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Full text of "History of Schoharie county and border wars of New York : containing also a sketch of the causes which led to the American revolution ; and interesting memoranda of the Mohawk valley ; together with much other historical and miscellaneous matter, never before published ; illustrated with more than thirty engravings"

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HISTORY 



SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

AND 

BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK; 



CONTAINING ALSO 



A SKETCH OF THE CAUSES WHICH LED TO THE 
AMERICAN REVOLUTION ; 



INTERESTING MEMORANDA OF THE MOHAWK VALLEY; 



TOGETHER WITH 



MUCH OTHER HISTORICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS MATTER, 
NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED. 



ILLUSTRATED WITH MORE THAN THIRTY ENGRAVINGS. 



BY JEPTHA R: SIMMS. 



Sleep soldiers of merit, sleep gallants of yore, 

The hatchet is fallen, the struggle is o'er, — 

While the fir tree is green and the wind rolls a wave. 

The tear drop shall brighlen the turf of the brave. — Upham 



ALBANY; 

MUNSELL & TANNER, PRINTERS 

1845. 






Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by 

JEPTHA R. SIMMS, 
In the Clerk's Office of the Northern District of New York. 



TO THE YOUNG MEN OF THE 

SCHOHARIE AND MOHAWK VALLEYS, 

Classic Grounds for the Antiquarian, 

This volume is respectfully dedicated. And 
should the young be interested in its perusal, and 
its scenes of blood tend to increase their love of 
country and hatred of tyranny inspiring them with 
gratitude towards the heroes of the Revolution, — 
a spirit to emulate their daring deeds, and a desire 
to become familiar, not only with the stirring events 
which have been enacted near their own domestic 
altars, but a perfect history of their whole country — 
her institutions and the manner of preserving them ; 
then will his desired reward be attained. 

THE AUTHOR. 



PREFACE. 



Comparatively few persons ever read the 'preface of a book, 
although every one should who would peruse the contents of 
the latter understandingly : for as a door serves us to enter 
the dwelling of our neighbor, so a preface is given by the 
writer of a volume as its entrance. That individual who does 
not read what an author says of his own book, can never fully 
appreciate its merits or demerits. Says Phillips in his Million 
of Facts: "Let us garner up our notices of past ages, and 
preserve them in the archives of the country : we shall please 
and instruct ourselves by so doing, and make posterity lasting- 
ly indebted to us for the deed. To transmit the honors of one 
age to another is our duty ; to neglect the merits of our fathers 
is a disgrace." Actuated by corresponding motives, I com- 
menced collecting historic matter in 1837, with the view of 
making it public. 

From the lips of many hoary-headed persons of intelHgence 
then living, whom I visited at their dwellings at no little sa- 
crifice of time, the matter presented in the following pages was 
taken down ; which individuals could say of numerous impor- 
tant transactions — 

I was an actor in, or I witnessed them. 

The collection of materials for this volume began just before 
it was publicly announced, that Col. Stone's forthcoming Lfe 



VI PREFACE. 

of Brant would serve up many border transactions, but rightly 
conjecturing that not a few would escape that writer's notice, par- 
ticularly of a personal character, which might prove highly in- 
teresting to the general reader, I continued my gleanings; with 
what success the following pages will show. This volume does 
not profess to contain a detailed narrative of all the tragic scenes 
enacted on the frontiers of New York; for the reader is aware 
that several large books filled with such matter have already 
been published. I have aimed, therefore, to present incidents 
which have escaped the knowlege of previous writers, or trans- 
actions to which I could add new facts, generally noticing in 
their place, however, the most important events published by 
other authors. 

When writers are obliged to rely principally on oral testi- 
mony for what they publish, they are liable, from the treachery 
of memory in some, and the fondness for the marvelous in others, 
to imposition, to be practised in turn upon their readers. Aware 
of this, in matters of importance I have principally confined my 
inquiries to individuals sustaining a character of conscientious 
regard for the truth. More than this, I have had the same 
stories related by as many different persons as possible, often 
strangers to each other ; and then, on carefully examining their 
testimony, have been enabled to arrive, as I believe, very sa- 
tisfactorily at the truth. These antiquarian researches should 
have been made at an earlier day, but the stale maxim, " better 
late than never," will surely hold good in this instance if any. 

When I commenced collecting materials for this work, T had 
not designed to make it so extended, but incidents of real in- 
terest coming to my knowledge, which transpired in sections 
remote from the Schoharie settlements, where those researches 
began; I resolved to enlarge it so as to garner up as many 



PREFACE. VU 

unpublished events as possible, particularly of the Revolution; 
in pursuance of which plan I visited not a few aged persons 
in the Mohawk valley. To render the book generally useful, 
believing it would fall into the hands of some who might never 
read an elaborate history of the American Revolution, I con- 
cluded to incorporate from the most authentic sources, a brief 
sketch of the principal causes which brought about that Revo- 
lution, adding to it the Declaration of our Independence, a do- 
cument, which, though now in the possession of comparatively 
few, should be in the hands of every American citizen. 

Since the subject matter of the volume has taken a wider 
range than was at first anticipated — in truth, not a few novel 
and important facts have come to hand since a prospectus was 
issued for it, the author has thought seriously of changing the 
title because too local ; but as often has the question of the poet 
arisen — "What's in a name?" and not fastening on anyone 
more satisfactory, it has been retained. That portions of the 
volume may be found obnoxious to criticism, I do not doubt, as 
it has mostly been written in the midst of the family circle and 
domestic cares. Indeed, had it been penned under more favor- 
able auspices, I am not quite certain it would have been pro- 
nounced a very classic production; for, having been bred be- 
hind a counter, much of my early life was devoted to merchan- 
dising instead of letters. A friend who has often seen me in 
my studio, surrounded by my family, has wittily suggested the 
propriety, not inaptly I must confess, of dating this volume in 
the kitchen, and dedicating it to my better-half. 

The reader may expect to discover some little repetition, and 
a want of smoothness and harmony in its parts, since portions 
of this work have been added as new light has been cast upon 
tlicm, long after others were written : besides, some of it has 



Vm PREFACE. 

undergone a hasty abridgement to bring it within the volume, 
which now by far exceeds its intended limits. Care has been 
taken to correct several errors into which previous writers have 
fallen, from their not sufficiently authenticating what they publish- 
ed ; and it is very possible with all my pains-taking, that I have 
fallen into some. If an essential one should become apparent 
to any reader, he will comer a favor on the author by pointing 
it out ; as also he will by transmitting ancient writings, or in- 
teresting unpublished facts to his address. A true history of the 
Revolution cannot be written until the epitaphs of all the actors 
in that great struggle for civil liberty shall have become moss- 
bound ; for as the several parts of a body serve to make up its 
whole, I conceive it necessary to bring together those scattered 
parts before it can be pronounced complete. Frequently do 
historic facts spring into life on the death of a scarred veteran, 
when, perhaps, for the first time his old papers fall under the 
observation of individuals who can appreciate their worth. 

Although apprised by some of my pioneers in book-making 
that local histories soldom quit cost, and urged by timid friends 
long since to abandon the whole enterprise, still I have perse- 
vered in presenting the volume, such as it is, to the public, 
feehng conscious, whether deceiving myself or not, that I was 
discharging a duty I owed my country ; and if I have brought 
into the general store-house any new materials for the future 
historian, then has my labor not been in vain. That portions 
of matter in the following pages may be thought by some readers 
of too little importance to merit a place; or that other passages 
are too minutely detailed — too prolix to suit fastidious tastes, 
I do not doubt. What pleases one will not always please an- 
other, and that which some readers would be most desirous to 
retain, would possibly be the first rejected by others. The mi- 



PREFACE. IX 

nuteness with which our countrymen Stephens, Brooks, Clark 
and other gifted writers have described what they saw and felt, 
is the charm which renders their writings peculiarly acceptable 
to most readers. As seasoning in food renders it more agree- 
able to the palate, so small incidents, trivial in themselves, if not 
tedious, may give zest to a published event. 

I would here acknowledge my indebtedness to all such per- 
sons as have in any manner aided me, by communicating in- 
formation either by letter or otherwise; and while I do so, 
take pleasure in expressing my especial obligations to my friends, 
Mr. Allen V. Lesley, a young gentlemen of much promise, 
who sketched with accuracy the principal views with which 
the volume is embellished; to my engravers, particularly to 
Messrs. V. Balch and E. Forbes, who have done most of the 
engraving, for the skillful manner in which they have executed 
their trust, and to the Rev. John M. Van Buren for taking 
some pains unsolicited, to bring the work into favorable notice. 
So much imposition has of late been practised in the sale of 
books by subscription, that I should not forget to signify my 
gratitude to those who have conditionally agreed to purchase 
this book, as they have secured to me the means of its publication. 

Persons of little reading are incredulous when told that in- 
teresting facts of by-gone days remain unpublished, but my in- 
vestigations have been sufficient to satisfy me, that thrilling in- 
cidents of an unique character may yet be brought to light, and 
I cannot refrain from indulging a hope, that other writers will 
enter the field to glean where yet they may. And now, in 
closing my introduction and offering this humble effort to the 
public, to seek its share of popular favor, I cannot refrain from 
observing, that I am induced to do it, more from a desire to be- 
come useful than conspicuous. 

J. R. SIMMS. 

Fultonville, JV. Y. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

Origin and signification of Schoharie — Schoharie trihe of Indians, liovv formed 
and distin2;uishcd — Location of Mohawk Castles — Indinn Confederacy of 
New York and policy of the Albanians — Course of the Confederates in the 
Revolution — Arts of the aborigines— Mysterious pit— Indian customs and 
■worship — Proper use of tobacco — Indian villages — Residence of Karighon- 
dontee — Indian Castle at the Wilder-Hook — Indian name of mountains — ' 
Number of Schoharie Indians — Their coat of arms — Their footpaths — 
North America peopled by relision — Policy of Queen Anne towards Ger- 
man emigrants — Schoharie settled by Germans — Their passage from Eu- 
rope — Encamp on the Hudson — Arrive at Albanj- — Distinction between 
German and Dutch — Messengers sent to Schoharie — Party remove tliither — 
Incidents on the way — Origin of the word Helleberg — Location of Schoha- 
rie settlers — Their names — Probable number. - - - Fage 21 

CHAPTER IL 
Poverty of Schoharie Germans — Birth of four children — First wheat sown 
in Schoharie — Milling done at Scheneclada — Industry and Bravery of the 
women— Physicians and Ministers — First horse— Settlement in Vrooman's 
Land — Indian titles at that place — Murder of Truax — Its object how re- 
vealed — Arrival of Bayaril — Nature of his visit mistaken — Attempts to 
capture him — He escapes to Schenectada — Schoharie lands sold at Albany 
to seven partners — Foot race at Weiser's dorf — Battle between Captain 
Hartman and his Indian neighbors — Puts a spell upon their guns — Smoking 
of the calumet — SherilT Adams arrives at Weiser's dorf — Rides upon a 
rail — Returns to Albany— Delegates sent from Albany to England— Are 
committed to the Tower — Their return home — Weiscr and others remove 
to Pennsylvania — Origin of Cook-house — Horses return to Schoharie — In- 
stances of brute instinct — Justice Garlock removes to the IMohawk valley — 
Evidence of his justice. 51 

CHAPTER HI. 
Ancient apple trees — First grist-mill in Schoharie county — Cobel's mills — In- 
dian name of Cobelskill — Old mill-stone — Introduction of bolting cloths — 
Schoharie fashions — Profitable women — Buttons — Dandies — Long beards — 
First cider made in the county — •First wheel-wright — First German school 
in America — Schools in Schoharie — First black-smith in Schoharie — Do- 
mestic beer — Dutch pride and prejudice — Introduction of slaves and their 
treatment — Farming utensils — Mode of threshiii? with horses — Shoe- 
makers — Tailors — Hatters — Abundance of fish — How exterminated — Wild 
animals — A German killed by a bear — 'Anecdote of the bear-catcher — A 
bear killed by a German — Hunt on Fox's creek — A tartar causht — Promi- 
nent hills cast of Middleburgh — A panther stor^- — Beavers and their damf — 
Doct. Moultcr kills a wild-cat— First distillery in Schoharie— Fate of its 
owner — An Indian shoots six deer with arrows — Rattle snakes — How de- 
stroyed — Indian courtship — Schoharie Indians sell lands — Ancient bond — 
Purchases of Indians how legalized — Royal permit to purchase of Indians — 



XU CONTENTS. 

Sale of lands in New Dorlach — Reservations to government — Sales made 
in presence of Sir William Johnson — Certificate of Thomas Bradstreet — 
Certificate of Mayor of Albany respecting sale of slaves — The King's 
highways, how obstructed — First merchant in Schoharie — Anecdote of his 
marriage — His portrait — The second merchant — His will — A cannon, to 
whom presented and when used — Origin of Punchkill — Anecdote of John 
J. Lawyer — Liquor drank at funerals — Indian murders — Savage act of a 
father — An Indian marries his prisoner. .... Page 79 

CHAPTER IV. 
Groat family settle in the Mohawk valley — Erect a grist-mill — Highland 
troops arrive at Fort Johnson — Lewis Groat captured in the French war — 
Incidents on his way to Canada — His return home — Murder of Mrs. Van 
Alstyne and captivity of her daughter — Sir William Johnson — His birth — 
Is agent for Sir Peter Warren — Establishes himself at Warren's Bush — 
Becomes an Indian agent for the British government — Obtains a house- 
keeper — His marriages — Is created a Baronet — Erects Fort Johnson — 
Builds mansions for "his sons-in-law — Removes to Johnson Hall — Sir John 
Johnson — His marriage and subsequent conduct — Sir William's death — Guy 
Johnson succeeds him as Indian agent — Johnson mansions by whom occu- 
pied in the Revolution — Their confiscation — Commissioners for selling con- 
fiscated personal property in Tryon county — Confidential slave of Sir John 
Johnson — His recovery — Sale of Johnson Hall — Spook stories — Sir William 
Johnson a great land-holder — His fondness for women — Lives with Molly 
Brant — Pleasing anecdotes of the Baronet — Notices of him from the Gen- 
tleman's Magazine — His coffin made into bullets — P'ace of his burial — His 
portrait — Old King Hendrick — Dreams with Sir William Johnson — Com- 
missioners of the colonies and Chiefs of the Six Nations meet at Albany — 
Speeches of Hendrick and other chiefs — Capt. John Scott erects Fort Hunt- 
er — Queen Anne's Chapel and Parsonage — Indian war dan/es, how ob- 
served at Lower Mohawk Castle — Rev. John Stuart removes to Canada — 
Sells a slave — Scott's Patent — Marriage of Ann Scott — An Irish colony — 
Jelles Fonda an early tradesman on the Mohawk — A match at boxing — 
Smoking at funerals — Boating on the river — Names of rapids — Little 
Falls — Gen. Schuyler constructs inland Locks — Evidence of his prudence — 
Durham boats on the river — Difficulties to encounter — Accidents — First 
bridges in the Mohawk valley — Early merchants at Canajoharie — A duel — 
The Yankee Pass — Caughnawaga Church — Indians obtain a church bell at 
the Upper Mohawk Castle — Location of Forts Herkimer, Dayton and 
Plain — Land speculations — Tragic adventure at the Devil's Hole — Ancient 
tax-lists — Large bill of rum — First Court held in Tryon county — Herkimer 
county organized — Public punishment — Changes in Western N. York. 105 

CEIAPTER V. 
Strength of the Vrooman family — A load of wheat — Women go to market 
and work in the field — Dutch fondness for horses — Feats of strength — Trial 
of strength and speed — Charitable act of Miss Vrooman — Weddings how 
celebrated — Gills to intended brides — Horning at weddings — Playing cards — 
Fiddlers — Frolicking — Female ball dress — Dancing fifty years ago — Anec- 
dote of Judge Brown — Supawn how eaten — Dutch eat their plates — New 
Year's day how observed — Christmas, Paas and Pinkster — Early farming — 
Dutch butter — Soiir-crout how made — Dutch dishes — More witchcraft — 
How to get rid of rats — Schoharie invaded in the French war — An Indian 
treaty — A jubilee — Riding on horseback — Sparking — Why Americans de- 
generate — First Schoharie tea-party — Causes of the American Revolution — 
Ignorance of the British ministry — Opposers of British tyranny — Freedom 
of opinion by whom established — English policy for raising a revenue — 
Debt of Enu'land — Tax imposed — Gov. Bernard issues a pamphlet — Stamp 
duties — Vireinian boldness — Franklin in England — Perseverance of Gren- 
ville — Barre's reply to Townsend — Sayings of Franklin — Friends of Stamp 
Act how treated — Virginia resolves — Continental Congress — Death and re- 
surrection of liberty — Sons of liberty — Patriotic ladies — Speech of Pitt — 



CONTENTS. XUl 

Franklin interrogated— Repeal of Stamp Act — Popularity of Gov. Ber- 
nard — Domestic looms resumed — India tea rejected — British troops sent to 
New York and Boston— Dickinson's Essays— Gov. Bernard returns to Eng- 
land — Convention at Annapolis — Troops at Boston fire on the citizens — 
Event how celebrated — Extract from Dr. Warren's Oration— Tax on tea 
retained. Page 155 

CHAPTER VI. 

