(Over F., J. & G. R. R. and N. Y. C. R. R., Fonda, 3 m.; New York, 189 m.; Buff., 257 m.; Pop..1920. 10,447; sea elevation, 640 ft.)
Johnstown Mileage Distances, Mohawk
Turnpike, New York-Buffalo
Southward: Fonda 4 m.
Eastward: (By detour to Mohawk south shore road. Fonda to Fultonville) Auriesville (shrine) 8 m.; road to Mohawk Turnpike at Tribes
Hill-Fort Hunter 6 m.; Fort Johnson 9 m., Amsterdam 11 m., Schenectady 27 m., Albany 42 m., New York 191 m.
Westward: Yosts (the Noses) 10 m., Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge 16 m., Stone Arabia churches (by cross-country upland road) 12 m.,
to Palatine Church 16 m.: Fort Plain-Nelliston 19 m., Palatine Church 22 m., St. Johnsville 25 m., Gen. Herkimer Homestead (by detour to south
side at St. Johnsville) 33., East Creek 28 m., Finks Basin Bridge (Fall Hill) 33 m., Little Falls 35 m., Herkimer 42 m., Mohawk 43 m.,
Fort Herkimer Church (by detour south) 45 m., Ilion 45 m., Frankfort 47 m., Utica 57 m., Whitesboro 61 m., Oriskany 64 m., Oriskany battlefield
Monument 66 m., Rome 72 m., Syracuse 107 m., Buffalo 261m.
Northward: Gloversville 4 m., Lake Pleasant 47 m., Piseco lake 60 m., Lake George 57 m.
The next important point north is Gloversville, 4 m.; south, Fonda, 4 m.
Upland Highway Saratoga, Johnstown, Dolgeville, Middleville, to Black
There is a fine upland road running east from Johnstown, through Broadalbin, Hagerdorn’s Mills and East Galway to Saratoga Springs.
Westward from Johnstown it runs through Garoga, Lassellsville, Dolgeville, Salisbury Center, Salisbury to Middleville on the West Canada creek road,
which can be continued through Poland, Gravesville (1924) Barneveld to the Black River road to the Thousand Islands and Canada. This road has
several branches south to valley towns. This road parallels the Mohawk Turnpike on the north side of the valley just as the Great Western Turnpike
does on the south side.
These broad and beautiful upland views cannot be obtained on the Turnpike road. In taking them it is advisable, as in all side trips, to
consult local garages, etc., as to present road conditions. On these routes west the tourist misses much of historic and scenic interest along the
Mohawk, including the beautiful scenery at the Noses. In making a west and east trip through the valley, it is advisable to go an upland route one way
and the Turnpike route the reverse route. The Mohawk valley has so many historic and scenic points of interest that several tours should be made through
it and all points mentioned herein should be covered.
Picturesque, historic Johnstown is beautifully situated on the fertile Cayadutta plateau, running north from the Mohawk to the Sacandaga
at Northville. To the west rise the wooded slopes of rugged Klip hill (Big Nose ridge), while from high ground can be seen to the east the Adirondack
foothills of Saratoga county, which border this plateau on the east.
Although separated (1921) by a mile or two Johnstown and Gloversville are virtually one community, historically, socially, industrially
and commercially, with a combined 1920 population of 32,983. The glove and leather industry (which had its origin in the sister city of Gloversville)
employed 2,743 persons in 1913 and is the leading business. In that year it had 86 factories employing 2,743, with an annual manufactured output
In 1919 Johnstown had 112 factories with 4,241 primary horsepower, capital of $11,554,000, 3209 workers receiving $3,216,00
annually and a total yearly manufactured production of $17,503,000. (1920 U. S. Census report.)
C. B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc.
Gelatine is made at Johnstown in one of America’s most modern hygienic food factories, that of the Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc.
Johnstown is the county seat of Fulton county,
formed in 1838, and named after Robert Fulton, the pioneer in steamboat navigation. Fulton county has an area of 516 square miles and a
population in 1920 of 44,927. Its southern half largely is devoted to farming and dairying. Its northern section lies in the Adirondack mountain
region and here are lumbering industries. Fulton county has the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown and the villages of Dolgeville (part in Fulton,
part in Herkimer county), Ephratah, Northville, Mayfield and Broadalbin.
The early history of Johnstown is that of the latter days (1762-1774) of Sir William Johnson, when he was at the height of his
influence as a great figure of Colonial days, when he lived here at Johnson Hall, built form 1759 to 1762.
Indian Council, Johnson Hall, 1772.
From the painting by E. L. Henry, owned by Mrs. Charles B. Knox,
Johnstown. The scene depicts an Indian council at Johnson Hall in
1772. Sir William Johnson is seen presenting a medal to an Indian.
The block house on the left has been burned, the one on the
right is still standing.
Indian Trail Center.
