Otsego Lake

Geographic position

42.7564° N, 74.8961° W


Rickard, Dave. “Native Americans.” Hartwick, the Heart of Otsego County, NY. Ed. Town of Hartwick Historical Society. Hartwick, NY: Syllables Press, 2002. 9-11. Web.

General note

Otsego Lake is located in upstate New York directly north of Cooperstown, and it serves as the source for the Susquehanna River. In the 18th century, the lands surrounding Lake Otsego were inhabited by the Mohawk, Oneida, and Tuscarora Tribes. It is from these Tribes that the lake received its name. In 1739, William Johnson described the lake in his journal, writing, “[The lake] is a bright gem set in the dark forest.” The Mohawks used Otsego Lake for hunting and fishing. In 1754, John Christopher Hartwick purchased 24,000 acres of land surrounding the lake from the Mohawks. Hartwick planned to start a school for Mohawk children in the area, which was eventually built in 1764. This school was set up at the foot of Otsego Lake and run by a Mohawk named Moses who was one of Wheelock’s former students. James Fenimore Cooper took the lake as the setting in several of his Leatherstocking Tales, naming it Glimmerglass. Cooper’s daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, reflected on the Lake’s Native American inhabitants in her book Rural Hours (1887), which serves as a later record of Native Americans on Otsego Lake.