The Stoner Lakes

The Adirondacks 

 

NICK STONER

The Stoner Lakes were originally discovered by and later named after wilderness explorer and pioneer Nick Stoner over 150 years ago.  One who has spent any time in this particular region of the Adirondacks is bound to hear the name Nick Stoner at least once.  He is a local legend and many stories regarding his run-ins with the local Indians are still told around summer camp fires in the area.  A monumental statue of Nick stands brilliantly at the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course in Caroga Lake and Nick Stoner's Island is found on Canada Lake. The Nicholas Stoner Senior Citizens meet in Caroga Lake and the original Gloversville High School fight song was "Old Nick Stoner, the Man whose Praise we sing."  The Sir William Johnson Council of the Boy Scouts of America used his name for the charter chapter of The Order of the Arrow and a WW II Liberty ship (7,176-ton Maritime Commission freighter) was named after him (SS NICHOLAS STONER, Hull Number 2307, laid down May 12, 1944, launched June 17, 1944, scrapped 1964).  Nick Stoner's Cave where he allegedly hid from Indians who were chasing him when exploring the area is located on Cranberry Lake and can be visited by canoe.

But who exactly was Nick Stoner? Nick Stoner was born in 1762 on the Jersey seacoast.  He was brought to this area by his pioneer father who settled in the Broadalbin area.  His family later settled near the now Fulton County Community College.  Nick was  a career military serviceman and was stationed at King's Ferry, New York.  While in the service Nick's father, Henry Stoner, was slain by a group of Indians.  He was tomahawked and scalped and buried underneath a Hemlock tree.  Nick was known to visit the site often.  Nick's most infamous folk tale pertains to his encounter with theNICK STONER Indian who killed his father.  One night Nick was visiting Fonciaiere's Tavern (near the original Fulton County Courthouse and also known as UNION HALL) at the same time a number of Canadian Indian trappers were being served on the premises. He overheard a half-drunken Indian boast of the notches in his scalping knife.  The nine notches allegedly accounted for the Americans the Indian had taken in the late war.  The last notch was the deepest, and it was said that Nick Stoner overheard the Indian bragging how it was the notch from scalping "Old Stoner."  Nick entered the room just in time to hear the Indian's tale.  Nick who was angered at the presence of his father's murderer, seized a red hot iron poker from the fireplace and threw it at the Indian.  The Indian was hit directly in the neck area and his jugular artery was seared.   Depending upon what version of the story you hear, some report the Indian was killed and others report he was saved by a local physician.  Some even report that the only thing Nick accomplished was giving himself a nasty burn on his own hand.  No evidence has ever been published proving that Nick was an "Indian killer," although he was jailed briefly for this act of retribution.  He was such a popular character however, that a group of his friends actually freed him from jail by force before he voluntarily surrendered. Most report that Nick simply had a strong disdain for the man who killed his father.  Nick was a distinguished soldier and served in the Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1783 and the War of 1812.  He was present at key battles such as Saratoga and Yorktown.  The Battleship named after him during World War II had a "Nick Stoner" placard which can now be seen on the lawn near the Fulton County Courthouse.  Nick obtained the rank of Major before leaving the military.

When Nick officially retired form military service he became one of New York's first and most reputable outdoor guides.  He is responsible for vast exploration of the Adirondack State Park.  Nicholas Stoner was married to  Hannah Frank on April 22, 1840 at the village of Johnstown at the House of Tunis Van Vleet. They were Married by James T. Hildreth, Esqr. a Justice of the Peace at Johnstown. Nick was approximately six feet tall and was rarely seen without his rifle and hunting knife.  He explored the vast Adirondack wilderness well into his 80's. 

Below is a list of Nick's worldly possessions when he filed for a military pension from the United States government on June 15th, 1820.  He was successful in obtaining a military pension in the amount of $8.00 per month or $96.00 per year!  When Nick passed away on November 24, 1853, Nick's widow Hanna Frank was able to collect the same pension.

One mare ($40.00)
One Cow ($12.00)
3 Hogs ($4.50)
1 Calf ($5.00)
Some fowls ($1.00)
Some Old Knives & forks ($1.00)
1 chest of drawers ($5.00)
Some pots and Kettles Value ($7.00)
Some tea cups and Crockery ($0.50)
13 Traps for Hunting ($9.75)
1 plough ($3.25)
1 chain iron ($2.00)

Hunter, Trapper, and Indian Fighter, Nick died on November 24, 1853 at the age of 92!  He is buried in the soldier's plot at Prospect Hill Cemetery.  If you ever visit the area, look for Nick's statue on the golf course driving through Caroga Lake, his Island on Canada Lake, and the Stoner Lakes that bare his name on Route 10.



S.S. Nick Stoner Waymark



Fulton County Court House with Waymark



Union Hall, Johnstown, NY



American Heritage article


Prospect Hill Cemetery



The Nick Stoner monument at the Caroga Golf Course



Original Nick Stoner grave marker



Historical items present at the Caroga Lake museum



Nick Stoner Island, Canada Lake



Nick Stoner Island (historical) with caption