Johnson Hall and Johnstown were located on Johnson’s lands here because this was the center of about six main Indian trials. An
important Indian Trail ran from the mouth of the Garoga east to the Cayadutta here and thence northeast through the Adirondacks to Lake George
and Lake Champlain to Canada. This was the western terminus, on the Mohawk, the eastern one forking off at Lake George and running southeast
to the Mohawk at Schenectady. By this Johnstown trail Canadian-French and Indian war parties descended on the Mohawk castles. It was frequently
scouted over by British redcoat and American rangers. Sir John Johnson escaped by this trail to Canada and, by the same route raided the valley
with a Tory-Indian war party, May 21, 1780. Other trails branched east from the Cayadutta here to Saratoga and westward to the West Canada creek
near Hinckley. Over this trail Butler and Johnson’s war party fled, after the battle of Johnstown, Oct. 25, 1781. Indian paths ran south from this trail
center to the Mohawk at Caughnawaga (present Fonda), and at present Tribes Hill. Over the latter, Ross and Butler’s hostile raiders marched from
the Mohawk to the battlefield of Johnstown. All these ancient trails are now roads and several of them are important automobile touring routes.
The cities of Johnstown and Gloversville lie in the township of Johnstown which, with these cities, has a total 1920 population of
34,931, more than three-quarters of that of the county of Fulton. The lands comprising this township originally were included in the following patents:
Stone Arabia of 12,700 acres (1723); Walter Butler of 4,000 acres (1735); Sacondaga (Ganesvoort) of 28,000 acres (1741); Kingsborough (Stevens) of
20,000 acres (1753). Sir William Johnson purchased his Johnstown lads form the owners of these patents, but principally from the latter.
Johnson located here a large number of Scotch and some Irish colonists who were the main Tory support of his son, Sir John
Johnson, in the early years of the Revolution. The entire upland plateau from Johnstown eastward to Saratoga lake, largely was peopled by Scotch
pioneers who formed an important element of the New York Colonial population. Mohawk river Hollander and Palatine pioneers formed a considerable
element of the population of Colonial Johnstown and its district.
Johnson Hall, 1762.
Johnson Hall is picturesquely situated on the western limits of Johnstown. It is the property of New York State (purchased in 1907)
and is under the care and management of the Johnstown Historical Society. This interesting baronial mansion is one of but two said to be now standing
in the United States. The other is Fort Johnson, previously mentioned.
Johnson Hall and Fort Johnson are two of the most important houses, historically, in the United States. Both also were the
center of strong British Colonial fortified posts.
Johnson Hall has a sea elevation of 740 feet. It stands 100 feet above the Cayadutta creek and 362 feet above the Mohawk river.
Johnson Hall, with its valuable historical collections, is open free to the public and should be visited by all tourists. The present Hall
Farm property consists of about eighteen acres.
Among the many interesting features of the Hall, the visitor will see the cuts made by the Mohawk Chief Brant’s tomahawk on the
banister of the stairway in the main hall. These are said to have been made by Joseph Brant to warn Tory and Indian raiders to spare the mansion
during the Revolution.
A picturesque Colonial garden is a feature of the Hall, with lilacs still blooming, which were planted by Sir William in 1762. A brook
flows through a picturesque ravine on the north side of the Hall. The iron lion, symbolizing the British empire still guards Sir William’s baronial seat.
From the cellar of the Hall, secret passages (now blocked up) led underground to the stone blockhouses. A well is located in the
cellar, as was the custom in many frontier Colonial homes.
When the Hall was fortified, in 1763, during Pontiac’s Indian uprising, a stone wall, twelve feet high, was raised around the Hall
and two stone blockhouses were built at each side just to the rear and close to the Hall. The one to the north was burned and then taken down. The
southern one stands as when erected and is a strong defense for its time, with loopholes from which the defenders could fire on an attacking force. A
small company of men in Colonial days, could have here repelled a considerable attacking force. This stone blockhouse defense of the Hall is the
only blockhouse standing of the many Colonial and Revolutionary blockhouses erected in the Mohawk valley.
Opposite the Hall was the camp ground of the Indians called here for councils, which were generally held within a circle of locust
trees, planted by Johnson, and still standing in front of this colonial mansion.
From 1759-1762 Sir William laid the foundations of Johnstown. He plotted the place in 1759-1760 and commenced the laying
out of streets and the erection of buildings. In 1762 he completed Johnson Hall. About this time Sir William established a free school and built the
Drumm house (1763) for its schoolmaster. In 1771 he built St. John’s Protestant Episcopal church, which was burned in 1836. On the creation of
Tryon county and the location of its county seat at Johnstown, in 1772, the jail and count seat were built here, which are today the only Colonial court
house and jail standing in New York State.
Drumm House, 1763.
The home of Sir William Johnson's Schoolmaster.
