Contributors... Jerry L. Patterson
Following in the Footsteps of
William Johnson and the Mohawks
From Johnstown to Lake
George to Kanatsiohareke
By Jerry L. Patterson
Mohawk Village of Kanatsiohareke (Gana-jo-ha-LAY-gay)
Jerry (right) and Bob Vetter at Kanatsiohareke
I visited the Mohawk
village of Kanatsiohareke as part of a group of 14 other Indian history
buffs on a "Journey Into Indian Territory," organized by
archeologist Bob Vetter. Located
on the Mohawk River about eight miles west of Fonda, New York,
Kanatsiohareke (pronounced gana-jo-ha-LAY-gay) occupies about 400 acres
of ground and is part of the homelands of the Mohawk Nation which they
were forced to vacate over 200 years ago.
Arriving about 6:00 p.m. on a cold Friday evening, I was confronted by a
large, old, square-shaped house, two stories tall, with an attached
smaller wing outside on which flashed a neon sign
-- "Indian Bed
The house was surrounded by a number of outbuildings, which were
dominated by a rustic ramshackle barn.
I learned later that the complex had once been a home
for indigent old people from the local county and the Mohawks had purchased it
at a Sheriff's sale. It did not
look at all accommodating and I approached with some trepidation and second
thoughts about staying for the weekend. "Do
I really want to spend the weekend here with people I've never met and a bunch
of Indians?," I thought to myself.
“Well, I'm here and let's go with the flow,” I told
myself. It was a decision I would
Meeting a fascinating Elder whose first language was
Mohawk and who shared so much of his wisdom, his culture and his history with our group gave me a much deeper
understanding of what the descendants of the Iroquois six nations have had to go
through in the last couple of hundred years.
Tom Porter, Mohawk Elder, made it
In Kanatsiohareke, we sat around tables in a time-worn
cafeteria with paint peeling off the walls on hard, folding chairs,
-- part of the Old Peoples Home that Tom Porter, the Mohawk Elder, had
acquired as the foundation of his new community.
But it was high energy nonetheless as he told us the stories of his
family, his clan (the Bear Clan) and his tribe who had begun migrating out of
the Mohawk Valley way back in the 1740s, and moving up to Akwesasne (located
where New York State, Ontario and Quebec converge).
After almost 100 years of fighting in the "white
man's wars,” the Mohawks got sick and tired of losing their warriors and
getting nothing in return so pulled up stakes and headed back to their ancestral
homelands of the north.
Tom Porter's wife and other family members cooked for us
-- plain, wholesome food. I
slept in an uncomfortable, short bed and had a young roommate (male).
Took a cold shower the next morning as there was no hot water.
Had to leave the bathroom door open because the light was burned out and
nobody could find a replacement. But
would I do it again? You bet!
next day, Tom Porter took us for a walking tour of the grounds and proudly
pointed out his water supply emanating from a cool and clear pond high above the
complex. He and members of the
families had built a pipeline connecting the pond to the complex, which supplied
running water and powered the generator supplying the electricity.
Pond supplying water and power to
He showed us his vegetable gardens
and introduced us to the two horses in the barn.
Getting as close as possible to the “old ways,” the Mohawk families
living here were self-sufficient, for the most part, from the white world and
that’s the way they wanted it.
William Johnson would have been very
William Johnson passed away on
July 11, 1774 when the American Revolution was in its infancy.
His legacy, for which he had worked so hard, of a land reserved for the
Indians north of the Ohio River, shown so clearly on the special map drawn for
Flexner’s biography (Page 325), was shattered by the American Revolution.
of the books listed below are recommended for those visitors interested in
further information about The French and Indian War and/or William Johnson.
All are available on Barnes and Noble's Web Site at
, either directly or as part of their rare books service.
Anderson, Fred. Crucible
of War: The Seven Years’ War and
the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1954-1766.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
than Francis Parkman’s great works, Anderson’s book is, by far, the most
comprehensive treatment of the French and Indian War that I have found.