A contest approaches— Burning of the Gaspee — Gold versus liberty — Predic- 
tion of Patrick Henry— Espionage of Gov. Hutchinson — Town Committees 
organized — Franklin sends home letters — East India Company in trouble — 
It sends tea to America — Its destruction at Boston — Unwise acts of the 
British government — Predictions of Gov. Johnson and Gen. Conway — Just 
views of Bishop Shipley— Effect of Boston Port-Bill- Call for a Congress- 
Patriotic mottos — Proceedings of Congress — Allan's comment on the abili- 
ty of that Body — Warm discussions in Parliament — Speech of Lord Chat- 
ham — Expedient of Lord North- Origin of the terms Tory and Whig — 
Cod-fishing prohibited— Battle of Lexington— Its effect on_ the country 
around — Capture of the northern military posts — Ethan Allen's authority — 
Preparations for war — Washinston is appointed to command the army — 
Battle of Bunker's Hill— Death^of Warren— Anecdotes of the battle— Ar- 
rival of Washington — Proceedings of Congress — Post-office established — 
Gov. Penn interrogated by the House of Lords — Hessian troops employed — 
American flag — Colonial Governors — Boston evacuated — Defence of Fort 
Moultrie — Intrepidity of Jasper and McDonald— Their dying words — Ar- 
gument for education — Mrs. Elliot — Story of Jasper and Newton — Com- 
missioners sent to Canada — Declaration of American Independence. 182 

CHAPTER VH. 
Committees formed in frontier settlements — Indian treaty in Schoharie — Bra. 
kabeen Castle — Contagious disease — Schoharie Indians go to Canada — 
Death of granny Warree — A matricide — Schoharie Council of Safety— Ball 
family divided in politics — Organization of Schoharie militia — Resolution 
of New York Committee of Safely — Oath of allegiance — Record of Judge 
Swart— His personal services— Chairman Ball's sons perform extra labor — 
Accident on the Hudson — Anecdotes of Ball — Attempt to take his life — 
Character of Col. Vrooman— Attempt to capture him— Designs upon Wash- 
ington — Commissioners sent to France — Events of 177G — Anecdote of a 
piquet guard — Washington's retreat from Long Island — Battles of Trenton 
and Princeton — Sufferings of Washington's army — His remarks to Colonel 
Reed — A singular requisition — Plan of the enemy for 1777 — Arrest of Col. 
Huetson — Tories in Schoharie — Brant at Unadilla — Interview between Gen. 
Herkimer and Brant— Affidavit of Col. Harper— Particulars of the inter- 
view from Joseph Wagner — False impression of Herkimer's character cor- 
rected — Harpersfield exposed — Cherry Valley threatened — Rangers to be 
raised— Letter from Chairman Ball to New York Congress— Reply of that 
Body — They write to the Albany Committee — Geographical ignorance of 
State Council — Frontier how protected — Albany Committee write General 
Schuyler — Same Body censure New York Council— Schuyler writes Alba- 
ny Committee — His apprehensions — New Y'ork Council of safety write Al- 
bany Committee, evincing warmth — Girls murdered at Fort Schuyler — 
Glance at the enemy's movements — Letter from Albany Committee to New 
York Council — Schuyler to same Body— Schoharie messenger — New Y'ork 
Council to Gov. Clinton — Albany Committee write the Council — Clinton's 
letters ordering troops to Schoharie. 206 

CHAPTER Vni. 
McDonald invades Schoharie — Patriotism of Henry Hager — Messengers dis- 
patched to Albany — Col. Harper visits Schohaiie — Starts for Albany — Is 
visited in the nieht — Next day is pursued by Indians — Escapes from them 
and reaches Albany— Notice of his arrival— New York Council forward 



XIV CONTENTS. 

letters to Col. Pawling — Harper obtains a company of Cavalry — Captain 
Mann how concealed — Barracks how constructed — Troops halt at isny- 
der's — Effect of music — Death of an Indian — Novel continement — Madam 
iStaats — Battle of the Flocke)' — Citizens accompany McDonald in his 
flight — Concealment and surrender of Capt. Mann — Chairman Ball to Scho- 
harie Committee — Mann's property not confiscated — Col. Harper writes 
Council of Safety — Reply of that Body — Extract from Journal — Commis- 
sioners of Tryon county how instructed by New York Council — Remarks 
of Rev. Daniel Gros — Expedition to Norman's-kill — Advertisement ,by 
Chairman Bail — Citizens of Schoharie transport provisions to Stillwater — 
Anecdote of the Patroon — New Dorlach — Money buried in Albany — Bur- 
goyne's surrender how celebrated in Albany— Anecdote of Evert Yates — 
Incident of the French war — A spy in Burgoyne's camp — Death of Gen. 
Fi-aser — By whom killed— Retreat of Burgoyne how cut off — Anecdote to 
show skill of Morgan's riflemen — Anecdotes of the Oriskany battle — Death 
of Gen. Herkimer — Indians in a cellar — Corps of Invalids — British enter 
Philadelphia — Sufferings of the American army at Valley Forge — Anec- 
dote of Washington — Acts of Gov. Tryon — Arrival of Lafayette — Con- 
spiracy against Washington — A female spy and Maj. Tallmadge — Scho- 
harie Forts when and how constructed. .... Page 237 

CHAPTER IX. 

Interesting incidents now lost — Fortune how fickle — Last effort of Chatham — 
Acts of Parliment rejected — Treaty with France — Its effects — Settlement 
on Cobelskill — Organize a militia company — Lieut. Borst shoots an In- 
dian— Cobelskill battle— Death of Capt. Patrick— Names of Cobelskill mi- 
litia engaged — Escape of Belknap — Escape of Henry Shafer — Burial of 
the dead — Subsequent celebration — Designs on Cherry Valley how thwart- 
ed — Destruction of Wyoming — Dastardly act of a Tory — Invasion of the 
German Flats — Walter Butler imprisoned — Escapes and leads the enemy 
to Cherry Valley — Pleasing anecdote of Brant — England declares war 
against France— Battle of Monmouth— Capt. Molly— Col. William Butler 
goes to Schoharie — Heroic Soldiers — Fate of a Scout — Capt. Long inter- 
cepts and kills Capt. Smith — Death of Christopher Service — His confisca- 
ted property recovered — His remains how honored — Lower Fort garri- 
soned — Col. Butler destroys Indian towns on the Susquehanna — Col. Du- 
boise winters in Schoharie — Gerard arrives in the States as Minister from 
France — Dr. Franklin goes to France as American Minister — Price of Am- 
erican scalps — British possess Georgia — Washington's winter quarters — 
Jay chosen President of Congress. 272 

CHAPTER X. 
Captivity of Cowley and Sawyer — Escape from their enemies and return to 
Schoharie — Murder of Durham and his wife — Capt. Hager on the Dela- 
ware — Mohawk river settlements invaded — Anecdote of Cornplanter and 
his Father — Contemplated invasion of the Indian settlements — Execution 
of Hare and Newbury — Signification of Caughnawaga — Arrest of the 
Spies — Burial of Hare — Clinton's army at Cooperstown — Moves down the 
creek — Industry of Beavers — Death of a Deserter — Anecdotes of Colonel 
Rigne — Col. Butler leaves Schoharie — The Boyd family — Lieut. Boyd and 
his sweet-heart — She invokes a Curse upon him — Marriage of her Daugh- 
ter — Elerson surprised by Indians — Kills one and escapes — Brown's Mills 
why not burned — His house plundered while he is in it — A wedding — Source 
of water how discovered — Anecdote of a Sentinel ina tree — Battle of New- 
town — Sullivan's signal guns — Rescue of a Prisoner made at Wyoming — 
Destruction of Indian property — A Child found — Its Death — Scout under 
Lieut. Boyd — Death of an Oneida — Two of Boyd's party set out for the 
Camp — Murphy shoots an Indian — Scout surrounded by the Enem) — Cap- 
ture of Boyd and Parker — Escape of Murphy and two others — Death of 
Boyd and "Comrade — Fate of Han-Yerry — Indians die of Scurvy — Justice 
to Boyd's memory — Schools in the Revolution — Delegates fiom Tryon 
County to State Convention— Invasion of Ballston — Capture of Col. Gor- 



CONTENTS. XV 

don — He escapes with others and returns home— Command of Col. Fish- 
er — Capt. Fonda shoots a deserter — Is tried and acquitted —Jolin Jay sent 
as Minister to Spain— Attaclv of the Americans and French on Savannah — 
Death of Count Puiasiii— Gov. Tryon burns several towns in Connecticut — 
Sloney Point stormed by Wayne— Acts of Paul Jones— Winter quarters of 
Gen. Washington and sufferings of liis army. - • • Page 291 

CHAPTER XT. 

The enemy moving— Death of a Tory named Cuck— Imprisonment of Van 
Zuyler — Su!:ar makers frightened — Lieut, iiarper and friends captured by 
Brant at Ilarperslield— Harper saves the Schoharie seitiements by duplici- 
ty—Tory consultation— Harper's word doubted— March begun — Harper 
confronted by a Tory— Murder of an aged prisoner — Efficacy of rattle- 
snake soup— Enterprise to Minisink — Sclioharie captives in danger of be- 
ing murdered — Are saved by an Indian who escaped from Van Campen — 
Party feast on horse flesh — Boast of Tories— Ashes used for salt— A run- 
ner sent to Niagara— Kind object of Brant in forwarding a messenger- 
Running the mantlet — Prisoners before Col. Butler— Price of American 
blood in Canada — Condition of prisoners at Chamblee— Attack on the Sa- 
condasa block-house— Letter of Col. Fisher — Indians pursued and killed 
by Solomon Woodworth and party— Public officers in Schoharie — Second 
invasion of Cherry Valley — Captivity of J\Io?es Nelson — Fort Orange re- 
built— Willet's attempt to take it — Letters to Col. Fisher showing an ex- 
pected invasion— Enemy enter Johnstown— Murder of the Putinans and 
Stevens— Fate of two Tories— Fisher famil} — Troops arrive in Johns- 
town—Death of Capt. Hanson — Signification of Ca-daugh-ri-ty— Course of 
the enemy — Attack on the Fisher dwelling— Fortunes of Col. Fisher and 
fate of his brothers— Fonda brothers— Sheriff White and his neighbors- 
Furniture destroyed in Maj. Fonda's dwelling— Murder of Douw Fonda — 
Pleasing incident — Acts of the party under Johnson— Escape of George 
Eacker— Johnson's confidential slave— Boys liberated near Johnstown — 
Invaders return to Canada— Escape of young Hanson. - • 321 

CHAPTER XH. 
Captivity of William Hynds and family at New Dorlach— An Indian attempts 
to surprise a sentinel at the Upper Schoharie Fort— Captivity and rescue 
of William Bouck and others — Selh's Henry in Vrooman's Land — Is at a 
spring— Resentment of the Indian William — Indians in the dwellings of 
the pioneers — Captive negroes liberate themselves— Attempt to capture 
Capt. Richtmyer— Mohawk valley invaded— Schoharie scout fall in with 
the enemy — Alarm guns how fired — Brant invades Vrooman's Land— Fate 
of the settlement- Character of Col. Vrooman— Indian grudge— Infant 
smiles save a father— Escape of Pull-foot Vrooman— Names of captives — 
Several citizens escape in a wagon — Number of houses burnt — Judge 
Swart's horse by whom rode— War-club of Seth's Henry — Escape of the 
Hager family— Old gentleman throttles his dog — His capture and treat- 
ment—Burning of Crysler's mill — Mill-stone recovered— Two Tories join 
the enemy — Hager family reach the Fort— Burial of the dead — Singular 
presentiment— Fate of the Vrooman infant- Brant releases part of the 
prisoners — Destructives assemble at Oquago — Prisoners divided — Boyd's 
scull— Lieut. Vrooman about to be murdered — Henry Hager insulted — 
Efficacy of tobacco — Prisoners run the gantlet- Attempt to lire the maga- 
zine at Quebec — Negro prisoners adopt the Indian's life — Loss of British 
ship Seneca — Schoharie prisoners lodged at South Rakela — Their return 
home — Particulars from %vhom derived. ..... 365 

CHAPTER XIH. 
Romantic courtship and marriage of Timothy Murphy — The bride's first in- 
terview with her mother — The reconciliation— Duty of Rangers— Their 
music when on a scout— Dancing at the Middle Fort — Rival dance of the 
soldiers — Ballston settlement invaded— Attempt to capture Maj. Mitchell — 



XVI CONTENTS. 

Enterprise of Jo. Bettys— Absence of a Schoharie scout protracted — Sir 
John Johnson leaves Isiagara to invade the frontiers of New York — Names 
of hills— Johnson's army discovered— A pack horse taken— Torch of de- 
struction first applied— Volunteers meet the enemy — Daring of Murphy — 
Burning of Middleburgh Church— Powder how sent up from Lower Fort — 
Volunteers under Capt. Lansing— Escape of Elerson— Stand made by the 
enemy— Mrs. Richtmyer frightened to death— How to start a bachelor — A 
flag of truce how attended— Is fired on by Murphy — Conduct of Major 
Woolsey— Surrenders his command to Col. Vrooman— Firing renewed — 
Loss of the Americans — Wilbur scalps an Indian — A dead Indian is found 
in the woods — Enemy move down the valley — Anxiety at the Upper Fort — 
A heroine— Lower Fort how garrisoned— Scout from that Fort meet the 
enemy— Death of V?in Wart— Fate of Anthony Witner— Firing heard in 
Cobelskill— Preparations to defend Lower Fort— Salute from a grass-hop- 
per — An ancient apple tree — War's beverage — A presumptuous Indian — 
Adventure of Enders— An Indian killed at a well — Fate of a deer — Mor- 
tar abandoned— A Tory arrives at the Fort. - ; - Page 388 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Schoharie militia pursue the enemy— Schoharie fires seen at Fort Hunter — 
Cadaughrity destroyed — Enemy encamp near the Nose — Americans encamp 
in Florida— Battle of Stone Arabia— Death of Col. Brown— His remains 
honored— Pleasing anecdote of an Indian and a colt— Skirmish near St. 
Johnsville- Cowardly conduct of Gen. Van Rensselaer— Climax of his 
management— Anecdote of Capt. Vrooman — Willing captives — Schoharie 
horses recovered— Novel manner of carrying bread — Incidents from John 
Ostrom — Grain how saved — Maj. Woolsey leaves Schoharie — Death of a 
spy — Invasion of New Dorlach — Death of Michael Merckley and his niece 
Catharine— Murder of John France and providential escape of his brother 
Henry — Burial of the dead— A reason for Merckley's death — Number of 
buildings burnt in Schoharie county — Extract of a letter from James Madi- 
son—Continental money— Charleston captured— Kniphausen invades New 
Jersey — Arrival of French troops — Retreat of Gates and death •f DeKalb — 
Treachery of Benedict Arnold. 421 

CHAPTER XV. 

Mutiny at Head-Quarters — Erection of block-houses — Fort Duboise — Cap- 
ture of Jo. Bettys and two associates — Col. Livingston's regiment in the 
Mohawk valley — Conduct of Maj. Davis — His death — Brant surprises a 
party of wood choppers near Fort Schuyler — Americans pursue and recov- 
er shoe-buckles — Prisoners go through the manual exercise to gratify 
Brant — Boys captured near Fort Herliimer — Invasion of Curry Town — 
Escape of the Tanner family — Death of Jacob Moyer and son— Prisoners 
made in the settlement — Capt. Gros sent to New Dorlach— Discovers the 
enemy's trail and sends word to Willet — Sharon battle— American loss and 
death of Capt. McKean— The captive Jacob Dievcndorf— A religious meet- 
ing broken up— Murder of Hofl'man and wife — Capture of William Bouck 
and other citizens of Schoharie in a wheat field — Indians eat a hedge-hog — 
Escape of Lawrence Bouck — Fare of prisoners on their journey — Their 
return home— Ulster county invaded— Troops sent to Schoharie— Capture 
of Lt. Borst an 1 others in Mynderl's valley — Death of Borst — Capt. Wood- 
worth and company surprised on West Canada creek and most of them 
killed — Incidents in the vicinity of Fort Dayton. - - - 450 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Invasion of Maj. Ross— Death of Myers of Curry Town — Other citizens 
captured — Village of Fultonville — Escape of a prisoner — Willet pursues 
the enemy — Battle near Johnson Hall — Incidents of the battle— Retreat of 
Maj. Ross— Manner of crossing creeks— Death of Walter Butler — Captiv- 
ity and return of prisoners— Brant again invades Vrooman's Land — Death 
of Adam Vrooman— Enemy are pursued— Fate of Richard Haggidorn — 



CONTENTS. XVU 

Murphy fortune's favorite— A dead Tory— Capt. Hager pursues the ene- 
my—A rtim-keg how guarded — Hnltle of Lake Utsayantho— Cowardly 
conduct of Capt. Hale— An incident which followed— Fruiliess expedition 
of several Tories — Unexpected mettini; of Capt. Eckler and Brant— For- 
mer escapes by (light -How fonccaled— A prisoner captured near Fort 
Plank — Escapes in the night— Is concealed and nearly sullocated in a log- 
Events of 1781— Military enterprises in the Southern Slates— Abortive plan 
to capture Arnold — Siege of York Town — Capture of Cornvvallis and his 
army— Event how ceiebraied— British standards to whom delivered — Anec- 
dotes of stealing in the Revolution — Arnold destroys New London— Death 
of Ledyard and Montgomery — Conduct of Col. Gallup— Massacre in the 
Fort and attending incidents— -A.necdoIe of a petticoat. - - Page 470 

CHAPTER XVII. 
Predatory warfare continued in 1782 — Murder of the Dietz family— Captiv- 
ity of Capt. Dielz and the Bryce boys — Captivity of McFee's children- 
Character of Gen. Herkimer and others- Murder of Adam Vrooman— In- 
vasion of Fox's creek — Murder of Young Zimmer and capture of his 
brother— Death of a Hessian— The Becker family— John Becker how 
killed — Escape of Jacob and Wm. Becker— Indians discovered by boys — 
Attack on the Becker house— I^ccentricity of Shell— Attempt to fire the 
building — Ingratitude of a Tory— Capture of several prisoners — Novel 
torture— Virginian spirit — A Tory wedding— Cobelskill again invaded — 
Several citizens killed or captured — Capture of the elder George Warner 
and son Nicholas— Escape of Joseph Earner— Meat how cooked and divid- 
ed — Escape of Nicholas Warner— Kind treatment of George Warner — 
Indian reverence of a Deity— Warner returns home — Gen. Washington vi- 
sits Schenectada — Burning of that place by the French and Indians — Wash- 
ington's treatment of Col. Fisher— His letter to the officers of Schenecta- 
da — Anecdote of his visit— Murphy takes a prisoner who escapes with his 
rifle- A Tory how concealed— Anecdote of Murphy and his cow— Notices 
of Timothy Murphy— Inscription on his tomb-stone — Incident at Fort Du- 
boise and death of a calf. 490 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Ratification of Peace— Gen. Washington resigns his Commission — Lands for- 
feited — Tories return to the States and boast of their deeds — Indians return 
to Schoharie— Fate of Seth's Henry— Attempt to kill Abram— He disap- 
pears at a Bee— Indians become alarmed — Beverages drank in the war — 
Incidents in the life of Capt. Eben Williams — Conduct of Col. Vose in 
Gates' campaign — Anecdote of Col. Scammel— Gen. Montgomery's widow 
how honored — Army atBudd'sHuts — Duty of Col. Laurens at York Town — 
Anecdote of an Irish Lieutenant— Incidents of the siege— Officers killed in 
duels— Celebration at West Point — Cincinnati Societies organized — Habits 
of Capt. Williams— Military Journal of Maj. Tallmadge— Incident in the 
river Bronx — Tallmadge commands a squadron of horse— Corresponds 
with Washington— Loses his horse— Enterprise against Lloyd's Neck — 
Surprise and capture of Fort St. George — "VVashington's letter respecting 
it — How noticed in Congress- Capture of Fort Slongo — Enterprises how 
thwarted — London trade an incident of— An English Sloop captured in the 
Sound — Society of the Cincinnati how organized — Spies in New York how 
protected — Order in which the Americans entered New Y'ork after its eva- 
cuation by the British— Last interview of Gen. Washington and his offi- 
cers — Maj, Tallmadge returns home — Marries and settles for life. - 528 

CHAPTER XIX. 
Capt. Thomas Machin— Battle of Minden— The Duke of Bridgewater's Ca- 
nals — Machin arrives at New York — Locales in Boston — Is one of Boston 
Tea Party— Plans fortifications near Boston- Is sent by Gen. Washington 
to the Highlands of the Hudson— Cooperates wi'.h Gen. Clinton— Request 
of Gen. Schuyler — Putnam's Rock — Council of Safety recognize acts of 



XVm CONTENTS. 

