Warren County, New York
Genealogy and History

1860 French's Gazetteer County Profile

Warren County

This county was formed from Washington, March 12, 1813, and was named in honor of Gen. Joseph Warren, of the Revolution. It lies s. and w. of Lake George, near the E. border of the State. It is centrally distant 65 miles from Albany, and contains 968 sq. mi. The surface is very broken and mountainous, less than one half being susceptible of cultivation. The mountain ranges are continuations of the great mountain masses which culminate in Essex co. The characteristic features of Essex are somewhat softened and subdued in this co. The mountains are broader, less pointed, and generally less precipitous; the valleys are wider and more connected; and there are larger expanses of comparatively level land. With all these modifications, however, a great part of the surface is wild and rugged. High, serrated ridges traverse the entire extent of the co., often rising thousands of feet above the valleys. These mountains, being principally composed of primary rocks, which strongly resist the action of the elements, have a steepness of declivity and sharpness of outline in marked contrast with the gradual slopes and beautifully rounded summits of the highlands of the slate and limestone regions. The soil formed by the exceedingly slow process of disintegration is either washed directly into the valleys, or in the course of age s it collects in thin layers upon the hillsides, giving nutrition to a scanty vegetation.

Three of the five mountain regions N. of the Mohawk Valley extend through this co. The Palmertown Range enters the extreme E. part of Queensbury from Washington co. French Mt., a spur of this range, at the S.E. extremity of Lake George, rises almost precipitously from the lake and attains an elevation of 2,500 to 3,000 ft. above tide. Another spur of this range forms the Luzerne Mts., which extend through the S. part of Luzerne and the E. part of Caldwell,- a N. branch extending N. and forming the whole series of high bluffs which border the W. shore of Lake George. The second or Kayaderosseras Range extends N.E. through Stony Creek, Thurman, Chester, and Horicon, sending spurs both N. and S. Crane Mt., in the S.E. corner of Johnsburgh, the highest peak of this range, has an elevation of 3,000 ft. above the surrounding valleys. The third of Schroon Range occupies the central and northerly part of Johnsburgh and the N.W. angle of Chester. It consists of a great number of rocky peaks rising to a height of 2,500 to 3,000 ft. above tide; most of these have never yet been named. The rocks that compose these great mountain masses are principally gneiss. Granite, white crystalline, limestone, and serpentine are found in considerable quantities in the form of injected veins. A belt of this limestone extends along the course of the Kayaderosseras Mts., and from it a good quality of lime is manufactured. In the valleys and in the s. part of the co., are found layers of Potsdam sandstone, black marble of the Black River limestone strata, Trenton limestone, and Utica slate. Many of these rocks are useful for building materials; and the limestone furnishes an abundance of excellent lime. At the foot of a granite ledge upon Crane Mt. is found a bed of very pure porcelain clay, supposed to have been formed by the slow disintegration of the feldspathic rock. Graphite and magnetic iron ore have also been discovered, but not in sufficient quantities to be profitably worked.

The drainage of the co. is mostly through the Hudson River. This stream enters the co. from Essex, in two branches about 10 mi. apart, and these, after flowing through nearly parallel valleys for about 30 mi., unite in one stream. The E. branch is the outlet of Schroon Lake, and the W. forms the drainage of the Adirondack Mts.(1) This river has a very rapid course; and upon it are several rapids and falls, two of which are worthy of especial note.(2) Lake George(3) is

1. The W. branch of the Hudson was called by the Indians Te-o-ho-ken; the E. branch, At-a-te-ka.

2. The High Falls are situated just below the great easterly bend of the river in the S.W. corner of Luzerne. The water flows in a series of rapids for three-fourths of a mi. over a declining rocky bottom, and is then compressed into a narrow gorge for 80 rods, at the bottom of which it shoots down a nearly perpendicular descent of 60 ft. The gneiss ledge over which it falls is convex in form, and the water is broken into perfect sheets of snow-white foam. A few rods above the last leap of water, and where it is rushing with the greatest velocity, the river is spanned by a single plank 13 ft. in height. At Glens Falls the river flows over a shelving rock with a total descent of 50 ft. The fall is broken into three channels by natural piers of black limestone standing upon the brow of the precipice over which the water flows.

