Friday, August 31, 2018

Have They Found Where Battles Were Fought Around Cumorah? – Part II “Fort Stanwix and Other Forts”

Continuing from the previous post regarding the fallacy that ancient Nephite forts have been found in upstate New York along the Butternut Creek and the area of Onondaga.
Onondaga Indian lands in Onondaga County, New York, just west of Palmyra, showing (red dot) Jamesville, New York. To the left (red circle) Webster’s Farm and location of the “square fort” (about where the blue arrow point is located)

Now, regarding the so-called Nephite forts built in North America around the Great Lakes region, specifically in the area of Onondaga, in the year 1798, on the west part of Webster’s farm (see previous post), afterwards occupied by Gilbert Pinckney, could be seen a trench, about “ten rods long” (165 feet), three feet deep, and about four feet wide at top, on the border of a steep gulf and parallel with it, apparently a place of defense. Arrow heads, spear-points and knives of flint, also stone axes, and other Indian implements, have been found, and several burial places were known to the early settlers. In the spring of 1815, on the farm of Deacon Joseph Forman, at Onondaga Hollow, an oaken pail was plowed up containing about four quarts of leaden bullets, supposed to have been buried during the Revolutionary war. 
    There is every appearance of an extensive burying ground on Judge Strong’s premises, indicated by the following circumstances: “in excavating a cellar to his house in 1816, a full grown skeleton of a man was thrown out. Another was disinterred by a Mr. Carpenter, while digging post holes back of Judge S’s house. Six other graves were opened, having in them the skeletons of full grown persons. The bones were in an advance stage of decay. They were found about a foot and a half below the surface, and those thrown out were gathered together and buried. From appearances this spot must have contained several hundred graves. Webster informed Judge Strong, that the Indians had a tradition, that in one of their battles with the French in the Hollow, which had been protracted and severe, the French removed their wounded to this spot, and here buried such as did not survive.”
    On the west hill, a mile south of the village was a clearing called the Webster orchard, and another called the Lewis orchard.  The Young’s farm had a clearing of one hundred and fifty acres. There were several other smaller clearings at the Hollow, some of them covered with grass and clumps of wild plumb and cherry trees. At the Hollow, south of the village, was an Indian burying ground. In earlier times, when the great annual councils of the Five Nations, were held at Onondaga, they concluded each with a war dance, bade emotional farewells that were extremely affecting, and the open ground away from the area would literally become crowded with moving Indians, especially the Senecas and Cayugas, accompanied to a point by the Onondagas who invariably attended their friends, for the purpose of taking leave. 
The bloody Battle of Oriskany, where American Patriot General Nicholas Herkimer rallied the Tryon County militia and friendly Oneida Indians to battle the American loyalists and allied Indians, including the Mohawk and Seneca and the Six Nations, about 40 miles east of Onondaga lands—it was the beginning of the Iroquois and Six Nations aligning themselves with the British, while the Oneida fought with the Americans

Regarding the ruins and artifacts found in Western New York claimed to possibly have been Nephite or Lamanite relics, it should be noted that New York has hundreds of Revolutionary War sites ranging from major fortifications to key battlefields, from Ticonderoga to Oriskany, the latter forty miles from Onondaga lands, where on August 6, 1777, the Battle of Oriskany was fought, one of the bloodiest battles in the North American theater of the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign. It should be noted that nearly one third of all the battles fought during the American Revolution were fought in New York State, with not only Oriskany in western New York, but also the battle at Fort Stanwix in Rome, New York;
Fort Stanwix, built in 1758 during the French and Indian War by British General John Stanwix in Oneida County, New York, and abandoned in 1828

Fort Ontario, overlooking lake Ontario, about 25 miles north of Onondaga; the Newtown Battlefield near Elmira; old Fort Niagara on the eastern bank of the Niagara River in Youngstown; Madison Barracks which is north of Onondaga on the shores of lake Ontario. There was the Bennington Battlefield, Fort William Henry, the Battle of Flockey, Fort Ticonderoga, the Old Stone Fort, and the Saratoga Battlefield, all in western New York just east of the Onondaga lands. In addition, the French had six forts in New York, and there were 27 colonial forts in New York and 48 overall.
    Therefore, it might be correctly assumed that whatever remains of forts that someone might want to claim, it is likely part of the French trappers and military installations or that of the American military from the French-Indian wars to the Revolutionary war.
    In addition, regarding the so-called Nephite artifacts, in the area around Onondaga, there are large quantities of horn stone imbedded in the slate rock of the Hamilton bedrock equivalent to Millboro Shale, the oldest strata of the gas shale sequence. This slate is in the south part of the town of Onondaga, along the road to Otisco from South Hollow. Now, hornstone, or hornblende slate, is a clay-slate that abounds with mica and form the connecting chain of minerals form hornblende to granite. It is extremely hard, and especially flinty slate is a gray, siliceous stone, which was anciently used for chipping or “knapping,” such as in making arrowheads, or in making either “flake tools,” or “core tools,” by knocking off large or small flakes from the stone in percussion flaking using a “hammer stone.”
    For greater precision of the flakes, the “hammer” was made of wood, bone or antlers. Sharp edges for blades (thin stone, twice as long as wide, sharpened on both sides, and hafted to handles) were achieved through “pressure flaking” by skilled stone knappers.
Knapping is the shaping of flint, jasper, agate, chert, quartzite, obsidian or other conchoidal fracturing stone through the process of lithic reduction to to make stone tools

In addition, since all stones are not the same—sandstone and marble were too soft to take an edge; granite was inconsistent in its hardness and would also not hold an edge; so hard, dark, fine-grained chert, flint, or where available, obsidian, were used. On the other hand hornstone or slate, like coarse-grained metamorphic schist and hard sedimentary limestone, were difficult to flake, and ancient toolmakers pecked the rock into the desired shape, then finished the tool by grinding and polishing into tools, which were mostly tools for woodworking, making axes, chisels, and adzes (Christopher J. Ellis, "Paleoindian and Archaic Hunter-Gatherers" in Before Ontario; The Archaeology of a Province, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, 2013, p41).
    Along the banks of the Onondaga Creek are found a number of sulfur springs. In the town are numerous hopper-formed depressions, in shape like a potash kettle, from two to four rods (33 to 66 feet) across at top, and from ten to forty feet deep. These are on the south part of Mr. Thomas Dorwin’s farm. There is an abundance of petrifactions (organic matter changed into a stony substance) in this town, north towards the town of Camillus, and along the Onondaga valley, and several deposits of calcareous Tufa (limestone). In the West Hill are large bodies of conglomerate rock, and a split rock (limestone) quarry furnishes an inexhaustible material for building purposes, commencing near Mickles’ furnace, running westerly into the town of Camillus.
The number of forts in western New York is staggering, with more than 55 in the state, and almost 30 revolutionary period forts

It should be noted, however, that while this area abounds in historical lore—in stories of French invasion, of Jesuit missionary visitations, of the existence of forts, fortifications, and Indian orchards, of the discovery of ancient relics, tools, utensils, and implements or appurtenances of war, and of the remains of Indian burial grounds and human skeletons, none are deemed to be far into the past. In fact, almost all of these aeas, artifacts and forts are since gunpowder and bullets were developed, and there is nothing in any of them to suggest the periods of Nephite and Lamanite wars and battles.
(See the next post, “Have They Found Where Battles Were Fought Around Cumorah? – Part III,” for more on the so-called Nephite forts built in North America around the Great Lakes region and specifically the Onondaga lands)

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