Capt. Maohin — Orders to be observed by artificers — Washington's letter to 
Gen. Knox— Kingston how fortified — Correspondence showing the prepara- 
tions making to receive the encm)' — jVIachin a recruiting officer — Attack 
on Fort Montgomery— Death of Capt. Milligan— Letters of Gov. Clinton — 
Expense of Iron used in obstructing the Hudson — Capt. Machin writes N. 
York Council of Safety— Officers above their business— Letter from Gen. 
Parsons about fortifying "West Point— Col. Hughes' letter respecting cord- 
age—Gen. Clinton wants fish— Gov. C!inton'sletterrelating to lead mines — 
Gen. Parsons wants timber— Capt. Machin writes Gen. McDougal about 
river chain — Gov. Clinton will purchase a phaeton — He certifies to the acts 
of Capt Machin — Chain of what iron wrought— Statement showing who 
fortified the Highlands and obstructed the river — Letter from Doct. Free- 
man-Letter from Peter Woodward — Machin's private expenses- Dis- 
burses large sums of money— Importance of the works— Importance of se- 
curing the Hudson — Expedition of Col. Van Schaick to Onondaga — A 
plan for supplying Albany with water- Machin in Sullivan's expedition — 
Letters from Doct. Young — Letters from Henry Rutgers, jr. — Death of 
Kayingwaurto, a Seneca Chief— Receipt for scalps — Capt. Greg and his 
dog— Surrender of a Wyoming Fort— Table of distances in Western New 
York— Letter from Gen. Clinton— Cupid in the camp — Letter from Henry 
Rutgers respecting sufferings of the army — Doct. Young writes on the 
same subject — Ezra Patterson writes from Fort Pitt— Instructions to a 
Committee of Officers sent to the Legislature— Letter from Lt. Bradford 
showing condition of the army— Capt. Hubbell wants money — Difficulties 
attendant on recruiting service— Capt. Machin at York Town — Maj. Pop- 
ham parts with his sword — Letter from W. Morris — ]\Iachin about to mar- 
ry — Recruiting orders from Gen. Washington — Extract from Parker's let- 
ter— Machin is slandered— A messenger sent to Boston— Machin marries 
Miss Van Nostrand— Popularity of Machin— Gen. Clinton out of money — 
Correspondence of Joseph Wliarton respecting lands at Cooperstown — 
Value of Western lands — Letter from Gov. Clinton about land— Machin 
settles at New Grange — Order of Timothy Pickerinc — Certificate of Gen. 
Clinton — Extent of Machin's business — Great copper-firm — Machin re- 
moves to Montgomery county — His patrons and friends — He is a Freema- 
son — Obtains a pension — His death. Page 550 

CHAPTER XX. 
Schoharie County when formed and how bounded— Its towns— New era in 
its history — First Attorneys— Neatness of Schoharie women— Want of 
taste among the Germans and Dutch— Out buildings in New England how 
adorned— Statistics of the count}'- Schoharie Judges— Lime-stone and fos- 
sils — The county interesting to Geologists — Turnpike roads— Canajoharie 
and Calskill Rail-Road— Congressional and Senatorial Districts— Sources 
and outlet of the Schoharie- Extent and formation of Schoharie flats — 
Public executions — Trial of Van Aistyne — Establishment and history of 
the Lutheran Church— Singular incident in the life of Domine Sommer — 
Some notice of the Reformed Dutch Church — A faithful church officer — 
Ministerial fees — Churches when first warmed — Tidingmen and their au- 
thority — Blenheim — Statistics of the town — Jacob Sutherland once a resi- 
dent—Statistics of Broome— David Elerson— How he obtains a carriage 
and horses — 'His death — David Williams — Notice of Gen. Shays — Indian 
war-path— Statistics of Carlisle— Town by whom settled— Its rocks and 
caverns — Indian's cave — Statistics of Cobelskil! — Incidents in the life of 
Gen. Dana— Gen. Wm. Eaton — Anecdote of Gen. Lcc — John Redington — 
Monumental inscriptions — Statistics of Conesville — Statistics of Fulton — 
Bouck's Falls — Ex-Governor Bouck — Abraham A. Keyscr — Statistics of 
Jcflerson— Statistics of Middlcburh — The Vlaie— County Poor-house — 
Statistics of Schoharie— Indian mound — Gebhard's Cavern — Otsgaragee 
Cavern — Nethaway's Cave — Schoharie minerals — Monumental inscrip- 
lion — Statistics of Seward — New Dorlach— Monumental inscription — Sta- 
tistics of Sharon — New Rhinebeck — Sharon Springs— Analysis of water — 
Rare mineral — ThcPavilioa — Statistics of Summit — Lake Ulsayantho. 601 



CONTENTS. 



XIX 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Ancestry of DaviJ Williams — His liiography — Capture of Mnj. Andre — Cow 
boys — Courtship of Williams — How lie chancod to be one of the captors — 
The object of the captors' expedition — Incidents attending the arrest of 
Andre — A sin<:ular dream — Cons^ress how apprised of Andre's capture — 
Resolution of that Body on the subject — Marriage of Williams — He parti- 
cipates in a celebration at New York — How honored — His death — Obitua- 
ry notice of his death — His burial — Incidents connected with the arrest 
and execution of Andre — Instructions of Sir Henry Clinton — Papers found 
on Andre's person — Conduct of Col. Jamieson — Extract from the Journal 
of Maj. Tallmadc — Joshua II. Smith is suspected and tried — Board con- 
vened to try Andre — .Manner of his execution — Champe's attempt to arrest 
Arnold — Capt. Nathan Hale — Bold exploit of his — His arrest and execu- 
tion — Confession of Cunningham — Fate of Andre and Hale contrasted — 
Andre's remains taken to England — Character of Andre over-rated — Proof 
of his character — His poem called the Cow-Chase — Somewhat phophelic — 
Arnold how respected in England — An acrostic to his fame — Monuments to 
Paulding and Van Wart — Efforts to obtain a monument for Williams. G4G 



INDEX 



TO POST OFFICES IN SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 



.\rgusville, 

Barnerville, 

Blenheim, 

Brakabeen, 

Bynville, 

Carlisle, 

Central Bridge,.. 
Charlotteville,... 

Cobelskill, 

Cobelskill Centre, 

Conesvillc, 

Esperance, 

Franklinton, 

Fultonham, 

Gallupville 

Gardnersville, 

Gilboa, 

Hunters Land,, . . 



Papc. 

Hyndsville, 642 

Jefferson, 630 

Lawyerville, 619 

Leesville, 643 

Livingstonville, 61.5 

Middleburgh, 630 

Mossville, 630 

North Blenheim, 615 

Punchkill, 619 

Richmondville, 619 

Schoharie Court House, 632 

Sharon, 643 

Sharon Centre, 643 

Sloansville, 632 

Smithton 615 

Summit Four Corners, 645 

Waldeasville, 632 



ERRATA. 

On page 117, under cut, instead of North read South view. It is the view 
of Guy Park as seen from the Erie canal. 

On page 182, for the remotest parts, read their remotest part. 

On page 194, for fighting a just cause, read fighting in a just cause. On 
the same page, for messenger of death, read messengers of death. 

On page 195, fourth line from top, for Bunker, read Yankee. 

On page 374, first line, after neighbor insert a comma. 

On page 615, under post offices in Broome, for Livingston, read Living' 
stonville. 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 



CHAPTER I. 

The border wars of New York, in the great struggle with Eng- 
land for American nationality, originated some of the most thrill- 
ing incidents that ever did or ever can stamp the page of history. 
Many of those transpired in that part of Albany county now 
known as Schoharie; while events of no less interest were enact- 
ing in Tryon, and other frontier counties. Some of them have 
already been published, but there are not a few, especially of 
those which occurred in the Schoharie settlements, that have 
either not been presented to the American reader at all, or if they 
have, but partially and inaccurately so. 

Schoharie is the present name of a county, a town, a village, 
and a river, in the state of New York. The geographical posi- 
tion of the county, its division into towns, &.C., will be given in a 
subsequent chapter of this work. The word Schoharie, is abori- 
ginial. and signifies, agreeable to published definitions, drijl, or 
flood-ioood. The author has spared no little pains to arrive at the 
origin and true meaning of this word. The word Schoharie, or 
the word from which that was derived, when originated, not only 
signified /7oofi?-ti'ooc?, but a certain body of flood-wood. At a dis- 
tance of about half a mile above the bridge which now crosses 
the Schoharie in the present town of Middleburgh, two small 
streams run into the river directly opposite each other. The one 
on the west side, coming from a north-west course, was formerly 
3 



22 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

called the Line kill, being the northern boundary line of the first 
Vrooman Patent — which instrument embraced that part of the 
town of Fulton, now called Vrooman's Land. The other stream 
is called Stony creek, and runs into the Schoharie from a south- 
east course. John M. Brown, Esq., in a pamphlet history of 
Schoharie, published in 1823, attributes to this stream, which he 
calls the little Schoharie, the origin of the latter word. The two 
streams mentioned, falling into the Schoharie at that place, pro- 
duced in the latter a counter current, which caused a lodgment of 
drift-wood at every high water, directly above. The banks of 
the river there were no doubt studded at that period with heavy 
growing timber, which served as abutments for the formation of 
a natural bridge. I judge so from the fact, that between that 
place and the bridge below, on the west bank, may now be seen 
a row of elm stumps of gigantic growth. At what period the 
timber began to accumulate at that place, is unknown; but it 
was doubtless at a date far anterior to the settlement of the Scho- 
harie valley, by the aborigines of which we have any certain 
knowledge. At the time the Indians located in the valley, who 
were the owners of the soil when the Germans and Dutch first set- 
tled there, tradition says there were thousands of loads of wood 
in this wooden pyramid. How far it extended on the flats on ei- 
ther side is uncertain, they being at that place uncommonly wide; 
but across the river it is said to have been higher than a house of 
ordinary dimensions, and to have served the natives the purposes 
of a bridge; who, when crossing, could not see the water through 
it. One tradition says Schoharie signifies to take across or 
carry over ; while another tradition, from an equally creditable 
source, gives its literal meaning to be, the meeting of two waters 
in a third — both referring, beyond doubt, to the drift-wood in 
question, and its locality. This mausoleum of the forest sugar- 
tree, gnarled oak, and lofty pine, was called by the Indians who 
dwelt in its immediate vicinity, to-wos-scho-hor* the accent falling 

• I give the orthography of this word as it sounded when spoken by Mrs. 
Susannah, widow of Martin Van Slyck. At an interview in LS37, I found 
Mrs. Van Slyck quite intelligent, and possessed of ?. very retentive memory. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 23 

on the third and fourth syllables. From that word has been de- 
rived the present word Schoharie, the first two syllables having 
been entirely dropped, while another has been addetl in its Angli- 
cisement. Several years ago I saw an ugly shaped glass bottle 
in Schoharie, said to have been imported from London by John 
Lawyer, the first merchant among the German settlers. His 
name and the place of his residence were stamped upon the 
bottle in English letters, the latter being there spelled Shoary. 
Many of the old German people of that county, at the present 
day, pronounce it Shnckary, which, it will be perceived, differs 
nearly as much from the sound of the word as now written, as 
that does from the sound of the word here given as the original. 

At what period the aborigines located who were occupying the 
Schoharie flats when the Germans and Dutch first settled upon 
them, is unknown. Judge Brown, in the pamphlet to which I 
have alluded, informs us that the first Indian settlement was made 
by Ka-righ-on-don-tec,* a French Indian prisoner, who had taken 

She formerly dwelt in Vrooman's Land, near where the bridge of drift-wood 
had been — could once converse with the natives in their own dialect, and 
still retains many of their words. She gave the word to which the note re- 
fers, as the name by which they called tiie natural bridge — by whom she had 
often heard it spoken. The author is indebted to the kindness of this lady 
and her tenacious memory, for several interesting facts tradition has pre- 
served, relating to the early settlement of Vrooman's Land by the whites, 
she bein<j a granddaughter of the first Vrooman settler ; and also for several 
incidents worthy of record which transpired during the revolution. 

•At a personal interview with the venerable patriot Brown, in Sept. 1837, 
he pronounced this word as though written Kar-eek-won-don-tee. I adopt 
his written orthography, however, with the difference only of ending it ee. 
believing it to be sutBciently correct. At this interview he assured the au- 
thor that on the 5th of the following November, he would be ninety-two 
years old. Although his faculties, mental and bodily, were failing him, still 
we are indebted to his good humor and hospitality for some explanations of 
his pamphlet, and for much other matter not contained in that. Reading his 
pamphlet to him, and questioning him about customs which were in vogue in 
his earlier years, he seemed almost inspired with new life — his spirits, ani- 
mation and memory revived, and he was enabled to relate many anecdotes, 
which, to use his own words, '• he had not thought of in fifty years before." 
Mr. Brown and his amiable consort were both sociable and urbane, and I 
spent nearly a day very agreeably with them. Brown was married at twenty- 
five to a Miss Hager, of Brakabeen, Schoharie county, with whom he lived 



24 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

for a wife a Mohawk squaw ; that his father-in-law gave him a 
part of those flats to remove him from the presence of the Mo- 
hawk Indians, by whom he had been made prisoner, as they bore 
a deadly hatred to the Canada Lidians, and in a drunken frolic 
might kill him ; that families from the Mohawk, Mohegan, 
Tuscarora, Delaware, and Oneida tribes there joined him, so that 
a new tribe, of which he was principal chief, was fcrrmed, num- 
bering at one time about three hundred warriors. 

Karighondontee was probably a Canadian chief of some cele- 
brity, who had been taken prisoner by the Mohawks in one of 
the bloody wars, which the animosity existing between the Ca- 
nadian Indians and the Five Nations was continually originating. 
As speculation alone can furnish any thing like a beginning to 
the first settlement of Schoharie by the natives known as the 

thirty-eight years. He had nine children by that marriage, and several of 
them are now settled near him in Carlisle. Mrs. Brown, his present wife 
is, if memory serves me, twenty- two years younger than her husband. She 
was a Van Arnein from below the Helleberg, and has been married about 
twenty-six years. Her father was a captain of militia in the continental 
service. Brown had no issue by his second wife. He was among the first 
settlers in Carlisle, and, in common with the pioneers of that day, endured 
his full share of privations and hardships. He was a firm patriot, and a 
captian of the Tryon county militia in the revolution; he received a cut in 
one knee with a drawing-knife during the war, from which he ever after 
went very lame. Subsequent to receiving the injury mentioned, he sent a 
messenger to Gov. G. Clinton, informing him of his lameness; at the same 
time signifying a wish to resign his commission. He received in return a 
very civil letter from His Excellency, in which he expressed much regret at 
his misfortune; assuring him also that his services could not be dispensed 
with, cr his commission returned; but that if he could not walk to command 
his company he, (the governor,) would send him a horse that he might ride. 
When Otsego county was organized. Brown was one of the commission- 
ers for laying out several public roads in that county; and when Schoharie 
county was formed, he was again called on to discharge the same duties. 
The commissioners associated with him in Otsego county, were JNIr. Hudson 
and Col. Herrick, who together laid out twenty-seven public roads. Mr. 
Brown was appointed by the governor and council of appointment, third 
judge of the first bench of the Schoharie county courts. He was three times 
a candidate for member of assembly, and once lost his election by only two 
votes. Considering his limited opportunities in early life, he was an intelligent 
man. That he never obtained a pension while many others less deserving 
did, was to him a source of no little mortification and grief. Judge Brown 
died in the faU of 1838 or 39. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 25 

Schoharie tribe, save what has been already related ; I trust the 
reader will indulge me in carrying it a little farther. The revo- 
lution in England in the latter part of ihe seventeenth centur}', 
which placed William and Mary upon that throne, was followed 
by a general war in which several nations of Europe were en- 
gaged. Nor were the colonies of America idle spectators of the 
tragedy. From Europe the grand theatre of that war, the crim- 
son art was brought into the wilds of North America. The Ca- 
nadas, then French colonies, with the Algonquin Indians within 
their own territory, w^ere fiercely engaged with the British co- 
lonies and the Five Indian Nations then their allies, along the 
borders of New England and New York. The Mohegans,* 
who, as we have already seen, made a part of the Schoharie 
tribe, it is not improbable were engaged in considerable num- 
bers with the people of New England, and at the close of the 
war or soon after joined Karighondontee : as I suppose that chief 
to have been made prisoner in that war. The Mohegans, to 
whom war or the chase may have discovered the Schoharie 
valley, finding it to be a country sparsedly settled — equal in 
beauty to the banks of the Thames in Connecticut, from whence 
they emigrated — where game was plenty, and where, too, they 
would not be surrounded by the " pale faces" and amenable to 
their laws, may have been induced to settle there ; or they may 
there have sought an asylum from motives not dissimilar to those 
which brought hither the Mohawk. 

I suppose the time of Karighondontee's settlement to have 
been within about twenty years of the first German settlement in 
Schoharie ; and conclude so from the fact that the tribe was not 
then more formidable in numbers ; for the Tuscarorasf could, not 
have joined it until about the time the Germans located, as they 
did not leave Carolina in numbers till near that period. 



•A part of tlie Mohcgan and StockbriJge Indians, migrated and joined the 
Five Nations before the revolution — Morse's Gazetteer. • 

t This tribe came from North Carolina about 1712, and joined the confede- 
racy of the Five Nations, themselves making the sixth. See Lewiston, 
where they still have a village— S/Jo^ord's Gazetteer of N. Y. 



26 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

It may not perhaps be improper to say a few words respecting 
the Six Nations of Indians. At the time our pilgrim fathers 
first landed in America, a confederacy existed between the five most 
powerful Indian Nations then living in the state of New York. 
They were called by the French the Iroquois ; by the English 
the Confederates, or Five Nations ; by the Dutch, more particu- 
larly those in the Mohawk valley, the Maquaas ; and by them- 
selves, Aganuschioni, or United People. Their govejnment in 
many respects was republican. At w^hat time and for what piK- 
poses this confederacy was formed, is unknown. It may have 
originated in conquest, the weaker nations in turn being subdued 
by the most powerful one ; or, from a natural desire to resist and 
conquer a common foe, that existed from the alliance of other 
powerful nations. Whatever may have originated this union of 
Indian strength, it must have existed for a great length of time ; 
for when the Europeans came here, it is said the Confederates all 
spoke a similar language. The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, 
Cayuga and Seneca nations formed the confederacy — the Tusca- 
roras joining them, as has been shown, at a subsequent period. 
Says the historian Trumbull, " Each of the Five Nations was sub- 
divided into three tribes or families. They distinguished them- 
selves by three different ensigns, the Tortoise, the Bear, and the 
Wolf. Whenever the sachems, or any of the old men, signed any 
public paper, they traced upon it the mark of their respective fa- 
mily." The same author, giving Roger Williams for authority, 
says the word Mohawk imports cannibal, and is derived from the 
word moho, to eat. This is undoubtedly a popular error. The 
Mohawk nation took its name from the river along which it 
dwelt, called the Mohawk's river — as the Dutch have it, the Ma- 
quaas' river — which signifies, in plain English, the muskrat's ri- 
ver. Many ancient Indian land titles have so called the stream 
in English, writing it in the possessive case; and to this day 
muskrats are numerous along its shores, hundreds being killed in 
thfe valley at every spring freshet. 

The Mohawk, which was the most eastern of the Five Nations, 
had in the latter part of its existence as a nation, three castles — 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 27 

all of which were on the south side of the Mohawk river. The 
lower, or eastern castle, was at Icanderago,* afterwards called 
Fort Hunter, near the junction of the Mohawk and Schoharie 
rivers; the central or Canajoharie castle, as then called, stood on 
the brink of the prominence at the east end of the present village 
of Fort Plain ; which hill was called by the Indians Ta-ragh-jo- 
res, signifying hill of health ;f and the upper and most western 
was in the present town of Danube, not far distant from St. Johns- 
ville. The Caughnawagas, who resided at the Tribes' hill, oppo- 
site Icanderago, and the ancient village which still bears their 
name, were a family of the Wolf tribe of Mohawks. 