Sir William started building the Hall at the close of the French-Indian war, probably after the capture of Montreal, in 1760, by
General Amherst’s army of 17,000 British and Americans, 10,000 of whom marched up the Mohawk Turnpike and were joined by Gen. Johnson
with 1,700 Iroquois warriors. The promised period of peace was broken by Pontiac’s Indian war. Johnson moved from Fort Johnson (built in 1749),
which place was his home for twenty years, during the most vital and epoch-making events of his remarkable life.
As Lossing says: “Here Sir William lived in all the elegance and comparative power of an English baron of the middle ages.”
As Sir William was Indian Commissioner for all the Colonies, the Hall was the scene of important and picturesque councils with the
Indian tribes. In his Indian dealings, Johnson displayed a keenness and diplomacy which made him, perhaps, America’s most vital colonial figure
in the struggle with France for British supremacy in North America.
The Hall was the social center of the valley, the stronghold of its Tory aristocracy and the scene of many a brilliant social gathering.
Powder and satins shone resplendent alongside the paint, feathers and bear skin of the Mohawk warrior. Here gathered many prominent colonial
military and governmental figures for conference with Sir William.
Governor Seymour wrote of Johnson Hall: “It was from this spot that the agents went forth to treat with the Indians of the west
and keep the chain of friendship bright. Here came the scout from the forests and lakes of the north to tell of any movements of the enemy. Here
were written the reports of the Crown, which were to shape the policy of nations; and to this place were sent the orders that called upon the settlers
and the savages to go out upon the warpath.”
Johnson, “ the Great Father” of the Colonial Indians.
Sir William’s early years (1763-1765) in the Hall were taken up with combating, by diplomacy and force, the Pontiac Indian
uprising, which threatened the entire western colonial frontier with the horrors of Indian border warfare. His remarkable talents secured
peace in a conference and peace council with Pontiac at Fort Oswego in 1766, which virtually ended this trouble. Johnson’s military abilities have
been severely criticized. However, he achieved several important successes for British-American arms at very critical periods. Whatever the historians’
opinion of Sir William’s military talents, there is no question that William Johnson was one of the keenest diplomats and most progressive empire-builders
of the American colonial period. No man at any time in American history, ever had the influence with the Indians possessed by Johnson.
Johnson was “the Great Father” of the Indians of Colonial days. His influence over these savages had much to do with the
making of American history and the victory of England and her American colonies over France in the French-Indian war (1754-60).
Johnson’s Indian name of Warraghegagey is said to mean “bringing two peoples together.”
Johnson Hall Lodge Room, St.
Patrick’s Lodge, No. 4, F. and A. M.
In 1766 Sir William organized St. Patrick’s Lodge, F. and A. M., and became its first master. He set apart a chamber of the
Hall as its lodge room. Nicholas Herkimer, the valley’s most illustrious patriot, was a member of this lodge, as was Sir William Johnson, the
valley’s greatest loyalist.
This lodge room and its original furniture can be seen in the Hall today. The first six State Masonic lodges were: St. John’s,
No. 1, New York; Independent Royal Arch, No. 2, New York; Mt. Vernon, No. 3, Albany; St. Patrick’s, No. 4, Johnstown; Masters, No. 5, Albany; St.
George’s, No. 6, Schenectady.
A Prince in His Principality.
The year 1772 marked the culmination of Johnson’s greatest political hopes when he succeeded in having Tryon county set
off from Albany county and when Johnstown was made the county seat. Sir William Johnson then ruled as a prince in his principality-the
great County of Tryon. It was then that the Hall had its period of greatest importance as the actual military, governmental and social center
of a great part of the territory of the province of New York-about a quarter of its area.
Johnson did not long enjoy this great power as his sudden death occurred at the Hall, at a great Indian council held there,
July 11, 1774. His funeral was attended by 2,000 people and included provincial and military dignitaries. This was an enormous crowd for those
days. He was buried under St. John’s church in Johnstown. This edifice was burned in 1836 and when rebuilt, Sir William’s grave was outside the
walls, and it may be seen in St. John’s churchyard today.
A man of sturdy physique and a woodsman, Sir William fostered all sports and at the Hall held fairs which were attended by white and
red valley folks for up and down the Mohawk. These sports, races and games were for both red and white men and for boys and girls, and included
even a contest as to who could make the funniest and the worst face.
Molly Brant, “the Brown Lady of Johnson Hall.”
Johnson Hall had a picturesque and dignified mistress in the full-blooded Mohawk, Molly Brant, who was the housekeeper of
Sir William Johnson, and by whom he had several children. Molly Brant, “the brown lady of Johnson Hall,” was the sister of Joseph Brant, the
famous Mohawk chief, who is said to be the “most remarkable Indian of history.” Johnson educated the young Mohawk and made his lithe and
beautiful sister the mistress of Johnson Hall.
Sir William’s first wife was Catharine Weisenberg, a German girl whom he married at Queen Anne’s chapel, Fort Hunter, in 1739.
