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Saratoga County
New York
Genealogy and History




 

First Settlers

We get our first hints of any settlement at Saratoga from the minutes of the Council of Albany. There we learn that several families .were living in the region of Stillwater and Saratoga in the winter of 1688-9. Most of them were French refugees. Those were the days of religious persecution, now happily a thing of the past. It was then the policy of the French to permit none but Roman Catholics to settle in Canada , and to banish all others who might find their way there. The province of New York being the most accessible, the exiled Huguenots were sent this way, and several of them found a home in Albany or its vicinity. A few families were induced to settle on the Saratoga patent. After they were thus located, it was suspected, and with good reason, that the Canadian government caused some of its friends to emigrate and settle among them as refugees, and then acting as spies, to keep them acquainted with what was going on among the English colonists. During the winter of 1688-9 the Council caused several of the suspected ones to be arrested on the rumor that they were aiding soldiers to desert to Canada . The names of those arrested were Antonie Lespenard, John Van Loon, Lafleur and Villeroy.  They proved to be innocent.  Antonie Lespenard afterward moved to New York , where he became the founder of a prominent family. One of the streets of America ’s metropolis still bears his name.

It was in the mid-summer of 1689 that the Iroquois confederacy made its famous raid into Canada , which came near wiping out that infant colony in flames and blood. On the 1st of September, that year, a report reached Albany that three people had been killed at Bartel Vrooman’s, at Saratoga, by some Indians from Canada; the first blow struck on this side the big waters in King William's war, and the forerunner of Schenectady. The Council assembled and resolved to dispatch Lieutenant Jochem Staats, with ten men, to Sarachtoge to learn the situation and report at once. Robert Sanders and Egbert Teunise were also commissioned to go with some friendly Indians on a scout thither for the like purpose.

At the same session (September 5th), the Council resolved to build a fort around Vrooman’s house, and “that twelve men be sent there to lie upon pay.” Their stipend was 12d per day besides provisions. Schaghticoke Indians were to act for them as scouts.

This fort, together with the houses it protected, were evidently abandoned for the winter of 1689-90, else the French and Indian expedition against Schenectady, which came this way and from this point took the Saratoga trail, would have been discovered by these settlers.

Johannes Wendel died in 1691, and left his Saratoga property to his son, Abraham, who in turn sold it to Johannes Schuyler, in 1702, for 1251 ($600).

From Colonel Romer’s report, in 1698, we learn that there had been seven farms here which were ruined in the late war, and he recommended the building of another fort “to maintain possession, and to encourage the farmers to rebuild their houses.”

Schuyler was soon able, after he got possession, to induce some families to venture up this way again, for Lord Cornbury reports their settlement here in 1703, and adds that they should be protected by a fort or they would probably desert the locality. In 1709, the fort was built, as preliminary to an expedition against Canada , by Peter Schuyler, but it was located on the east side of the river. This was in Queen Anne’s war, during ' which period Saratoga was made a depot of supplies for the invading armies. It is well to recall that Pieter and Johannes Schuyler, large owners in the Saratoga patent, were among the chiefest heroes of that war in this country.

A long peace of thirty-two years ensued after Queen Anne’s war, which furnished both the time and the conditions necessary for colonial development.

The Schuylers, being energetic men, improved their opportunity; settlers flocked in, to whom they sold no land, but gave long leases. There being here an excel— lent water power, and the means of transportation good, saw and grist mills were erected, and the products of the soil and forests found a ready market down the river, whither they were floated on bateaux or large flat boats.

--The Story of Old Saratoga and History of Schuylerville, John Henry Brandow, 1901



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