Auriesville, New York - History


Auriesville is the presumed site of the Mohawk village, located in Montgomery County, New York, in which Saint Isaac Jogues, and his companions, Saint René Goupil and Saint Jean de Lalande, were martyred by the Mohawk.

Jogues and Goupil were brought from present-day Canada to the village on the Mohawk River in 1642 as prisoners. They were tortured and then enslaved by the Mohawk. Goupil was killed in 1642, but Jogues escaped and returned to France. He returned to the village on a peace mission with Lalande, a young lay brother. Jogues was killed October 18, 1646. Lalande was killed the next day while trying to recover his body from the village path. In 1644 François-Joseph Bressani was tortured there, and later on, Joseph Poncet.

In 1655-57 Le Moyne came as ambassador to make peace. In 1666 the Marquis de Tracy conducted a punitive expedition against Ossernenon and other Mohawk villages. The next year in 1667, a permanent Jesuit mission was established. There Father Boniface, James de Lamberville, Jacques Frémin, Bruyas, Jean Pierron and others laboured until 1684, when the mission was destroyed.

Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk Indian woman who has been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, was born there and baptized in nearby Fonda, New York. While the missionaries were in control of Ossernenon and the adjacent Indian towns, Blessed Kateri and other Mohawk converts, particularly the women, were remarkable for their exact Christian life, and in many instances for their exalted piety.

The exact location of this village, closely associated with the founding of Catholicism in New York, was for a time a subject of considerable dispute. Historians such as John Gilmary Shea and Gen. J. S. Clarke of Auburn had disagreed. They finally were able to show that the present Auriesville is the place in which Father Jogues and his companions suffered death. The basic evidence is the fact that, up to the time that the villages were destroyed by de Tracy, they were on the south side of the Mohawk and west of the Schoharie River. This was clear from contemporary maps, and from the letters of Jogues, Bressani, and Poncet.

Joliet, known to be an accurate cartographer, put the village of Ossernenon at the confluence of the Schoharie and Mohawk. Jogues had written that the village was on the top of a hill, a quarter of a league from the river. Jogues described the ravine in which Goupil's body was found, with features that were extant in the 19th century. Lastly, Jogues gave the distances from the villages of Andagaron and Tionontoguen, which fixed the locality.

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