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Finding Fort Hendrick

But the question remains as to where specifically this fort at the Upper Castle was located; near the Indian Castle Church, opposite the mouth of East Canada Creek, or at some intermediate location as yet unidentified?

A lone observer.

The earliest and most timely observation of this fortification and its associated Mohawk settlement is an anonymous French account recorded in O'Callaghan's Documentary History of New York and attributed to a French spy traversing the Mohawk Valley from the west sometime in 1757:

From Fort Kouari to that of Cannatchocary is four leagues. Some twenty houses are located at a distance one from another within the space of one league of this road, which is through a flat country. After making this league we go up a mountain that occupies two hours to ascend and descend. The country throughout the whole of this space is covered with wood. After descending, two houses, somewhat distant from one another, are in the league which is still to be travelled to get to Cannatchocary. ... Fort Cannatchocari is situated at the side of the Mohawk River on the right bank. It is a square of four bastions of upright pickets joined together with lintels. They are fifteen feet high, about one foot square with port holes inserted from distance to distance, with a stage all round to fire from. This fort is one hundred paces on each side. It is not surrounded by a ditch. There are some small pieces of cannon at each of its bastions, and a house at each curtain to serve as a store and barrack. Five or six families of Mohawk Indians reside outside the fort. (DHNY 1:528)

Due to the variability of the term "league", and notwithstanding the attempt to clarify its use here by checking the distances between other known points in the itinerary, resulting in an estimate of 3.36 kilometers per league, the location of the fort called "Cannatchocary " could be as far west as the "Ft. Hendrick" marker or as far east as the "Ft. Canajoharie" marker.

Other nineteenth century presentations of this eyewitness observation incorrectly state that the fort was surrounded by a ditch. In describing the Indian settlement there, they also substitute the words "at" or "near" for the term "outside" given by O'Callaghan. If we take the number of "five or six families" given in the French account to be accurate, we must assume, as is suggested by some of the contemporary maps, that there was a significant cluster of Mohawk families also living to the west, in the vicinity of the mouth of Nowadaga Creek, the traditional site of the "Indian Castle."

Another early eyewitness account of the Upper Castle is found in the published recollections by Mrs. Anne McVicar Grant of a childhood visit to the site in 1760 and of an encounter with the son of the King Hendrick for whom the fort was named:

The next day we embarked, proceeded up the river with six bateaux, and came, early in the evening, to one of the most charming scenes imaginable, where Fort Hendrick was built; so called, in compliment to the principal sachem, or king of the Mohawks. The castle of this primitive monarch stood at a little distance, on a rising ground, surrounded by palisades. He resided at the time, in a house which the public workmen, who had lately built this fort, had been ordered to erect for him in the vicinity. We did not fail to wait upon his majesty; who, not choosing to depart too much from the customs of his ancestors, had not permitted divisions of apartments or modern furniture to profane his new dwelling. It had the appearance of a good barn and was divided across by a mat hung in the middle. King Hendrick, who had indeed a very princely figure and a countenance that would not have dishonored royalty, was sitting on the floor beside a large heap of wheat, surrounded by baskets of dried berries of different kinds. Beside him his son, a very pretty boy, somewhat older than myself, was caressing a foal, which was unceremoniously introduced into the royal residence. A laced hat, a fine saddle and pistols, gifts of his good brother, the Great King, were hung round on the cross beams. He was splendidly arrayed in a coat of pale blue, trimmed with silver; all the rest of his dress was of the fashion of his own nation, and highly embellished with beads and ornaments." (Grant 1848:II 357)

Although very detailed, this account does little to locate the site along the river, and the topography described at the location could fit equally well either the heights opposite East Canada Creek or the terraces adjacent to Nowadaga Creek.

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