BESIDES the earth-works which have already been described, and which furnish the principal objects of antiquarian interest in the State, occasional traces are found of defensive structures of a probably later date. These traces consist chiefly of a succession of small holes in the earth, caused by the decay of wooden palisades erected without the addition of an embankment and trench. These holes, which are never visible in cultivated grounds, enable us to follow the outlines and make out the forms of the structures which once existed where they are found. Some of these, as that of Ganundesaga near Geneva, are known to have been occupied within the historical period. And although it seems probable that the embankments of all the enclosures already described were originally crowned with palisades, still I have thought the difference between these and simple palisaded works sufficiently marked to constitute the basis of a classification. We may also premise what in the sequel will probably admit of no doubt in any mind, that these two classes of works are of different eras, though possessing a common origin.
"ANUNDESAGA CASTLE," NEAR GENEVA, ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK. THE traces of this palisaded work are very distinct, and its outline may be followed with the greatest ease. Its preservation is entirely due to the circumstance that at the time of the cession of their lands at this point, the Senecas made it a special condition that this spot should never be brought under cultivation. "Here," said they, "sleep our fathers, and they cannot rest well if they hear the plough of the white man above them." The stipulations made by the purchasers have been religiously observed.
The site of this ancient palisade slopes gently towards a little stream, called Ganundesaga Creek, which supplied the occupants of the fort with water. The ground is covered with a close greensward, and some of the apple-trees planted by the Indians are still flourishing. In form the work was nearly rectangular, having small bastions at the northwestern and southeastern angles. At a and b are small heaps of stone, bearing traces of exposure to fire, which are probably the remains of forges or fireplaces. The holes formed by the decay of the pickets are now about a foot deep. A fragment of one of the pickets was removed by Mr. L. H. Morgan, of Rochester, in 1847, and is now in the State Cabinet at Albany. It is of oak.
A few paces to the northward of the old fort is a low mound with a broad base, and undoubtedly of artificial origin. It is now about six feet high, and is covered with depressions marking the graves of the dead. There is a tradition current among the Indians concerning this mound, to the effect that here in the olden time was slain a powerful giant, above whom the earth was afterwards heaped. They believe that the bones of this giant may be found at the base. It would be interesting for a variety of reasons to have this mound excavated. By whatever people erected, it is certain that it was extensively used by the Senecas for purposes of burial.
In the cultivated fields surrounding the interesting works here described, numerous relics have been discovered—chiefly however of European origin.
This fort was destroyed by Sullivan in 1779. He burned the palisade, destroyed the crops in the adjoining fields, and cut down most of the fruit-trees which the Indians had planted.
This work is situated about four miles to the northwest of that last described, upon a high ridge of land extending north and south, and parallel to and not far distant from another on which is situated an ancient earth-work figured on Plate VII. No. 1. A cross road from the "Castle Street Road" to the town of Vienna runs along the crown of the ridge, and longitudinally through the work under notice. Upon the right of this road the ground has been cultivated, and here the outlines of the work are obliterated. Traces of several caches which existed within the lines may however yet be seen. Upon the left, the forest still remains undisturbed; and here the outlines of the enclosure are quite distinct, yet not sufficiently marked to arrest the attention of the passer. The indications are precisely the same as in the work at Ganundesaga, Fragments of pottery, pipes, and other relics exactly corresponding with those which are so frequent in the earth-works described in a previous chapter, are also found in abundance upon this site. The work does not appear to have had bastions, and is probably of more ancient date than the one just noticed.
THIS work is found about twelve miles southwest of Auburn, in the town of Ledyard, Cayuga county. It forms a good illustration of the character of the aboriginal defences. It is situated upon a high point of ground, formed by the junction of two immense ravines, which here sink some hundreds of feet below the table-lands. A narrow spur, hardly wide enough to permit two to walk abreast, extends down to the bottom of the ravines, starting from the extreme point of the head-land. It is still called the "Indian Path," and affords a practicable descent to the water. At every other point the banks are almost if not entirely inaccessible. At some distance inward, extending from the bank of one ravine to the other, was originally a line of palisades. The holes left by their decay are still distinct, each about eight inches in diameter. The position is eminently a strong one, and, under the system of attack practised by the Indians, must have been impregnable. Within the enclosure are to be found caches and other features common to the class of works previously described, and with which this work entirely coincides, except that the embankment is wanting.
So far as could be ascertained, there is no tradition current respecting this work. Still, as it is known that the principal towns of the Cayugas existed in this vicinity until a very late date, there can be no doubt that this was one of their places of last resort. Very many traces of their former occupancy occur here and along the eastern shores of Cayuga Lake.