Their children were a son, who because Sir John Johnson, and a man utterly unlike his brilliant father, and two daughters, who because the wives of
Col. Guy Johnson and Col. Daniel Claus, two active Tories of the valley. Johnson’s first wife lived but a few years after his marriage. The Tory Sir John
Johnson, of valley Revolutionary raids and conflicts, should not be confused with his famous father, Sir William.
Johnson, an Empire Builder.
“Sir William Johnson was an empire builder, like several other strong Americans of early days. Beloved by his red and white
neighbors, his fine manly figure looms large and clear in the light of history. William Johnson founded a school, churches, forts and a town; he built
roads and aided his neighbors to improve their conditions and their farming methods. He imported seed, plants, trees and animals into Mohawk valley.
His battles for his country found a record in a bullet in his thigh.”
Johnson introduced sheep into the valley and gradually succeeded in getting the local farmers to raise hay. Himself a progressive
farmer he bewailed the obstinate backwardness of his neighbors. A keen mind, and a true student, Johnson possessed probably the only library
west of Schenectady and made frequent purchases from London bookstores.
Sir John Johnson’s Regime-1774-1776.
On Sir William’s death at the Hall in 1774, Sir John Johnson became its occupant and the heir to his father’s vast estates,
comprising 173,000acres. From that time until 1776, the Hall was a center of Tory planning and plotting and military activity. Hearing that he was to
be arrested by the American Colonel Dayton, Johnson buried his silver plate near the Hall and fled to Canada, in the Spring of 1776, not having time
to take Lady Johnson with him. The Hall and all the Johnson property were confiscated and Lady Johnson removed to Albany.
Chronology of Sir William Johnson’s
Life at Johnson Hall, 1762-1774.
A brief chronology of Johnson’s life and activities at Johnson Hall is here given:
1759. Planned Johnstown Johnson Hall and his Hall property.
1761. Gave 50 acres to St. John’s (P.E.) church of Johnstown. Built Johnson Hall 1761-2.
1762, in March. Removed to Johnson Hall from Fort Johnson. Johnson’ first letter from the Hall is dated March 30, 1762. April 21-28, council with Six
Nations of Iroquois at the Hall. The 1763 date of the Hall’s erection and occupancy is erroneous.
1762-6. Constantly journeying to points far and near, holding councils with the Indians and arranging for frontier defense during Pontiac’s Indian
war. In 1763 Johnson Hall was fortified.
1766, July 23-31. Held a council at Oswego with Pontiac and other Indians and made a treaty of peace which ended Pontiac’s rebellion.
August 23, installed as Master of St. Patrick’s Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 4, organized at Johnson Hall, its meeting place.
1767, August 21. Visited Saratoga Springs.
1768, Feb. 22. Made Brigadier-General of the militia of the northern district of the province of New York (north of the Highlands of the Hudson). He
had probably previously resigned his commission as Major General. Sept. 19-Nov. 5, at an important Indian council at Fort Stanwix (present Rome),
where the boundary line between whites and Iroquois was drawn through New York and the colonies.
Improved road built to Stone Arabia.
1769. Jan. 3. Made a member of the American Philosophical Society. April 12, raised to the Sublime Degree of Perfection, Scottish Rite. May 4,
elected master Ineffable Lodge, A. A. S. R., of Albany.
1770, March 20. Made a trustee of Queen’s (now Rutgers) College. March 23, suggested a department for forest preservation. June 17, presented
the present church as a chapel to the Mohawks at Canajoharie castle (now Indian Castle). Dec. 6, succeeded by Col., Guy Johnson as master of
St. Patrick’s lodge.
Improved road built to Caughnawaga.
1771. Made plans for a new church (St. John’s P.E. church, erected 1772), at Johnstown. Nov. 18, promised aid to the project developed
eventually (1795) into Union College.
1772. Secured the formation of Tryon county and dived it into five districts Mohawk, Canajoharie, Palatine, German Flats and Kingsland.
Johnstown made the county seat and court house and jail built. July 14-30, visited by Gov. Tryon. July 29 Governor Tryon’s Provincial Council meets
at Johnson Hall. Reviews the Tryon county militia, with Gov. Tryon, on this visit, probably here and at German Flats (Fort Herkimer). August, made
Major general of the northern department for the third time.
14 mile carriage road built to the Summit House on the Sacandaga Vlaie.
1774, May 27. Condemned in a letter “the refractory Boston people.” Johnson was always strongly opposed to the movement which ended in the
Revolution. July 8-11, held a council at Johnson Hall with the Six Nations of Iroquois. July 11, died. July 12, buried in St. John’s church, Johnstown.
The foregoing are but a very few of the most important items in Johnson’s career while resident at Johnson hall. A large number of
Indian councils were held here and the Hall had many prominent men as visitors and was the scene of much social gayety.
