The tomahawk is an invention of the Algonquin Indians, a tribe that lived throughout the northern parts of North America in what is now known as New England and Canada. Originally made from a wooden shaft with a stone at the top and secured with strips of rawhide, the tomahawk was a multipurpose tool – used to hunt, chop, cut and, on occasion, wield as a weapon. Modern day design of a tomahawk includes a shaft not more than 24 inches and a cutting edge not less than 4 inches, with a spike or hammer protruding from the butt of the blade.
When Europeans arrived in North America they were introduced to tomahawks; marveling at the ingenuity of the Algonquin tool, Europeans built on that model by replacing the stone head with metal. This streamlined the design and made the tomahawk a more effective tool – and weapon.
During the American Revolution War, the tomahawk was a required weapon in battle. It was easier to carry and use than a gun as a gun took a long time to load. And, the tomahawk was more reliable at hitting its intended mark than the gun.
So, what does this little history lesson have to do with Albany and The Yard? Because Albany is the home of an infamous general in the American Revolution, Philip Schuyler, who, as the legend goes, had a close encounter with a tomahawk in his home in Albany, which still stands at 32 Catherine Street. AND, Albany is the future home of The Yard, where you can come and try your hand at throwing a tomahawk!
As for Philip Schuyler’s encounter with a tomahawk, the story goes that in the summer of 1787 Philip was at home with his wife and children. Suddenly, their home was invaded by attackers (either Indians sympathetic to the British or Tories dressed as Indians – whichever you chose to believe) wielding tomahawks. The family raced upstairs to escape.
In the melee, the youngest Schuyler child, Catherine, was inadvertently left downstairs. Realizing her sister was in danger, Marguerite “Peggy” Schuyler ran downstairs to save little Catherine. As she ran back upstairs clutching Catherine, one of the attackers threw a tomahawk at Peggy. Fortunately for Peggy, the tomahawk missed its mark and instead hit the bannister of the staircase. More than two hundred and thirty years later, that mark can still be seen on the Schuyler mansion staircase.
While we do not condone throwing tomahawks at people (or other living “targets”), we certainly condone throwing them at our wood targets at The Yard! Interested in throwing a tomahawk? Email us to book a time to come in and give it a try! We are now accepting reservations for December 2019 and beyond.