Johnson evinced a want of feeling which would disgrace the savage. The people destroyed were his old neighbors, with whom he had lived on terms of real friendship for a long while. His estate was among them, and the inhabitants had alway's considered him as their friend and neighbor. Those who could walk, after seeing their dwellings reduced to ashes, were hurried into captivity. Those who could not walk, fell victims to the tomahawk and scalping-knife. –The river, shores, and settlements make a very similar appearance to what we observed yesterday.
Sunday, May 12. Continued our course up to the Little Falls, called so in distinction to the large fall on this river, near its junction with the Hudson. We arrived at the fall about two o'clock in the afternoon. There are many pleasant
situations on the river, and what adds to their value, are the interval lands, so often washed by the waters of the river that they need little or no manure. The people in general have no pretensions to the character of farmers. Their lands are not properly attended to. Their cows are very poor ;
half the summer will pass before they can receive mech profit from them. Their swine are, above all, the most indifferent; many of their sheep naked. Indeed, saving their horses, which were only tolerable, every thing had the marks of poverty, at a moment when, from the richness of the soil, and the extent of their possessions, the eye ought to have been gratified by a fullness which indicates plenty and happiness.
On examination of the falls, which are fifty-three miles from Schenectady, I found that they extended about three quarters of a mile in length, and that in that distance the water fell about forty feet ; that preparations are made and are making for opening a canal near the bank of this river, which, by the aid of a number of locks, the boats may pass with ease.
Part of the ground over which the canal is to pass is very rocky; but there are a number of vales which will much facilitate the business, as walls to confine the water is all which will be necessary in such places. On the whole, though the work will be very important when completed, yet the expense of doing it will be very inconsiderable, compared with the magnitude of the object. In examining the grounds about the falls, I find that the water passed some years in a different course from its present, and that the bed of the river is twenty or thirty feet lower than where it formerly ran. I could not well account for this change, as the whole bed of the river seems a body of rocks. We found an excellent bridge thrown over the river by an arch of one hundred feet, a pretty piece of workmanship, which does great credit to the new settlers as well as to the workman.
Monday, May 13. Forenoon spent in taking our boats and stores across the carrying-place, about three quarters of a mile. When this was completed, we set off for the German Flats, where we remained the following night. At this place, which is often called Fort Herkimer, some of the block-houses are remaining. The inhabitants were greatly distressed during our contest with Britain, and were often driven to the fort and places of security. The Indians used frequently to lurk about them and pick off the inhabitants near the fort.