A brief study of the life of Sir William Johnson will show the great influence he had upon the history of America and the historic
importance of his two baronial seats-Fort Johnson and Johnson Hall. See “Sir William Johnson Papers,” 3 Vols., Pub. 1923 by the University of the
State of New York as well as other works on Johnson. (See “Life and Times of Sir William Johnson,” by Wm. L. Stone, Munsell, Pub., 1865.)
Sir William Johnson, Johnstown and Johnson Hall have figured largely in American fiction. They form striking chapters in Frederic’s
“In the Valley,” and Robert W. Chamber’s “Cardigan” and “Little Red Foot” are largely written around them. “Cardigan” has been (1922) screened.
The Hall had many distinguished visitors during the Revolution, among them being General Lafayette, who was called here on
military duty several times. In the century and a quarter following, the property had many owners who generally gave it good care, but who injured it
by additions, etc. The Hall was restored to its original form after its purchase by the state in 1907. (See “More Colonial Homesteads,” by Marion
Harland, Putnam, Pub.)
150th Anniversary of Founding of Tryon County at Johnstown, 1922.
On Sept. 8 and 9, 1922, exercises were held at Johnstown celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of Tryon county of
which Johnstown was the county seat. Exercises were held at the court house and other historic buildings and a beautiful historic pageant was
held at Johnson Hall, typifying Colonial life of that period. It was attended by notable visitors among them Gov. Nathan L. Miller, whose ancestors
came from Holland and settled on Klip hill, just west of Johnstown.
St. Patrick’s Lodge, No. 4, F. and A. M.
St. Patrick’s lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, was constituted by warrant, dated May 23d, 1766, granted by the Provincial
Grand Master of New York, to Sir William Johnson, Baronet, Master, Guy Johnson, S. W., and Daniel Claus, J. W., of Johnstown, N. Y. The lodge
was organized at Johnson Hall on the 23d day of August, 1766, and worked under the supervision of Sir William Johnson, as Master of “The Ineffable
lodge at Albany”) Col. Guy Johnson was chosen in his stead, which station he occupied until the 5th day of May, 1777. The Hall room in which these
meetings were held, has been fitted up as a lodge room and is a place of especial interest to Masons.
During the Revolution (1775-1783) and for
a period of about then years, the meetings of the lodge were discontinued. Many of its members were engaged in the military service, on one side or
the other, both as officers and privates. Among the officers in the American army were Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, of Oriskany battlefield fame, Majors
Peter Ten Broeck and Jelles Fonda. Samuel Kirkland, a missionary to the Mohawk and Oneida Indians and the founder of Hamilton college was
also one of the early members of this lodge. Of the forty-three members when the war commenced, only three remained after its close to assist in
its reorganization. Some, of course, fell on the battlefield, while others, having taken sides with the Royalists, under the lead of Sir John Johnson,
had their property confiscated and left the country. Sir John, on leaving for Canada, took with him the original charter and jewels of St. Patrick’s lodge.
These have since been returned so that a visitor to the lodge may now see the first charter, the first Master’s jewel and all of the minutes of the earliest
The lodge celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 1866 and its one hundred and fiftieth in 1916.
During the World war forty-two, from a membership of 224, were enrolled in the various branches of the service.
Johnstown Court House, 1772.
The only colonial court house and jail now standing in New York State are those at Johnstown, which were built in 1772,
the year of the erection of the County of Tryon.
The court house is built of brick and the jail of stone and they served the great County of Tryon from 1772 until 1784 when the
name of the county was changed to Montgomery. They served Montgomery county from 1784 to 1836, when the county seat was moved to Fonda. In
1838 the county of Fulton was formed and Johnstown became its county seat and these structures became the Fulton county court house and jail.
The two buildings were built at a cost of £ 1,000 ($2,500) in 1772. In the tower of the court house is a bent bar of iron which, for a
century and a half, has served as a bell.
The laying of the corner stone of this edifice June 26, 1772, was a picturesque event in the annals of the Mohawk valley. To the
little town, in this little cultivated wilderness, came Britisher, Hollander, Palatine and the Mohawk warrior. “The presence of Sir William Johnson, with
an attendance of British officers and soldiers, gave dignity and brilliancy to the event, while over all the group, asserting the power of the Crown, waved
the broad folds of the British flag.” The men of the throng here gathered were soon to engage each other in bloody combat and many, in that crowd, felt
the impending danger.
Sir William Johnson here presided in the Tryon county court house from 1772 to 1774. Many distinguished American jurists have
been called by business to this ancient edifice. It has been honored by the presence of such men as Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr (who killed
Hamilton in a duel), Daniel Cady, Abram Van Vechten, Elisha Williams, Joshua Spencer, Nicholas Hill and others.
In 1922, during the 150th celebration of the erection of Tryon county and the building of the court house and jail the members of the
Fulton county bar held court here, attired in the picturesque judicial, military and civil costumes of British Colonial days.
