Minute Book 3: 1727-February: Governor Burnet Plans His Fort at Oswego

Having obtained 300 pounds in funding from the New York Assembly to build a fort at Oswego, Governor Burnet asked the commissioners to recommend a location. Based on the meeting between the Six Nations and Governor Burnet in September 1724, the commissioners knew that the governor wanted the fort at Oswego rather than at the Six Nations’ preferred location at the end of Oneida Lake. On February 4th, they wrote the governor and told him what he wanted to hear. The most convenient place was the west side of the Onondaga River (now called the Oswego River) where it flowed into Lake Ontario, still known as Cataraqui Lake at this period.

The commissioners recommended that Captain Evert Bancker, already stationed in Seneca Country for the winter, pick the exact location.  The fort was to be 60 feet square with two blockhouses, a shingled room, and a chimney.  1727-2-4

They agreed to keep the matter private but they told the governor that it was already no secret in Albany.  They proposed to tell Captain Bancker that the building was intended to keep the traders’ goods dry, but added that Bancker would need some presents to give any Iroquois leaders who might oppose the work.  Bancker also proposed to regulate trade at Oswego and make sure that the Indians were not cheated by mixing rum with water.  The Six Nations had complained of being cheated in this way the previous year and proposed that the traders stop bringing rum to their country, but the English would not consider that possibility. The commissioners also assured the governor that they would tell Captain Collins to redeliver rum to the Indians after they complained that it had been stolen at Schenectady.

Captain Collins is probably Edward Collins, rather than his father John Collins, who was a lieutenant by this time.

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

Albany ye 4th february 1726/7

May it please your Excy

We had ye honour of your Exce.cys favours

of ye 21 Jan.r [copy on p. 210a says 13th Jan.ry] with Capt. Banker[s] Letter acts of                                                                                          Assembly &

news papers for which we Return your Exc.ly [thanks. we’ll acqt. Capt. Collins with your Exc.ly]s Directions

about ye Redelivery of ye rum which ye Indians Compaind

has been Imbezzled at Schinechtady we wish Such vile

practices could be prevented it has done much mischief Al=

=ready according to your Ex.ly Commands laid as for our advice

about applying ye 300 lb providing by act of Assembly we

Shall do in ye best [as] we are able

The most Convenient place & Scituation for ye

building we are Informed is at ye South Side of ye Cadarach=

=qui lake on the west Side of ye onnondage River were it

Impties it Sell into Said Lake or Such proper place there

Adjacent as Capt. Banker Shall think fitt to pitch ye ffort

to be made of Stockadors 12 foot above Ground & if it be a Rock=

=ie place to be laid on the ground 1/4 of Loggs to be 60 foot Square

with two blockhouses of 20 & ye upper 14 foot Square of good 1/3

timber within a Chimney in act ye roof Coverd with Singles

which one of our board has Offerd to Compleat for £150÷ and

if this affair to be done in a publick manner we Shall En=

=deavour to gett it done for less 150 & ye Canoes or batoes w.h

are Requird for ye Transporting the men &c. we Compute

will Cost abt £12÷ [Copy p. 235 says £125 ÷] the remainder of ye Same [Sum] allowed may

be Applyd for provisions & Necessaries for the men but for

what time we Cant Calculate being a thing we are

Unacquainted with as for our part we Shall keep this

affair private but its no [Secret] in town we prosume it

to be necessary yt. Capt. Banker be directed about ye time

yt. ye. men are to go from hence yt. Such a building is to be

Errected for keeping the traders goods dry for wh

[0352] 174a

Purpose it will be Necessary yt. he be Supply’d with Some

Small pSent to give Some Sachims who might Oppose this

work. as for his Conduct yt he Endeavours yt. the Indians

be not Cheated in their trade Especially in Rum by being

mixt with water & further to Regulasie himself according

to ye. Act of Generall Assembly in yt. Case providing

[with Respect we are

May it please your Ex.lcy

your Exc.cy most humble &

Most Obedient Servants

Philip Livingston                    Rutger Bleecker

Myn: Schuyler                                    Harmanus Wendle

Peter Van Brugh                      Nicolaes Bleecker

Lancester Symes                     Stephanus Groesbeeck

John Cuyler                            Reyer Gerritse]