Burgoyne Surrendering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champlain Canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town of Saratoga Historian's Blog

History of Saratoga County

Supervisors of Saratoga County 1779-1877

Supervisors of Saratoga County 1878-1978

Town of Saratoga Supervisors 1780-2017

History of the Town of Saratoga

By Thomas N. Wood, III

The Town of Saratoga has a legacy that is rich history and a current environment that is attractive to residential, commercial, and agricultural pursuits.  It is located in the eastern portion of Saratoga County bordering the Hudson River on the East, Saratoga Lake and the City of Saratoga Springs on the West, the Town of Stillwater on the South, and the Towns of Northumberland and Wilton on the North. It was originally a district within Albany County and subsequently in 1791 became one of the four mother towns of Saratoga County.  The first European settlers arrived in the town in 1688.

     Native Americans from the Mohawk branch of the Iroquois inhabited the area over 12,000 years ago and called the area Se-rach-ta-gue or Sa-ra-ta-ke.  It was a favorite area for the Native Americans because of its excellent hunting and fishing and because of the network of natural waterways.  They were able to easily travel north and south on the Hudson River, east to Vermont on the Battenkill River, and west on Fish Creek to Saratoga Lake, the Kaderosseras, and ultimately the Mohawk River.

     Dutch settlers were the first to obtain title to the land and gave the name Sarachtoge to the gently rolling land within a range of indefinite boundaries.  The region extended roughly from the present-day Waterford to the state dam in Northumberland and included land that stretched 6 miles along both sides of the Hudson River.   As early as 1684, a group that included Peter Schuyler obtained the Saratoga Patent, the first title to the land.  Bartel Vroman became the first pioneer settler in 1688.  Officials at a convention held in Albany on September 4, 1689, resolved that a fort be “made about the house of Bartel Vroman at Sarachtoge.’ In the summer of 1690 , Schuyler who was then mayor of Albany, cleared a spot in the forest, built a blockhouse for his military stores, and named the place Saratoga.  In 1702 Johannes Schuyler settled on the lands along Fish Creek, near the present Village of Schuylerville.  He established farms and erected mills and other buildings as early as 1709.  As a way of drawing new people top the area, Schuyler built a garrison house for protection from raids of the French and Indian Wars.  Together, Schuyler and the Farmers and others who leased or bought the land formed the town’s  first major settlement, Fort Saratoga.

     In spite of frequent raids, the settlement grew. By the mid-1700s, it included some 30 dwellings with granaries, pens, flour mills, stores, and blacksmith shops, as well as the garrison.  On November 17, 1745, a fierce attack destroyed Fort Saratoga.  Captain Peter Schuyler was killed in his own house.  Many others were also massacred or taken prisoner.  The settlement, including the garrison house was burned.  Fort Saratoga was rebuilt, but attacks continued sporadically during the years of the French and Indian Wars.  In 1763, France and England made peace, trouble subsided, and the settlement revived.  In 1767, Philip Schuyler erected a flax mill, reported to be the first in the American Colonies.  In 1770 the Saratoga Reformed church was organized.

     As the country struggled for independence from the British, Saratoga once again became a focal point of warring activities.  Both colonists and loyalists maintained forts, camps, and headquarters within the town.  Philip Schuyler , the American General in command, used his forces to delay the advance of the British, led by General John Burgoyne.  Hostilities intensified in the summer of 1777.  On September 10, 1777, Burgoyne’s army enroute from Montreal to Albany, crossed the Hudson River just north of Schuylerville, halted for a short time and then headed south.  Near Bemis Heights Burgoyne’s army, considered the mightiest in the world at that time, was defeated in the two battles at Saratoga on September 19 and October 7.  Burgoyne retreated back to what is currently the Village of Schuylerville.  He became surrounded by the American forces and ten days later, surrendered to Gen. Horatio Gates on October 17.  This surrender of British soldiers marked the turning point of the American Revolutionary War.  It provided the impetus that encouraged France to join the American cause against the British, ultimately  leading to the Americans winning the Revolutionary War.

     Saratoga suffered throughout the war.  Many of the residents lost their lives while others suffered great damage to their property.  Gradually, in the years following the war,  the town began to grow and prosper.  Flour mills, linen mills, paper mills, and saw mills were constructed.  Schools, churches, and businesses were established.  The two highways that passed through the town , the old Montreal and Albany military road and the Saratoga springs to Boston Road were improved.

     The completion of the Champlain Canal in 1822 provided a great impetus to growth. The Champlain Canal passed through the town from North to South  A boat basin and dry dock were developed in Schuylerville, and the town became a major shipping terminal  on the canal.  Boatloads of potatoes, grain, lumber, hay, and paper originated here.  A mule barn was built to house more than 100 mules.   As the demand increased, numerous warehouses, hotels, blacksmith shops, and businesses were established.  Today portions of old tow path have been cleared and maintained as a pleasant walking path with numerous illustrated sign boards describing the history of the canal. 