3. Called by the Indians Can-i-a-de-ri-oit, the tail of the lake. The name "Horicon" has been applied by some modern writers to Lake George, and it is said to be an Indian word meaning "The Lake of Silver Water." However poetic and appropriate this designation may appear, or however euphonious it may sound, it may be questioned whether a term suggested by fancy alone, and never used of the aborigines, will ever find place among the geographical names of the State as one of Indian origin.

situated upon the E. border, and receives the drainage of the E. Part of the co. It is 36 mi. long and 1 to 3 mi. wide.(1)

1. This lake has long been celebrated for its wild and picturesque beauty. It is almost completely surrounded by precipitous and rocky mountains, and is studded with little, green islands. Its winding course is marked by a panorama of beautiful and distinct views. At some points high rocky bluffs rise precipitously from the very edge of the water, and at others a little basin seems scooped out among the hills. Most of the mountain declivities are covered with verdure; but a few of them are masses of naked rocks. This whole region is full of historic interest. Each mountain, precipice, and cape has its own tales and reminiscences of the olden time. Some of the fiercest conflicts of the last long wars between the French and English colonists took place upon its shores, and the pure and peaceful waters of this beautiful lake were often ensanguined with the blood of fierce combatants. Again during the Revolution war held high carnival here: but since that period its visitors have been principally the lovers of the wild and beautiful in nature. Sabbath-Day Point and Lord Howes Point are two low beaches upon the W. shore, near the foot of the lake; and Rogers Slide is a precipice upon the W. shore, 200 feet high, rising at an angle of about 25 degrees. Tongue Mt., forming a promontory upon the W. shore, Anthonys Nose, upon the E. shore, and French Mt., near the head of the lake, have each an elevation of more than 2,000 feet.

The soil of this co. is mostly a thin, sandy loam. The level lands N. of Glens Falls are very sandy, and are known as "pine plains." The declivities of the mountains have a very thin soil, and usually a scanty vegetation. In the valley is some clay mixed with the sand and disintegrated primitive rocks, forming a deep and excellent soil. Farming and the manufacture of lumber and leather form the leading pursuits of the people. Farming is mostly confined to stock raising and dairying. Immense quantities of logs are floated down the Hudson and manufactured into lumber, shingles, hoops, staves, and heading, at Glens Falls and other places. Black marble is quarried at Glens Falls, and feldspar and kaolin for the manufacture of porcelain, graphite and serpentine are also found in different places. Peat exists in abundance; but it has never been extensively used.

Caldwell, at the head of Lake George, is the county seat.(2) The courthouse was built in 1816-17, with the jail in the basement. The poorhouse is located on a farm of 200 acres in Warrensburgh.(3)

2. The first courts were held at the "Lake George Coffee House." The clerk's office was located by law within 1 mi. of this place; and this was made the point from which the sheriff's mileage was reckoned. By an act passed March 31, 1815, three commissioners were appointed by the governor to locate the site of the courthouse and jail and to superintend its erection. The first co. officers were Wm. Robards, First Judge; Henry Spencer, Sheriff; John Beebe, Clerk; Robert Wilkinson, Surrogate; Archibald McMurphy, Wm. Stover, Richard Cameron, and Jirah Skinner, Coroners. Thomas Archibald, the present co. clerk, has held the office without interruption since Feb. 1821.

3. The poorhouse is a two story wooden building. Its is 50 years old and in a very dilapidated condition. The annual revenue from the farm is about $800. The average number of inmates is 54, who are supported at a weekly expense of 90 cts. each.

The works of internal improvement are the Glens Falls Navigable Feeder, 7 mi. in length, feeding the summit level of the Champlain Canal, and the improvement in the log navigation of the Hudson. There is no R.R. in the co.(4) Three newspapers are now published in the co.(5)

4. The Lake Ontario & Hudson River R.R. (late the Sackets Harbor & Saratoga R.R.) is laid out through the co. along the W. side of the Hudson, and a large part of the grading has been done; but the work is now suspended.

5. The Warren Co. Patriot, commenced at Glens Falls about 1813 by John Cunningham, was the first paper in the co.
A newspaper was begun at Caldwell in 1817 or '18 by Timothy Haskins, which in four or five years was changed to
The Guardian. It was a few years after sold to ___ Broadwell, its name again changed, and in two years after it was removed to Glens Falls.
The Glens Falls Observer was started in 1828 by E.G. Sidney.
In about two years it passed into the hands of Abiel Smith, who changed its name to The Glens Falls Republican, and afterward to The Warren Co. Messenger. In 1835 it was again changed to The Warren Co. Messenger and Glens Falls Advertiser, by which name it was continued until 1840, when it appeared as The Glens Falls Gazette, and in two years after as The Glens Falls Clarion. In 1850 it passed into the hands of Zabina Ellis, its present publisher, by whom its name was changed to The Glens Falls Free Press.
The Glens Falls Spectator was published in 1840 by D. Ellis.
The Warren Co. Whig was started by James A. Kellogg, and continued one year.
The Glens Falls Messenger was established by A.D. Milne, and is still continued.
The Glens Falls Republican was established in 1842 by M. & T.J. Strong, who conducted it until 1851. It has passed through several hands, and is now published by H.M. Harris.
The Rechabite and Temperance Bugle, semi-mo., was commenced in 1845 by M. & T.J. Strong, and continued several months.
The Star of Destiny was published in 1855 by A.D. Milne.

