BY CHESTER C CULVER
PRINTED NOVEMBER 7,1929
Locality Once Known As “Old Fort” Legend Tells of Ancient Retreat Built by Early Race AS Protection from Seneca Indians. Some evidence Indicates that company of General Sullivan’s Men drove Red Men to the old fort.
This locality takes the name “Friend” from Jemina Wilkinson, “The Universal Friend,” who with her followers here settled this section, na and gave it the designation, “The New Jerusalem.”
The colonial mansion built by her more than a hundred years ago, was constructed so substantially that after the lapse of a century or more it is but little impaired by the ravages of the elements. Prior to the establishment of the post office, Friend, this locality was most generally known as “The old Fort”
This fort so called consisted of a semi-circular embankment of earth enclosing an area of about three acres of land and containing within its walls an unfailing spring of crystal clear water. The open side faced in the west upon what must have been in early times, before the timber was removed, an impenetrable swamp. The embankment was about breast high on the inside and encircled by a deep trench on the outside, indicating that the dirt from which the embankment was raised was taken entirely from the outside. The outside was as perpendicular as possible with the loose dirt that made up its material. The inside wall was more sloping and about breast high from the floor or bottom. If this earthwork was designed for purpose of defense, it was admirable adopted to withstand an assault from the outside and to withstand a siege. the great antiquity of this construction is attested by the face that when first discovered by the white man, great pines two and three feet in diameter were standing upon the embankment and in the trench encircling it.
Learned men who have examined this structure have expressed the opinion that it tit was the work of a prehistoric race who occupied this country prior to the Indians and alleged to support of their opinion that the Indians were incapable of constructing a work of this magnitude and perfect geometrical outline. It is evident that had this structure been supplemented by a row of stakes driven on the edge of the bank and sloping outwards it would have been practically impregnable against the assault of the Indian with the primitive weapons at his command. Indubitably this locality was formerly populated as in past years it was a very common occurrence to unearth skeletons at a depth of about two feet and usually in a sitting position and in close proximity to the earth work. At the time when this locality was settled by Jemina Wilkinson and her followers a few scattered remnants of the Indian tribes were still living in the vicinity. A tradition related by the Indians to the pioneers and handed down by them to their descendants is substantially as follows; Before the appearance of the Indian upon the scene, this country was occupied by a comparatively highly civilized but decadent and peace loving race. ; the savages pressed them back and hemmed them in until after years of constant warfare the ancient people gathered within the walls of the fortress and attempted to make a last stand against the savage intruder; at length the savages exceeded in breaking through the wall and exterminated the defenders to the las man, woman and child. The Indian occupied the country and continued to increase in power and number until the coming of the white man centuries later. Yet another tradition handed down by the early settlers bears upon the face of probability of truth, yet the records are so imperfect that it can not be wholly substantiated. At the time when General Sullivan made his famous expedition against the savage of the Finger Lakes region a considerate Indian village existed within the enclosure known as the “Old Fort” entrance to the fortification. This plan was carried into effect so successfully that the Indians were taken completely by surprise and few of their number escaped. the old men, women and children were spared and one of two cabins left for their shelter with sufficient provisions to sustain them for some little time. the remaining cabins all stores, provisions and weapons with the bodies of the slain Indians were cast into the great heap and burned in celebration of the victory. Upon the completion of their mission the soldiers started upon the return and traveling due east to compass to Seneca Lake, thence northerly along the lake, they arrived at Kashong at night of the same day. they had achieved their great exploit. Thus the Indians is said in have met the same fate meted out by his ancestors to the original possessor of the soil.
A few years later the country was occupied and settled by Jemina Wilkinson and her followers and other pioneers. In due time the wilderness was subdued , the timer cleared away and the eland brought under cultivation. In course of time the log cabins of the earlier settlers were replaced by more commodious and more comfortable dwellings.
The site of the first school house built in this territory is within the space formerly enclosed by the walls of the “Fort” and to this day it is known ad the Old Fort School House. A half century later a church was built, also within the ancient enclosure, and dedicated to the worship of the white mans God. Upon this historic spot, drenched at different times with the blood of three contending nations , stands the two emblems of out American sovereignty and dominion, the Church and the School.