When the Dutch first located at Albany, they courted the 
friendship of the Confederates; and by furnishing them with fire 
arms and ammunition to war against their northern enemies, they 
secured their trade and friendship — the latter proving of most es- 
sential service to the colony of New York, in her subsequent wars 
with Canada. At the beginning of the American revolution, a 
majority of the Confederates, owing in a great measure to the un- 
bounded influence of the Johnson family over them, remained 
true to the British interest, removed to Canada with the Johnsons 
and Butlers, and fought for Britain — proving a terrible scourge to 
our frontier settlements. Most of the Oneidas, however, 
and a part of the Tuscaroras, either remained neutral or sided 
with the Americans; rendering them, as guides and runners, 
very important services; on which account lands have been re- 
served to them in the state. The Oneida Reservation is in Ver- 
non, Oneida county, and the Tuscarora in Lewiston, Niagara 
county, where they still have villages. Their numbers are fast 

• McAuley, in his History of New York, gives this as the Indian name for 
the estuary of the Schoharie river. 

t Peter J. Wagner, Esq., who learned the site of this casilc,. the name of 
the hill and its signification, from Col. John Frey, an early settler in the valley, 
who spoke the Mohawk dialect well. A territory extending from Spraker's 
Basin to Fort Plain, a distance of six miles, was originally called Canajoha- 
rie ; indeed ihe town of Canajoharie now covers nearly the same extent on the 
river, and the castle stood on land still within the extreme limits of that 
town. 



28 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

diminishing, and their national character departing ; and the time 
is probably not very distant when it will be said of this once 
powerful confederacy, which often led to victory its thousands of 
warriors — it has been, yet is not. If such a writer as Washing- 
ton Irving would write a history of the North American Indians, 
the world would owe him a debt of gratitude. Surely such a 
work would not detract from the merited literary fame of the au- 
thor of ColumTms, to say nothing of the well-emptied saddle-bags 
of that splenetic old gentleman, Sir Deidrich Knickerbocker. 

The Schoharie tribe of Indians seems to have been made up of 
the fractional parts, or refugees from different nations, some of 
which may have been compelled to flee from the council fires and 
hunting grounds of their fathers; and perhaps might not have 
been inaptly termed by other nations, a tribe of refuge, since it 
corresponded in some degree to the cities of refuge established by 
Moses, among the tribes of Israel. That Schoharie was settled 
if only for indefinite periods to suit the convenience of the na- 
tives for hunting and fishing, long before its settlement by Ka- 
righondontee, there can remain no doubt; for to this day are 
found many flint arrow-heads, and not unfrequently other relics 
of savage ingenuity, which the contiguity of the whites at the 
time he settled was calculated to obviate the necessity of their re- 
taining in use; for Schenectada and Albany were both within 
thirty miles of his location by the paths then traveled. It is true, 
bows and arrows were still used by some of the Indians after the 
Germans arrived there, but many of them possessed fire-arms and 
well knew how to use them long before. 

It is astonishing to what perfection the aborigines of the United 
States had carried the manufacture of their wooden and stone in- 
struments for defence and domestic utihty, before the Europeans 
found their way hither ; since history informs us that they were 
not the possessors of even a knife, or any instrument of iron. To 
look at a flint arrow-head, see the regularity of its shape, and to 
what delicate proportions it has been wrought from so hard and 
brittle a substance, it seems incredible that it could have been 
formed by art, without the aid of other implements than those 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 29 

of stone. One would almost suppose the Indian to have been 
capable of softening the flinty rock by some chemical agent, 
previous to its being wrought into such beautiful forms. The ca- 
binet of the antiquarian will exhibt them of various dimensions 
and a variety of colors ; pipes, hatchets, wedges, and culinary 
vessels, all ingeniously formed from different kinds of stone, are 
likewise often found at the present day near the site of ancient 
Indian villages — giving additional evidence of the perfection to 
which necessity will carry certain arts. 

The abundance of Indian relics formerly found there, the small- 
ness of the tribe and its comparatively brief existence, are facts 
on which I predicate an opinion, that the Mohawks and Delawares, 
in times of peace, dwelt in and about Schoharie. This conclusion 
seems not only plausible but very probable, as the former, who 
were called the true heads of the Confederacy, lived along the 
Mohawk valley, and the latter inhabited along the Delaware — 
the Schoharie valley being to them the natural route of inter- 
communication. 

Some twenty-five years ago, there might have been seen nearly 
a mile north of the Schoharie Court House, a deep pit, in which 
was observed a heavy, upright, wooden frame. Its location was 
on a knoll, in an old apple orchard upon the farm now owned by 
John L. Swart : which orchard seems, at least in appearance, to 
merit an existence coeval with the first German settlements. For 
what purpose that frame was there sunk, or by whom, tradition 
breathes not even a whisper. Judge Brown said he remembered 
having seen it, but assured the author that persons then living in 
the vicinity much older than himself, could give no clew to its ori- 
gin. This artificial cavern, which is said to have been apparent- 
ly fifteen or twenty feet deep, by those who looked into it, was 
discovered at the time alluded to, by the accidental caving in of 
the earth near one corner of it. The opening has long since been 
closed, without an interior examination of the pit. Its origin 
must be left entirely to conjecture. It may have been an under 
ground place of refuge ; or, it may have served as a depository for 
treasures; or, — but I leave to the curious the solving of its mysteries. 



30 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Indians have generally believed in the existence of a God or 
Great Spirit, and a future state. They worshiped a plurality of 
imaginary deities, such as the heavenly bodies, fire, water and the 
like — indeed any thing mysterious or superior to themselves. In 
New England, says Trumbull, although they believed in one su- 
preme Gad, or a being of infinite goodness, still they paid most 
of their devotion to the evil spirit, whom they called Hobom- 
ocko : thinking, no doubt, that if they made peace with their enemy, 
they were safe. 

Little is known of the Schoharie tribe of Indians until the Ger- 
mans came into their midst. Their general customs and habits 
were as similar to those of neighboring tribes, as the multigener- 
ous nature of their own would allow. The customs of the Caro- 
lina, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania Indians, from 
which the Schoharie tribe was principally composed, no doubt 
differed as much, perhaps more, than would those of an equal 
number of the present white population, if collected from the 
same sections of the Union. The refugees from some of the 
tribes lived together when their numbers would admit, and they 
doubtless kept up in a measure their own national character. 
Time is required in all cases, where people from distant countries 
form a settlement, to sink into one general custom or habit, the 
diversified manners of their native land. The Mohegans settled 
near the mouth of the Little Schoharie kill in the present town 
of Middleburgh, and were living separate from the main body of 
the tribe, long after Conrad Weiser and his German brethren lo- 
cated in their immediate vicmity. One good reason for this, was 
the fact that they spoke a different language from the principal 
part of the tribe. They also had a small castle near the present 
residence of Henry Mattice. 

It is said by historians that Indians arc invariably born white : 
if so, I must presume this freak of nature found its way to the 
Schoharie tribe. " Indian lovers generally live together on trial 
before marriage :" and I have no reason to believe it was other- 
wise here. Among the Five Nations, history assures us, polyga- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 31 

my was not customary, but the Indians in general, Solomon like, 
kept many concubines — and never thought they had too many 
women. As the Schoharie tribe was deficient in numbers, I 
readily conclude it placed as much dependence on women to in- 
crease the number of its warriors, as did any of the Six Nations. 
In Virginia, it is said, the Indians had altars of stone whereon 
they ollercd a sacrifice of blood, deer's suet and tobacco. Now I 
dare not suppose that Karighondontee or any of his tribe w^ere 
equally religious ; but I may say, I have never heard that any 
people ever appropriated tobacco to a much better use — surely it 
were far better thus to burn, than masticate it : while its fumes, I 
do not scruple to believe, would ascend to heaven with as grate- 
ful odor— if neatness and health are called in question — as from 
the lips of that individual, whose taste is so perverted as to 
smoke it. 

That the Schoharie Indians had many customs and habits in 
common with other nations, the author has obtained satisfactory 
proof: such as the burial of treasures with the dead — holding 
councils when on the eve of some momentous undertaking — cele- 
brating victories — face painting — (from whom some modem la- 
dies have possibly borrowed the disgusting habit) — scalping the 
fallen foe — wearing trinkets about their persons — compelling 
their women to do the drudgery — requiting hospitality with kind- 
ness, and secretly revenging insult with the tomahawk. What 
civilized people call society was rarely ever found among the ab- 
origines of the United States. Unless engaged in war or the 
chase, their favorite employ — they led lives of indolence and in- 
activity. A custom once prevalent among the Indians of New 
England and New York, was that of burying the dead in a sitting 
posture facing the east : it was also customary among the In- 
dians, of eastern New England, for such as had taken prison- 
ers, to kill as many of them as they had relatives or friends killed 
in battle. — See Drake's Churches life of Benjamin Church. 

Besides the village of the Mohegans already located, the Scho- 
harie tribe had several others : one of which was on the farm 
formerly owned by Alexander Vrooman — on the west side of the 



32 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

river. Nearly opposite that, on the other side of the river, they 
had another ; and a distance of several miles farther up the val- 
ley, on the farm of the late Peter P. Snyder, a third. At each of 
the two former they had a small castle ; and at the latter, where 
they dwelt for many years after the two northern villages were 
abandoned, they had a burying ground. Those villages were all 
within four miles of the present site of the Court House. With- 
in the recollection of some now living, twenty-one wigwams 
were yet standing upon the Snyder farm ; and a few old apple 
trees still to be seen there, ^re supposed to have been planted by 
the natives. Near this orchard many burials are said to have 
been made at their place of sepulture : nor, indeed, were the 
manes of nature's children without companions, to share the pot- 
age* taken along at their death ; as a portion of the consecrated 
ground was set apart, for the defunct slaves of the early Germans. 

The fifth, and most important village of the tribe, where dwelt 
Karighondontee and his principal chiefs, was in Vrooman's land : 
where they had a strong castle, and a place of burial. This cas- 
tle was built by John Becker, who received from Sir William 
Johnson, as agent for the British government, eighty pounds for 
its erection. It was built at the commencement of the French 
war, and constructed of hewn timber. The Indians held some 
four hundred acres of land around it, which they leased for sever- 
al years. Contiguous to this castle, along both sides of the river, 
could have been counted at one time seventy huts ; and relics of 
savage ingenuity are now often plowed up near its site. An an- 
gle of land, occasioned by a bend in the river, on which this cas- 
tle stood, was called the Wilder Hook, by the Dutch who settled 
near it, and signified the Indian's Corner. Among the old people 
in that vicinity, it is still known by the same name. 

The Indians gave names to most of the mountains and promin- 

• It was not only customary for the aborigines of this country to bury the 
implements of war, and treasures of the warrior with his body ; but also a 
kettle of food, such as beans or venison, to serve him on his journey to the 
delectable hunting grounds, whither lie believed himself goiag. There he 
expected to find plenty of wild game, handsome women, and revel eternally 
in voluptuousness. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 33 

ent hills in the county, among which were the following : On 
the west side of the river, directly opposite the brick church in 
Midtlleburgh, is a mountain rising several hundred feet, and 
covered with timber of stunted growth. The traveler will readily 
notice this, as being the highest of the surrounding peaks, which 
hem in the river and valley for a considerable distance on either 
side. This mountain the natives called Ou-con-ge-na, which sig- 
nified, Rattle-snake Mountain, or Mountain oj Snakes. It was 
literally covered with rattle- snakes in former times. The next 
peak above on the same side of the river, which has a very bold 
termination towards the valley, they called 0-7iis-ta-gra-wa, and 
spoke it as though written 0-nis-ta-graw-u'a»o-A .' It signifi- 
ed the Corn Mountain. Between that and the river was the 
Wilder Hook : at which place the fiats are well adapted to the 
cultivation of Indian corn. It was this consideration which gave 
to this mountain its significant name. The next hill above the 
Onistagrawa, now known as Spring Hill, the Indians called To- 
wok-now-ra — its signification is unknown. 

At Middleburgh, two valleys meet ; the one through which 
the Schoharie wends its way, and the other through which the 
Little Schoharie kill runs some distance before it empties into 
the former. Consequently, on the south-east side of the river as 
it there courses, the mountain ridge which confines the river to 
its limits on the eastern side, suddenly terminates, and again ap- 
pears east of Middleburgh village. The termination of the hill 
alluded to, which lies south-east of the Onistagrawa and distant 
perhaps two miles — was called by the Mohegans who dwelt at 
its base, the Mo-he-gon-ter, and signified FalHng Off, or Termin- 
ation of the Mohegan Hill. It served not only to designate the 
locality, and preserve the name of the Connecticut Indians, but, 
like many of their words which have a twofold meaning ; it de- 
noted a hill terminating at a valley. A fraction of the Stock- 
bridge tribe of Indians, who emigrated from Massachusetts, also 
dwelt near the Mohegans. 

I have no data by which to estimate the whole number of 
Schoharie Indians, except the statement in Brown's pamphlet, 



34 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

which sets down the number of warriors at about three hundred. 
Now by supposing that each of those warriors, on an average, 
had two women, that there were two children to each woman — ^^ 
that .there were fifty men unfit for w^arriors from age or infirmity, 
and as many old women ; the tribe would then number two thou- 
sand two Imndred souls. This estimate may be thought too large ; 
but if so, Ihe reader has the same right and means to lessen its 
numbers, that I have to increase them. And whether he is a 
Yankee or not, he may guess at their numbers with impunity ; 
although it is hardly a supposable case, still there may have been 
here and there a warrior to whom Cupid had not revealed Ovid's 
art; there are/ew of nature's children who are strangers to love. 

The coat of arms, or ensign of the Schoharie tribe, was a 
turtle and a snake. Figures representing those animals, they 
were careful to place on all deeds or writings — which were to 
prove an evidence of faith. Nor were they confined to placing 
them on paper or parchment ; for whenever they deeded land, 
trees serving as bounds or land- marks, bore the characteristic 
emblem of the tribe. 

Brown enumerates the five following foot-paths as being in 
use by the Schoharie Indians, when the whites first settled among 
them. The^r^^ he mentions began at Catskill, and followed the 
kill of that name up to its source at the Vlaie, from whence it 
continued down to Middleburgh. Over a part of this path now 
runs the Loonenburg turnpike. The second began at Albany and 
led over the Helleberg, down Foxes creek valley, and terminated 
in Schoharie. By this path the Germans traveled, who first set- 
tled Schoharie. Tha old road, as now called, from thence to 
Albany, follows very nearly the route of that path. The third 
commenced at Garlock's dorf, and led to Schcnectada through 
Duanesburgh. By this path, the Dutch who first settled in Vroo- 
man's Land, proceeded from Schenectada. This path was much 
used for several years by the Schoharie Germans, who went to 
that ancient city with grists upon their backs to get milling done ! 
The fourth led from Kneiskern's dorf down the Schoharie to 
Sloansville, from thence through the towns of Charleston and 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 3^' 

Glen to Cadaughrity and ended at Fort Hunter. This path 
was much traveled by the natives, who went from the Mohawk 
to the Susquehanna valley. The f/th led from Kneiskern's dorf 
north-west to Canajoharic. This path, says Brown, was much 
traveled by the early Germans, who often went to visit relatives 
at the German Flats. It continued in full use, he adds, until af- 
ter the year 1762, at which time Sir William Johnson reviewed 
a brigade of militia, of which he was general — near the upper 
Indian castle of the Mohawks. Besides those enumerated, the 
Indians must have had other paths, perhaps of less notoriety, 
leading in different directions from Schoharie. One traversed not 
a little by the Indian hunter, led directly up the Schoharie to 
near its source, and from thence to the Susquehanna and Genesee 
valleys. While another of some importance to the hunter, must 
have led up the Cobelskill to it source, and fiom thence to Otsego 
lake. 

It may justly be said, that religion has peopled by the whites, 
the greater part of North America ; for many of the first Eu- 
ropean immigrants came to this goodly heritage to find a place 
where they could worship Jehovah as seemed to them proper and 
desirable. True, the prospect of realizing the desires of Ortugal, 
induced many to settle in Spanish America ; but Catholicism was 
the handmaid of lucre, and aided not a little in conquering and 
civilizing Mexico, so far as that country has been civilized ; it 
must be acknowledged, however, that civilization has advanced 
tardily in all Spanish America. This is owing no doubt to two 
obvious reasons : the "general indolence of the inhabitants, (their 
wealth being derived directly from the precious metals instead 
of agriculture,) and the fact that the Catholic religion is less fa- 
vorable to civilization, than is the Protestant. 

After the throne of England had been vacated by the death 
of William and Mary, Queen Anne ascended it, and as her pre- 
decessors had done, she tolerated the Protestant religion. It was 
often the case in former times, that when one form of religious 
worship was tolerated in a" kingdom of Europe, and laws were 
enacted to compel all to conform to it, many who had scruples about 



36 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

adopting it, at the sacrifice of judgment and feeling, fled to other 
countries where their own rehgion prevailed. It was bigotry 
and Catholicism, which drove the ancestors of General Marion 
from France to South Carolina. The grandfather of Marion was 
a French Protestant : by the authorities of France he was banish' j 
ed to perpetual exile, and notified by letter, that if found in the 
kingdom after ten days from the date had transpired, his life 
would be forfeited, his body consumed by fire, and the ashes 
scattered on the winds of heaven. I have mentioned this case 
to show the reader the nature of the persecution, which tended 
in a great measure to people the United States. 

The Puritans, as the Plymouth, Massachusetts, pioneers were 
called, fled with their pastor, the Rev. John Robinson, in the 
year 1607, from England to Amsterdam in Holland ; from thence 
thty soon after removed to Leyden. From the latter place, in 
the year 1620, they went to Southampton in England, from 
whence they embarked for America on the 5th day of August of 
the same year, and after a long, tedious voyage, anchored in Cape 
Cod harbor, on the 10th day of the following November. The 
colony which European persecution there planted, although se- 
veral times on the eve of annihilation, was the means of peopling 
all New England. 

Queen Anne, who received the crown of England in the year 
1702, knowing that the Germans were in general peaceable, 
loyal subjects, and lovers of liberty from principle — anxious to 
increase the population of her American colonies, held out strong 
inducements to this hardy and industrious race of people to become 
British subjects. She offered to give them lands, if they would set- 
tle on the frontier of certain colonies, and furnish them at the be- 
ginning with necessary tools, provisions, &c. What added to the 
inducement, they could there practice their own form of religious 
worship. 

There is a charm in the word liberty, that converts a desert 
wild into a paradise, and severs the cords of the fraternal, social 
circle. The generous offers of Queen Anne induced thousands to 
bid a final farewell to the land of their nativity — cross the foam- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 37 

ing Atlantic, and erect their altars of worship in the wilds of 
America, thousands of miles from the luring places to which they 
were known in childhood. 

Schoharie, with the exception of its Indian inhabitants, was 
first settled by the Germans and Dutch, and to religion and the 
love of liberty is that settlement mostly to be attributed. In 
saying Schoharie, I allude to all the settlements first made in 
Schoharie county, without distinction of towns; as a territory of 
many miles in extent, now making a part of several towns, was, 
at first, known by no other name than that of Schoharie. I find 
it somewhat difficult to harmonize the contradictory statements, 
tending to fix the precise year in which the Germans first arrived in 
that valley. Brown says " they sailed on new year's day in the year 
1710, from some port on the Rhine, down that river to Holland 
from whence they sailed to England ; that being there further 
provided, they sailed for America; and after a tedious voyage in 
which a great many died, they landed at New York on the 14th 
day of .Tune, 1712 ; having been one year five months and several 
days [over two years,] on their journey ; that they were then 
sent up the Hudson river to East and West Camp, (so called from 
the circumstance of their having encamped there,) where they 
wintered in ground and log huts. — That from there the spring 
following, they went to Albany, from whence some found their 
way to Schoharie, after a journey of four days by an Indian foot 
path, bearing upon their backs tools and provisions with which 
they had been provided by agents of the queen." Brown is 
doubtless in error about the time the emigrants were commg 
from Germany to New York ; it could not have been upwards of 
two years, as it would seem by his data. 

