New Light on an Old Road - Part II
(Continued from March/April 1998 Newsletter)
by John Wolcott
The new information revealed by this almost destroyed map, about old trails and roads in the Pine Bush is utterly amazing and startling. I had already known that part of the "Old Road to Schenectady" left Albany by a route up near Madison Avenue, and that it went over the UytKyck off Curry Road. Both of these locations are south of where it is mapped and documented later on. But both references to this more southerly course refer to the "Old Road to Schenectady."
Whether both versions of this road went to the "Sand Bergh" where Swinburne Park is, I'm no longer certain for now. There are references to the road at this location in the 1670's and 1680's. The new route is shown leaving Albany near the present City Hall on the 1698 Romer Map. The City leased to Isaack Van Valkenburgh, in 1716, for a farm-tavern at the Verbergh place the road at that location (Rapp Road by the Thruway) in that year.
The new old map is the only one which I have seen, so far, to show "The Old Road," but not for its entire length. It is shown coming in toward the "new" road from the southwest in the middle of the Pine Bush then going westerly just south of where Curry Road now is and through where Pete Ryan's suburban development and the Wildwood School are located, the latters being at or near a totally forgotten place with a lost name labelled in the Map as "Schaape Wey", that is to say "Sheep pasture. Then the old road winds around over the south part of the Kyckuyt or Lookout.
This is an interesting location. It appears to be the semi-submerged drumlin with a covering of sand. This stretches from Curry Road to the Thruway. It is the highest elevation in the now contiguous Pine Bush. Most of it is in Guilderland which the town has failed to protect from massive sand and gravel mining.
A letter from William Cockburn, the maker of the newly discovered map, to Daniel Rittenhouse, the famous astrologer and transit designer of Philadelphia, relates a discovery made when William Cockburn was surveying at the UytKyck (the same as the Kyckuyt). In the letter he describes a large tree that was cut down there by the surveying crew. Inside the trunk was an old axe cut, apparently made by a metal axe and covered with a number of critical layers. These layers, being counted, placed the axe cut at a date some decades to the anterior to the arrival of Henry Hudson in this region.
So far, all of the Colonial history concerning the Uytkuyck has come from the Normans Kill Case legal papers except the above cited letter which is but indirectly and only incidently related. One or two Indian names are ascribed to the UytKyck in the legal documents, "Inthaghtagta" and "Otgagtenonde."
Actually they may both represent the same or similar name if "Inthaghtagta" can be made out to be a version of "Otgagte," "nonde" being the Mohawk word for kill which at least, identifies the language.
Yet another document from this case has the following informative statement. "A hill called Ye Out Look. In the Dutch language called the UytKyke, and has the derivation of its names from this, Viz formerly the road to Schenectady went over that Hill, and the handlers used to stop there in order to see if any Indians where coming from Schenectady for from this hill they could see a great distance . . . " The word handler, in this passage, is a anglicization of the Dutch "Handelaer" meaning trader, in this case, fur trader. Albany had a monopoly on the fur trade since 1662. This was aimed at Schenectady which had an advantageous location for the fur trade and it's settlers began engaging in this trade from the beginning in defiance of the laws and ordinance.
The Pine Bush had two known locations where illegal Schenectady handlers intercepted Indians heading for Albany with their furs. One was the UytKyck, the other was Margriet Bergh or "Traders Hill" a little east of the SUNYA campus, called in Mohawk "yenondahetschutchera."
Sadly, Guilderland, NYS DEC, and the Pine Bush Commission will probably allow the UytKyck to be further mined until it is levelled. This barbarity will then be followed by another in the form of another sublurban development. It will probably feature a pedestrian bridge to McDonald's on the Thruway just across from here, as a selling point to all the middle crass suburbanites. There are probably intentions like this afoot since we've been told that we can't explore the place. Its too bad the UytKuck can't be acquired publicly by the McDonald Corporation and a bridge built over the Thruway for hikers. The top of the UytKuck is still there, I think.
A totally hitherto unknown trail is shown on the map leaving the Old Road at or near McDonald's bending around the source of springs of the Hungerkill then heading southerly. A large number of Indian artifacts have been surface collected on two farms in this area along the upper reaches of the Hungerkill. Probably the most fascinating new piece of information shown on the Map is a single dashed line running parallel to the Schenectady Road.
Will the Real Maquas Padt Please Step Forward?