Saturday, May 31, 2014


Excerpted from Amos O. Osborn’s address to the Oneida Historical Society in 1886:


The Oneida Path was a sort of highroad, and as Indians always travel in single file, was scarcely more than 12 or 15 inches wide, and deeply trodden. It was the only path used between the settlements at Oneida and their friends, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras on the Susquehanna. It passed entirely through Sangerfield (township), entering about three miles east of the northwest corner, and leaving it about a mile north of the southeast corner, crossed the Unadilla near Leonardsville, and thence pursued a pretty distinct course to Otsego lake. It must have been this path that General Washington traversed when returning from his visit to the Oneidas in October, 1783. In his letter written to the Marquis de Chattelux, after his return, he says: "I proceeded up the Mohawk river to Fort Schuler, formerly Fort Stanwix, crossed over to Wood creek, which empties into Oneida lake, and affords the water communication with lake Ontario. I then traversed the country to the head of the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, viewed the Lake Otsego and the portage between that lake and Canajoharie."

(Click to Enlarge.)

As there was every reason why he should prefer a route known to be direct and feasible, there can be no doubt that he took this path. It is also according to the evidence of an Indian taken in Albany early in its settlement, in an inquiry before the Dutch justices, as to the location of the Susquehanna "a day and a half journey" from Oneida to the kill, which falls into that river, and this kill being the Unadilla and the crossing near Leonardsville, the distance between that place and Oneida, on the line of the path, would be then as now about 30 miles, and between Oneida, and this town just a day's journey or 20 miles. Washington's first day's travel would therefore end in Sangerfield; and as there was near this path on the land afterwards taken up by Nathaniel Ford, a spring of water and near by an Indian shanty used by the Indians on like occasions, it is reasonably certain that the General and his party stayed over night at this place. This path had been a well worn trail more than a hundred years before the settlement of this town; and although the Indians soon afterwards ceased to use it, parts of it were distinctly visible as late as the year 1849 when the late Aaron Stafford, who had known it as a boy, pointed out to the writer 40 or 50 rods of it in the woods north of the dead pond.

No comments: