Indian History of Mt. Upton

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The Unadilla Valley had been inhabited by Oneida Indians for at least 200 years before the comming of the white man.

Hutted Knoll

A large Indian village was located at the mouth of the Butternut Creek where it joins the Unadilla river.  The Butternut was called the Tianderah “Crooked River” The village was called Hutted Knoll.  This area is near where the local’s of my age used to swim at a place we called “the point”.  From the cemetery south of Mt. Upton, if you look across the valley, you can see a large knoll.  The knoll was the cemetery, and every timea woodchucks dug a new hole, relics of Indian days could be found on the mounds. The village was up the river on the flat ground.  We called that area the “Flat Iron”. that ground was rich hunting for Indian artifacts.



The Richmond Collection consists of over 1,000 prehistoric artifacts collected by Clyde Richmond from the Unadilla, Susquehanna, Butternut and Chenango valleys during the early part of the 20th century. In addition to nearly a thousand spear and arrow points, the collection also includes a number of rare and unusual artifacts, including a gorget, stone beads, smoking pipe fragments, and a fragment from a bannerstone. In addition, a number of large grinding tools as well as fragments of steatite pots, pitted stones, gouges, axes, celts and adzes comprise the collection (Figure 2). The collection is displayed in a glass case in the lobby of the Gilbertsville-Mount Upton (GMU) school (Figure 1). There are fourteen frames with artifacts glued to the surface, and larger artifacts occupying the floor of the display case. A brief count of the different artifact types within each frame was performed, resulting in the flowing counts shown in Table 1. These artifacts were originally on display at the Mount Upton Elementary School, and when the school was relocated to its current building, the artifact collection was left behind. Several people in the community missed seeing the old artifacts, and Leigh Eckmair, Historian for the Town of Butternuts, along with the maintenance staff at the former school, collected all of the artifacts and brought them to the new building where they reside today. The collection was in poor condition when it was retrieved, and several of the artifacts had to be re-glued back on to their respective frames. Today the collection welcomes elementary through high school students every morning when they enter the school building and are a source of pride within the community. As the collection is locked behind a glass display case, detail in analyzing each individual artifact was hindered, with resulting data reliant on the interpretation of those who had previously grouped the artifacts by category. Consequently, the numbers in this presentation may differ slightly from the actual number of points versus knives, etc. This allowed the sidestepping of typological issues such as how to classify broken points that were reworked into other artifacts. This being said, the numbers in Table 1 do give some idea as to the nature of Richmond’s collection. The frames were not numbered, so they were numbered arbitrarily from top to bottom-left to right for the purposes of this study. Projectile points make up the dominant artifact type, which is often the case in most artifact collections. The diversity of artifacts found is also not uncommon, representative of many early 20th century collections containing several of these more unusual artifact types. The collection includes a small but diverse number of bone tools, including antler tines, deer mandibles used for processing corn or hides, and beaver incisors used as woodworking tools. These kinds of objects are rare in archaeological contexts in our area, as bone and antler quickly decompose in the acidic soils.

One thing that is unusual about the Richmond collection is the relative lack of pottery. Only nine pottery sherds are included in the collection. While a thorough analysis of specific point types was not performed, most of the points in Richmond’s collection appear to date from the Middle Archaic through Transitional Periods (8,000-2,500 years ago), prior to the invention of pottery. It may simply be that Richmond tended to work sites which were too early for pottery to occur, thus finding very little. However, given that pottery is still commonly found throughout the valley floors, it may be that Richmond was selective about the pottery he collected, or possibly that it not one of primary collecting interest to him. Clyde Richmond
Little is known about Clyde Richmond or where he obtained his artifact collection. His obituary states that he was born in Mt. Upton in 1885 and operated a hardware store there for over 40 years before retiring. He passed away in 1963 at the age of 78. Sadly, while he was clearly a passionate collector, his obituary makes no mention of Richmond’s love of Indian artifacts. No written records exist regarding the sites from which Richmond collected these artifacts, unfortunately limiting their value to archaeologists. What little we do know about his collecting comes from two written sources. First, Richmond is mentioned as one of Arthur Parker’s local informants in his Archaeological History of New York (1920). While his name does not appear anywhere else in Parker’s study, it is likely that many of the sites from the area that are listed in Parker’s book may have initially been reported by Richmond. The second source encountered is written by Brownell (1976), who mentions digging with Clyde near Polkville in the Chenango Valley.