Many of the aged people with whom I have conversed on this 
subject, agree in fixing the date of their departure from Leyden 
in Holland; as early as 1709, while some others name that year 
as the traditionary one in which they first reached Schoharie. A 
record in the Lutheran church at Schoharie, states that Abraham 
Berg, from Hessen, came to America in 1709, but the record 
was made many years subsequent to that date, and may be in- 
4 



38 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY 

accurate ; recording the time of arrival here, instead of departure 
from Hessen. From a comparison of all the evidence collected 
on the subject, I believe they left Germany late in 1709, arrived 
at New York in 17 10, and the following year went to Schoharie. 
Smith's history of New York informs us, that General Hunter, 
who had been appointed governor of the province, arrived 
at New York on the fourteenth day of June, 1710, bringing 
with him near three thousand Palatines, who, the year before, 
had fled to England from the rage of persecution in Germany. 
That " many of these people seated themselves in the city of New 
York, where they built a Lutheran church ; others settled on a 
tract of several thousand acres, in the manor of Livingston, where 
they still have a village called the Camp, which is one of the 
pleasantest situations on Hudson's river ; right opposite, on the 
west bank are many other families of them. Some went into 
Pennsylvania, and by the favorable accounts of the country, 
which they transmitted to Germany, were instrumental to the 
transmigration of many thousands of their countrymen into that 
province. Queen Anne's liberality to these people," he adds, 
" was not more beneficial to them than serviceable to this colony. 
They have behaved themselves peaceably, and lived with great 
industry. Many are rich ; all are Protestants, and well affected 
to the government : the same may be said of those who have 
settled amongst us, and planted the lands westward of Albany. 
We have not the least ground for jealousy with respect to them." 
It will be observed, that the arrival at New York of the Ger- 
mans by whom Schoharie was undoubtedly settled, was on the 
same day of the same month, two years earlier than the date 
given by Brown, as the one on which they arrived. There can 
remain little doubt, that the time of their arrival as given by 
Smith is correct Another writer, Stafford, in his Gazetteer of 
JVew York, speaking of Livingston's manor, says: "In the year 
1710, agreeably to an arrangement with Queen Anne of Eng- 
land, the proprietor conveyed a tract of six thousand acres ad- 
joining the Hudson, from the south-eastern part of the manor, to a 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 39 

number of Palatines, who had served in her armies, and were now 
driven from Germany by the French army. 

The same writer, speaking of Germantown, Columbia countv, 
in which town is the village of East Camp, says:." In June, 
1710, seventy families of poor Palatine soldiers who had served 
in the army of Queen Anne, by whom they were hired of the 
Electorate of the Palatinate, arrived at New York, the most of 
whom soon removed to these lands, then included in Livingston's 
manor." The reader will here understand why these people 
were called Palatines. Palatine is a term which was formerly 
given to a prince, and probably is still, in some parts of Germany. 
He was invested with royal privileges to preside over a certain 
territory, called a Palatinate ; hence emigrants from such coun- 
tries in Germany, as are subject to the government or direction 
of a Palatine, have been called Palatines or Palatinates. " In 
1725," continues Spafford, " according to an arrangement of 
King George I. with the proprietor, letters patent were granted 
to certain persons belonging to the settlement of East Camp, as 
it was then called, as trustees for the whole, conveying the rio-ht 
of soil in perpetuity for the use of said inhabitants. And the 
grant seems to have been well devised, with the whole condi- 
tions on which it was made. Forty acres were directed to be 
appropriated to the use of a church and the maintenance of a 
school, and the residue to be equally divided among the inhabi- 
tants, which was faithfully performed by the trustees. This lit- 
tle colony received many marks of the kindness, care and bene- 
ficence of Queen Anne, under whose special patronage it was 
first planted. The country was then wholly wild, and the first 
encampments were distinguished by local names. Hence came 
East Camp, a more general name of three little lodges in this 
town ; and West Camp, the name of a similar settlement on the 
opposite side of the river, now in Saugertles, Ulster county. 
The settlements first commenced by three small lodges of tem- 
porary nuts, each of which was placed under the supermtendance 
of s^/me principal man, from whom they took their names, with 
tho addition of dorf, a German word for village. Hence Weiser's 



40 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY 

dorf, Kneiskern's dorf, names now disused, except by a very 
few of the ancient Germans." 

According to SpafFord's account it would appear as though the 
first settlers at the Camps, had been hired by Queen Anne to serve 
in her wars. But the other published accounts, and tradition, 
which seems not to have slumbered on this subject, unite in ascrib- 
ing their emigration from Germany chiefly to religious oppression. 
It is not improbable that some of the most warlike of those Ger- 
mans, may have aided the colonies and Iroquois in the war they 
were then waging with Canada ; — a distinguished historian does 
indeed say that some of them were so engaged; [See Bancroft's 
U. S. vol. iii, p. 221) — but that those who tarried at the Camps 
left their native land for that purpose, seems hardly admissible, 
from the fact, that male and female, old and young, great and 
small were mcluded in this group of immigrants ; the major 
part of which would have been sorry materials for an army. 
He must be in error about the number of the first settlers, unless 
two different parties arrived at the Camps during the same year, 
which is not improbable ; as more than seventy families, which 
he gives for their whole number there, removed to Schoharie ; 
at which time many families settled along the Mohawk river. 
It is highly probable, that of those who arrived, seventy families 
at least remained at the Camps, and became permanent settlers. 

Few incidents worthy of notice, in the long journey of thes» 
emigrants, have been preserved. They are said to have embarked 
from Plymouth, a port somewhat celebrated for the embarkation 
of Europeans to this continent. While the ship was lying at an- 
chor some distance from the shore, awaiting for a fair wind or 
sailing orders, with the emigrants on board, six of them went to 
land in a boat to make some necessary purchases. Only one 
name of the six is now remembered, that was Becker. He was 
a relative of the ancestors of the Beckers, who now live on 
Fox's creek, in the present town of Schoharie. After making 
purchases, they put off to regain the ship ; but having a gale of 
wind to encounter, which had sprung up while they were on shore, 
the boat capsized and its crew were all buried in the raging bil- 
lows. With this unhappy eommencement, it is but natural to 



AND BORDER WAR OF NEW YORK. 4t 

suppose their surviving friends anticipated a voyage across the 
Atlantic, fraught with difficulty and danger : indeed such it 
proved ; for it was protracted by adverse winds to a length of 
months, and rendered truly appalling, when, as provisions began 
to fail them, they saw grim death, through all the horrors of 
starvation, staring them in the face. Before they reached New 
York, crumbs were sought for by the half starved children in 
every nook and corner, and when fortune thus discovered to them 
the scanty object of their search, po matter how fihhy or stale, it 
was considered a God-send and greedily devoured. Several pas- 
sengers died on the voyage : one old lady, who had been ill of 
consumption for some time, died and was consigned to the deep 
at the Narrows, below New York. If several died on the jour- 
ney, it is not certain that the whole number of the emigrants was 
less at their final debarkation, than it was when they left the 
land of their fathers, as I have to record the fact, that the rule of 
ancient arithmetic, which subtracts one from one and leaves two, 
was not unfrequently exemplified during the passage. By the 
by, that is a valuable rule in peopling all new countries. 

Soon after they landed at New York, they were sent up the 
Hudson to the Camps ; (with the exception of those Avho became 
permanent settlers in the city, and those who went to Pennsylva- 
nia;) where they made a temporary location. As they did not 
arrive at New York until the middle of June, it will be obser\'ed 
that the season had too far advanced to allow those who intended 
to become frontier settlers, or citizen farmers, to select an ap- 
proved location, and raise their sustenance for that season : they 
therefore went into quarters to await the return of Spring. They 
erected temporary huts, settling in seven squads or messes, each 
with a head man or commissary, through whom they received 
their provisions from an agent of the Queen, until they were per- 
manently located. Conrad Weiser, Hartman Winteker, John 
Hendrick Kneiskern, Elias Garlock, Johannes George Smidt and 
WiUiam Fox were six of the number ; and as John Lawyer be- 
came one after their arrival at Schoharie, he may have made the 
seventh. The several settlements over which they presided, were 



42 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

called dorfs, signifying towns. Each of the said "list men," as 
Judge Brown termed them, (from the fact, that each had enrolled 
on a list or schedule, the names of every man, woman and child 
belonging to his beat ;) was obliged to make careful report, from 
time to time, to the royal agent, of all changes in his dorf ; of its 
approaching wants, etc. How these honest, good natured, simple 
people, spent the greater part of a year at the Camps, this depo- 
nent has been unable to learn ; but as they possessed the charac- 
teristic good nature of their mother country, — were fond of ath- 
letic exercises, not to the exclusion of fumigation however, he 
supposes, as the Queen's punctual agent did not allow them to 
anticipate much care or concern about their temporal affairs, that 
they " drove dull cares away," by what their descendants term 
frolicking : and that although they were in a strange land, they 
resolved it should be to them a land of social enjoyment. The 
reader is ready to ask, what means the term froliddng in this 
place ? It means, as I have been assured by the descendants of 
those virtuous and happy people, the indulgence of certain pro- 
pensities of the human heart to seek pleasure. They fiddled, they 
danced, they ran foot races ; and groups were not unfrequently 
seen among them, jumping, wresthng, &c., in summer : while 
Avinter found them skating, or playing various kinds of plays, 
such as now sometimes make part of an evening's entertainment 
at a village party, in which bussing, that delectable finale to 
which they generally tend, bears a conspicuous part. Some se- 
date mortal, on whom life hangs heavily, may be ready to ex- 
claim, "strange that a people who left their native land on ac- 
count of religious persecution, should have allowed their children 
or any of their numbeis, to indulge in such foolish propensities !" 
It is indeed strange ; but no less strange than true, -if they lived 
at the Camps as they afterwards did in Schoharie. One fact how- 
ever, might be urged in mitigation of their wickedness, if such 
the reader terms it. Not a particle of hypocrisy, that ingredient 
so necessary in making up the human character at the present 
day, dwelt in the hearts of these people. The reader will re- 
member, that I have not called them a fashionable people. Na- 



AND BORDER WAR OF NEW YORK. 43 

turally honest themselves, they supposed others so, and had im- 
bibed liberally those true German principles of nature, founded on 
a belief, that " there is a proper time for every purpose ;" which 
bade them not look to the morrow, for that which rightly be- 
longed to the present day ; or anticipate the troubles to which 
man is heir, and which are so profusely scattered along his path. 
That there were many among those emigrants who lived pious 
and exemplary lives, not approving the course of their fellows, 
there can be no doubt. 

At what time in the spring of 1711, those who had not chosen 
to remain at the Camps, moved up the river to Albany, is uncer- 
tain. It must have been as early as circumstances would allow. 
On their arrival at that Dutch city, they sent several individuals 
of their number into the Mohawk and Schoharie vallies, to spy 
out a good location for their permanent settlement. Perhaps it 
may be M'ell to say a lew words in this place, in explanation of 
the term Dutch. Emigrants from the German circles, were ori- 
ginally called Germans or High Dutch ; and indeed continued to 
be so called, long after their emigration to this country ; while 
those from Holland or the United Provinces were called Dutch : 
or, in contra-distinction of the term High Dutch given the Ger- 
mans, Low Dutch. Many persons of the present day, unacquaint- 
ed with the geography of Europe, express surprise to hear the 
distinction of the terms German and Dutch made, supposing them 
synonymous. The German circles or states, and Dutch provinces, 
are as distinct countries, as are England and Scotland, perhaps 
more so ; and their languages as little alike, as were formerly 
those of the latter countries. Nor indeed are the former under 
the same government, which is the case with the latter ; and yet 
people express no surprise to hear the distinction of English and 
Scotch emigrants made, when those countries are in question. 
When the historian tells us that the Dutch settled at Albany, 
which was by them called Willcmsladt, where they built Fort 
Orange ; and at New York, then called JV'eu' Amsterdam, in or 
about the year 1614, nearly one hundred years previous to the 
settlement of Schoharie : he dees not intend to be understood that 



44 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

those places were settled by Germans, but by Hollanders or 
Dutch. 

As the sections of the United States, originally peopled by the 
Dutch and Germans, received additional settlers from other coun- 
tries, and conformed to the English language, — the whole assimi- 
lating by gradual process to new characteristics, as their old were 
reluctantly absolved ; the sectional appellatives of all, whether 
English, Scotch, or Irish — Dutch, German, or Swiss, yielded to 
two simple terms, Yankee and Dutch. 

The German messengers, with whom we parted company a 
short time since, deputed to Schoharie, were conducted by an 
Indian guide over the Helleberg*, and on the second day they 
gained a commanding view of the flats along Fox's creek. They 
proceeded down that stream, until from one of the hills which 
skirt its lowlands, they gained a prospect of the Schoharie valley, 
at the place where Fox's creek runs into the Schoharie. There 
their vision was delighted by one of the most beautiful and pic- 
turesque scenes, with which nature has decorated the earth. They 
beheld the green flats of Schoharie, spread out before them like a 
beautiful, though neglected garden. To the west, directly oppo- 
site the mouth of said creek, their view was obstructed by a ro- 
mantic mountain rising several hundred feet, and terminating in a 
bold cliff towards them. I regret that I have been unable to 
learn the original Indian name of that mountain : the Germans 
called it the Clipper berg, meaning the rocky mountain. I take 
the liberty of giving to it, the name of Karighondontee, intending 
by so doing to perpetuate the name of the Schoharie Indian tribe. 
On the summit of the Karighondontee, is a cultivated farm for- 
merly owned by Henry Hamilton, Esq., an excursion to which 
often rewards the rambler in the summer season, with one of the 



•On arriving upon this mountain, whicli is a spur of the Catskill mouD- 
tains, those emigrants lialted on several eminences to enjoy the rich prospect 
thus afforded. Helle — signifies light or clear, and berg — hill or mountain. 
Hence the appropriate name they gave it — Helleberg, Prospect Hill or Sight- 
ly Mountain, llelderberg, the Dutch orthography for this word, has, within 
a few years, very improperly gained place ; its original German name being 
far more poetic and soft. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 45 " 

most enchanting views imaginable. Off to the right hand of the 
deputation, as they stood on the summit of the hill, near where 
it descends into the two valleys, on the north side of Fox's creek ; 
they were enabled to catch a view of the great bend in the river, 
where it takes a more easterly course, immediately after receiving 
Cobel's kill. They did not long tarry to contemplate on the 
richness of the prospect, which the union of those three valleys, 
beautified as they then were by luxurious spring, was calculated 
to create. Perhaps there was no Mozart present, to catch inspi- 
ration from the wanton carol of the countless feathered musicians, 
by which they were surrounded : or Spurzheim to forestal the 
virtues, — perchance the hidden wealth, of the hilly protuberances 
which rose in romantic grandeur, on which side soever they 
gazed. The hill on which I have supposed the pilgrim messen- 
gers to have stood, and from whicfi they caught a view of " the 
promised land," the Indians called Oxt-don-tee. After taking 
this hasty glance of the country before them, which they no 
doubt did with eyes and ears, if not mouths, open ; they returned 
speedily to Albany, and reported progress to their anxious breth- 
ren. Would kind reader, I could serve you with the maiden 
speeches of those honest spies, who were among the first white 
men known to have trod upon Schoharie soil : but in the absence 
of such an intellectual treat, your own fertile imagination must 
create them. They were delivered before the immortal seven, 
who were the sanhedrim of the multitude, and one thing is cer- 
tain : they were fraught with a prevailing argument against the 
entire Mohawk valley, which was not even allowed a hearing ; 
and nearly the whole caravan,* loaded down like so many pack 
horses with provisions and tools, without a vehicle of any kind, 
etarted forthwith for Schoharie. 

The interval lands which the deputies had visited, were, at 
that time, to a great extent cleared or timberless, and presented 

• As the German settlements along the Mohawk were commenced about 
the same time with those of Schoharie, it is not improbable, that the 
relatives of the messengers sent up that river, awaited their return at Alba- 
ay, and on their bringing a favorable report of the country, removed thither. 



46 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

the appearance of a limited prairie : and few were the native in- 
habitants, who then dwelt upon them. These two considerations, 
no doubt, greatly influenced the hasty decision of the colonists. 

Gentle reader, you, who ride perhaps in a gilded carriage, and 
think elliptic springs and a good road scarcely endurable, must 
not be offended when informed, that your great-great-grand- 
mothers, (I am now speaking to the fair sex, of the uncontami- 
nated descendants, of the primogenial pilgrims to the happy val- 
ley, not of Rasselas, but Schoharie j) clad in linsey-woolsey of 
limited length, bearing each in their arms an heir apparent, and 
each on their back a sack of provisions or unmentionables ; set 
out on foot to make this long journey, upon an intricate Indian 
foot path.* Would you ask why their husbands did not carry 
the burthens, thus imposed upon their amiable consorts ? I have 
already said they had not a v^icle of any kind; nor indeed had 
they the aid of even a single horse ; consequently the husbands 
and all the children able to bear burthens, were heavily laden. 
They left Albany on Thursday, and as may be supposed, their 
progress was necessarily very slow. Nights they slept in the 
open air, after having built fires to keep off the wolves, which 
thickly infested the forest through which they were journeying. 
Nothing remarkable happened during the first two day's journey. 
On Saturday they reached the present site of Knoxville, which 
appears to be the summit level between Albany and Schoharie, 
where they halted and assembled together. Some misunderstand- 
ing having arisen, a contest ensued, in which many of the party 
were engaged, from which circumstance the place has since been 
known by the older inhabitants, as Fegt berg, or fighting hill. 

• This journey of thirty odd miles, is looked upon at the present day as a 
small matter, since a stage rattles over it every day ; but it was tar other- 
wise at that period. Many were the tears of sympathy shed in Albany, at 
the departure of these good people, because they were going so far from any 
other settlement. What changes time brings. Where is now your sympathy, 
O ye Albanians ! for the comely looking Swiss maidens and their forlorn 
mothers, who are now in motley groups, lingering not unfrcquently a few 
days with you, ere they commence a western journey, which may number 
thousands of miles ? 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 47 

What gave rise to this quarrel, 1 have been unable to learn. It 
is not improbable that the " green eyed monster" was the direct 
or indirect cause, originating in a spirit of emulation to direct the 
movements of the party. No one seems to have been very seri- 
ously injured by this unlocked for trial of strenirth ; the insurgents 
were ovcrpowtred, good order again restored, and the line of 
march resumed. On Sunday, (probably in the latter part of 
April,) a day of seven, dedicated to cleansing and decorating the 
outward man of the civilized world, having arrived at a small 
brook, which descends from the hills on the north side of Fox's 
creek, and runs into the latter near the present residence of Sam- 
uel Stevens, and within sight of the Schoharie valley, the party 
halted and resolved on having a general purifying. Says Brown, 
" while washing, the lice ivere swirflming down the brook ; which 
is called Louse kill to this day." Tradition corroborates this sto- 
ry. I may have occasion hereafter to speak of the cleanliness of 
the descendants of these people. There can be little doubt, but 
that the washing adventure, may prove a mirror to many parties 
of emigrants, who have been long journeying. It is not difficult 
to account for the fact, that the most negligent of the number, 
(for I cannot believe all were so) should have become filthy. 
They were poor, had not changes of apparel ; of course, the 
clothing they wore, without much pains-taking to keep it clean, 
must have become dirty : add to this the fact, that they had been 
for a great length of time, either journeying or dwelling in rude 
huts, in either case greatly crowded, without any conveniences for 
private ablution ; and we have a plausible reason to believe the 
story a true one. Poor people, although cleanly, find it difficult 
at times, to exhibit evidences of their neatness, especially while 
traveling. 

