Fort Plain Museum gets $50K to study Stone Arabia battlefield

A historical marker stands near the point with the Battle of Stone Arabia took place. The Fort Plain Museum was awarded a $50,000 grant to be used to study where the exact boundaries of the battle were and to work in the future to preserve properties which may have historic significance to the battle. (Source: Destinations)

FORT PLAIN — The Fort Plain Museum will go back in history to the American Revolution to conduct an official study on the Stone Arabia Battlefield where hundreds of men lost their lives and resulted in Stone Arabia being completely destroyed.

The museum announced that this week it was awarded a $50,000 American Battlefield Protection Program Grant through the National Park Service.

Norm Bollen, chairman of the Fort Plain Museum Board of Trustees, said the grant will allow for them to hire a vendor who will conduct the official study.

“The museum applied for the grant to have more of a focus on history in the Mohawk Valley and the battle that took place at Stone Arabia,” Bollen said.

In order to get the grant, Bollen said the museum worked with the Stone Arabia Preservation Society and assembled a Stone Arabia Battlefield Committee of local historians to provide the needed documentation to the National Park Service.

“Anything to improve the understanding of local history is good [for our] heritage,” Bollen said.

He said the study could bring in people who may have an ancestrial link to the area and could help to improve tourism.

According to a news release, the purpose of the study is to determine the course of events that took place in Stone Arabia on the morning of Oct. 19, 1780 during the Battle of Stone Arabia, an encounter between Albany County militia and a British-supported expedition of Native Americans and Loyalists led by Sir John Johnson and Capt. Joseph Brant.

Johnson led an army of 900, while Col. John Brown of the Massachusetts’s Militia marched his 380 militiamen out of Fort Paris to meet in a field about a mile from the fort. Outnumbered nearly 3 to 1, Brown was shot from his horse and his men fled the field.

The main goal of the grant will be to determine the size and boundaries of the battlefield.

Bollen said the battle encompassed a much larger area than most people think. He said the battle “swept” across the farm area in Stone Arabia. Farms were burned down and fields were destroyed during the battle. The study would establish the official area of battle and would help the museum clear the way for future preservation plans.

Once the study is complete, Bollen said the museum will present the results of the findings to the public.

“It will give us the opportunity to apply for more grants for preservation programs,” Bollen said.

He explained that if there were a home for sale that on the property where the Stone Arabia Battle took place, they could apply to preserve that home.

Bollen said he is unsure when the study would be completed. He hopes to start the study this fall and possibly have it completed next summer. Bollen said he first has to go to Washington, D.C. for training to hire the vendor.

“It does not go quickly,” Bollen said.

By Patricia Older

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