Minute Book 3: 1727-March, Pt. 1: Trading House or Fort? Building at Oswego Will Not Be Easy; A Slave is Prevented From Making a “Path for Other Slaves to Desert.”

In March the commissioners began to implement Governor Burnet’s plan for the new stone building at Oswego by hiring carpenters and masons. They looked for “two old horses” to send up located sources for stone and other building materials. They hired Luykas Wyngaert and William Barret to get boards from “Mr. Coeymans” with which Anthony Bogardus and Cornelis Bogaert built four “batoes,” because canoes would not be suitable for transporting workmen to Oswego.  Finding workmen in Albany or Schenectady was a challenge. Masons and carpenters were expensive and had to be paid for the trip as well as the time at the site.  They also had to be skilled enough with boats to make the journey.  Even the Germans who now lived in the Mohawk Valley above the Mohawk towns were asking high prices.  The commissioners suggested looking to New York for cheaper labor.  They also talked to various individuals about working there, including Adam Smith, Keith and William Waldran, Major Isaac Bogaert, Major and Nicolas Groesbeek.  The new building would play a significant role in Albany’s economy that year.

Captain Evert Bancker was commissioned as “Captain of all the Christians who are going to trade at the fixed trading place” and charged with reining in those who were already venturing to “remote” places beyond the limits set by the legislature. He was also to oversee the construction of the new building. The commissioners warned the governor that the French already knew about their plans and that the Indians were strongly against “any building to be made by us.” They recommended sending Laurence Claessen to interpret for Captain Bancker on a permanent basis, since they did not trust the traders as reliable interpreters.  Bancker was provided with generous presents to persuade the Indians to allow construction to procede.

The proposed building was called a “house” and the rationale for its construction was to protect the goods of the traders. Nonetheless, Burnet thought of it as a counterforce to the French forts, especially Niagara, and from the beginning he planned to have a garrison there. The commissioners asked for soldiers to go up with the workmen to protect the construction from a possible French attack, but the governor did not want to send soldiers until the building was complete.

The commissioners also informed the governor that Captain Bancker had reclaimed a negro woman from the Seneca’s country at considerable expence.  1727-3-25slavepath

The commissioners explained that if Bancker had not laid out more that 20 pounds to get her back, the Senecas would have sent her to Canada where she would “make a path for other Slaves to desert that way.” They asked the governor to repay Captain Bancker. It is tempting to speculate as to whether she had already taken steps to make that path, even though she was not able to travel it herself.

In Library and Archives Canada’s digital copy of the original minutes, the best copy of the entries for March 1727 starts here.

[0353] 175

Albany 13 March 1726/7

Capt. Banker


Inclosed you have a letter from his Ex.cy

with a Commission to be Capt. of all ye Christians who

are going to trade at the fixed trading place by act of

Generall Assembly one wherefore you are to receive herewith

for your direction as we informd that Severall traders

are already gone and others going dayly with a view as

We Conceive to Endave the true Intent of the ligis=

=lature & trade beyond ye place appointed in the Lake and

place’s Remote wherefore we desire you as soon as you Shall

Receive his Excel.cys Letter & this to Send for all Such

Traders & Command ym. to Come at ye. place appoin=

=ted as they will Answer to ye. Contrary at their peril,

the Charge thereof Shall be paid you by ye Publick

By the next Convenient oppertunity we Shall

Send you to ye. Value of 20 pounds in presents to be gi=

=ven to our Indians as also 10 pounds in goods to be gi=

ven by you to ye. far Indians–

As soon as we Can gett ye. workmen to make ye.

ye. house they Shall be Sent up with all Speed.

Ph: Livingston

M: Schuyler

Peter Vn: Brugh

L: Symes

R: Blecker

St: Groesbeek

P: Schuyler

[0354] 175a

Albany 16 March 1726/7

May it please your Ex.cy

We have been honord with your Ex.cys

Letter of ye 10th Instans [illeg. – crossed out] with ye.

Inclosed minute of Councill and packet for Capt. wh. we for=

=warded Yesterday to ye. Sinnekes Country in Obedience to yr.

Ex.cys ord.r we have Inquird for palatines workman to make ye Stone house but are Informd yt. there are now [none] above

ye falls nor at Skohere we had a palatine mason here

who lives at Schinnecktady he demands 9/p diem on

his own diat from the day he Setts out to his Return

2 Shirts Blankets gun powder [blank space] we had likewise

Masons & Cerpenters of this town who Demand 8/ p diem

they have from ye time they go [away – crossed out] to their return home

All Imploy here & this work being remote from their

Above Demand 12. more yn. their Usual days

hoe here we have made no agreemt. being limited

to palatines workman may probaly he [be] had Cheaper

at N: York So Shall not proceed till we receive y.r

Ex.cys further directions att this Affair ye. presents for Capt.

Banker we Shall Gett ready to be Sent with ye. workman

with Submission we think it to be Very Necessary as this

Jouncture yt. Lourence Claese be Sent to the onnonda=

-ges to Capt. bankers Interpreter to Explain to ye Indians

ye reason making this house for the use of ye. traders & it

being a Matter of Consequence if it Should be obstructed

& there is No depandance on any trader yt. Goes up to

Interpret for him,

We have Inquired of ye. Traders who agree yt.

there is Excellent Stone for building at ye. point of


[0355] 176

Onnondage river but now Can Inform us Whether there

be Lime Stone or Not but ye. Measons tell us if ye.

Stone be Good as is Said the house may be made with Clay

& Sand. If So much lime Can but be had for pointing

ye Outside of ye walls wh. must be tryd we Cant learn

if a well Can be made in ye Most Convenient place

where ye. house ought to be Errected, but ye. banks of

the Lake & river being Very near so yt. water may be

had without Difficulty

We Shall gett horses to be Sent up As soon as ye.

workmen go up to buy two old horses will be Cheapest

Adam Smith appeard before this board demended

9/ p diem to Work at ye. house at Onnondage river

& 2 Shirts A blanket gun powder yt. Keth &, Wm. Waldran

Major Isaac Bogaert major & Nicolas Groesbeek Carpt.

demand 8/ p. Diem to Work at ye Sd. house


Att a Meeting of the Com.es of the Indian

Affairs in Albany ye 20th March 1726/7


Ph: Livingston

Myn: Schuyler

Hend.k Renselaer

Lancester Symes

Rutger Bleecker

Stephanus Groesbeeck

Nicolaes Bleecker

Ryer Gerritse

We had the honour to receive a letter from his

Excel.cy of the 13 Instant in answer to wh. the Com.es write as


Albany 20 March 1726/7

May it please yr. Exc.y

After ___ Haveing write the foregoing your Excellencys favour

of ye 13th Instant Came to hand whereby perceive that your

Excel.cy doth not think Convenient to Send any Soldiers till ye

house be finishd we do favourably hope yt. the french will not

Attempt to hinder this building in time of peace on our land

nor yt. ye Indians be agt. it Indeed ye. force of all the traders

& ye. 20 Men are but a trifle to what force the french Can

bring there if they design to obstruct it, your Excel.cys orders


[0356] 176a

to Capt. Banker to go on with the work are very necessary

but while your Ex.cy is pleased to require our opinion in this

Matter with Submission we Suppose that it Would much

Conduce to ye. forwarding of the building if the 20 Men

went up with ye. Workmen who may be Assistant and Im=

=ployd Makeing the house while there is but litle de=

=pandance, ye. work of the traders for at best few will only

Work their 6 Days and phaps not many will assist

Unless they be well paid we think if ye. Soldiers & work=

=men up at One time ye. Indians Will be less Jealous yn.

yt they Should Come afterwards the house may be So long

Makeing yt. the traders be most Returnd home & yn. the work=

=men wont Care to be left Alone if workmen Can be had on

better terms at N: York then here they must understand to

go up agt. Rapid Water Else they Cant Gett to the lake,

We have Imployd Cerpenters to make forthwith four batoes

yt. we think more Convenient for ye. men yn. Canoes,

The further presents of £10÷ for ye. far Indians

Shall Sent Capt. Banker as also ye. Necessaries for ye buil=

=ding wh. yr. Ex.cy has been pleasd to Send p Oot hout,

This Day agreed with Luykas Wyngaert Wm.

Barret to fitch boards at Mr. Coyemans for four batoes

& knees for ym.

Imployed Anthony Bogardus & Cornelis Bogaert

Cerpenters to make four batoes

[0357] 177

Albany 25 March 1726/7

May it please your Excel.cy

We had the hon.r to write your Ex.cy on

the 20th Instant p [by] Peter Winne, Since sh. ave Rec.d ye.

Inclosed from Capt. Banker of the 21th Ultimo wherin we

are adviced yt. ye. Gov.r of Canada has been Speedily Informd of

the design of our building at Sweegue Even as Conceive before it

was determynd to be done by your Excel.cy the french are Certainly mad[e]

Alarmd at this building & will leave No means untrydd With the

five Nations to Oversett Our design if possible they Can Compass it

If they do yn. they again their view and become matters of our Indians

who Seem to be at. Errecting this house out of a vain Conciet they

Entertain yt. we Shall treat them as the french have formerly done not

Considering yt. we have always Supplyd & Assisted ym. & yt. is our In=

trest to Secure ym. future Insult of the french as we Conceive t

hat this Affair is of ye last Consequence to this province if it Should

Miscarry So we may humbly hope that Such proper Measures

Shall be taken yt. it may have ye. desird Effect and not leave ye.

work till prevented by force & Voilence of ye. french or Indians

as ye. Ex.cy has Already Orderd it will be Very Necesary yt. ye.

Indians be prevaild to Consent our Makeing that building for

  1. purpose it will be Absolutely necessary yt. Lourence be

forthwith dispatch to Assist Capt. Banker & withall Carry

up ye. Severall psents for ye Indians not being Able to treat

with ye. Indians ye men who has been his Interpreter is

Returnd hither & None left with him who Can Speak ye.

Indian tongue this men tells us yt. ye. Indians are Strongly

possessd agt. any building to be made by us,

Capt. Banker has Sent us an acct. of Charges one negro wench

he Releasd in ye. Sinnekes Country am.s to £20:1÷ he has had much trou=

=ble to Gett her & prevent yt. She Should not be Sent to Canada &

make a path for other Slaves to desert yt. way we hope he may be



About hopefulwanderer

Writer, researcher, archivist, etc. @ahhunter
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