William Henry Roll

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. --Laurence Binyon,"Ode of Remembrance"

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the string that binds them is mine own. --Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Documenting your family history is a lifelong pursuit, a task of pleasure and research that is never completely finished.

Not to know one's ancestors, is to be a tree without roots, a stream without a source. --Kung-fut-se

The wind whispers through the trees, recalling words and dreams and memories of those who left us long ago. --Unknown

St. Basil of Caesarea, born about 330 A.D., said, "A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."


This website was created the old-fashioned way; it has been hand coded.

keep calm



Canoe from The Song of Hiawatha, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908, p. 65

There is no correct spelling for the name of this location, because the name was obsolete before English spelling was standardized. Various spellings include: Ca-nas-ta-gi-o-ne, Canassigioene, Canastagione, Canastagiowne, Canastaguyone, Canastigione, Canestigaion, Canestigaone, Canestigione, Canestigogione, Canestiguna, Canestijounie, Cannestagione, Cannestigaioenna, Cenestigaona, Conestageoni, Conistiglono, Connestagioena, Connestagnioena, Ganestagayune, Kanestigionne, Kanestigiorma, Kanestiguione, Kenestigaione, Nastagione, Nestaguina, Nestigaune, Nestitione, Nis-ti-go-oo-ne, Niskayuna, Nistigione, Quanestigoane, Quenestagione, Quenestigeane, Quenestigione.

Source: Becker, Howard I. Canastigione Alias Canestigione, Conestijounie, Canestiguna, Nestaguina, Nestigione, Niskayuna: The Early History of the Formation of That Part of Canastigione on the North Side of the Mohawk River at Niskayuna Including the Village of Vischers Ferry and the Lower End of Clifton Park, Sartoga County. Rexford, N.Y., 1953. Print.

The Location of the Canastigione Patent, 1749

A portion of a map drawn in 1749 by Evans Lewis, shows the location of Jan Mangelsen's Canastigione on the north bank of the Mohawk River. The Mohawk River is not labeled. It flows from the top left margin to the Hudson River, the large river flowing from the right top of the map to the bottom margin. Canastigione was directly east of Schenectady, New York ("Skenectady" on the map), and north of Albany. The location of Canastigione is indicated by a small circle just north of the Mohawk River halfway between the end of the word "Skenectady" and the Mohawk's confluence with the Hudson River (labeled "North River" on the map). The name "Ganistegune" (Canastigione) appears across the river from "Skenectady."


Location of the Canastigione Patent Northeast of Schenectady in 1749
Note the spelling variants

Source: Lewis, Evans. A map of Pennsilvania, New-Jersey, New-York, and the three Delaware counties. Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C.

Canastigione on the Kitchin Map of 1772

North is on the top of this map portion. The Mohawk River flows from left across the middle of the map into the Hudson River on the right. Steena Kill or Stony Creek is on the north side of the Mohawk River above the "y' in Schenectady. It flowed through Jan Mangelsen's land at Canastigione, where houses are marked with a row of six black rectangles close to the north side of the river in the middle of the map..

The Kitchin Map of 1772

The Kitchin Map of 1772.

Source: The Kitchin Map of 1772 at the New York State Museum. This map, drawn by Thomas Kitchin in 1772 and titled "Communication betwen Albany and Oswego" is the best map of the inland waterway corridor connecting the upper Hudson River with the Great Lakes during the period when it was in use for navigation.

The Preface of Howard I. Becker's Book Canastigione

The town of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, New York State has a very historical background and this is written for those who are interested and often wonder how it first became settled; for those who still take time to walk around in the country admiring old stone fences, ancient tree stumps or an old virgin pine which was too twisted to be cut; or for those who can pick out an Indian work shop by the presence of flint chippings or their camp sites; by the burnt stones and fire pits, or their favorite fishing grounds by an occasional net sinker; or for those who enjoy setting around the camp fire just watching the flames slowly consume the woods, an instinct we seem to be possessed with from our forbearers congregating around their open fires for thousands of years. Many tribes of Indians used this medium as a communication line to their great spirits, the wood burning, the flames and then the smoke rising slowly to the heavens above.

It has been a long and difficult job to accumulate sufficient data to work up a connecting story, as the early Dutch settlers were not very well schooled and practically all the records were made by scribes who were professional letter writers, "petty foggers" or local self made lawyers and others who were able to make out legal papers such as wills, deeds and marriage contracts. In order to get a picture of the first conditions found by white men as they paddled up the river or came down the path from Albany to the river near the mouth of mill creek at Mohawk view, imagine yourself standing there and looking up the river at great flats on both sides overgrown in places with brush; here and there an Indian cornfield and a few wigwams or bark huts with an occasional Indian canoe out on the river, dogs barking, smoke coming from their smoldering fires but otherwise not many signs of life. The squaws and girls working in the corn fields and the young bucks out roaming the woods, the older ones off on a scout or an expedition to collect scalps from the eastern Indians or visiting in some distant village. In general, the inhabitants here, were mostly river Indians consisting of a mixture : from the Algonquin tribes; Adirondacks, Mohican and Schaghticoke, all under control of the Iroquois whose nearest castles were in the Mohawk valley west of Amsterdam. These Indians were using the great flats at Conestiajonie or Niskayuna as a summer camp to raise corn and catch fish. Later in the fall, groups of mutually agreeable families would join forces and travel with their collected food to winter quarters deep in the north woods where they could hunt and trap for meat and furs and in the spring collect maple syrup, using the neck of deer hides to carry a mixture of the syrupy sugar and venison or bear meat. Hundreds of pounds of this food and their belongings were carried by short hauls to the hiding place of their canoes and thence by water back to the great flats in time to prepare their corn fields. Their food supply was supposed to last well in the summer but they had many celebrations and visitors, all telling about their winter experience and often their food supply would disappear long before their corn was ripe. These Indians were friendly with the Dutchman who gave them guns and modern materials like knives, axes and beads in return for furs, especially beaver skins, which were in great demand in Europe for use in trimming coats around the neck and down the front, it being a mark of great distinction for the person who could afford to wear it.