There is also some confusion regarding Richmond being the sole contributor to the collection. Local historian Bill Walters states that a fellow named Gaston Islicker, who formerly resided three miles east of Sidney, had also donated his collection for display at the Mt. Upton School along with Richmond’s. It is unclear if his collection was merged with Richmond’s or if Islicker’s collection never made it to the current school building. If Islicker’s artifacts were ultimately included in the collection, he should also be acknowledged. While the research value of the collection is limited by the fact that no written records exist, there remains data that we can learn from these kinds of unprovenienced collections. The presence of nearly a thousand arrowheads would make a good sized sample for examining the variation in projectile point morphology. Additionally, several of the
points appear to be made from exotic raw materials, including jasper from eastern Pennsylvania and flint ridge chert from the Ohio Valley. An examination of these points might show evidence of exchange at different times with other regions of the northeast. Also of interest in the Richmond Collection is the small but rare collection of historic trade goods. The collection includes a button and a coin as well as three historic trade beads. Although it was not possible to further identify the coin or button due to low visibility within the case, the trade beads appear to date to the early through mid 18th century (Figure 3). These artifacts may have come from the old site of Unadilla at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Unadilla Rivers, or from another site in the area. If they did come from a different site, this would be an important finding, given that other reputed post-contact era sites in the vicinity, such as the “Hutted Knoll” and the “Indian Castle” near Polkville have yet to be documented archaeologically. Unfortunately, unless additional documentation comes to light, we will likely never know exactly where many of these artifacts came from.
Access: The collection is located in the Lobby of the Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton School on Route 51 between Mt Upton and Gilbertsville, and can be viewed
during normal school hours without an appointment.

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Leigh Eckmair, Tom Grey, Bill Walters and Don Windsor, all of whom were patient in answering my many questions and took the time to ask their many connections on my behalf. Much of what I learned about Clyde Richmond is thanks to their part. Rebecca Moyer helped with the photography, edited my writing and put up with my occasional frustration.

References:

Brownell, Mert 1976 Unadilla Valley: White Store to East Guilford, 1788-1976.
Unadilla Valley Historical Society. Mt. Upton.
Parker, Arthur C. 1920 The Archeological History of New York State.
New York State Museum Bulletin Nos. 237 and 238. Albany.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 16:24:00

    Many artifacts were donated to the Mt. Upton School by Gaston Islicker from Sidney. New York. Clyde Richman and Clayton Disxon of Mt. Upton, were avid Indian artifact hunters and may have also donated to the collection.

    Reply

    • Dick Coats
      Jan 09, 2011 @ 20:59:29

      We lived on the back road between Mt Upton and Rockdale north of Ohara at the old rickety bridge, now demolished, across from Shultes, my father was quite certain that there was an indian encampment there north of the bridge, on the east shore. We found hundreds of arrowheads, after Perry Ohara plowed, most of them incomplete,or with broken tips, over maybe a one acre area. There were also numerous piles of chips, obviously worked on. Ill do some digging and try to get some info on the indian history of the valley. If anyone knows of any lit on the subject, please let me know————-Dick

      Reply

  2. Bill
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 12:05:19

    Leeny Posted this about the point:
    BOY I sure remember spending a LOT of time at the point with many many friends! The old rope that hung from the huge tree that we all hurled ourselves on…out into the water! What a blast that was! All innocent fun! This land was owned by Claude and Lina Wadsworth and later by his son and wife, Bus and Marion, who graciously invited one and all to come and join together in the fun on their property!
    Midway between the Point and their house, there was a pavillion and a boathouse with a dock. Going out on the river in a rowboat was one of the adventurous activites I also shared with Claudia! I remember a couple of PJ parties at the pavillion…and oh yes…running thru the cemetery after dark…across from their house on Rte 8. Such a thrill back then…!!!