Fulton County Jail, Johnstown, 1772.
Built as the county jail of Tryon County in 1772, the central
stone building was stockaded and became the American Fort
Johnstown of the Revolution, 1776-1783.
Johnstown Jail, 1772–Fort Johnstown, 1776-1783.
As aforementioned the Tryon county jail was built of stone in 1772, and has successively served as the Tryon county jail (1172-1784).
Montgomery county jail (1784-1836). Fulton county jail (1836 onward).
During the Revolution (1776-1783) the jail was stockaded with blockhouse additions and became the strong American fortification of
Fort Johnstown as well as a civil and military prison, where many a Tory, a captured enemy or a traitor was confined during those stirring years. The fifty
British Tory and Indian captives taken at the battlefield of Johnstown were confined here following that historic fight on Oct. 25, 1781.
The Johnstown jail (Fort Johnstown) is one of three portions of Revolutionary American forts remaining in the Mohawk valley, the others
being the Fort Herkimer church and the Schoharie church at Schoharie on the Schoharie.
Revolutionary Johnstown, 1775-1783.
Sir William Johnson clearly foresaw the Revolutionary struggle impending but always said he would not live to see it. He died less
than a year before the first shot of the war was fired at Lexington. His son, Sir Johns Johnson was the “rank Tory” and his loyalist activities were
so menacing that an American force, under Gen. Schuyler and Col. Herkimer, disarmed Johnson and his Tories in January, 1776. The American Col.
Dayton, with a military command, went to arrest Johnson a few months later, but Johnson escaped by the northern trail to Canada.
As the county seat of Tryon county Johnstown was an important Revolutionary center. Neighborhood militia men took part in the
“Mohawk" (Johnstown-Caughnawaga neighborhood) battalion of Tryon County Militia, in the battle of Oriskany August 6, 1771. At the first attack this
battalion (under Col. Visscher) was cut off and suffered heavily (See Oriskany).
First Shot of the Revolution in New
York Colony, 1775.
At Johnstown, in 1775, occurred what is said to have been the first shot fired in New York Colony at the beginning of the Revolution.
The Tory Sheriff White arrested Jacob Fonda of Caughnawaga (present Fonda) because of his ardent patriotic sentiments and brought him to the
Johnstown jail. A party of Whigs broke into the jail and released Fonda and then went to take White, who was at Mattice’s tavern. The Tory official fired
from a window at the approaching patriots. He then hid in a chimney and escaped capture, but was later caught and imprisoned at Albany.
Johnstown Indian Council,
March 9, 1778.
On March 9, 1778, commissioners of the State congress (Schuyler, Douw and Duane) met 700 Iroquois and other Indian tribal
delegates at Johnstown, in an attempt to keep the frontier tribes neutral or to ally them to the patriot cause. This great council had little effect as most
of the tribes were already in alliance with the English. The Oneidas and some Tuscaroras swore loyalty to the patriot cause.
Sir John Johnson’s (May 21, 1780) Raid.
After Sir John Johnson and his Tory tenants and associates, together with the Tryon county Tory aristocracy, were driven from the
Mohawk valley, they went to Canada and entered into British military service. Sir John organized a regiment which was known as “Johnson’s Greens,”
which fought at the Battle of Oriskany in 1777 (See Oriskany). These Tories, with Indians, British, German and Hessian comrades, again and again
returned in raids, which left the Mohawk valley devastated at the end of the Revolution.
On May 21, 1780, about midnight, Sir John Johnson entered
Johnstown, from the northern Canadian trail, with a war party of 500 Tories, Indians and British. The raiders immediately began the work of murdering
the local patriots and burning their houses, in which they were assisted by the Tories of the neighborhood, who were warned of the raid. The raiders
headed for the Mohawk in tow parties and raided and burned the north shore section from Tribes Hill to above the Noses. All Tory houses and farms
were spared but two loyal Englishmen were murdered and scalped by mistake. The patriot militia gathered on May 22 and Johnson and his white and
red fiends fled north laden with booty. He took back buried plate and twenty Negro slaves and got away without loss to his party.
Battle of Johnstown, Oct. 25, 1781.
A boulder with inscription marks the battle of Johnstown, which occurred on the western limits of the present city, near Johnson hall. This
battle marked the end of a great raid through the valley by a Tory-British-Indian war party of 700 led by Major Ross and Captain Walter Butler (the
arch-murderer at the Cherry Valley massacre). The enemy came to the Mohawk at the Noses on Oct. 24, 1781, raiding the south shore to below
present Amsterdam. On the morning of Oct. 25 they crossed the Mohawk to the north shore, below present Amsterdam, and marched on the Johnstown
section murdering all Whigs, burning their property and taking some prisoners. Col. Willett pursued from Fort Plain and came upon the enemy on the Hall
farm. He had but 400 men and sent one force to the enemy’s rear under Captain Rowley, while Willett attacked in front. The enemy drove Willett’s force
back in confusion to Johnstown, but Rowley’s battalion fought stubbornly and eventually, when Willett’s command returned to the attack, the enemy fled
from the field, leaving about fifty killed and fifty prisoners. The Americans lost about fifty killed. Col. Willett increased his force and pursued, by way of the
Mohawk to Fort Dayton (Herkimer) and up the West Canada creek where, on Oct. 28, 1781, he overtook the retreating raiders and routed them, Butler being
killed in the encounter. Butler’s death caused great rejoicing along the Mohawk, where he was then considered, as he is today, the arch-fiend of all the Tory
murderers of the Revolution.
