The history of the Mohawk Valley is still evident in the many historic structures that have survived the tumult of the Revolutionary War and the devastation of modern times. One such priceless structure is the old Indian Castle Church located off of Route 5s outside of Canajoharie. (once called Upper Castle Church).
The church now in need of repair dates to 1769 when the Colonial Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Sir William Johnson, built it as an Anglican Church. Johnson paid for the church out of his own pocket not only to satisfy the Mohawks (his wife Molly was a Mohawk) who were prompting for a church of their own, but also because Johnson was a member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Religion at that time was playing a political role as well as a spiritual role as ministers like Samuel Kirkland and others were spouting religion that was often leading natives away from their loyalty to the Crown, where as the Anglican Church was the church of England and supported the King.
The church bell and one window with super-structure remain from the original church. The bell itself was a thing of pride to the Native Americans who after they deserted the area moving to Canada with Loyalist Joseph Brandt, came back and tried to steal the bell in the middle of the night.
The stories that surround this event are numerous but they all agree on one point, that in the dark of one night, the natives succeeded in stealing the bell. Failing to secure the clapper, while caring the bell on a branch between them in the dark, as they walked the clapper hit the bell and awoke locals who scrambled to save it from the fleeing Mohawk group.
Remodeled and moved in the 1850’s the church still retains its Colonial charm as it sits facing the road, a road that is today a trail into our historic past, just a stone’s throw from Fort Plain and Canajoharie.
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