     In 1882 the Fitchburg Railroad passed through the town connecting Saratoga (Schuylerville) to Saratoga Springs and Mechanicville and Troy. This Railroad eventually became a part of the Boston and Maine and eventually the Saratoga and Schuylerville Railroad which was abandoned in 1956. The Hudson Valley Railroad followed in 1899  providing electric trolley service connecting Schuylerville  with Troy to the south and Glens Falls to the north.  With the increased use of automobiles, the trolley fell on hard times and was abandoned in 1929. 

     Over the years the Town of Saratoga underwent many boundary adjustments.  The original town was much larger and was a part of Albany county.  In 1772, the state  divided what is now Saratoga County into two districts: Halfmoon and Saraghtoga, which included the present day town of Easton in Washington county.  Three years later, the state took part of Saraghtoga and made it into a third district, called Ballstown.  The New York State legislature passed an act in 1788 creating towns in place of districts, and from Saratoga took a portion, including Malta, that became the town of Stillwater.  The Town of Saratoga was still much larger than it is today.  It included all or parts of what in years to come were separated as the towns of Northumberland, Moreau, Wilton, Saratoga Springs, plus parts of the current towns of Greenfield, and Corinth.  In 1791, Saratoga County was established and all of the towns in Albany County north of the Mohawk River became a part of Saratoga County. Since 1819 the boundaries of the town of Saratoga have remained the same.

     During the first half of the 19th century, two villages were incorporated within the town of Saratoga: Schuylerville, named after the Schuyler family, who were responsible for developing the area in 1831;  and Victory, named – as were its mills- in recognition of the American victory during the battles of Saratoga in 1848.  Hamlets with the names of Coveville, Quaker Springs, Grangerville, and Deans Corners, also developed within the Town of Saratoga.

     In the 19th and 20th centuries Agriculture flourished in the rich, fertile fields of Saratoga.  Mills thrived as a result of the abundant water power and good transportation.  Life was good in the town.  Many patriotic residents served their country in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  Many historic areas, markers, and monuments, including the Saratoga National Historic Park and the Saratoga Monument, were created to preserve, protect, honor and commemorate the American victory and the brave service and accomplishments of the areas residents.  In the late 1990s the federal government established the new Saratoga National Cemetery in the Town of Saratoga.  Veterans from all over upstate New York are now being buried in their final resting place overlooking the Hudson River Valley and the place where America’s freedom and independence were won.

     Since the mid 20th century there has been a gradual reduction in the number of farms in the town.  Agriculture is still an important part of the local economy, but as a result of technology, it is more efficient and fewer people and less land are required to produce more products and crops.  Today several large dairy, horse, fruit, and vegetable farms operate within the town.  Their presence provides a peaceful and appealing setting for numerous residential developments.  Horse farming has increased with a large number of champion thoroughbred and standardbred horses now being bred and raised in the town. 

     Agri-tourism is expanding with corn mazes, hay rides, and pick your own apples and produce.  Most of the mills that thrived in earlier years have gone out of business taking with them numerous jobs.  With better roads and safer cars, housing developments are growing and more people are living within the town and commuting to jobs located in the capital district area.  The quality of life that the town has to offer is attracting more and more people.  Recreational opportunities are expanding using former resources and attributes such as the old Champlain Canal tow path, the Hudson River, the Sword Surrender Site, and the Victory Woods.  Recreational Parks such as Schuyler Park are being established to meet the recreational needs of all of our residents.

     Over the years the Town of Saratoga has undergone many changes.  Today a comprehensive land use plan is in place encouraging a controlled growth and development of the area. In 2008 the town purchased the old high school at 12 Spring Street in Schuylerville and conducts all town business from this office location.  A new 29 acre Town Park, “Schuyler Park” located on Route 29, 4 miles west of  Schuylerville, is home to many athletic and community events.  Boat launches in Schuylerville, on Route 4 South of Schuylerville, and on Saratoga Lake provide recreational water access for visitors and residents. Schuyler Yacht Basin, a commercial marina is located in Schuylerville and other commercial marinas are located on Fish Creek and Saratoga Lake. A portion of the Hudson Crossing Park located just north of Schuylerville is located within the town of Saratoga. A new town highway department garage complex is located near the middle of town on route 32 south.  New hiking trails have been completed  on Wilbur road,  the old canal towpath in Schuylerville and the Victory Woods trail near the Saratoga Monument.  The National park Service owns and manages the Schuyler House and the Saratoga Monument.  The Town is also the site of the Saratoga National Cemetery and The Saratoga County Veterans Memorial.  This peaceful and serene setting with great views of the Hudson River valley provides an ideal location to reflect on the service and dedication of our veterans.

     Other places of historical importance include the Marshall House, the Sword Surrender Site, and Fort Hardy Park.  A new Gateway Regional Visitors Center operated by the Historic Hudson Hoosic Partnership is being planned for the old town hall site on Ferry Street in Schuylerville.  Despite all of the changes that have occurred, the rural character of the Town and the spirit of the residents has remained constant.  As the new millennium unfolds the town is prepared to honor its past and welcome the challenges that are forthcoming in the future.

 

Schuyler House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Saratoga Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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