Following the Revolution, Johnstown, as the county seat of Tryon county, was a place of considerable importance. The first stage
coach line was established in 1790, running from Albany to Schenectady to Johnstown to Canajoharie. In 1798 the Johnstown Academy was built.
The Rev. John Taylor made a tour through the Mohawk valley in July, 1802, and thus describes Johnstown:
“27.–Left Tribes Hill and traveled 5 miles to Johnstown–a very pleasant village, containing one Dutch Presbyterian church and an Episcopalian. The village
is tolerably well built. It is a county town–lies about 4 miles from the River and contains about 600 inhabitants. In this town there is a jail, court house
and an academy. About 3-4ths of a mile from the center of the town we find the buildings erected by Sir William Johnson.”
Other Johnstown dates after the Revolution follow: First newspaper printed, 1796. Academy built, 1798. Glove manufacture
begun at Kingsborough (Gloversville), about 1803. Johnstown village incorporated, 1808. First bank opened, 1831. Telegraph and gas introduced, 1857.
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville railroad opened, 1870; extended to Northville, 1875. Horse street railway opened, 1874, connecting to Johnstown and
Gloversville. First waterworks, 1878. Electric lights, 1887. Asphalt pavement, 1891. Johnstown Historical Society organized, 1892. First electric railroad,
1893. City chartered, 1905. Johnson Hall purchased by New York State, 1907, and put in custody of Johnstown Historical Society.
1922, Sept. 8 and 9, sesquicentennial and pageant of the founding Tryon county (in 1772).
In 1840 Johnstown had a court house and jail, a county clerk’s office, an academy, a bank, 6 churches, 15 stores, 2 grist mills,
1 gun and rifle factory and 2 printing offices and weekly newspapers.
Johnstown, Civil War, 1861-5.
The principal Civil war organizations in which Fulton county was represented were the following: 153d Inf., 269 men; 115th Inf.,
162 men; 77th Inf., 101 men; 10th Cav., Co. D, 92 men; 13th Art., 97th Inf., 93d Inf., 2d Cav.
The drafted men from Fulton county, during the World war, 1917-8, were sent forward to their respective training camps from Johnstown.
Gov. Enos T. Throop, 1830-1832.
Johnstown was the birthplace of Enos T. Throop (1784-1875), governor of New York State from 1830-1832. He was a most
progressive, constructive executive and was instrumental in abolishing imprisonment for debt and in making the death penalty a punishment for
murder only, New York State being the first to do this.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902, the
Pioneer Woman Suffragist and Native to Johnstown.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the daughter of Judge Daniel T. Cady, who settled here in 1795 and became a leading Johnstown
jurist. She was born here in 1815. She was the first active figure in the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement and largely its originator in a practical political
form. Elizabeth Cady married Henry B. Stanton, reformer, author and State Senator, in 1840. She became interested in anti-slavery and in women’s
rights. She had a hearing before the New York legislature in 1844 on the married women’s property bill. Mr. and Mrs. Stanton settled in Seneca Falls,
N. Y., in 1847, and here Mrs. Stanton and Lucretia Mott signed a call for the first women’s rights convention which met in Mrs. Stanton’s home in 1848,
and which was the subject of an enormous amount of ridicule. In 1854 Mrs. Stanton addressed the New York legislature on the right of suffrage and in
1860 on the right for divorce for drunkeness. In 1865 Mrs. Stanton ran for Congress in New York city and received about 20 votes. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton’s brave work for the political advancement of women and of legal reform for their benefit makes her one of the great progressive figures of
America. In 1915 the centennial anniversary of the birth of Mrs. Stanton was held in Johnstown, as well as by women suffrage organizations in many
parts of the United States. Mrs. Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony are considered the founders of the suffragist movement in America, but
Mrs. Stanton is the pioneer suffragist of the world because, at the Seneca Falls meeting of 1848, she introduced a resolution calling on the women of
America to demand the right of suffrage.
Elizabeth Cady was the progenitor of the cause of women’s suffrage, for she got her inspiration from her brave soul alone and the
idea grew with her from a child. Her weapons were her keen mind and ready wit–for she was one of the world’s most brilliant women. As a child in
Johnstown, she developed her practical theories and freely argued them, even with her noted father. So that Johnstown may be called truly the birthplace
of women’s suffrage. In her memoirs, “Eighty Years and More,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton gives a very interesting picture of Johnstown and the Mohawk
valley from her birth in 1815 until she married and left Johnstown in 1840.