    Reply

  3. Bill
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 20:47:08

    The Richmond Collection consists of over 1,000 prehistoric artifacts collected by Clyde Richmond from the Unadilla, Susquehanna, Butternut and Chenango valleys during the early part of the 20th century. In addition to nearly a thousand spear and arrow points, the collection also includes a number of rare and unusual artifacts, including a gorget, stone beads, smoking pipe fragments, and a fragment from a bannerstone. In addition, a number of large grinding tools as well as fragments of steatite pots, pitted stones, gouges, axes, celts and adzes comprise the collection (Figure 2). The collection is displayed in a glass case in the lobby of the Gilbertsville-Mount Upton (GMU) school (Figure 1). There are fourteen frames with artifacts glued to the surface, and larger artifacts occupying the floor of the display case. A brief count of the different artifact types within each frame was performed, resulting in the flowing counts shown in Table 1. These artifacts were originally on display at the Mount Upton Elementary School, and when the school was relocated to its current building, the artifact collection was left behind. Several people in the community missed seeing the old artifacts, and Leigh Eckmair, Historian for the Town of Butternuts, along with the maintenance staff at the former school, collected all of the artifacts and brought them to the new building where they reside today. The collection was in poor condition when it was retrieved, and several of the artifacts had to be re-glued back on to their respective frames. Today the collection welcomes elementary through high school students every morning when they enter the school building and are a source of pride within the community. As the collection is locked behind a glass display case, detail in analyzing each individual artifact was hindered, with resulting data reliant on the interpretation of those who had previously grouped the artifacts by category. Consequently, the numbers in this presentation may differ slightly from the actual number of points versus knives, etc. This allowed the sidestepping of typological issues such as how to classify broken points that were reworked into other artifacts. This being said, the numbers in Table 1 do give some idea as to the nature of Richmond’s collection. The frames were not numbered, so they were numbered arbitrarily from top to bottom-left to right for the purposes of this study. Projectile points make up the dominant artifact type, which is often the case in most artifact collections. The diversity of artifacts found is also not uncommon, representative of many early 20th century collections containing several of these more unusual artifact types. The collection includes a small but diverse number of bone tools, including antler tines, deer mandibles used for processing corn or hides, and beaver incisors used as woodworking tools. These kinds of objects are rare in archaeological contexts in our area, as bone and antler quickly decompose in the acidic soils.

    One thing that is unusual about the Richmond collection is the relative lack of pottery. Only nine pottery sherds are included in the collection. While a thorough analysis of specific point types was not performed, most of the points in Richmond’s collection appear to date from the Middle Archaic through Transitional Periods (8,000-2,500 years ago), prior to the invention of pottery. It may simply be that Richmond tended to work sites which were too early for pottery to occur, thus finding very little. However, given that pottery is still commonly found throughout the valley floors, it may be that Richmond was selective about the pottery he collected, or possibly that it not one of primary collecting interest to him. Clyde Richmond
    Little is known about Clyde Richmond or where he obtained his artifact collection. His obituary states that he was born in Mt. Upton in 1885 and operated a hardware store there for over 40 years before retiring. He passed away in 1963 at the age of 78. Sadly, while he was clearly a passionate collector, his obituary makes no mention of Richmond’s love of Indian artifacts. No written records exist regarding the sites from which Richmond collected these artifacts, unfortunately limiting their value to archaeologists. What little we do know about his collecting comes from two written sources. First, Richmond is mentioned as one of Arthur Parker’s local informants in his Archaeological History of New York (1920). While his name does not appear anywhere else in Parker’s study, it is likely that many of the sites from the area that are listed in Parker’s book may have initially been reported by Richmond. The second source encountered is written by Brownell (1976), who mentions digging with Clyde near Polkville in the Chenango Valley.