The Schoharie flats to which they were journeying, and upon 
which they arrived on the day of their purifying, had been pur- 
chased of the natives by an agent of the Queen, to prevent future 
hostilities between them and the Germans. The tract of land 
thus purchased, began on the little Schoharie kill in the town of 
Middleburgh, at the hiirh water mark of the Schoharie river, at 



48 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

an oak stump burned hollow, which stump is said to have served 
the Mohegan and Stockbridge Indians, the purposes of a corn 
mill ; and ran down the river to the north, taking in the flats on 
both sides of the same, a distance of eight or ten miles, contain- 
ing twenty thousand acres. By the side of this stump was erect- 
ed a large pile of stones, which was still standing since the year 
1800. Upon this stump was cut the figures of a turtle and a 
snake, the ensign of the Karighondontee tribe, the Indian seal of 
the contract. Having arrived in safety, the Germans settled 
along the Schoharie on the land provided by the queen, in sever- 
al villages or dorfs, as they called them, under the direction of 
the seven individuals, who acted at the Camps as their captains or 
commissaries. Prudence, no doubt, dictated the necessity of set- 
thng near together, that they%iight be the better prepared to an- 
ticipate any hostile movement of their Indian neighbors. Weiser's 
dorf, (so called after Conrad Weiser the founder,) was the most 
southern village, and occupied part of the present site of the vil- 
lage of Middleburgh. This dorf contained some forty dwellings. 
They were small, rude huts, built of logs and earth, and covered 
with bark, grass, &c. They were built on both sides of a street, 
which ran nearly east and west, and may have been called Weiser 
street. Hartman's dorf was the next settlement down the river, 
and was about two miles north of Weiser's dorf. This was the 
only one of the settlements called after the christian name of its 
founder or patroon : his name having been Hartman Winteker. 
This flekken,* (if the largest village in seven merited the name,) 
is said to have contained sixty-five dwellings, similar in construc- 
tion to those spoken of in the dorf above. The Germans, (as is 
the custom of their descendants,) built their ovens detached from 
their dwellings : and thirteen are said to have answered all the 
good house-wives of Hartman's dorf, the purposes of baking. 
Like the former, this village was built along one street ; and I 
am gratified to think I can inform the reader precisely where it 

• Dorf means a compact farmer's town or small village ; flekken a larger 
village than a dorf and less than a city: and stadt, an incorporated city. — 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 49 

was situated. Every man who has traveled from Schoharie 
Court House to Middlcburgh will remember, that having proceed- 
ed about three miles, and crossed two brooks, the most southern 
of which was called, in former days, the Wolfs kill, he came to 
two angles in the road, between which, he perceived his course 
changed from south to west for the distance of, perhaps, a quarter 
of a mile. He will also remember, no doubt, how straight and 
level that part of the road was, gently descending to the west ; 
and, too, that he expressed surprise to his companion, or, if he 
had no more sensible person with him, to himself, that the road 
had never been straightened. Now, since I have traced the lo- 
cation of Hartman's dorf by tradition, to the immediate vicinity 
of this knoll or table-land, upon which the two angles in the road 
appear, and have too much charity to believe, that that part of 
the road would not have been straightened, had the commission- 
er* who laid it out not had some noble object in view, I have 
come to the conclusion, and doubt not the good sense of the read- 
er will bear me out in it, that that part of the road which runs, 
east and west, between the angles spoken of, was once 
Hartman's street, and that upon each side of it once stood 
the unpretendmg dwellings of Hartman's dorf. 

The next village north, was in the vicinity of the court-house, 
and was called Brunnen or Bruna dorf, which signified the town 
of springs. There are several springs in this vicinity ; and a hv- 
ing one, which issues from beneath the rocks a little distance 
south-east from the court-house, supplies most of the villagers 
with excellent water. The principal or most influential man 
among the first settlers at this place, was Jolin Lawyer. Some 
of his descendants, as also those of some of the Shaeffers and 
Ingolds, who were also among the first settlers, still reside near 
the location of their ancestors. The next settlement was in the 
vicinity of the present residence of Doctor C. H. Van Dyck, 
about a mile north of Bruna dorf; and consisted of Johannes 
George Smidt, (or Smith in English,) with a few followers of the 
people, for whom he had acted as commissioner at the Camps. 
Smith is said to have had the best house in Smith's dorf, which 



50 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

was thatched with straw. I am not certain that any of his clan 
are now represented in that section. It is probable, however, 
that the Snyders who reside there, may be descended from the 
first settlers. Fox's dorf was next to Smith's, north, and took its 
name from William Fox, its leading man. He settled about .a 
mile from Smith, in the vicinity of Fox's creek, so called after 
him. The Snyders, Beckers, Zimmers, Balls and Weidmans, now 
residing along, and near that stream, are regular descendants of 
the first settlers. Elias Garlock, with a few faithful followers, 
who, doubtless, adhered to him on account of his great wisdom, 
which remains to be shown, located about two miles farther down 
the river, near the present residence of Jacob Vrooman. This 
was called Garlock's dorf The Dietzes, Manns and Sternbergs, 
were among the first settlers at Garlock's dorf, whose descend- 
ants still occupy the grounds. The last and most northerly set- 
tlement, was called Kneiskern's dorf, after John Peter Kneiskern, 
its leading man. It was two or three miles from the last men- 
tioned settlement, and was made along the east side of the river, 
opposite the mouth of Cobel's kill. The ICneiskerns, Stubrachs, 
Enderses, Sidneys, Berghs and Houcks, residing in that vicinity, 
are descendants of the original settlers. This, and Bruna dorf, 
are the only ones of the seven settlements, in which the descend- 
ants of the list men or founders, dwell at the present day. The 
sectional names of Kneiskern's and Hartman's dorf, are still in 
use ; while the other five have sunk into oblivion. 

Among the first settlers at these seven dorfs, were some whose 
descendants still reside in the county, their first location in but 
few instances being now traceable. It is presumed many of them 
settled at the two most southern, and important villages. The 
Keysers, Boucks, Rickards, Rightmyers, Warners, Weavers, Zim- 
mers, Mattices, Zehs, Bellingers, Borsts, Schoolcrafts, Kryslers, 
Casselmans, Newkirks, Earharts, Browns, Settles and Merckleys, 
were doubtless among the first settlers. The whole number of 
Germans who located in the Schoharie valley in 1711, must have 
been between five and seven hundred. 



( 51 ) 



CHAPTER 11. 



Having located the pioneers of Schoharie according to their 
several inclinations, let us see how they were to live. More or 
less land was found at each settlement cleared, and with little 
pains, it was fitted for cultivation. It has been already shown 
that their eflects were conveyed in such a manner, that we must 
presume they possessed very little of this world's gear. Their 
all, no doubt, consisted in a few rude tools, a scanty supply of 
provisions, a meagre wardrobe, and a small number of rusty fire 
arms : they had to manufacture their own furniture, if the apolo- 
gy for it, merited such a name. Bedsteads, they for some time 
dispensed with. From logs they cut blocks, which answered the 
purposes of chairs and tables ; sideboards, sofas, piano fortes, ot- 
tomans, carpets, &c., were to them neither objects of family pride, 
convenience or envy. They endeavored to foster the friendship 
of their Indian neighbors, and from them they received corn and 
beans, which the latter kindly showed them how to cultivate. 
"Within one week after their arrival, four children were born ; a 
fact I think very worthy of record in the annals of this people. 
Their names were Catharine Mattice, Elizabeth Lawyer, Wilhel- 
mus Bouck and Johannes Earhart. In preparing ground for plant- 
ing, which was done in the absence of plows, by broad hoes, they 
found many ground nuts, which they made use of for food, the 
first season. I have no account of their having been furnished 
with provisions by the Queen's agent, after they left Albany, and 
suppose they were left to live on their o?vn resources, and what 
the country afforded. 

The want of grist mills, for several years, they found to be a 
source of great inconvenience. The stump mentioned in the pre- 



52 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ceding chapter, which served as the southern bound of the first 
Indian purchase, not only answered the Indians, but the first 
Germans, the purpose of a corn railL By the side of this hollow 
stump, an upright shaft and cross-bar were raised, from which 
was suspended a heavy wood, or stone pestle, working on thp 
principle of a pump. Their corn for several years, they hulled 
with lye, or pounded preparatory to eating it. 

Brown says, the first wheat was sowed in Schoharie in the fall 
of 1713, by Lambert Sternberg, of Garlock's dorf. As I have 
shown the arrrival of the Germans to have been two years ear- 
lier than the time stated by him, I suppose the first wheat to 
have been sown in the fall of 1711. 

As Schenectada was nearer the Schoharie settlements than 
Albany, for such necessaries as they required the first few years, 
they visited the former place the most frequently. Those who 
possessed the means, bought wheat there at two shillings a spint, 
(a peck,) or six shillings a skipple, had it ground and returned 
home with it on their backs, by a lonely Indian footh-path, 
through a heavy forest. It was thus, Sternberg carried the first 
skipple of wheat ever taken to Schoharie in the berry. He re- 
sided near the present residence of Henry Sternberg, a descend- 
ant of his. On the west side of the river, opposite Garlock's 
dorf, had been an Indian castle, which was abandoned about the 
time the Germans arrived ; the occupants having removed up the 
river, to the Wilder Hook. On the ground within the dilapidated 
inclosure, the wheat was sowed, or rather planted, (as they 
then had no plows or horses,) over more than an acre of ground; 
it was planted within this -yard, because it was a warm, rich 
piece of ground with little grass on it, and being inclosed, would 
remove the danger of having the crop destroyed in the fall or 
spring, by deer, which were numerous on the surrounding moun- 
tains. This wheat, which rooted remarkably well in the fall, 
stood so thin, from having been scattered over so much ground, 
that it was hoed in the spring like a patch of corn ; and well 
was the husbandman rewarded for his labor. Every berry sent 
forth several stalks, every stalk sustained a drooping head, and 



AND BORDER W.\RS OF NEW YORK. 53 

every head teemed with numerous berries. When ripe, it was 
•rathered with the greatest care ; not a single head was lost, and 
when threshed, the one yielded eighty-three skipples. In these 
days, when the weevil scarcely allows three, to say nothing of 
the eighty, bushels to one ; this statement would perhaps be look- 
ed upon as incretlible, were not all the circumstances known. 
Many procured seed from Sternberg, and it was not long before 
the settlers raised wheat enough for their own consumption. 

For several years, they had most of their grain floured at 
Schenectada. They usually went there in parties of fifteen or 
twenty at a time, to be better able to defend themselves against 
wild beasts, which then were numerous between the two places. 
Often, there were as many women as men in those journeys, and 
as they had to encamp in the woods at least one night, the wo- 
men frequently displayed when in danger, as much coolness and 
bravery as their liege lords. A skipple was the quantity usually 
borne by each individual, but the stronger often carried more. 
Not unfrequently, they left Schoharie to go to mill, on the morn- 
ing of one day, and were at home on the morning of the next ; 
performing a journey of between forty and fifty miles, in twenty- 
four hours or less, bearing the ordinary burden ; but at such times, 
they traveled most of the night without encamping. It is said, 
that women were not unfrequently among those who performed 
the journey in the shortest time — preparing a breakfast for their 
families, from the flour they had brought, on the morning after 
they left home. Where is the matron now to be found, in the 
whole valley of the Schoharie, who would perform such a jour- 
ney, in such a plight ? 

As may be supposed, many of the first settlers in Schoharie 
were related. Hence has arisen that weighty political argument 
sometimes heard, " he belongs to the cousin family." 

Owing to the industry and economy of the colonists, and the 
richness of the soil, want soon began to flee their dwellings, and 
plenty to enter ; and as their clothes began to wax old, they 
manufactured others from dressed buck-skins, which they obtain- 
ed from the Indians. A file of those men, clad in buck-skin, 
5 



54 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

with caps of fox or wolf-skin, all of their own manufacture, must 
have presented a formidable appearance. It is not certain but 
the domestic economy of the male, was carried into the female 
department ; and that here and there a ruddy maiden, concealed 
her charming proportions beneath a habit of deer-skin. 

It is said that physicians accompanied the first Germans to 
Schoharie ; and that for many years, ministers, or missionaries, 
under pay from the British government, labored in the different 
German settlements in the country. They visited the people; 
married those whose peace of mind Cupid had destroyed ; 
preached to, and exhorted all. Their audiences usually occupied 
some convenient barn in the summer season, and the larger dwell- 
ings in the winter. 

The want of horses and cattle at first, was much felt by the 
settlements. By whom cattle, swine and sheep were first intro- 
duced, I have been unable to learn. The first of the horse kind 
they possessed, was an old gray mare. She was purchased at 
Schenectada for a small sum, by nine individuals of Weiser's dorf ; 
and it is said they kept her moving. Who the nine were, who 
gloried in owning this old Rosinante, is unknown ; but there can 
be little doubt that Weiser, the patroon, owned an important 
share. It may be asked, whether the people of those settlements, 
who resided too close together, to admit of lands for cultivation 
lying between them, did not live as do the shakers ; who 
make all their earnings common stock. With a mutual under- 
standing, each labored for his own benefit, and in order to prevent 
difficulty, lands were marked out and bounds placed, so that every 
one knew and cultivated his own parcel. 

Not long after the Germans settled in Schoharie, the Dutch be- 
gan a settlement in Vrooman's Land, on the west side of the river, 
two or three miles above Weiser's dorf. Adam Vrcoman, a citizen 
of Schenectada — a farmer of considerable wealth, and somewhat 
advanced in life, took a royal patent for this land, from which cir- 
cumstance, it was called Vrooman's Land : by which name it is 
still distinguished. This patent was executed August 26, 1714. 
Previous to obtaining the royal title, Vrcoman had received Indian 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 55 

conveyances for portions of the land as gifts. One of two deeds, 
which have escaped the fate of most of Col. Peter Vrooman's 
papers, contains the names of eighteen Indians, inserted in the 
following order : " Pennonequieeson, Canquothoo, Ilendrick the 
Indian, [probably Kin^ Ilendrick of the French war,] Kawna- 
wahdcakeoe, Turthyowriss, Sagonadietah, Tucktahraessoo, Onna- 
dahsea, Kahenterunkqua, Amosthclndian, Jacob the Indian, Cor- 
nelius the Indian, Goidie Wannah, Dnecdyea, Lewcas the Indian, 
Johanis the Indian, Tuquaw-in-hunt, and Esras the Indian, all 
owners and proprietors of a certain piece of land, situate, lying 
and being in the bounds of the land called Skohcre." The title 
is for two hundred and sixty acres of land near the hill " called 
Onitstagrawa ;" two hundred of which were flats, and sixty acres 
wood-land. The instrument closed as follows: " /n testimony 
whereof, we, the three races or tribes of the Maquase, the Turtle, 
Wolf and Bear, being present, have hereunto set our marks and 
seals, in the town of Schenectady, this two and twentieth day Qf 
August, and in the tenth year of her Majenty^s [Queen Anne's] 
reign. Annoque Domini, 1711." Eighteen wax seals are at- 
tached to the conveyance^ in front of which are arranged, in the 
order named, the devices of a turtle, a loolf and a bear, the form- 
er holding a tomahawk in one of its claws. 

The other deed alluded to, is dated April 30, 1714, and con- 
tains the eight following names : " Sinonnecquerison, Tanuryso, 
NisawgorccatahjTurgourus, Honodaw, Kannakquawcs, Tigrecdon- 
tee, Onnodecgondee, all of the Maquaes country, native Indians, 
owners and proprietors, &c." The deed was given for three hun- 
dred and forty acres of woodland, lying eastward of the sixty 
acres previously conveyed, " bounded northward by the Onitsta- 
grawa, to the southward by a hill called Kan-je- a-ra-go-re, to the 
westward by a ridge of hills that join to Onitstagrawa, extending 
southerly much like unto a half moon, till it joins the aforesaid 
hill Kanjearagore." This instrument closes in the manner of the 
one before noticed, except that each Indian's name is placed be- 
fore a seal to which he had made his mark. The ensigns of (he 
three Mohawk tribes, are conspicuously traced in the midst of the 



56 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

signatures. One of the two witnesses to both deeds was Leo 
Stevens, a woman who acted as interpreter on the occasion of 
granting each conveyance. Both deeds were duly recorded in 
the secretary's office of the province. 

March 30th, 1726, Adam Vrooman obtained a new Indian ti- 
tle to the flats known as Vrooman's Land, executed by nine indi- 
viduals of the nation, " in behalf of all the Mohaugs Indians." 
Some difficulty had probably arisen, in consequence of his hold- 
ing more land than the first deeds specified. The new title gave 
the land previously conveyed with the sentence, " let there be as 
much as there will, more or less, for we are no surveyors ;" and 
was executed with the ensigns of the Mohawk nation — the turtle, 
wolf and bear. 

Vrooman's patent was bounded on the north by a point of the 
Onitstagrawa and the Line kill, and on the south by the white pine 
swamp, (as a little swamp near the present residence of Samuel 
Lawyer was then called) and a brook running from it, and em- 
braced a good part of the flats between those two bounds from 
the hill to the river, excepting the Wilder Hook : where dwelt 
many of the natives, and where, as before stated, was their strong- 
est castle. This patent was given for eleven hundred acres, more 
or less. It is said to have contained about fourteen hundred acres : 
than which very little better land ever was tilled. He had not 
designed to settle on this land himself, but made the purchase for 
a son. Peter Vrooman, for whom it was bought, settled on it 
soon after the purchase. He had quite a family, his oldest son, 
Bartholomew, being at that time fourteen or fifteen years old. 
He had a house erected previous to his moving there, and other 
conveniences for living. The first summer, he employed several 
hands, planted considerable corn, and fenced in some of his land. 
In the following autumn, he returned with his wife and children 
to Schenectada to spend the winter ; leaving a hired man by the 
name of Truax, and two blacks, Morter, and Mary his wife, to 
take care of the property ; of which he left considerable. Not 
long after Vrooman returned to Schenectada, Truax was most 
cruelly murdered. The circumstances attending this murder, are 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 57 

substantially as follows. The evening before his death, Truax 
returned from the pleasino^ recreation of gunning, with a mess of 
pigeons, which he told Mary to dress and prepare for breakfast. 
Being fatigued, he retired to rest earlier than usual, and soon for- 
got his cares and dangers, in a grateful slumber familiar to the 
sportsman. Mary cleansed the pigeons, and after having done 
so, she unconsciously put the knife into a side pocket still 
bloody, intending, but forgetting to wash it. Morter was absent 
from home during that evening and most of the night. Mary 
arose betimes in the morning, with no small pains prepared the 
savory dish, and waited sometime for Truax to rise. Observing 
that he kept his room unusually late, she went to his door and 
called to him, but received no answer. She tried to open the 
door and found it locked on the inside. As may be supposed, she 
felt the most lively apprehensions that all was not right. She 
could, from some position outside the house, look into his window. 
Thither she with trepidation went, when her suspicions were 
more than realized, and she learned too well the reason he had 
not risen at his usual hour. She quickly communicated intelli- 
gence of her discovery to the Indians, her nearest neighbors : 
who, on their arrival at the house, burst open the door of his 
room. Horrible indeed was the sight then disclosed. Poor 
Truax lay in his bed, which he had sought without the least sus- 
picion of danger, cold and stiff in his own gore ; with his throat 
cut from ear to ear. Indian messengers were immediately dis- 
patched to Schenectada, to communicate the tragic affair to Peter 
Vrooman. About the same time, the bloody knife was discovered 
in the pocket of the weeping Mary. On the evening of the 
same, or early the following day, the messengers returned with 
Vrooman, and proper officers to arrest the murderer, or whoever 
might be suspected. Suspicions were fixed upon the two blacks ; 
and when the fact of finding the bloody knife in the pocket of 
Mary, and the circumstance of Morter's being absent from home 
were known, both were arrested, and hurried off to Albany for 
trial. 