Elizabeth Cady was closely associated with her cousin, Gerritt Smith, the famous abolitionist. As a charming young woman she took
an active part in the life, ideals and work of the famous circle of reformers which met in the Smith mansion in Peterboro, south of Canastota, where many
of the progressive movements of the day were inaugurated or forwarded. Gerritt Smith was a friend and supporter of John Brown of Harper’s Ferry,
whose “soul goes marching on.” Among the many brilliant minds gathered at Peterboro, who were considered dangerous radicals in their day, none
was more daring or advanced than Elizabeth Cady was on her pet subject of women’s suffrage. Not alone was her fine mind and trenchant pen
occupied with the cause of the rights of women–she was ever an undaunted champion of all right and all truth. She stood for human rights the world
over–abolition of slavery, abolition of war, free speech, religious liberty, child welfare, political, industrial and social rights for all mankind. She was
also a strong advocate of the cause of temperance. But Elizabeth Cady felt that all these causes were best served by giving women the vote. Opposition
meant nothing to her and, when she and her fellow abolitionists were being hooted, hissed, insulted and abused in the streets and halls of the towns
of New York state, this handsome, intellectual gentlewoman only fought the harder for the cause her brave soul knew would eventually triumph.
Surely the seeds of liberty must grow wild along the Mohawk for, not only did women’s suffrage first take root here in Johnstown, but the
next greatest suffragist, Susan Anthony, in 1850, went from the halls of her academy at Canajoharie, to join Elizabeth Cady Stanton in their mutual
and eventually successful lifelong battle for the political rights of women, the world over. No other section of America has had such a potent part in
forwarding this world cause than Johnstown and the Mohawk valley.
Johnstown has had two great citizens who are Citizens of the World as well–Johnstonians whose lives have had a tremendous
influence in the shaping of world history–Elizabeth Cady and William Johnson. Of the two, the life of the woman, Elizabeth, has had the greater
influence in guiding the onward march of humanity.
Mrs. Stanton died in New York city in 1902, aged 87, when several states had already adopted full suffrage for women.
Women voted in the thirteen original states from 1620 until 1778, when New York abolished it, followed by other states, New Jersey
being the last in 1848, the year Mrs. Stanton mad her call for liberty–full women’s suffrage.
See Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Eighty Years and More,” “History of Women’s Suffrage,” “The Woman’s Bible,” etc.
Gen. Richard Dodge.
General Richard Dodge was a prominent resident of Johnstown in the early 1800s. He was a veteran of the Revolution and a
brigadier-general of the War of 1812, commanding the fourth brigade, consisting of the 10th, 11th and 13th regiments of the Mohawk Valley Militia.
General Dodge was a brother in-law of Washington Irving, who was a visitor here on many occasions.
The Black Horse Tavern, 1796.
The (1924) Younglove Homestead at the corner of South
William and Montgomery streets, Johnstown.
Johnstown Historic Buildings and Sites.
A continuous route including Johnstown’s main historic points of interest has been prepared by the Johnstown Historical Society and
is summarized as follows:
At the southeast corner of Johnson and O’Neil avenues stands the Johnstown Battlefield (1781) monument,
erected by the Johnstown Chapter, D. A. R.
At Johnson and Hall avenues is Johnson Hall (1762).
The Sir William Johnson statue stands at the corner of Hall avenue and West state street; erected in 1907 by the Aldine Society.
The Drumm house (built by Sir William for his schoolmaster), 1763, is at the foot of North William street.
Just east of the Drumm house on Green street extending to North Market street is the Colonial cemetery, containing the remains
of many Johnstown notables of Colonial and Revolutionary days.
On North Market street, at the corner of Church street, is St. John’s Episcopal church in the yard of which is the grave of Sir
At the corner of West Main and North William street is the court house (1772).
On the southeast corner of Main and South William streets was located the free school, established by Sir William Johnson.
At the southeast corner of South William and Montgomery streets is the Younglove homestead, formerly the Black Horse
tavern, built about 1796.
On Montgomery street and South Perry street is the jail, built in 1772.
On Montgomery street is the old Masonic Lodge building, erected in 1794.
At East Main and East State streets is Union hall, built 1798.
At 110 South Market street is the old Academy building, built in 1798.
The center of Gloversville is about 31/2 miles north of the business center of Johnstown.
Gloversville is a handsome, modern town which has gradually developed northward of Johnstown. Situated on a beautiful plain at the foot of the vast northern Adirondack wilderness, its location is both healthful and will adapted for wide industrial development. Its background is honorably American and the future of this “Gateway City of the Adirondacks” is indisputably filled with promise of worthy achievement.