Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yates County Chronical-Tuesday Jan. 21st, 1840

Ref: Yates County Chronical-Tuesday Jan. 21st, 1840
(For the Yates County Whig)
Antiquities of Yates County
The above title of this communication may be thought somewhat novel, and so it is. We are very apt to overlook, with a sort of magnificent contempt, the crumbling ruins and mementos of past ages when they are the subject to our frequent notice. “Distance lends enchantment” is an idea so generously received that it would wretched policy in in me to raise my voice against it.
But we have ruins at home in our own green forest land” which we may surround with any circumstances and speculations we please without fear of contradiction is not within the memory of man.
In the Town of Jerusalem, in this county, may be seen the remains of a fortification which I have never heard designated by any other title than “The Old Fort”. It lies a mile west of the residence of the Friend’s on a roll or swell of land descending a little to the west. I have often passed it - at different times during the years, always making firm resolutions to visit it and examine it in detail if ever my time and business permit. Such an opportunity presented itself during the last fall and I was not slow in improving it.
In circumference it is not far from thirteen hundred feet. The principal entrance is on the south-west corner and about twenty-five feet wide. On the north side extending between two and three hundred feet. On the North-east side are three or four gateways, one of which is about fifteen feet wide.
The western side of the fort must have been constructed on this side is evident from existence of the fort must have been constructed on this side is evident from existence of the entrance at the above mentioned termination, else why the necessity of an opening into the fort at that point. That they were constructed of wood is evident from the fact that no remains of the walls are seen which would not have been the case, but had been constructed of less perishable materials.
It is reasonable probable that a wooden breastwork was carried round on the top of a bluff of land ten or twelve feet high which extends along the northwestern and western sides to the distance of two or three hundred feet. At the foot of this bluff runs a stream of water. In an indentation of the bluff and at its base bubbles up a clear and beautiful spring which was probably included within the walls of the fort. The southwestern side was probably defended by a wooden breastwork of about two hundred feet in length. The wall of earth and the ditch are the only marks which indicate the existence and locality of this fort.
The ditch is now about three feet deep, and the breastwork about three feet high. When first constructed it was probably ten or twelve feet high.
Its course distances, and entrance-ways are distinctly marked. The date of its erection and occupation is unknown to history or tradition. At the time I observed it the owner of the land, on which it is situated, had just cut away the thick growth of small pines which covered a part of its area. In the ditch I saw the stumps of pine trees; but I think none indicated a great age - certainly not over one hundred years, and probably considerably within that period.
I found no large stumps within the fort - none that which I should think more than a century old. The lower part of its area is a meadow, but that the upper part has never been subjected to the plow would seem probably from the perfect state of the wall and ditch. The early settlement of the country found it in the same situation it now is.
Should I hazard an opinion of my own as to the period of its erection, I should not put it earlier than the French and Indian War, if indeed so early. It is well known that the Indian tribes who were thickly scattered over the western part of the state at that time, had frequent communication with French officers from the Canadian frontier. Others place it in the chain of forts extending from the interior and northern parts of this state south. I know not how far.
Some of the bones of its occupants are found embedded in its soil which is a light, sandy loam, and I should not think well calculated to preserve them. I have herd the erection of the fort attributed to the Mexicans; upon what ground I know not.
I shall feel greatly obliged if any citizen of Jerusalem will take the trouble to communicate any well authenticated facts with regard to this fort through the medium of our village papers.
signed H.M.S. Penn Yan , Jan. 14 1840
Document #C

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