The day of examination soon arrived, and the prisoners were 



58 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

brought to the bar. The trial proceeded, and the testimony of 
the Indians, to whom Mary had first communicated her suspicions 
of the murder, was heard. No unsettled difficulty was shown to 
have existed between the murdered and the accused : indeed, lit- 
tle appeared at the trial to criminate the blacks, more than is al- 
ready known to the reader. When the facts, that the throat of 
Truax had been cut, that a bloody knife was found on the person 
of Mary, and that Morter had sullenly refused to answer questions 
during his arrest and confinement, were known to the court, cir- 
cumstantial evidence was deemed sufficiently strong and lucid to 
fix guilt upon them : and as the murder had been an aggravated 
one, the prisoners were sentenced, as tradition says, to be burned 
alive. When interrogated by the Judge, before passing his sen- 
tence, whether they had aught to say why sentence of death 
should not pass upon them, Mary boldly and firmly declared her 
innocence, and her ignorance of the real murderer : stating, in a 
feeling manner, all she knew of the affair ; how the knife had 
been heedlessly put into her pocket after cleansing the pigeons, 
and forgotten ; how much she respected the deceased, and how 
much she lamented his untimely death ; and ended by an appeal 
to the great Judge of the universe of her innocence of the crime, 
for which she stood accused. Morter, on being interrogated, re- 
mained sullenly silent ; and after receiving the sentence, both 
were remanded to prison. On the day of their execution, which 
had not been long delayed, the condemned were taken west of 
the city a little distance, where had been previously prepared, a 
circular pile of pine faggots of a conical form. In the centre of 
the pile the victims were placed, and the fatal torch applied. 
Mary, still protesting her innocence, called on the Lord, whom she 
trusted would save her ; and prayed that he would, in the heavens, 
show to the spectators some token of her innocence. But alas ! 
the day of miracles had passed ; and as the flame surrounded her, 
she gave herself up to despair. She expired, endeavoring to 
convince the multitude of her innocence. Her companion met 
his fate, with the same stoic indifference he had manifested from 
the hour of his arrest. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. ^ 

After the execution of this unhappy couple, one of whom, as 
will be seen hereafter, expired innocent of the crime for which 
she sulfered, the affair died away, and nothing further was dis- 
closed for several years. Facts then came to light revealing the 
whole transaction. At the time the murder was committed, a 
man by the name of Moore resided at Weiser's dorf. The Ger- 
mans at that settlement, which was distant from the dwelling of 
Vrooman about two miles, it was supposed, envied Vrooraan the 
possession of the iine tract of land he had secured ; and by com- 
pelling him to abandon, hoped to possess it. It is not probable, 
however, that any one of them, except Moore, thought of getting 
it by the crime of murder. He conceived such a plan, and con- 
spired with Morter to carry it into execution. Moore thought if 
Truax was murdered, Vrooman would be afraid to return for fear 
of sharing a like fate, and would then dispose of the land on 
reasonable terms ; when he might secure to himself a choice par- 
cel. Morter was promised, as a reward for participating in the 
crime, the hand of Moore's sister in marriage. It is not likely 
the girl herself, had the most distant idea of the happiness her 
brother had in store for her. Amalgamation to Morter appeared 
in enticing garments. To pillow his head on a white bosom, and 
bask in amalgamated pleasure, would, he thought, amply com- 
pensate for becoming the tool of Moore. He therefore resolved 
to aid him, and it was agreed the deed should be executed in such 
a manner as to throw suspicion on Mary his wife : who, he in- 
tended, should prove no obstacle in the way of realizing his sen- 
sual desires. The circumstance of his wife's having pigeons to 
dress, seemed to favor the design. Perhaps he had seen her put 
the bloody knife into her pocket : at all events, the present seemed 
to them a favorable opportunity, and they resolved to accomplish 
the foul deed that night. Accordingly, at midnight, the murder- 
ers approached the house in which slumbered their innocent vic- 
tim. Finding his door locked, they found it necessary to devise 
some plan to gain admission to his room without breaking the 
lock, and, if possible, without alarming Mary, a victim they in- 
tended the law should claim. By some means they gained the 



60 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

top of the chimney, which was not very difficult, as the dwelhng 
was but one story, and shding carefully down that, they soon 
found themselves in the presence of their still slumbering victim. 
Which of the two drew the fatal knife is unknown ; it is supposed 
one held him, while the other, at a single stroke, severed the jugu- 
lar vein. The nefarious deed accomplished, the assassins left the 
room, and away they sped from the dwelling, fearful alike of their 
own shadows. 

The light of the morrow's sun disclosed this damnable deed. 
When the commotion and anxiety of the next day followed dis- 
covery, Moore feigned business from home, and kept out of the 
way until after the arrest of his hardened accomplice. Not long 
afler this murder was committed, a disturbance arose among the 
Germans, through ignorance, as will be seen, and many of them 
left the Schoharie valley and sought a residence elsewhere. 
Moore was among those who went to Pennsylvania. He lived a 
life of fear for some years in that state, but at length a sum- 
mons from on high laid him upon a bed of languishing. As dis- 
ease preyed upon his vitals, the worm of torment gnawed his con- 
science. Sometimes in his broken slumbers, he was visited (in 
fancy,) by the ghost of a man struggling upon a bed ; and as he 
heard the rattle of his throat as the breath left his body, he saw 
the fearful gash and the flowing blood. At other times he saw 
two persons, whom the crackling flames were devouring ; and, as 
the appeal to heaven for a token of the innocence of one of them 
rang in his ears, he often awoke with exclamations of horror. 
Being past the hope of recovery, and so grievously tormented, in 
order to relieve in some measure his guilty conscience, he dis- 
closed the facts above related. Truax was the first white man 
murdered in Schoharie county ; and may be said to have fallen a 
victim to the unholy cause of amalgamation. 

The Germans had not been long in possession of the Schoharie 
flats, and were just beginning to hve comfortably, when Nicholas 
Bayard, an agent from the British crown, appeared in their midst. 
He put up in Smith's dorf, at the house of Han-Yerry (John 
George) Smith, already noted as being the best domicil in the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 61 

settlement. From this house, (wliich was in fact the fust hotel in 
Schoharie, and might have been called the hall-way house, as 
Smith's was the central of the seven dorfs,) Bayard issued a no- 
tice, that to every house-holder, who would make known to him 
the boundaries of the land he had taken ; he would give a deed 
in the name of his sovereign. The Germans, ignorant though 
honest, mistook altogether the object of the generous offer, and 
supposing it designed to bring them again under tyrannic land- 
holders, and within the pale of royal oppression, resolved at once 
to kill Bayard, whom they looked upon as a foe to their future 
peace ; and by so doing, establish more firmly the independence 
they had for several years enjoyed. Consequently, early the next 
morning, the nature of the resolve having been made known the 
evening before, the honest burghers of Schoharie, armed with 
guns and pitch-forks; with many of the softer sex, in whom 
dwelt the love of liberty, armed with broad hoes, clubs and other 
missiles ; surrounded the hotel of Smith, and demanded the per- 
son of Bayard, dead or alive. Mine host, who knew at that ear- 
ly day that a w^ell managed hotel was the traveler's home, posi- 
tively refused to surrender to his enraged countrymen, his guest. 
The house was besieged throughout the day. Sixty balls were 
fired by the assailants through the roof, which was the most vul- 
nerable part, as that was straw : and as Bayard had, previous to 
his arrival, been by accident despoiled of an eye, he ran no little 
risk of returning to the bosom of his family, if fortunate enough 
to return, totally blind. Bayard was armed with pistols, and oc- 
casionally returned the fire of his assailants, more, no doubt, with 
the design of frightening, than of killing them. Having spent 
the last round of their ammunition, hunger beginning to gnaw, 
and the sable shades of evening to conceal the surrounding hills, 
the siege was raised, and the heroes of the bloodless day dispersed 
to their homes, to eat their fill and dream on their personal ex- 
ploits — the invulnerability of their foe, and the mutability of 
princely promises. The coast again clear, Bayard left Schoharie, 
and under the cover of night, traveled to Schenectada. From 
there he sent a message to Schoharie, offering to give, to such as 



62 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

should appear there with a single ear of corn — acknowledge him 
the regal agent — and name the bounds of it, a free deed and last- 
ing title to their lands. No one felt inclined to call on the agent, 
whose life they had attempted to take, and after waiting some 
time, he went to Albany and disposed of the lands they occupied, 
to five individuals. The patent was granted to Myndert Schuyler, 
Peter Van Brugh, Robert Livingston, jr., John Schuyler and Hen- 
ry Wileman, the purchasers, and was executed at Fort George, 
in New York, on the third day of November, 1714, in the first 
year of the reign of George I., by Robert Hunter, then Governor 
of the province, in behalf of the King. The date of this con- 
veyance, I think, goes far to prove the settlement of Schoharie to 
have been as early as the time previously given ; as the settlers 
had been upon their lands several years, and were beginning to 
live comfortably, previous to the arrival of the royal agent. 

This patent began at the northern limits of the Vrooman pa- 
tent, on the west side of the river, and the little Schoharie kill on 
the opposite side, and ran from thence north ; taking in a strip 
on both sides of the river : at times mounting the hills, and at 
others leaving a piece of flats, until it nearly reached the present 
Montgomery county line. It curved some, and the intention was, 
to embrace all the flats in that distance. Patent was taken for 
ten thousand acres. Lewis Morris, jr., and Andrus Coeman, who 
were employed by the purchasers to survey and divide the land ; 
finding the flats along Fox's creek, and a large piece at Kneis- 
kern's dorf, near the mouth of Cobel's kill, were not included in 
that patent ; lost no time in securing them. Those several pa- 
tents often ran into each other, and in some instances were so far 
apart, as to leave a gore between them. The patent taken to se- 
cure the remainder of the flats at Kneiskern's dorf, began at a 
spring on the west side of the river, near the bridge which now 
crosses that stream above Schoharie Court House, and also ran to, 
or near the Montgomery county line. Between that and the first 
patent secured, which were intended to embrace all the flats, was 
left a very valuable gore, which Augustus Van Cortlandt after- 
wards secured. Finding much difliculty in dividing their landip 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 63 

they so often intersected, the first five purchasers and their sur- 
veyors, Morris and Coeman, whose right in the Schoharie soil 
was proportionably valuable, agreed to make joint stock of the 
three patents. Since that time they have been distinguished as 
the lands of the seven partners Patents and deeds granted at 
subsequent dates, for lands adjoining those of the seven partners, 
were, in some instances, bounded in such a manner as to infringe 
on those of the latter, or leave gores between them. As may be 
supposed, evils were thus originated, which proved a source of 
bickering and litigation for many years. Suits for partition, were 
brought successively in Schoharie county in 1819 — 25 — 26 — 28 
and 29: at which time they w-ere finally adjusted. The latest 
difficulties are said to have existed between the people of Duanes- 
burg and Schoharie. 

After the seven partners secured their title to the Schoharie 
flats, they called on the Germans who dwelt upon them, either to 
take leases of, to purchase, or to quit them altogether. To neither 
of these terms would they accede, declaring that Queen Anne had 
given them the lands, and they desired no better title. The read- 
er will bear in mind the fact, that those people had no lawyers 
among them, except by name, on their arrival — that they lived 
in a measure isolated from those who could instruct them — that 
they spoke a language difTerent from that in which the laws of 
the country were written, which laws they were strangers to ; and 
that they placed implicit confidence in the promises of the good 
Queen, that they should have the lands free ; and he will be less 
surprised at their stubbornness. Their faith in the promises of the 
Queen, had not been misplaced, as the intention of the crown to 
give them free titles by Bayard clearly proves. The great diffi- 
culty proceeded from their ignorance of the utility, and manner of 
granting deeds. The patent taken by the five partners was dated 
in November, 1714 ; and it was not until the first of August of 
that year, that Queen Anne died. It is therefore very probable, 
Bayard was an agent commissioned by her; if not, by George I., 
who intended in good faith to carry into effect the design of his 
predecessor. "Whether royal agents were sent to the other Ger- 



64 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

man settlements in the United States for the same charitable pur- 
pose or not, I am unable to say. 

At this period of the history, several incidents transpired wor- 
thy of notice. I have already remarked that the Germans were 
fond of athktic exercises. After their location, such sports as 
were calculated to try their speed and strength, were not unfre- 
quently indulged in. 

In the summer of 1713 or '14, a stump was given by the In- 
dians to their German neighbors at Weiser's dor!!, to run a foot 
race, offering to stake on the issue, a lot of dressed deer-skins 
against some article the Germans possessed ; possibly, their old 
mare. The challenge was accepted, and a son of Conrad 
Weiser was selected, to run against a little dark Indian, called the 
most agile on foot of all the tribe. On a beautiful day the par- 
ties assembled at Weiser's dorf to witness the race. The race- 
course was above the village, and on either side the Germans and 
Indians took stations to encourage their favorites. About indi- 
vidual bets on the occasion, I have nothing to say. The couple 
started, a distance of half a mile or more from the goal, at a giv- 
en signal, and onward they dashed with the fleetness of antelopes, 
amid the shouts and huzzas of the spectators. The race was to 
terminate just beyond the most southern dwelling of Weiser's dorf. 
They ran with nearly equal speed until their arrival at the dwell- 
ing mentioned, sometimes fortune inclining to the white, and 
sometimes to the red skin ; when an unexpected event decided the 
contest in favor of the German. They had to run very close to 
the house, and Weiser, being on the outside as they approached it 
side by side, sprang with all his might against his competitor. 
The sudden impetus forced the Indian against the building, and 
he rebounded and fell half dead upon the ground. Weiser then 
easily won the race, amid the loud, triumphant shouts of his coun- 
trymen. Whether the victor found his strength failing him, and 
adopted the expedient of disabling the Indian from fear of losing 
the wager, or whether, confident of superior pedestrian powers, 
he gave the Indian a jog with malicious intent, is unknown to the 
writer. The Indians, and their defeated champion, were terribly 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 65 

enraged at first, and positively refused to give up the forfeit : hut 
Weiser, who had already learned much of the Indian character, 
and knew the danger of trifling with their misfortunes, with a 
grave-yard countenance, appeased their wrath, by satisfying them 
that the whole difficulty proceeded from accident — that he stum- 
bled upon some obstacle which rendered it unavoidable, and 
was very sorry it had happened. With this explanation their 
anger was appeased, and they delivered up the skins ; from which 
it is but fair to conclude, the whole Weiser family were clothed. 
This is the only dishonest trick I have heard related of the first 
Germans, and with the exception of Moore, they seem to have 
been strangers to crime. Foot races were often run by those 
people : at times, fifteen or twenty entering the course together. 

It has been already remarked, that the Germans settled in 
clusters or dorfs, to be the better able to repel Indian invasion, 
and it now remains to be shown that such caution was rewarded, 
if tradition speaks the truth. The privilege the ^vriter claims, he 
allows to the reader, to wit : that of believing as much of the fol- 
lowing story as he pleases. When related to him, the author 
thought it too good to be lost. 

At the foot of the hill south of where stood Hartman's dorf, 
which is the descent from a table land to the river flats, as the 
road now lies, may be observed on one side a kind of marsh, 
through which runs a brook, receiving in its course the waters of 
several springs. At the period to which I allude, this marsh was 
thickly covered with alders and other swamp timber, and afforded 
a safe covert for no inconsiderable force. Early upon a certain 
day, in a certain year, Karighondontee and many of his warriors 
were assembled at this swamp, to give battle to the good people 
of Hartman's dorf, distant half a mile from the encampment. If 
the reader desired to know the cause of difficulty, or in what pre- 
cise year it arose, I should be unable to inform him ; it must have 
been previous to the arrival of Bayard. It being rumored 
through the place that it was besieged, great was the commo- 
tion through its one important street. By times, the brave Cap- 
tain Hartman had taken a public station, and around him a mul- 



66 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

titude were soon gathered. The tactic skill of the Captain re- 
quired little time in marshaling his brave followers — his tender 
care about their temporal affairs at the Camps being still remem- 
bered — who waited with impatience the march to glory. What 
other officers assisted Captain Hartman on this momentous occa- 
sion, is of no consequence at this late period. Various were the 
weapons with which the dangerous looking corps were armed. 
Few fire-arms might have been seen, but forks, shovels, broad 
hoes, axes, poles, clubs, hand-saws, and the Lord knows what 
other missiles, gleamed threateningly in the sun. Indeed, the 
care-worn and trusty swoid of the Captain, when drawn, added 
not a little to the warhke appearance of the troop, to say nothing 
of its multiform, military garb. " What a fine martial array," 
thought he, as his eye ran along the ranks, and he gave the com- 
mand to " face towards the river and march !" Each individual 
of the brave band cast a furtive, speaking glance at the front 
stoop of his own dwelling, where stood the domestic circle weep- 
ing or encouraging, or that of his lover, who was leaning upon 
the half opened door, with an arm across her face to conceal the 
gushing tear, or her pouting, nectareal lip ; and to the enlivening 
sound of the violin, their favorite and only music, set forward 
with a firm step, determined to conquer or die. Two-thirds of 
the distance from the village to the rendezvous of the enemy al- 
ready in his rear, the Captain ordered a halt, to communicate to 
his troops some necessary instructions about the plan and manner 
of prosecuting the attack. Some of his men now hesitated 
about assaulting the enemy, as they were mostly armed with un- 
erring rifles. The misgivings on this score soon became general, 
and then was called forth all the dormant eloquence their brave 
leader was so noted 'for possessing. Stepping upon a stump, 
from which position his commanding person and cheerful counte- 
nance were truly conspicuous, he addressed his followers. He 
directed their attention to the time when they were persecuted in 
Germany — to the perils they had overcome by sea and land. He 
assured them that although the enemy had rifles, yet not one of 
them shoxdd discharge. He conjured them not to sully, by cow- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 67 

ardico, their national character. He reminded them of their so- 
cial relations which were jeopardized — of the love of their wives, 
their parents, their children, and lastly of their plighted, lie ac- 
companied the latter part of his pathetic speech, with a signifi- 
cant flourish of his sword towards their village, a part of which 
was still in view. The appeal was irrenstahlc, and with one 
voice the whole corps, in true German, responded — " Fuehret an !" 
Lead on ! Fearlessly he did lead on, and thus was he followed. 
Faith is the vital principle by which every successful effort of 
man is put forth, and without it, the sinews of war are powerless. 
Indeed, faith is no less requisite in war than religion, and no bat- 
tle ever was won without it. So thought the daring Hartman, 
and so had he instructed his followers to think. When they came 
to the wood in which the enemy had taken a position, the Ger- 
mans, following the example of their Captain, rushed furiously 
upon the wary foe. They met, as had been anticipated, his lev- 
eled guns, but no sound, save their repeated clicks, was heard : 
no death-telling report rang through the valley, and the whoops 
of the savages, as they noted the failure of their rifles, gradually 
died away on the morning air. The confidence of the colonists 
was increased, on beholding the prophecy of their Captain veri- 
fied, in the click of non- discharging fire-arms, and true to their 
leader, they seconded all his movements. The red man fell back 
abashed, and ere he could discover the cause of his ill luck, the 
sturdy German was upon him, the sight of whose w^eapon was 
enough to carry terror to his heart's warmest blood, and lie was 
compelled again to flee. " An !" shouted the immortal Captain, 
" An !" The charge was too impetuous to be withstood, and the 
Indians fled in terror, uttering, as they left the swamp in posses- 
sion of their enemy, the death yell. Well might they have sup- 
posed, from the clashing of missiles coming accidentally in con- 
tact with their fellows, or with obtruding trees, and now and then 
with the head or shoulders of their comrades, that the carnage 
was terrible, and the reason for the death yell obviously augment- 
ed. What a cruel, bloody art, is war. The troops of Captain 
Hartman belabored the natives lustily with fork and hoc, as may 



68 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

be supposed, in their retreat. Here, some were seen hobbling off 
from the field of battle with bruised shins ; there, others with el- 
bows or fingers disjointed — all amazed at the manifest prowess of 
their German enemies, and still more dismayed that their rifles 
gave no report. If any there were among them who fought on 
that memorable occasion with bows and arrows, and doubtless 
there were some, it is highly probable the thick buck-skin gar- 
ments of the colonists arrested the further progress of their arrows ; 
else the fate of the day might still have been different, and I now 
had to record the success, instead of the defeat, of the stout Ca- 
nadian Chief, Karighondontee. The little army of Hartman were 
soon left complete masters of the bloodless field, (as it -would 
have been, had not the careless wielding of the missiles brought 
them occasionally in contact with a nasal organ ;) and the re- 
peated German huzzas of the conquerors, reverberated along the 
Oucongena. 

