Friday, November 22, 2013

Downsville Reservoir Will Flood Many Indian Relics

By Arnold H. Bellows in Catskill Examiner

Catskill Mountain News, 11 April 1947, Margaretville, NY

For more than a century and a quarter many residents of the Catskills have been interested without success in the solution of the mystery of a lead mine or secret depository or lead ore in the Catskills, the knowledge of which died with Teunis, the last Indian to live in the Catskills.
More factual than legendary is the story of his life, which is interwoven with the early history of the village of Margaretville, a thriving village in Delaware county, located several miles below the Greene county line.  Between that village and Arkville, two miles farther up the Delaware is the site of a very large Indian village named Pakatakan from whose many wigwams the curling smoke ascended during the first half of the eighteenth century and possible before that time.  A mountain named after the Indian village rises like a giant fortress from the peaceful valley at its base where once the Indians held their councils and doubtlessly discussed the momentous issues of peace or war when danger threatened.
Pakatakan means in Indian language “he makes it clear” or “the meeting of the three rivers,” as it was located at the confluence of three streams.  It was first discovered in 1762 by white hunters from the settlement of Shandaken, but had been deserted by its Indian occupants.  It was probably a Mohican encampment as that tribe was still numerous in Delaware county in the 17th century, though after 1712 a considerable number of Tuscarora Indians located in parts of Delaware county.  Many very valuable and interesting relics of Indian usuage have been discovered on the site of the ancient village.
First White Settlers
When Pakatakan was discovered, a few miles below the deserted lodges, on the banks of the Platte Kill stream stood the wigwam of Teunis, a brave and resourceful Mohican brave..  As the first white settlers in that region were of Dutch extraction and as the Indian name of Teunis was difficult to pronounce, the name Teunis, evidently of Dutch origin was applied to him.  Margaretville was settled just before the Revolutionary war, and Teunis, not wishing to leave his old hunting ground, remained in the vicinity of the deserted village and became very friendly with the white settlers, invited them to his wigwam, and doubtlessly entertained them with much Indian lore.
During the Revolution he warned the white settlers of an impending danger of Indian massacres by a tribe who was aiding the British and so saved many lives  Fearing vengeance from other Indians because of this act of kindness, he retired to a secluded spot in the Catskills by a little lake that bears his name today.
The old Indian was often observed to possess quantities of lead, but refused to tell where he obtained the precious ore.  Finally a resident of Andes, named Bassett who had saved his Indian friend from serious injury or death at the hands of a drunken white man, was promised by Teunis that he would be shown the place from whence came the leaden riches upon condition that he would consent to be blindfolded and led to the place and then blindfolded again before being conducted away.
Mr. Bassett consented and was led along winding paths into this secret retreat in a cave in a ledge of rocks where he saw considerable quantities of lead.  Teunis promised to reveal its hiding place before he died, but he passed away suddenly and with him the mystery which has caused many to carefully search in vain for the lead deposits.  It is said that the entire region around Teunis lake was carefully examined.
Years afterwards some miles from the lake a cave was discovered but contained no signs of any lead deposits.  Some have supposed the lead was furnished by the British, but this seems unlikely in view of all the other known facts.  Teunis lived a considerable time after the Revolutionary war and was the last native Indian to live in Delaware county.
A short distance from this site of Pakatakan back of Arkville village is a cave which was explored a few years ago and very valuable relics dating back at least five hundred years ago were unearthed.  The work was under the direction of Attorney R. S. Ives of Roxbury.  Near Union Grove, several miles below the site of Pakatakan, are the remains of earth works of Indian origin.  In a few years these remains of the long ago will be inundated by the waters of the big reservoir that will be constructed at Downsville to help supply water for New York city.

No comments:

Post a Comment