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Hudson's Tavern

An early roadside tavern.

The public house called "Hudson's" mentioned in this account was a favorite riverside tavern in the decades preceding the building of the Erie Canal, roughly 1790-1820. People of means traveling along the Mohawk by batteau in that era frequently stopped here. It is mentioned as early as 1792, when Gen. Philip Schuyler's batteau stopped here during his survey of the river channel as President of the newly formed Western Inland Lock Navigation Company. Although the report he published the following month failed to mention it, manuscript invoices for the expedition indicate three breakfasts purchased here on September 2nd, as the expedition returned to Schenectady. Schuyler himself, with his surveyor, had remained behind at Little Falls to complete their reports.

Confirmation of Cockburn's location of Fort Hendrick is found in another river survey, commissioned by the navigation company and completed by Benjamin Wright a decade after Schuyler's survey (MAP 1803). Wright was directed to study in precise detail the navigation of the Mohawk River, producing an exceptionally descriptive map that was unequaled for a century, if one can consider such historic documentation ever equaled. On these maps, along with the twists, turns, and rapids of the river channel, the exact location of Hudson's Tavern is revealed (Figure 9). This location fits precisely the position of Fort Hendrick indicated by Cockburn (1789). The congruence of Hudson's Tavern and the fort is further confirmed by Schuyler's 1792 survey report, published in September of that year:

No. 26 On two and a half miles to the ford, the rapid sharp, but smooth, and water sufficient:
No. 27 On one and a half miles to Fort Hendrick, small rapids and shallow, the bottom loose stones and gravel:
No. 28 On one mile in good water to John Van Drussen's, there two small rapids, water shallow, bottom, loose stones and gravel, water deep above the rapids:
No. 29 On three and a half miles to the Falls, the water deep all the way, current gentle, except at the place called the Haycocks, where the navigation is sometimes dangerous, occasioned by about one hundred rocks:
(Schuyler 1792:7)

Schuyler's survey placed "Van Drussen's" above (upstream from) Fort Hendrick, without doubt within the same grant of land mapped by Colden as "the land granted to Peter Vandrieson" (MAP 1755) lying along the north side of the river and entirely west of the "Kanaday Kill" (East Canada Creek). The place called "Haycocks" in the 1790s, and cited by Schuyler, is in fact a well known rapid called the "Rocky Rift" in the nineteenth century, standing almost directly opposite the hamlet of Indian Castle. These facts suggest the site of "Fort Hendrick" could be no closer to the "Ft. Hendrick" marker than 1.5 kilometers to the east, and probably no closer than the mouth of East Canada Creek.

One might be tempted, however, given the reference to a "river ford" on the "Ft. Canajoharie" historic marker, to place the "ford" cited in Schuyler's report in the immediate vicinity of the mouth of East Canada Creek. Certainly major stream intersections often formed shallows or "rifts" at their outlets into the Mohawk from the outwash they annually dumped into the river. Using Schuyler's own survey distance, one would therefore have to place "Fort Hendrick" some one and a half miles further west, very close to Indian Castle.

But the ford cited by Schuyler was one well documented in this period, and was clearly mapped in 1803 by Benjamin Wright (MAP 1803)95k. On Wright's map (detail below) one can see the "ford way" indicated, at the foot of a series of bars and islands below (east of) East Canada Creek, the result of seasonal outwash from that creek over the centuries. So established was this fording place by 1803 that a branch lane from the old river road ran directly to it, providing access to the north shore of the Mohawk.

Wright 1803 map, detail.

From this ford it is precisely one kilometer up to a height of land on the south bank nearly opposite the mouth of East Canada Creek, on which one can see a fragment of the river road. In the crook of this road stands the cluster of buildings labeled "Hudson's"48K. It is at this distance above the ford that Schuyler enters the reference to "Fort Hendrick."

The congruence of "Hudson's" with both "Fort Hendrick" and "Canajoharie Castle" is further underscored by the journal of a traveler passing through the area on horseback that same year (1792): "After dinner I crossed the Mohawk, three miles above Palatine-Town ... After a ride of seven miles farther, I tarried at a ci-devant Indian castle, now a very recommendable inn, kept by Mr. Hudzon, to drink a dish of superior good tea." (Vanderkemp 1880:48)

To more precisely locate the site of Hudson's Tavern, a field inspection of the site was undertaken in the early Spring of 1994. Immediately revealed was the significant level of impact to the area resulting from construction of the New York State Thruway in the 1950s, including a major realignment of the old river road shown passing Hudson's in 1803. A complex of ruined foundations was found that roughly matched structures indicated on pre-Thruway construction plans, old aerial photographs, and canal maps of various vintages. It was apparent that a small cluster of buildings had existed here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, possibly catalyzed by Hudson's itself. This embryonic hamlet was also undoubtedly stimulated by commerce drawn to the river ferry that existed just above, as shown on maps of the original Erie Canal (MAP 1834).

Just west of the estimated site of Hudson's, and overlooking the ferry landing destroyed by the Barge Canal, is an elongated and nearly level ridge, dramatically bisected today by the Thruway, which travels in a deep cut. One might speculate, based on topography and proximity to the confirmed location of the fort and orchard, that this was the site of Hendrick's village.

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