The existence of some of these lakes were shown on a military map of the Mohawks in the files of the English war office and dated 1720. That map shows an outline of the Mohawk River flowing through their country with the American Indian castles on its southern bank and also shows the Cayadutta, Garoga and East Canada creeks...the latter called by the Indian's Caicharon. At the end of the Caicharon is shown the Garoga lakes. The Cayadutta is shown attached to the Sacandaga at Northville.
Mapping of these lakes with such accuracy was unlikely through American Indian reports alone. It seems that some white men would have seen them also.
The land from near Schenectady to Herkimer and north to Canada and for considerable distance south of the Mohawk River was the Mohawk country although before this time they had sold some tracts to the white men who were settling thereon. In 1703, they had sold the great Kayaderosseras Patent (mostly in today's Saratoga County although covering parts of Perth and Broadalbin) but had sold no other lands in Fulton County until 1723 when twenty-seven Palatinates from Schoharie secured from them 12,700 arces, partly in Montgomery County including in Ephratah and Johnstown.
The Native Americans were jealous of trespassers in their country and no permanent settlers were permitted by them prior to purchases of the land. The purchase prices were really nominal. In almost every instance, it consisted of fat beasts, fire arms and powder, and rum. After a sale was made by the Native Americans, it had to be confirmed by the English government to be effective. Between 1723 and 1770, all the remaining land in Fulton County had been sold by the Mohawk Indians to white men excepting what was the Glen, Bleecker, Lansing and Chase Patents.
In 1769, it was evident that a bargain had been made with the American Indians for this tract because in that year Sir William Johnson employed James Campbell, a surveyor residing in Poughkeepsie, to make a survey for their outbounds. Campbell, accompanied by Peter Getman of Stone Arabia, an ancestor of Oliver Getman, started at Emmonsburg and ran a straight line northeast to a point a few rods north of West Stoner Lake and there marked a tree. On return to Emmonsburg, he followed the north line of the Lott and Low Patent to Caroga Creek. There he rested a day while Captain Getman went to Stone Arabia after provisions. He started again from the Caroga Creek at a point just north of Cosselman's store and ran east until he struck the Mayfield Creek. He then visited Sir William Johnson for a couple of days and returning ran north until he struck the Sacandaga River and then turned west through the town of Benson and Arietta until he struck the tree that he marked on West Stoner Lake.
These surveys under the English law were required to be made before the sale from the Mohawk Indians would be confirmed by the government. This survey included within its boundries the Mayfield and Chase's Patents, as well as the Glen, Bleecker and Lansing Patent. It is evident that the application was to be made in two sections for the Mayfield Pateent sale was confirmed by the government in 1770 and, in a letter to Sir William Johnson from his agent in New York (where the council met appraising him of the fact that the Mayfield Patent sale had been confirmed) and advising him not to press the balance for the present, that much jealousy was being aroused at these large sales to Johnson or Johnson's friends.
The balance of the tract was never confirmed to Johnson. It is fair to assume that the Mohawk Indians had sold him the tract or the survey would not have been made but it was not confirmed and was legally owned by the Mohawks or the Canajoharie tribe until the War of the Revolution.
The War drove the Mohawks from the valley. What lands they had owned became the property of the state by conquest. In 1794, the land commissioners of the state, on the written application of Cornelius Glen, Baron Bleecker and Abraham G. Lansing, sold to them this tract consisting of 89,000 acres at one shilling and sixteen pence per acre, it being provided in the warrant of sale that within seven years of the date of the purchase one family should be settled on the land for every 1,000 acres in it; that is, by 1801, eighty-nine families must be on the property. There was no reversion of the land by 1801, hence it is certain that sales were made to that number of families.
This tract reached from a point at Emmonsburg Bridge, spreading out north to the county line at West Stoner Lake and southerly to the Lott and Low Patent and thence to the East Caroga Lake and to the line of the Mayfield Mountains.
The most salient feature of the tract was and is the group of lakes of which this is the largest. In the Mohawk times it was their hunters' paradise. Its natural beauties with its present mutilated forest attracts everybody and if the forest in the passage of time again becomes mature how increasingly attractive it will grow.
Just below the hamlet of Caroga on the banks of the creek, are the remains of one of the oldest and largest Mohawk Indian towns in eastern America. Remains have been found, in fact the greater part of Mohawk Indian relics now in American museums were secured at this site....including clay vessels made for domestic and other uses by the Mohawk Indians in this section were manufactured on the clay banks at that point.
An American Indian trail led from this town straight over the hills to Canjoharie Castle. Another trail went north following the Caroga, branching just west of Pines Rest on the Johnstown road, one trail leading past Stewart's Landing, Emmonsburg to Oswago, the other on the west side of West Caroga Lake through an Mohawk Indian town on the north shore of that lake past the east end of Canada Lake, past Pine, Stoner, Good Luck and Piseco lakes and then on to the St. Lawrence.
There was another trail leading from the upper Mohawk Castle at Danube, up the Caioharon to the Mohawk Indian town on this lake located on the point between East and West Lakes. On Stoner Lake there was also a town.
Many years ago, James Oathout, who lived on the Stoner Lakes, discovered a cave kept dry by ventilation through the roof in which several very large corn jars had been preserved intact from the time of the American Indian occupation. One of these jars is in the Albany museum and another in the Ft. Johnson collection, the finest specimens of Iroquois pottery in existence. They were undoubtedly transferred from the Caroga clay bank where made, hung on poles, carried on shoulders of their women and because of their bulky nature never removed from the place where they were used for the storage of food.
Note: Is it Caroga or Garoga?
The word Caroga is a Native American word, meaning "by the streams or waterways."
In the book, "Fulton County: A Pictorial History," the controversy over the spelling was settled in part through the influence of Cyrus Durey who cites a "Little Ditty": "Old Cyrus D. he says, says he/They're just plum crazy, those folks be/to spell Caroga with a G."
For more on the history of Upstate New York communities, take a look at these URLs and books:
Cyrus Durey: Frontiersmen of the Adirondacks: Economic Development in Early North America (ebook and paperback editions)
Frontiersmen of the Adirondacks: Economic Development in Early North America [NOOK Book] (ebook and paperback editions)