Within the next few years as the whites moved in closer and closer, to Canestiajonie, the Indians drifted away and in 1671 Harme Vedder and Barent Reyndertse from Schehectady and Albany obtained the rights from the Iroquois Indians and Governor Lovelace, of the choice flats on the north side of the Mowhawk with a straight shore line from just west of Forts Ferry up stream to the sharp bend near Vischers Ferry, a frontage of about one and one half miles. From then on things began to happen and on the south side of the river the Damens acquired land and Van Ness obtained a grant Schuyline acquired land around the Schuyline Kill now called Mill Creek or Shaker Creek. Then Martin Cregier moved in just west of the creek, where later a fort was built. John Clute received a grant for land next to Cregier and extending all the way up to the Tosendale or Lisha Kill. The Van Ness patent was sold to Forts on the north side in 1734, who were already using the shore for their ferry landing since about 1728.

On the north side of the river, the frontage acquired by Vedder and Reyndertse in 1671 was, in 1672, sold to Ryck Claese and Claus de Braebander (Van Bockhoven), two Albany or Fort Orange residents. By this time there were no regular Indian settlements there; occasionally a few would wander back to fish or hunt, staying a few days on their old camp sites and others stopping over on their way up or down the river. In general these Indians were the "last of the Mohicans," although some of their descendants lived in the neighborhood many years afterwards, the squaws making baskets and helping on the farms, while the bucks loafed, roamed the woods or spent the money brought in by the squaws. All Indian had a communistic set-up before the white man came and as a result never acquired any material things except the bare necessities of life and were subject to crop failures, enemy raid and disease. The better organized tribes, like the Iroquois, followed strict genetic rules forbidding inter-marriage within their clans, knowing well that it would develop much better warriors and leaders.

The Indian name Canestijonie was used for this area in the very first records and referred to both sides of the river. The origin of the name Niskayuna is unknown; it is probably the English way of pronouncing the Indian name whereas it is said that Canestijonie means corn flats in Iroquois and is quite similar to several locations in the Mohawk Valley such as Canajoharie. One source claims the word means the additional rafters in the long house which can be explained by saying that the Iroquois Indians migrated to this country one or two hundred years before the white man came; they were well organized and conquered the local tribes and according to their tradition, when a new tribe was subdued and brought in, their long house was extended to accommodate them. Much could be written about the Indian occupation along the river and their trails thru our town. Many of our winding roads were natural trails made by the Indian and simply widened to accommodate the white men's mode of travel. Many Indian graves have been leveled over by the plow and this particular section has given up large quantities of artifacts made of slate, flint and Normanskill chirt. The shape of the spear and arrow points tell the archaeologist that they come in the classification of Laurentian or very ancient material, some perhaps back to the glacial period.

Source: Becker, Howard I. Canastigione: Alias Canestigione, Conesijounie, Canestiguan, Nestaguina, Nesigione, Niskayuna: The Early History of the Formation of That Part of Canastigione on the North Side of the Mohawk River at Niskayuna Including the Village of Vischers Ferry and the Lower End of Clifton Park, Sartoga County. Becker: Rexford, N.Y., 1953, pp. 1-4 (book pagination), or images 13-16 (Windmill pdf file) and (Ancestry.com version).

Another Theory about the origin of the name Canastigione

Niskayune, now so written as the name of a town and of a village in Schenectady County, is from Kanistagionne, primarlily located on the north side of the Mohawk. Canastagiowane (1667) being the oldest form of a record. The locative description reads: "Lying at a place called Neastegaione,... known by the name of Kanistegaione. West of Schenectady the Mohawk is a succession of rapids. At or below Schenectady it makes a bend to the northeast in the form of a crescent, around which the water flows in a sluggish current. At the north point of the crescent was, and probably is a place called by the Dutch name Aal-plaat (Eel-place), marked on maps by a small stream from the north which still bears the name, and which formed the eastern boundmark of the Schenectady Patent. In Barber's collection it is stated that there was a Indian Village here called Canastagaones, or "People of the Eel-place." Naturally there would be fishing villages in the vicinity. The location of the Aal-plaat is particularly identified in the Mohawk deed for five small islands lying at Kanastagiowne, in 1667, and by the abstract of title filed by one Evart van Ness in 1715. (Cal. Land Papers) The name is from Keantsica, "Fish," of the larger kind, and -gionni, "Long," -tsi, Very long," constructively "The Long fish place," the Aal-plaat, or Eel-place, of the Dutch. The suggestion by Pearson (Hist. Schenectady) that the name, "was properly that of the flat on the north side of the river," is untenable from the name itself. The reading by the late Dr. E. B. O'Callaghan: "From Oneasti, 'Maize,' and Couane, 'Great' - 'Great maize field'" - is also erroneous. The generic name for the field or flat was Shanondohawah, compressed by the Dutch to Skonowa. In the vicinity of the Aal-plaat was the ancient crossing-place of the path from Fort Orange to the Mohawk castles, in the early days regarded as the "Best" as it was the "Most traveled." The path continued north from the crossing as well as west to the castles.

Source: Ruttenber, Edward Manning. Footprints of the red men: Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them. Newburgh, N.Y.: New York State Historical Association, 1906, Vol. 2, pp. 201-202.