This co. was the scene of some of the sanguinary battles between the French and English long anterior to its settlement. In 1755, a provincial army of 5,000 men, under Sir. Wm. Johnson, designed to act against the French posts on Lake Champlain, assembled at Albany early in June, and were there joined by a large number of Mohawks under King Hendrick. Forts Lyman (afterward Fort Edward) and Miller were built, and a road was opened to Lake George. The news of Braddock's defeat was received before this army left Albany. The expedition set out on the 8th of Aug., by way of Lake George, for Ticonderoga, with the design of erecting a fort there. Learning that the French had anticipated them and had already fortified Ticonderoga, they encamped near the head of Lake George. About the 1st of Sept., Baron Dieskau, the French commander, with a force of 200 grenadiers, 800 Canadian militia, and 300 Indians, passed up South Bay and across the rocky peninsula, with a view of falling upon the rear of the English and of cutting off their supplies from Fort Lyman. On the 8th, a force of 1000 troops under Col. Ephraim Williams, and of 200 Indians under King Hendrick, were sent out to meet them; but, falling into an ambuscade, the greater part of the troops and the two commanders were killed. The survivors fled, and were immediately followed by the French. The firing alarmed the camp, and a breastwork of logs was immediately thrown up, and 300 men, under Col. Cole, were despatched to cover the retreat of the flying fugitives of the first party. Flushed with victory, the French assailed the English camp with great fury, and a sanguinary conflict ensued, which lasted from 12M. to 4 P.M. and resulted in the total defeat of the French.(1) Col. Blanchard, who commanded at Fort Lyman, learning the result of the first engagement in the morning, sent a party of about 300 N.H. and N.Y. militia to the scene of the conflict. This party surprised the French camp, and, after dispersing the troops left to guard it, they hastened on to the English camp and arrived in season to assist materially in gaining the victory. This engagement was the only one fought during the campaign of 1755 that reflected the slightest credit upon the British army.

1. Gen. Johnson was wounded early in the action, and the command devolved upon Gen. Lyman. The former in his official report, probably from jealousy, avoided mentioning the name or services of the latter, although they were efficient and valuable. Popular report stated the French loss at 700 to 800; but Johnson reported it from 300 to 400. Official accounts place the English loss at 120 killed, 80 wounded, and 62 missing. Dieskau died in England several years later after, from wounds received in the engagement.

The remainder of the season was spent in erecting Fort Wm. Henry,(2) on the site of the English camp. A projected attack upon Ticonderoga during the winter was prevented by the uncommon severity of the season. In the summer of 1756 a provincial force of 6,000 men assembled here, but too late to effect their purpose.(3) On the 17th of March, (St. Patrick's Day,) 1757, the French, under Longee, a famous partisan officer, attempted to surprise the fort, but were successful only in burning a few buildings and several vessels on the lake.(4) Soon after, a party of 400 English, under Col. Parker, marched to attack Ticonderoga; but falling into an ambuscade, only 72 escaped. Early in the summer of 1757, Montcalm, the French commander, made extensive preparations to capture Fort Wm. Henry. on the last day of July, Maj. Putnam discovered a large body of the enemy encamped on an island about 18 mi. down the lake. Gen. Webb, who had immediate command, upon being apprized of the matter, enjoined Putnam to keep the intelligence secret and to prepare to escort him (Webb) back to Fort Edward, leaving Col. Munro in command at Fort Wm. Henry. The enemy soon landed in force and proceeded to invest the fort. The garrison consisted of 2,500 men, and the attacking force amounted to nearly 9,000. Gen. Webb had a force of 4,000 regulars at Fort Edward, only 9 mi. distant, and the militia were rapidly collecting to afford further aid. Col. Munro sent pressing and repeated messages for relief; but Gen. Webb paid no attention to the request, and appeared totally indifferent to every thing but his own personal safety. At length, upon the ninth day of the siege, he allowed Gen. Johnson to march with a body of volunteers to the relief of the garrison; but before the party had proceeded 3 mi. they were recalled, and Gen. Webb sent a letter to Col. Munro advising him to surrender on the best terms he could obtain. This letter was intercepted and given to Col. Munro by Montcalm in person. Thus cut off from hope, and assured by Montcalm that the garrison should march out with the honors of war, with their arms, and one of the four cannon of the fort, with their baggage and baggage wagons, and an escort of 500 men to Fort Edward, he surrendered. The Indians soon began to pillage the baggage, and, not being checked, fell upon the sick and wounded, whom they killed and scalped. Excited by carnage, they next surrounded and attacked the disarmed and defenseless troops; and although Montcalm was implored to furnish a guard, as promised, the massacre was allowed to proceed until a large number were killed or hurried away prisoners for more deliberate torture.(5)

