Mohawk Valley Presentation

Ed Kipp spoke on the Mohawk Valley at the May General Meeting. The meeting was hosted at the Sir John Johnson Manor Hose in Williamstown. Wendy Wirt began by introducing Ed Kipp and George Anderson to an enthusiastic group which overflowed the meeting room, out into the adjoining room.

Ed started by explaining how Sir William Johnson was awarded a grant of one hundred thousand acres of land along the Mohawk River in repayment for his role in the defense of New York against the French at Crown Point and Lake George in 1755. He dispatched agents to Scotland to secure tenants for his new land. In 1773 the new settlers sailed  for America aboard “the Pearl”.  There were Three Macdonell brothers (Alexander, John and Allen), and a cousin (Spanish John) who had fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, along with four hundred other Highlanders who wanted to remake their lives in the New World.

There were also other earlier and later Scottish migrations to the Mohawk and Hudson valleys.

Earlier than the arrival of the Scots settlers, the ‘poor Palatines’ had fled to England to escape the wars and poverty of the Rhineland area of Germany. The English Parliament had to resettle these refugees since there were over 13,000 living in tents on the outskirts of London. Queen Anne, whose husband Prince George, was of German stock, and a Lutheran, had 4000 of the Palatines sent to America as new colonists.  They arrived in 1710 and were sent further inland along both shores of the Hudson River, many to work at a naval stores project which was later abandoned.  The Palatines moved on further into the Mohawk Valley and some on to Pennsylvania.

As the colonization of North America progressed, the conflicting land claims between the Native people and the colonists ultimately resulted in outright war starting in 1763 called Pontiac’s War, or Pontiac’s Conspiracy. John Johnson, son of Sir William was knighted for
his service in this conflict which was ultimately settled by negotiation and the ‘Royal Proclamation of  1763’.  The proclamation set a boundary line which limited the expansion of the colonists into Native land. This was one of the factors resulting in the American Revolution. Sir John Johnson and many of his followers organized into a militia to oppose the revolutionaries. Sir John Johnson and his group were defeated in battle against General Schuyler and 3000 troops and eventually had to flee to Canada, losing his land holdings in the Mohawk Valley.

George Anderson checks the map of the Mohawk Valley

In 1783 the Treaty of Paris was signed, establishing the independence of the American Colonies. Johnson and thousands of other loyalists found themselves in permanent exile in Canada. In 1784, Johnson was assigned by the British government to distribute crown lands along the St. Lawrence River and the north shore of Lake Ontario to the loyalists who had come to Canada during the Revolution and to help them settle on these lands. Johnson estimated that he had arranged the settlement of 3,776 loyalists during that year. In 1791, Lord Dorchester recommended him as lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, but London turned this recommendation down.

In 1796, he moved back to Montreal and served in the Legislative Council of Lower Canada and as head of the Indian Department for Lower Canada. He held extensive land holdings in Upper and Lower Canada, including the seigneuries of Monnoir and Argenteuil.

 Johnson died in Montreal in 1830 at the age of 88. He was succeeded to the baronetcy by his eldest son, William.

Ed Kipp and George Anderson also presented a collection of maps and documents relating to the Mohawk Valley.