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The Jesuit fathers were there also, with all the gathered savages crouching in a circle, their force of persuasion and anathemas to the warriors in their paint and trappings, throw into the scale. It was a critical and the French officers in their showy uniforms, momentous period in the history of the col- the rich presents strewed around, the wily ony. Le Grande Guelle, the orator and leader priests in cowl and cassock; while facing of the council, had been bribed with costly the restless and menacing assemblage stands gifts, inflamed by the appeals of the Jesuit alone the one individual who was to stem emissaries, and intimidated by the bold- the rising tide of discontent and treachery ness and success of the attack on Sche- that would sweep from the face of the earth noctady. The deliberations of the council the Dutch and English colonists. It was inwere marked by all those mingled emotions deed a fearful moment, and had the repreof aboriginal eloquence and savage fury sentative of the colonists for one instant that characterized such assemblages of the wavered, or forgotten the gravity and imchildren of nature. There was present but portance of his mission, the scenes of carone single representative of all those whose nage and destruction that would have folvery lives were hanging in the balance, lowed can not be imagined. This great but one man to meet the fearful storm that horror was, however, averted by wonderful was gathering for the utter destruction of tact and courage. Nevertheless, the escape, the colony.* There is no picture in all our so miraculous in its character, aroused the early history that can rival in dramatic in- colonists from their supineness, and Schaghterest that “Council of Onondaga" — the ticoke was selected as a stronghold for fudark shadows of the primoval forest trees, ture protection and defense. The remnants illumined by the light of the council fire, of the Pequods and other Eastern tribes peace, was planted. This grand council tree | the family estates. As a matter of course, is still standing in all its vigorous growth these early settlers depended greatly upon and symmetry. It is the principal feature each other; there was ever present a comof the park which surrounds the Knicker- mon danger to bind them together, while bocker mansion. It is twenty feet in cir- the social necessities of life held them in cumference, and covers with the shadow of firm bonds of friendship. As a natural reits far-reaching branches nearly an acre of sult, intermarriages between the families ground.
were assembled together, and with due form • Arnaud, the interpreter.
and ceremony the Wittegamotte, or tree of
soon added the still stronger ties of conThe number of Indians thus collected to- sanguinity; and at the present time there gether was about one thousand. They could is scarcely an individual for many miles not, however, be absolutely relied upon, and around that is not in some way related to it became necessary that a sufficient num- all the others. ber of settlers should be found who would Life at Schaghticoke was for many years act in conjunction with the Indians to es- like an armed reconnaissance. The lurking tablish this bulwark of defense. It re- savage was always on the look-out for a vicquired great sacrifices and great courage to tim, and the subtle Canadian ever conspiring undertake this perilous and important duty for an attack. Each and all were compelled A leader was found in Johannes Knicker- to be constantly on the alert. In the midst bocker, who, with a few trusted compan- of their troubles the settlers did not for a ions, established himself at this point, and moment lose sight of their religious duties. having acquired a title to the lands, con- A Dutch Reformed church was erected unstituted a secure obstacle against any fu- der the auspices of the Classis of Amsterture surprise of the settlements below. The dam. Over this the venerable Dominie Van names of these daring pioneers deserve to be Benschooten ministered. The rude place of remembered with bonor for the trials they worship originally built was soon replaced overcame, the sufferings they endured, and by a more imposing edifice. This quaint the great end they accomplished. They were building was sixty by forty feet, with low Johannes Knickerbocker, Wouter Quacken- side walls and a high-pitched Mansardbush, Ludovickus Viele, Johannes De Wan- roof, and turret surmounted by a weatherdelaer, Daniel Kittlehuyn, Diedrich Van cock over the southern gable. The services Vechten, Johannes Hermans Visscher, Mar- of the church were, of course, in the Dutch tin De La Monte, Wouter Groesbeck, Philip language, and the old time-stained Bible Livingstone, Corset Voeder, David Schuy- with brass corners and huge brass clasps ler, Peter Yates, Corneilus Vandenburg, and then in use is now an heir-loom reverently Ignace Kip. Their descendants still occupy preserved in the Knickerbocker mansion.
Social life at Schaghticoke during these the musical element which was thereby earlier years wore an aspect of general uni- added, one or more violinists being thus alformity, varied by those occasional tragedies ways easily obtained, giving an additional incident to an exposed frontier life of that zest to the numerous entertainments. kind. Diedrich Van Vechten, one of the The negroes themselves enjoyed their lei. original settlers, was killed by the Indians, sure hours immensely. In the winter nights and a number of years afterward his eldest they gathered around their huge fire-place son lost his life in the same way. The char- to sing and tell stories, or, with a great acteristic Dutch hospitality was always a back-log in the chimney, surrounded by pine distinguishing feature of every-day life. knots that illuminated their large kitchen Every guest received a most cordial wel- with a brilliant light that seemed almost The massive old sideboard was al- reflected from the well-scrubbed floor, they
would fairly revel in the delights of a dance. They were certainly a happy race, for they were treated with the utmost kindness, their wants well provided for, and carefully nursed in sickness. They have all passed away. The last at the homestead was “Old Tom." He was nearly ninety when be died. Four generations had grown up around him, and very many of them had gone before him. He lingered like the gnarled old oak that survives the destruction of the forest around it. His mind was full of legends, traditions, and wonderful stories; and as he gathered the eager little listeners around him in the chimney-corner, while the wailing of the winter storm without gave additional sense of security within, the big round eyes of the children would
dilate with wonder ways supplied with tempting viands, and and awe as, in a half- broken jargon, Old the dish of olekocks and krullers was never Tom reeled out the marvelous tales of allowed to be empty. These old-fashioned which he was so prolific. No one was ever sideboards were capable of holding a very more gentle and kind to children; and yet large amount of good cheer. They were al- poor old Tom had his grumpy moods, in ways kept in a high state of polish, and the comparison with which a bear would be huge mahogany doors shone like mirrors. considered polite. He had one peculiarity Social gatherings were very frequent, and which resembled a story recently told of always attended with infinite pleasure and the arithmetical faculty of the crow. The mirth and merry games by the young folks. story goes that a farmer having suffered The introdnction of slaves from the West from the depredations of the crows in his Indies, while it added greatly to lighten corn field, endeavored to conceal himself the burden of labor, had a social aspect in in a small building near by, from which he
conld shoot the crows as they descended Britain. The Dutch settlers had loyally into the field; but the crows, having ob- served the States General and their authorserved him from a neighboring tree, would ized agents, and had afterward been equally not come down until they saw him leave. true to the Duke of York and to the British The farmer then adopted the ruse of taking sovereign. The several generations of the his son into the building with him and after- Knickerbocker family, as they came upon ward sending him away, thinking the crows the active stage of life, took their place and would thus be deceived; but they were not. performed their part in current affairs. ColThen he took a second person in, and sent onel Johannes Knickerbocker served in vatwo away, with the same result. Finally rious expeditions against the hostile Indian he took a third person in the little house, tribes; was afterward attached to the staff and sent three away. This deceived the of Lord Howe in the attack on Ticonderoga crows. They flew into the field, where the in 1758. He was commissioned a colonel in farmer shot them—showing that the arith- the Revolutionary army October 20, 1775, metic of the crow extended no farther than raised a regiment in Schaghticoke, and was the figure three. Old Tom's arithmetic was, severely wounded at the battle of Saratoga. singularly enough, also limited to number He was also a member of the State Legisthree. On one occasion it became nec- lature in 1792. His eldest son, Jobanues essary to count the number of sheep in a Knickerbocker, a colonel of State troops, and very large flock. Tom was stationed at a prominent member of the State Legislathe entrance of the field where the sheep | ture, served in the war of 1812.
Herman Knickerbocker, his son, known as “Prince Knickerbocker," on account of his princely hospitality, was first.judge of Rensselaer County, and Representative in the eleventh Congress of the United States, during the administration of President Madison.
His genial wit and humor, the possession of many of the traits of his Dutch ances
"DAR GOES ANUDDER.
were to come out one by one, and told to tors, together with an ample fortune, made count them aloud. As the sheep came him for many years a conspicuous representthrough the gate, Tom called out, “One! ative of the old Dutch characteristics. An two! tree! Dar goes anudder! dar goes intimate friendship between himself and anudder! dar goes anudder!” “Stop!” cried Washington Irving was the origin of Irving's his master; "what do you mean by that ?” humorous history of New York under the nom “Why, massa," said Tom, “I done count no de plume of Diedrich Knickerbocker. Very more dan tree; I tought I could, but I many anecdotes are related of “Prince couldn't.” So that Tom and the crows seem Knickerbocker," who was particularly fond to have resembled each other in arithmetic of practical jokes, always, however, of a as well as color. Poor faithful Tom! He harmless nature, although some of them wero was borne to his grave with kind and rev- extremely ludicrous in their consequences. erent hands, and laid in the venerable fam- One of the conditions of proprietorship by ily cemetery, where six generations lie side which the Knickerbocker estate was held by side. No grave is cared for more ten- was that the Mayor and Council of the city derly than the one which has at its head of Albany should once in each year be ena stone with the simple inscription, “Old tertained at the family mansion. "Prince Tom."
Knickerbocker," having erected a spacious The time came at length when, after years residence for himself some distance from the of constant anxiety and watching, the quiet homestead, decided to become the entertainrepose of peace settled over the valley of er of the Mayor and Council of Troy, as an Schaghticoke; but this was soon rudely dis- offset to the festivities at the paternal home. turbed by the gathering clouds that pre- On the arrival of these gentlemen, with appesaged the struggle of the colonies with Great I tites sharpened by a long drive, he pretended
to have forgotten the day, and to be perfect- be appreciated or even understood in these ly unprepared to receive them, and allowed days of labor-saving inventions. But the his guests, while suffering the keen pangs husking bees and quilting frolics of the of hunger, to overhear him in an apparent olden days, with their accompaniments of dispute with his butler as to how to make right good cheer and genial, kindly feelings, one pair of chickens suffice for so many fam- had a social significance of no ordinary charishing mouths. The consternation—not to acter, and out of them came most of the marsay rage-of the guests may be imagined. ital unions which decided the domestic life A sudden relief came when the dining-room of the early inhabitants. An unbounded doors opened on a most sumptuous repast, hospitality exhibited itself in all the apand a hearty enjoyment of the practical joke pointments of the dwelling. In the old followed.
mansion the upper rooms have the same The state dinners and official receptions spacious character as those on the lower at the old homestead were of a more se- floors. The antique furniture that for so date description than those given by “ the many years served the purposes of the guest prince.” Here all was punctilious ceremony. and host still adorns the bed-chambers—the The guests were formally received at the high-post bedsteads, with their snowy white main entrance, and their conveyances driveu canopies and valance; the quaint brassto great cathedral-like barns, whose massive mounted chest of drawers; the old clock in timbers seem to have been selected from the the corner, with its loud, monotonous tick, largest trees of the forest. These barns, as and the moon in all its phases depicted on large as cathedrals, have been the scenes of its face, tells the hour as faithfully as it many old-time festivities, the memories of told the lapse of time to generations for which have long since passed into tradition. whom time is now no more. The old porThey had their origin in the necessities of traits on the walls are dim with age, but the the times, which required a certain amount lineaments there depicted can be readily disof industrial co-operation that can hardly cerned in the descendants of those whom