Joe Doolittle’s storytelling skills will be put to the test this weekend. He’s helping the Stockade Association commemorate the Feb. 8, 1690 Schenectady Massacre, and Doolittle always likes to find the humor in even the worst of situations.
“I guess I can tell the story of the Jesuit priest and the salt keg, and I might be able to keep that light-hearted,” said Doolittle, referring to an earlier incident in which Scotia founder Alexander Lindsay Glen helped a French Jesuit priest escape from the Native Americans. “But the important thing we’re talking about is the impact the early Mohawks had on Schenectady. They were friendly and very helpful, and that’s the story I want to get across.”
A Glenville resident and member of the Story Circle at Proctors, Doolittle and local Native American expert Dave Cornelius will talk about the 1690 Schenectady Massacre 7 p.m. Sunday at Arthur’s Market in the Stockade. The commemoration will begin a day earlier, Saturday at 6 p.m., with a series of walking tours throughout the Stockade, which will be lit up with luminaries. The group will meet by the statue of Lawrence the Indian, a Mohawk who helped the villagers rebuild.
“The Lawrence story is a fascinating one because it was the Mohawks who invited the Dutch to come back and settle Schenectady after the massacre,” said Doolittle. “They told them, ‘If you come back, we’ll even build a longhouse in your town.’ I think maybe they wanted the Dutch there as a deterrent to any more attacks by the French, but it was also part of the relationship they had.”
The Schenectady Massacre occurred 327 years ago when the French and Indians marched down from Canada and attacked the small village of Schenectady, killing 60 people and taking 23 captive.
Cornelius, a Schenectady native with Mohawk ancestry, makes presentations to various groups about Native American history, and is often found at the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction speaking to school groups.
“Lawrence was the Native emissary to Albany and was in Albany on the night of the attack,” said Cornelius. “He organized Native response and pursued the French and their captives. He was also prominent in urging resettlement of Schenectady after the massacre.”
Cornelius will also talk about Schenectady founder Arendt Van Curler and his relationship with the Mohawks, and early settler Cornelius Van Slyke, who married a Mohawk woman named Os-Toch.
In conjunction with the event, the Stockade Association is adding a few stops to its audio tour to help explain the history connected to the 1690 Massacre. There are seven new additions to the tour, beginning with Stop No. 60, an overall narrative about the Massacre.
‘Schenectady Massacre Commemoration’
WHAT: A walking tour and presentation
WHERE: Arthur’s Market and the Lawrence the Indian statue; intersection of North Ferry and Front Street
WHEN: Walking historic tours are at 6 p.m. Saturday; historic presentation and dessert at Arthur’s is 7 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Saturday, free; Sunday is $4;
MORE INFO: www.historicstockade.com
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.