    There is also some confusion regarding Richmond being the sole contributor to the collection. Local historian Bill Walters states that a fellow named Gaston Islicker, who formerly resided three miles east of Sidney, had also donated his collection for display at the Mt. Upton School along with Richmond’s. It is unclear if his collection was merged with Richmond’s or if Islicker’s collection never made it to the current school building. If Islicker’s artifacts were ultimately included in the collection, he should also be acknowledged. While the research value of the collection is limited by the fact that no written records exist, there remains data that we can learn from these kinds of unprovenienced collections. The presence of nearly a thousand arrowheads would make a good sized sample for examining the variation in projectile point morphology. Additionally, several of the
    points appear to be made from exotic raw materials, including jasper from eastern Pennsylvania and flint ridge chert from the Ohio Valley. An examination of these points might show evidence of exchange at different times with other regions of the northeast. Also of interest in the Richmond Collection is the small but rare collection of historic trade goods. The collection includes a button and a coin as well as three historic trade beads. Although it was not possible to further identify the coin or button due to low visibility within the case, the trade beads appear to date to the early through mid 18th century (Figure 3). These artifacts may have come from the old site of Unadilla at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Unadilla Rivers, or from another site in the area. If they did come from a different site, this would be an important finding, given that other reputed post-contact era sites in the vicinity, such as the “Hutted Knoll” and the “Indian Castle” near Polkville have yet to be documented archaeologically. Unfortunately, unless additional documentation comes to light, we will likely never know exactly where many of these artifacts came from.
    Access: The collection is located in the Lobby of the Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton School on Route 51 between Mt Upton and Gilbertsville, and can be viewed
    during normal school hours without an appointment.

    Acknowledgements
    Thanks to Leigh Eckmair, Tom Grey, Bill Walters and Don Windsor, all of whom were patient in answering my many questions and took the time to ask their many connections on my behalf. Much of what I learned about Clyde Richmond is thanks to their part. Rebecca Moyer helped with the photography, edited my writing and put up with my occasional frustration.

    References:

    Brownell, Mert 1976 Unadilla Valley: White Store to East Guilford, 1788-1976.
    Unadilla Valley Historical Society. Mt. Upton.
    Parker, Arthur C. 1920 The Archeological History of New York State.
    New York State Museum Bulletin Nos. 237 and 238. Albany.

    Reply

  4. Bill Jeffery
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 11:40:19

    I read “Mohawk Baronet: A Biography of Sir William Johnson” by James T. Flexner. This is a fascinating look at a dirt poor 18th century Irish immigrant who came to the Mohawk River Valley and became very rich, very powerful, and the owner of a great deal of land in the Mohawk River Valley and our area here. He was adopted by the Mohawk nation of the Iroquois Confederacy and married the sister of Chief Joseph Brant who took part in the Cherry Valley Massacre in 1778. Johnson became the most influential white man with the Iroquois Confederacy, eventually given the position of Superintendent for Indian Affairs by the British crown. Some have speculated that had he lived one more year (he died in 1774), the American War of Independence would have been over before it started, because he would have had the entire Iroquois Confederacy fighting on the British side. But I digress.
    In this book I learned that the Oneida nation of the Iroquois Confederacy utilized the Susquehana, Unadilla, and Chenango river valleys as their warmer weather hunting and fishing camp territory. Many temporary villages were established by them in this area for this purpose. Most of this territory was eventually purchased by William Johnson as part of a large land patent.

    Reply

  5. Leeny
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 13:35:37

    AQn amazing piece of history. Well done!

    Reply

  6. Bill
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 18:10:36

    Tom Gray’s email to me.
    I am still working on researching the Ridge Road. A few years ago Cliff Peck and I hiked it from Rt. 37 to Utter Road. I uncovered only one foundation near the swamp but some interesting stone walls lining the road in that area. Beautiful views from the top –you can see forever! It appears from our search and from the old maps that no other settlement existed on the road. As more settlers arrived the swamp by Mt Upton was filled in. By 1839 the Butternuts Turnpike was completed and the River Road continued to form what we know as RT 8 today. The old Ridge Road road was no longer used. It is still maintained today as a snowmobile trail.

    The Ridge Road going north intersected Crandall Road. In 1791 the Hazzard family had a settlement near that intersection. Crandall Road in that early time period was called Hazzard Road. When I first found that reference I thought that it was just dangerous to travel on until I uncovered family information on the Hazzard family. It is included in my book on Rockwells Mills. The River Road (today RT 8) was only a horse trail going through Rockwells Mills to White Store. It may have also went south into Mt Upton but the area south of the Mt Upton bridge today was then a swamp. Thus, the need for the Ridge Road that Cornell cut to get his family to his property west of Crandall Road. His journey is partially described by Mert Brownell in his Unadilla Valley history. From a sketch that Mert did of the road I have traced it on a topographical map and it agrees with the hike we had. Crossing RT 36 north is another hike to consider to White Store.

    Reply

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