THE site occupied by the work here figured and the country adjacent, derives considerable interest from its historical associations. Recent investigations have satisfactorily determined that the Marquis De Nonville penetrated here in his celebrated expedition against the Senecas, in 1687; and there is good reason to believe that the traces at present existing are those of the palisaded fort which was destroyed at that time. They occupy the summit of a high hill, so steep upon most sides as to be ascended only with the greatest difficulty. The line of the palisades can now be traced only at intervals; but from the nature of the ground and the recollection of persons familiar with the site before it was disturbed by the plough, it was found easy to restore with accuracy the parts which have been obliterated. The sole entrance which can now be made out is at the point marked by the letter a, where the palisades were carried for some distance inwards, leaving an open rectangular space, which may have been occupied by a blockhouse or something equivalent. Nearly in front, and at the bottom of a deep and narrow ravine, a copious spring starts out from the hill; probably the one alluded to by De Nonville in his letter of the 25th of August, 1687.
"On the next day," says this commander, "the 14th of July, we marched to one of the large villages of the Senecas, where we encamped. We found it burned and a fort quite nigh abandoned; it was very advantageously situated on a hill. * * * We remained at the four Seneca villages for ten days. All the time was spent in destroying the corn, which was in such great abundance that the loss, including the old corn which was in cache which we burnt, was computed at 400,000 minots (1,200,000 bushels) of Indian corn."
The large village alluded to here is no doubt the one which was situated on the eminence now known as "Boughton's Hill," where abundant traces of Indian occupancy at this period are found. These consist of copper kettles, French hatchets, broken gun-barrels, arrow-heads, pipes, pottery, burnt corn, etc. The iron recovered here at the time of the first settlement of the country, was sufficiently abundant to repay the cost of clearing the grounds. Indeed it was the source whence the early blacksmiths, for a long distance round, derived the iron for ordinary consumption; and even now the smithies in the vicinity consume large quantities of the metal which the operations of agriculture continue to bring to light.
The remains upon Boughton's Hill are mentioned by Mr. Clinton as corresponding in all respects with those which he observed in Onondaga county, and to which he was disposed to ascribe a high antiquity. They may all be referred to the same period, and no doubt mark the sites of Onondaga and Seneca villages in the 17th century.
THE traces of another palisaded work, no doubt erected by the Senecas, but probably at a later period than that near Victor, may still be seen on the farm of Gen. Adams, in Livonia township, Livingston county, two miles northeast of the village of Livonia.
It occupied a beautiful, broad swell of land, not commanded by any adjacent heights. Upon the west side of the lines is a fine, copious spring; for which the Indians had constructed a large basin of loose stones. The form and dimensions of the work are given in the accompanying plan. Upon a little elevation to the left, as also in the forest to the northward, are extensive cemeteries. Many articles of comparatively late date are found in the graves. The area of the work was about ten acres.
Three miles to the eastward formerly existed the traces of a work represented to have been octangular in shape, and of considerable size. It has been wholly obliterated.
In Queen's county there were, some years ago, traces of aboriginal works, which seem to have differed very slightly from a portion of those just noticed. They are thus described by Judge Samuel Jones, in a notice of the local history of Oyster Bay, written in 1812:
"When this part of Long Island was first settled by the Europeans, they found two fortifications in the neighborhood of Oyster Bay, upon a neck of land ever since called, from that circumstance, 'Fort Neck.' One of them, the remains of which are very conspicuous, is on the southernmost point of land on the neck adjoining the Salt Meadow. It is nearly, if not exactly, a square; each side of which is about one hundred feet in length. The breastwork or parapet is of earth; and there is a ditch on the outside, which appears to have been about six feet wide. The other was on the southernmost point of the Salt Meadow, adjoining the bay, and consisted of palisades set in the ground. The tide has worn away the meadow where the fort stood, and the place is now part of the bay and covered with water; but my father has often told me that within his memory part of the palisades were still standing. In the bay, between the Salt Meadow and the beach, are two islands of marsh, called Squaw Islands; and the uniform tradition among the Indians is, that the forts were erected by their ancestors for defence against their enemies, and that upon the approach of a foe, they sent their women and children to these islands, which were in consequence called Squaw Islands."12
Examples of this class of aboriginal remains might be greatly multiplied. Those, however, which have already been presented, will serve sufficiently to illustrate their character. In all are found relics corresponding in every particular with those discovered within the walls of the earth-works described in the preceding chapter, but usually with the addition of articles of later date and known European origin. This circumstance is not without its importance in estimating the probable dependence between the two classes of remains.
12. Coll. N. Y. Hist Soc., Vol, III., p. 338.