Tuesday, February 19, 2008


On the hill between Potter and the Guyanoga Valley little evidence remains of an ancient fort and cemetery that was found by early settlers. Today this site is located in a part of Yates county know as Friend. This hidden valley holds a secret history that spans the pioneers, the Seneca, and the earlier Algonquin people that lived here. The site of the "Old Fort" was located near an excellent spring situated along an ancient trail that linked villages from Naples, Vine Valley, and points West with the villages near Branchport, near the current site of Keuka college, Indian Pines, and East to Geneva. The fort was probably originally built by the Algonquin people that lived here before the Seneca. It may have been inhabited continuously or just during times of warfare. Local Seneca probably occupied the fort when Denonville's forces attacked the Seneca and later when Clinton's revolutionary forces burned the Seneca villages and crops during the Revolutionary war. This blog documents the information that I have found while researching this site.

A. I. Tyler

A. I. Tyler was a school teacher who taught on the Bluff in the early 1900's. He was an amateur archeologist and left his notes on local archeology at the Oliver House shortly before his death. The following account was included in these notes.

I last visited this site in 1923 or 1924. The Dinehart family has kept at least a semblance of the ditch preserved in their yard. All traces are graded awy. The big spring is near the brook. I agian checked the Iroquoian clews (as written in the notes). Others have done the same. The skeleton I found and the lower jaw of another one from a potato field both were of aged people. All molar teeth had been extracted and alveolar process completed. The eye teeth were worn down on backside by long years of mastication and incisors complete. The round hole in the back of the skull I think was by an antler prong club and not an arrow. Certainly not a bullet. Columbus probably had not found America at the time of demise.

Buried Treasure

The following account was included in Miles Davis’s History of Jerusalem. It includes a colorful story of buried treasure. Although this story can’t be confirmed or denied it should be noted that storytelling was a major form of entertainment in the days of the pioneers and buried treasure was a favorite topic.

The situation of this ancient fortification seems to indicate that it was constructed for some other purpose than defense in war. There may have been a two-fold object the builders had in view. The elevated lands to the East would have afforded besiegers a chance to hurl destructive missiles into the “fort” with more or less deadly effect, while, if it had been constructed solely as a stronghold of defense, the site would naturally have been chosen overlooking the surrounding direction. Yet why the fortification should have been erected for other purposes than involved in war, does not seem clear. The earliest settlers relate that there was a deep trench all the way around the outside of the work, and that large timbers were placed on the embankment, fitted firmly together, and palisadied with heavy post. As in the case of all fortified enclosures intended for permanency, an excellent never-failing spring of water was made accessible to those within, and naturally in this instance it was at the foot of a steep bank, naturally protected, on the West side. The spring is still there. The late Joseph N. Davis, who passed away in 1890, remembered when very large trees were growing in the bottom of the trench, the then some four or five feet below the level of the ground. The trench was filled up and leveled down years ago, and there is no trace of it now.

Many curious works of art have been found on the site of this ancient fortification (if such it was) which plainly belong to a period of peace and actual civilization. Many years ago during the pioneer period an iron box was unearthed upon the site by a man by the name of Weston who had been digging there a number of nights. It was in the earliest days of spring , and on the night of the find there was a fall of six inches or more of snow. “He was on the ground with a yoke of oxen and an ox sled, and the next day the tracks of the sled were observed by some who visited the location, and they stated that the sled runners cut down through the snow into the soften surface of the earth as though he must have gone out with a heavy load. Some declared they saw the considerable amount of coined money is a reasonable inference from the well attested fact that he went right on out of the country hereabouts, and , though a poor man, unable to buy land, while here, he went away into another state, where he immediately purchased a large tract which he paid for in coined money at the time of purchase. Civilized people only are producers or users of coined money. This event was fully related to the writer by an early pioneer of Jerusalem, in 1873, whose word was unquestioned; and it was also related to the writer by reliable resident of locality.
Specimens of ancient pottery have been found at various times on the site, which seems to indicate that the builders or occupant of this fortification, or whatever it was, were a civilized race with curious knowledge of arts quite different from any known of the Indians. Once in walking over the ground the late Joseph N. Davis found a perfectly shaped stone pipe, which was evidently the work of artisans of the stone age.

For an interesting possible connection to this story of buried treasure visit this web site : http://www.coudy.com/Austin/Scully4.htm