Sacandaga Dogs

Dogs through the years have served mankind in many ways. As a hunter, laborer, protector, and companion. In papers that survived of Sir William Johnson there were receipts found of hunting dogs he purchased in the mid 1700‘s. Johnson, besides being the superintendent of Indian affairs in the Sacandaga River Valley, was an avid outdoorsman. One receipt did mention the dog as a pointer but did not mention the breed, but it may have been German or English.

The first documented mention of the pointer in England dates back to 1600. By the early 1700’s it was a dog of choice. Initially used to point out rabbits, the pointer realized its true calling around the 18th century as a bird spotter.

In 1760 a Journal kept by Warren Johnson (nephew of Sir William) is noted this account:
“ Sir William was very near perished in a snow squall ,coming home from Schenectady to his own home (Johnstown). His strength was so exhausted as to be obliged to take hold of a bird dog who had traveled with him which helped lead him to a house nearby. It was late in the night and the people could hardly hear his distress as the storm blew so hard”.

During the Revolutionary war in Mayfield, the Sacandaga Blockhouse was a place where Patriot regiments would scout and protect the surrounding area against the Indians and Tories . Solomon Woodworth was the Captain of this fortification and in references is explained an attack of the blockhouse during a furlough of the men. Woodworth was retiring for the evening when his dog started barking. Woodworth bounded out of bed to check on the cause of the commotion and outside the gate discovered Indians with torches trying to set fire to the fort. He fired at them, put out the flames, and was injured but recovered.

In 1900 There is also an account of using bloodhounds to hunt down robbers in the area.
In Jackson Summit the discovery of two little girls lost in the woods in 1909 was also credited to the family dog an acute outdoorsman named Rowen Brown.

Another tale of a dog was found in a reference in the Batchellerville area: An uncle of a family was crossing the Sacandaga River, on foot, heading home after work in late winter. At the time he had his dog with him. A thin spot in the ice caused the uncle to plunge into the cold river. He could keep his head out of the water by extending his arms, but as soon as he lifted his weight the ice would break way.

Somehow he made this dog understand to go for help which was a mile away. The dog arriving at the home, barked at the family and wined. The family knew the dog was the uncles but really paid no heed until the dog took one of them by the pant leg and pulled and wined and set off in the direction of their uncle in the river. They followed, found the uncle, pulled him from the river nearly frozen but he lived.

by Lorraine Frasier