Saturday, October 6, 2012


Recently I came across the very interesting and stimulating web site of Nancy Lanni.  It's the type of site that I wish I could write, had I the time and focus.  On of her posts about John Pierce, she writes about Wawanaquasick, claiming that it was a stream north of Claverack.  That's not true. The name does not pertain to the stream.  I have more information from a document dated October 1768 found by friend and fellow researcher Lion G. Miles at the New-York Historical Society.  It documents depositions in a crown court case involving the two Patroons Van Rensselaer and Livingston.  It's interesting that they needed to turn in part to my relative.  I include more than is pertinent because I find the setting and the rare Mohican history fascinating. 

The witness deposed here is Joseph Van Gilder.  He was the son of John Van Gilder, a Mohican-Wappinger man, and his German wife Anna Marie Koerner.  Joseph was born 14 July 1722.  He married Mary Holly Winchell, the daughter of David Winchell and Mary Trumble, 23 May 1748.  I will write more about Joseph in my next post.

JOSEPH VAN GELDER – That he is Forty Eight Years of Age  He understood the Indian language  that he knows a place called Wawanaquasick  it lies between Claverack and Sheffield one Breakfast Travel from the River to wawanaquasick.  it lies about 9 or 10 Miles East from the River – has seen it often has traveled.  It lies upon the East part of a Hill  has heard of it high thiry Year ago from old Indians who told him it was wawanaquasick and Said it was an old Place they had there, a great many years ago – Old Nannahaken and old Skannout old Panneyote who were Ancient Indians told him so.  Old Skannout was quite grey with Years – Nanahacken about 70 Years then, and old Skannout appeared older then Ampawekine called Sankenakeke who was the Sachem of the Mohickens also told him of it.  He was then better than Sixty Years of Age, they were all of the Mowhickens Tribe  the Indians told him it was an offering Place of their old fore fathers and a boundary between the tribes Mohickens and the River Indians  the Eastern Tribes was called Mohigens and lived at Stockbridge he is sure – the Indians told himWawanaquasick was a boundary between the Mohicken and the River Indians  they used to join together when they went to war  has heard of Keeswky’s  He was a River Indian not a Sachem had erected this place as he knows – that he lived about Claaverack and up towards Albany  Indians told him his fore fathers had erected this place and that they had it from them  Patenhook is the General name of every fall of Water  Papteut is at Claaverack as the Indians told him  it is the name of a Particular Place – Has lived in Sheffield and Egremont within 5 or 6 Miles of it almost all his Life  Knows of a Large Samuel of a large flat Rock between Sheffield – Knows Samuel Summers he lives near the Large Rock within ¾ Mile and where old Jackson lived  it is on the East side of Housitonick River  Remembers this Great Rock ever since he can Remember anything from 10 Years old  Indians told him it never was a Monument or Boundary  he used to play there often when Young  lived within a half a Mile of it  There never was a heap of Stones on it when he first knew it  When he was a little Boy there was a Clift in the Rock  the Boys threw stones on the South side to fill up the Clift which hurt their legs in Playing  Never heard this Rock Called Wawanaquasick  There are two Cracks in the Rock one Runs East and West and had Earth in it the other North and South and had none – He is not sure th which Crack it was [historian James N. Parrish of Great Barrington believes this location is on the west bank of the Green River along the north end of the West Sheffield Road.]
Cross-examined – Will not be positive how old he was when he throgh’d the Stones but he was a little Chap  his fathers name was John Van Gelder in Indian Toanunck  his Fathers Land was near the flat Rock, the Rock fifty or sixty Rods to the East of his Fathers Land  His father lived there better than fifty Years  as his Mother and father told Schnapk [sic] told him of Wawanaquasick when he was a little Child and so on from time to time  the last time he told him so was 10 Years ago but he is not certain  Also the time but it may be thereabouts  Sowhhaap [sic] he believes he has been dead 4 or 5 Years does not know certain but believes thereabouts  He lived at Stockbridge usually  Knew Samuel Winchel when he first came to live there about forty Years ago.  There were stones on the Rock when he first came to live there about  The Staddel when he first knew it was a little thing no Biger than a Man’s Leg  when he left that place there was not more than a load of Stones on a Rock and this was almost 20 Years ago  the Tree was cut Down he believes by Mr Summers who cleared the Land Thereabouts a few Stones on it  there did not appear so many as the Boys had put on by  Never saw Indianmen throw any Stones on the Crack tho he has gone by the Rock several times with Indanmen [sic]  When he left the Place it looked as if there was as many Stones there as when they were thrown on by the Boy’s ....a Heap of stones in the Indian Language is called Sinnaghkic  at Monument Mountain there is a Placed called Wawanaquasick and another somewhere towards albany.


  1. Found this blog most interesting as the DNA from my West Virginia VanGilder roots show Native American ancestry.

    1. Andrew Blattner will be announcing shortly on this blog that the Y-DNA results for Jacob Van Gilder of West Virginia matches that for John Van Gilder of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.