2. Named in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, brother of the heir apparent, afterward George III.

3. Several incidents worthy of note occurred during this expedition. At Halfway Brook a party of teamsters were surprised and captured by 600 of the enemy, who immediately retreated down South Bay. A hundred men, under Capts. Israel Putnam and Robert Rogers, set out from Fort Wm. Henry, crossed over to Lake Champlain,and from an ambuscade poured a destructive fire upon the enemy as they passed. A number were killed, and the English immediately retreated across to Lake George. The next morning they embarked on the lake, and at Sabbath-Day Point they were met by a force of French and Indians three times their own number. The English dashed forward to the attack; and, by reserving their fire until they came into close quarters, they threw the enemy into confusion, and succeeded in escaping, with the loss of one killed and two wounded. In the winter of 1756-57, Maj. Rogers, with 74 men, went down Lake George, and crossed over to Lake Champlain, where he captured a small party of French. On his return he was met on the summit of the hill by a party of 200 French; and a desperate conflict ensued. Maj. Rogers was wounded, and the command devolved upon Capt. Stark (afterward Gen. Stark of the Revolution.) The conflict continued until nightfall, when the French retreated, leaving half of the number dead upon the field. Of the rangers, 48 remained unwounded; and the company pushed forward through deep snows and reached the lake in the morning. They were now quite exhausted; and Stark, with two others, pushed on to Fort Wm. Henry, arriving in the evening. He procured sleds and returned to his suffering comrades, whom he reached the next morning. The party finally reached the fort, after extreme suffering.- Rogers's Jour., p.36.

4. A part of the garrison were Irish, and could not be restrained from celebrating the day by getting drunk. The fort was defended by the vigilance of the rangers, who repulsed the French while the other troops were coming to their senses.- Rogers's Jour., pp. 43, 109.

5. Humanity sickens at the revolting scenes of this day, which have stained the memory of Montcalm with the blackest infamy. A few survivors of the massacre fled for their lives, and succeeded in reaching Fort Edward in safety. The next day Maj. Putnam was sent with his rangers to watch the motions of the enemy; but he arrived just after they embarked and were beyond reach of pursuit. As he came to the shore, the demolished fort, the burning buildings, and the ghastly and mangled corpses of the dead and the feeble groans of the dying, quickly told the dismal story of treachery and barbarity, scarcely less chargeable to the cowardice of Webb than to the perfidy of Montcalm. Writers differ as to the number murdered on this occasion, the estimates varying from 300 to 1,500. It is probably nearer the latter number. There was a tendency among the provincials to exaggerate, and among the regulars to palliate, the occurrences above related. The massacre occurred Aug. 9, 1757. Among the accounts given by eyewitnesses of the scene, that of Jonathan Carver, the well-known traveler, has perhaps been most frequently quoted. The feeble attempts that have been made to defend the reputation of Montcalm, under the plea that he exerted himself to restrain the Indian barbarities, find ample refutation in the fact that with five of six times more whites than savages the latter were allowed to proceed unmolested. If this relatively small number could not be restrained, there must have existed a degree of insubordination incompatible with military success and strangely at variance with the condition of other armies under Montcalm.

In the summer of 1758 an army of 7,000 regulars and 10,000 provincials, under Gen. Abercrombie, proceeded against Ticonderoga by way of Lake George. On the 5th of July the army embarked on board of 900 bateaux and 135 boats, and passed down the lake with all the pomp and pageantry of war; and four days after they returned, shattered and broken, with a loss of nearly 2,000 killed and wounded. Such of the latter as admitted of removal were sent to Fort Edward; and the main army lay inactive in camp at the head of the lake during the remainder of the season. In June, 1759, Maj. Gen. Amherst, with an army of 12,000 men, advanced to Lake George, and, while waiting to complete his arrangements, he commenced building Fort George, about half a mile E. from Fort Wm. Henry.(1) As Gen. Amherst advanced to Ticonderoga, the French withdrew to Crown Point, and soon after to the Ile Aux-Noix. Quebec fell soon after, and the conquest of Canada was completed the following year, rendering the vast military works at Fort George, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point of no further utility, and allowing the hardy pioneers of civilization to advance and occupy the fertile valleys which as provincial soldiers they had previously traversed.

1. Scarcely a vestige of this fort remains, most of the stones of which it was built having been burned for lime.

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