One reason it’s my personal favorite is that Anderson extends his
historical scope and discusses the impact of the War on Pontiac’s Rebellion
and on the causes and beginning of the American Revolution.
If you would like a copy of my review of Crucible of War, or if
you have any other questions about this narrative, feel free to email me at
Bellico, Russell P.
Chronicles of Lake George: Journeys
in War and Peace. Fleischmanns,
New York: Purple Mountain Press,
Eckert, Allan W. Wilderness Empire.
New York: Bantam, 1985.
Flexner, James Thomas.
Mohawk Baronet, Sir William Johnson of New York.
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1959.
book is out of print, but there are copies available from rare book dealers via
bn.com. If you have any interest in
reading more about this key personality in American colonial history, I highly
recommend starting with this book or Eckert’s Wilderness Empire.
The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The
Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from its
beginnings to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744.
New York: W.W. Norton &
Empire of Fortune: Crowns,
Colonies & Tribes in the Seven Years War in America.
W.W. Norton & Company, 1988.
two volumes are a very comprehensive treatment of the history of the Iroquois in
relation to English and French colonial history.
Leckie, Robert. “A
Few Acres Of Snow:” The Saga of the French and Indian Wars.
New York: John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 1999.
book is a one-volume history of all four of the colonial wars fought between the
French and English in the first half of the 18th century including
the French and Indian War.
Moss, Robert. The
Firekeeper: A Narrative of the
Eastern Frontier. New York:
Tom Doherty, Inc., 1995.
is a fictionalized, but meticulously researched historical account of the Mohawk
Valley at time of first settlements and of “Billy Johnson” and the two women
who had a dramatic impact on his life – Catherine Wissenberg from the
Rhineland and Island Woman, an Iroquois shaman.
In it, you will experience the Battle of Lake George from the intimate
and imaginative perspective of the author.
A personal favorite.
Starbuck, David R.
The Great Warpath: British
Military Sites from Albany to Crown Point.
Hanover, NH: University
Press of New England, 1999.
The Editors of Time-Life Books. Realm of the Iroquois.
Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life
Links to other pages
within The Lake Champlain and Lake
George Historical Site:
Battle of Lake George
Pond at Lake George
Champlain and Lake George History Timeline
Lake Champlain and Lake George History
Links to other web sites:
for a Continent: Newspaper Coverage of the English and French War For Control of
North America, 1754-1760
French and Indian War's Impact on America
Much information about William Johnson is available on
the Internet. Use key words “Sir
William Johnson” in any major search engine such as Altavista or Google.
Paul Redmond. Sir William
Johnson - Indian Superintendent:
The Role of Sir William Johnson In the Colonial Development of America
and His Involvement in the Expansionist Policies of the British Imperial
About the Author-
Jerry Patterson is a student of North
American history. He is especially
interested in the French and Indian War fought in the French and English
colonies and how it related to the Seven Years War fought in Europe.
He has traveled extensively to FIW sites including the Historic Lakes,
Quebec, Louisbourg, Johnson Hall and Fort Johnson, and Fort Niagara.
He has a continuing interest in the history of Old West
including Old West Trails. He has
walked in the ruts of the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail, followed in the
footsteps of Kit Carson, tracked down the ghost of Billy The Kid in historic
Lincoln County, NM and has explored many other Old West historic sites such as
the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
Mr. Patterson has accumulated an extensive library
serving these interests and has plans for writing both a historic novel and a
work of history.
He is the author of five books on casino gambling
from the players perspective – how to survive and win in the casinos.
can be reached at
and welcomes emails from persons with similar interests.
The Lake Champlain and Lake
George Historical Site is pleased to announce that Jerry Patterson
expects to become a regular contributor to the site. "Following in the
Footsteps..." is Jerry's second contribution to the Site. Look for more
of Jerry's work in the near future. (JPM)