The enemy fairly ousted and the field gloriously won, the 
victors returned again to their homes to a still more en- 
livening air than the one with which they had left them, the 
whole length of the bow being given it; where awaited them 
the cheers and smiles of their fair ones. It is but reasonable to 
suppose, that a messenger had been sent forward to apprise the 
villagers of the great success and triumph of the German arms, 
without loss of life or limb, since I must believe, that had the 
good matrons been expecting to see any of the corps borne home 
on a litter, they would not have made the welkin ring with their 
shouts. Thus ended the first regular battle of the Germans in the 
valley of Schoharie, no less gloriously than did the siege of Smith's 
hotel, already before the reader, on which occasion they com- 
pelled their supposed enemy to flee by night. One thing, how- 
ever, remained to be done, the pipe of peace was yet to be 
smoked. Accordingly, on an appointed day, soon after the 
battle, the parties met in the shade of a majestic oak, not a mile 
from the battle field, which had buffeted the storms of several cen- 
turies, and may be still standing, and well and faithfully did the 
Germans smoke the calumet. They are a people extremely fond 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. fP 

of furniQ;ating, and the opportunity to show their Indian neigh- 
bors their patience and skill in the art, as may be supposed, was 
heartily embraced. Nor is it improbable, thai their countrymen 
at Weiser's dorf were guests on so important an occasion. The 
Indians were again compelled to accord to their (now) friends of 
the pipe, superior skill. The Virginia weed all burned, the par- 
ties dispersed. Well would it be if all battles ended, like the bat- 
tle of Hartman's dorf, in nothing worse than smoke. 

Perhaps thou art amazed, kind reader, while perusing the sim- 
ple narrative of this battle, to find that the fire-arms of the In- 
dians did not discharge. The days of witchcraft are now happi- 
ly passed forever ; but the time has been, when it was no uncom- 
mon thing for a spell or eiichuntmcnt to extend to the lock of a 
rifle : so says tradition. — George Warner. 

We have seen how Bayard, the royal agent, was treated, when 
he visited Schoharie to execute deeds to the German land-holders; 
that in consequence, the land was disposed of, and it now remains 
to be shown what effect that sale had on the tenant. Being called 
upon by the partners to lease or purchase, they declared they 
Would do neither. Finding lenient measures of no avail, they re- 
solved to obtain justice by the strong arm of the law. Accord- 
ingly, a sheriff from Albany, by the name of Adams, was sent to 
apprehend some of the boldest of the trespassers, as they had now 
become, and frighten others into proper terms. The Albanians 
greatly underrated the character and bravery of those people, who 
had not only compelled an agent of the crown to flee, but had, in 
fair fight, victoriously battled their Indian neighbors. It is possi- 
ble they had never heard of that terrible conflict. Adams, con- 
scious of his own honorable intentions, passing through a part of 
the valley, made a halt at Weiser's dorf He had no sooner 
discovered his business and attempted the arrest of an individu- 
al, than a mob was collected, and at that early day the lynch law 
was enforced, The women of that generation, as has been shown 
by their journeys to Schenectada, possessed Amazonian strength 
and constitutions, if not proportions ; nor, indeed, were they lack- 
mg in Spartan bravery. A part of those well-meaning dames, 
6 



70 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

remembering the promises of Queen Anne, and sharing with 
their husbands the belief that they were objects of oppression, — 
that the intention was to compel them to pay for lands they al- 
ready considered their own ; under the direction of Magdalene 
Zeh, a self appointed captain, took the sheriff into their own 
hands and dealt with him according to his deserts, of which the 
captain was judge. He was knocked down by a blow from the 
magistrate, and inducted into various places in that young village 
where the sow delighted to wallow. After receiving many in- 
dignities in the neighborhood of Weiser's dorf, some of which he 
was conscious of receiving and some not, he was placed upon a 
rail, and rode skimington through most of the settlements. He 
was exhibited at Hartman's, Bruna, Smith's and Fox's dorfs to 
his discomfiture ; and finally deposited on a small bridge, made of 
logs, that had been placed across a stream on the old Albany^road, 
a distance from the starting point of between six and seven miles ; 
no ordinary journey for such a conveyance. This stream was 
formerly called Mill brook, — why, remains to be seen, — and cross- 
es the road a short distance west of the residence of Peter Mann, 
in Fox's creek valley. The captain then seized a stake, which" 
she carelessly laid over his person, until two of his ribs made four, 
and his organs of vision were diminished one half. She then, 
with little ceremony and less modesty, bathed his temples in a 
very unusual, though simple manner, to the great annoyance of 
the uninjured eye — poor fellow, he could not resist the kindness — 
and called off her compatriots, leaving him for dead ; or rather 
to die if he chose. He saw fit to do no such act, in such a plight,il 
and after such a nursing ; and as soon as consciousness returned, 
how long after Mistress Lynch had left him is unknown, he gath- 
ered himself together and departed for Albany. What strange 
thoughts must have occupied his mind, while homeward bound. 
He must have been conscious, when the faculties of his mind re- 
newed their action, that whether his knowledge had increased or 
not, his bumps assuredly had. His progress must necessarily have 
been very slow, thus bruised and maimed, and it was not until the 
third day after he had been on the lail-rode, that he reached Ver- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 71 

re-berp^, a hill seven miles west of Albany, from Avhence lie was 
taken to the city in a wagon. As there were no public houses, 
and few Samaritans on the road at that time, he was exposed 
nights to the carnival of wild beasts, and by day, to danger of 
perishing with hunger. His arrival at Albany, wounded and 
half blind as he was, and maul-treated as he had been, prognosti- 
cated no good for the people of Schoharie. The leading facts in 
the foregoing statement, were published by Judge Brown, who 
assured the author that he received them from Sheriff Adams, vi- 
va-voce — from his own lips. 

The word berg, as we have shown, signifies a hill or mountain. 
At the period of which I write, before public houses were estab- 
lished between the two places, the people of Schoharie, who had 
occasion to go to Albany to make disposals and purchases, went 
in squads and encamped out over night. The most important 
bergs and creeks on the road, were then the guides by which they 
knew the route, distance, &c., and served the traveler in lieu of 
mile-stones. The first important stopping place, after leaving 
Schoharie, was at the Long-berg, cast of Gallupville. There, if 
the wayfarer left the valley late, he tarried over night : to it was 
therefore called the first day's journey. The Beaverkill, which is 
a branch of Fox's creek, was also a guide : then came the Feght- 
berg, Supawn-berg, Lice-berg, Helle-berg, Botte-Mentis-berg, 
and lastly Verre-berg. All these names had some significant 
meaning, which continued to remind the traveler of their origin, 
long after the road, which was then little more than a rough foot 
path, and hardly admissible for any kind of wagons, became a 
public one, properly laid out. Long-berg signified the long hill. 
Feght-berg, the fighting hill, the origin of which has previously 
been given. Supaan is the name among the Germans and Dutch, 
by which Indian pudding, usually called mush or hasty pudding 
among the English, is known. Why that name attaches to a hill, 
the writer has not been informed. The origin of Lice-berg and 
Verre-berg are also among the mysteries. A hill was called Bot- 
te-Mentis-berg from the following circumstance. A man, whose 
given name was Botte Mace, — or Bartholomew in EngUsh — was 



72 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

passing along in the evening and fell into a pit, where he "was 
obliged to remain until morning : to the nearest hill was given his 
name, by which it was long after known. 

As may be supposed, the people of Schoharie, after dealing 
with poor Adams in the manner they had, became cautious about 
visiting Albany, where several of the partners resided. There 
was, in fact, little intercourse between Schoharie and Albany for 
some time : the people of the former viewing those of the latter 
place, in a light of lively apprehension. In civilized life, it is 
happily ordered that one community shall not live entirely inde- 
pendent of all others. There were some necessaries which they 
must have, and which they could not well procure without going 
there. The men, therefore, sent their wives after salt ; which 
was one of the indispensables ; saying, in eflfect, they loill rever- 
ence them : and if they did venture to Albany themselves, they 
were sure to do so on the Sabbath, and equally mindful of leav- 
ing the same evening. What a profanation of the Lord's day ! — 
but let us not anticipate a judgment. By remaining silent in the 
mean time, and not appearing to heed their coming or going, the 
real owners of the Schoharie soil, lured the occupants into a be- 
lief, that all the malicious acts extended to Sheriff Adams, not 
forgetting the last act of Magdalene, were entirely forgotten : 
and that there was no longer any need of caution about entering 
that good city. It was indeed presuming much on the charity of 
the partners, whose agent had been so harshly treated : but no 
matter, such was the fact. With the vigilance of the sentinel 
crow, were the people of Schoharie watched, who began to be 
looked upon as being no better than they should be, — as women 
are wont to say of frail sisters, — and preparations were matured 
for seizing some of them. It was not long after suspicion was 
lulled, before quite a number of them entered the city for salt, 
when the partners, with Sheriff Adams and posse, arrested and 
committed them to jail. The most notorious of the party were 
placed in the dungeon, among whom was Conrad Weiser, jr., of 
running memory. As soon as news of this arrest and impri- 
sonment reached Schoharie, her citizens were horror stricken 1 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 71 

" What shall we do ?^^ — was the interrogatory on the lips of one 
and all. How sadly, thought they, have we realized our Euro- 
pean dreams of American happiness. Desirous of remedying in 
future the evils to which they were subjected, it was, at a meet- 
ing of the citizens, resolved to get up a petition setting forth 
their grievances, persecutions, &c.; and delegate three of their 
number to lay it, with all due humility, at the feet of King George; 
praying, at the time, for his future protection against their ene- 
mies, the Albanians. This petition, which is said to have been 
drawn by John Newkirk, was entrusted to the elder Conrad Wei- 
ser, one Cassleman, and a third person, name not known, for pre- 
sentation. 

Looking through grates and living on bread and water, had a 
wonderful effect on the spirits and temper of the incarcerated ci- 
tizens of Schoharie. They therefore made a virtue of necessity, 
and resolved to comply with the requisitions of the law, by taking 
leases and agreeing to pay rent for, or to purchase the land. Be- 
fore releasing the prisoners, the partners drew up a statement of 
the abuses to Bayard and Adams, when in the discharge of their 
official duties at Schoharie, and required them to be witnessed un- 
der hand and seal. This last requisition complied with, they 
were allowed to depart for their own homes. 

The importance with which the colonists viewed this matter 
may be conceived by the delegation to England : for, surely, no 
trifling consideration would induce three men, who loved retire- 
ment, to make such a journey at such a time. We should look 
upon it at the present day, as being a great undertaking — saying 
nothing of locomotives, rail-roads and steam- packets, which were 
then unknown. No delay was allowed after procuring the duly 
attested evidence of the proceedings of Judge Lynch : it was for- 
warded immediately to the King. It is highly probable, that the 
same ship bore the Schoharie ambassadors and the swift witness 
against them, to the British throne. The petition was presented 
about the year 1714 or '15. The ship in due time arrived in Eng- 
land, and the Schoharie delegation, wishing to make a respecta- 
ble appearance among the foreign ambassadors, were subjected to 



74 mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

some little delay, in arranging their "wardrobe, exchanging their 
buck-skin garments for cloth, &c.: in the mean time, the message 
of the partners was under the consideration of the King. On 
presenting their petition, how were Weiser and his friends as- 
tounded, to find the King and his ministry in possession of all the 
late transactions at Schoharie. Had the ghosts of Bayard and 
Adams appeared before them, they would hardly have been more 
horror-stricken, than they were to hear their own misdemeanors 
told them from such a source. Their confusion betrayed their 
guilt, and estabhshed, beyond a doubt, the truth of the charges 
prefered against them and their neighbors. The King and his 
advisers, supposing the evil deeds of the Schoharie people result- 
ed from had hearts instead of ignorance, the real parent of all 
their difficulties, without listening to what they might say for 
themselves, ordered them to close confinement in the tower. 

How much the present difficulty of these well meaning people 
argues in favor of an education, and a knowledge of the world 
and its transactions. Had they been better informed, they would 
have been less suspicious ; for suspicion and distrust are the hand- 
maids of ignorance. The liberal minded, is generally the well 
informed man. But, as already remarked, there were some good 
reasons for their not advancing rapidly in their knowledge of men 
and things. They spoke not the general language of the coun- 
try : which circumstance prevented, in a measure, that intercourse 
with the world, so necessary to the expansion of the human un- 
derstanding, and the removal of national or local prejudices. 
They were accustomed to transact most of their own business 
without pen, ink or paper ; and, agreeable to the knowledge they 
had, and their own method of doing business, they considered a 
promise made in good faith, as valid as a bond, for such in fact it 
was with them, and never dreamed of the possibility of their be- 
ing mistaken about the object of Bayard's mission ; or that any 
thing farther was necessary from the British crown to establish 
their legal title to the lands, than the mere promise of the Queen 
that they should, without money or price, possess them. 

During the confinement of the disappointed trio, many of the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 75 

people of Schoharie, convinced that they stood in their own light, 
and that they had wholly mistaken the intention of Bayard, too 
late indeed to obtain a legal title to their lands free of charge, be- 
gan to purchase of the partners, who granted them liberal terms. 
At length, Weiser and his comrades were discharged from the 
tower, and proceeded home with all possible haste : and had the 
former only been by name in the positive degree on his arrival in 
England, he assuredly would have been by nature in the compa- 
rative on his return to Schoharie ; as he had become in fact much 
tpiser. The return of the embassy, whose mission had resulted 
in effecting nothing but disgrace for themselves ; and tended only 
to disclose the general ignorance of their constituents, created no 
little excitement in the valley. Conrad Weiser was, by nature, a 
proud, high-spirited man, and could not brook the mortification 
his OAvn ignorance had originated. Soon after his return, he re- 
solved to leave Schoharie forever, and had little difficulty in per- 
suading many of his countrymen to join him. Accordingly, with 
as little delay as possible, about sixty families packed up and set 
forward with all they possessed for Pennsylvania. The want of 
horses and cows, which was so seriously felt by the Germans when 
they first located at Schoharie, was, at the time I now speak of, a 
source of little inconvenience, as they then owned a goodly num- 
ber. The disaffected party passed up the Schoharie river, piloted 
by an Indian. Brown says, they arrived, after a journey of five 
days, at the Cook-house,* where they made canoes, in which they 
went down the Susquehanna. Here is a trifling error in his 

• I make the following extract from a letter from the Hon. Erastus Root, of 
the New York Senate, in answer to several inquiries, dated Albany, April 
llth, 1843. " You ask whence originated the name of Cook House. Vari- 
ous derivations have been given, but the most natural and probable one is 
this — That on the large flat bearing the name, being on the way from Cochec- 
ton, by the Susquehanna and Chemung to Niagara, there was a hut erected, 
where some cooking utensils were found. It had probably been erected by 
some traveler who had made it his stopping place and had cooked his provi- 
sions there. It has been stated to me as a part of the tradition, that the hut 
remained many years as a resting place to the weary traveler, and that the 
rude cooking utensils were permitted to remain as consecrated to the use of 
succeeding sojourners." General Root went to reside in Delaware county in 
1796. 



76 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

pamphlet, as the Cook-house is on the Delaware river. As he 
says, they passed down the Susquehanna, preparing their canoes 
for that purpose, near the mouth of the Charlotte river. Nicho- 
las Warner, one of the oldest citizens of Schoharie county, in the 
fall of 1837, assured the author that he had seen the stumps of 
the trees on the Charlotte branch of the Susquehanna, which 
Weiser and his friends felled to make the canoes from, in which 
they floated down the river. Their cattle and horses were driven 
along the shore, and were frequently in sight of the water party, 
until the latter left their canoes. Weiser and his followers settled 
at a place called Tulpehocken, in Berks county, Pennsylvania, on 
the north side of a creek of that name ; where, it is said, he he- 
came a distinguished and useful citizen.* The party probably 
settled near their countrymen who emigrated from Germany at 
the time they did, and located in that State. Most of the fami- 
lies which followed the fortunes of Weiser, were from Weiser's 
and Hartman's dorfs. Hartman Winteker removed at the same 
time to Pennsylvania. Whether they had to purchase lands in 
Tulpehocken, I cannot say. Few of Weiser's party ever revisited 
Schoharie : several old men did, however, nearly fifty years after. 
A singular circumstance is said to have transpired, showing the 
instinct of the horses which accompanied the emigration to Penn- 
sylvania. Twelve of those noble animals left their master's cribs, 
and after an absence from them of a year and a half, ten of them, 
in good condition, arrived at Schoharie : a distance through the 
wilderness of over three hundred miles. It is possible they re- 
membered the sweet cloverf of Weiser's dorf, and longed again 
to munch it. 

Two instances of brute instinct, not dissimilar to the one rela- 

• In 1744, one Conrad Weiser was Indian inierpreter for the colony of 
Pennsylvania, who was, doubtless, the swift-footed son of the one named is 
the context. 

t The laud through which the little Schoharie kill, in Middleburgh, runs to 
the river, is to this day called the clauvcr wy, which signi6es the clover pas- 
ture. When the Schoharie valley was first seltlecl, the land along that stream 
was thickly covered with clover, which was seen in few other places about 
the Schoharie : hence the appropriate name. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 77 

ted, were told the author by Mrs. Van Slyck. About the year 
1770, the Bartholomews removed liora New Jersey to the Char- 
lotte river. Soon after their arrival there, three of their horses 
disappeared, and aft* much unsuccessful searching for them, it 
was concluded they had strayed away and become a prey to wild 
beasts. Judge the surprise of the owners to learn after some time, 
that one of them had been taken up within two, and another with- 
in live miles of their former residence. The third was found by 
them near Catskill. 

The other story is perhaps the most singular of the two, as the 
horse has given numberless instances of remarkable sagacity. 
Not many years from the period above cited, Ephraim Morehouse 
removed in the spring from Dutchess county to the vicinity of the 
Charlotte river. He passed through the Schoharie valley on his 
way, and tarried over night with Samuel Vrooman, father of my 
informant, with whom he was acquainted. He drove with his 
cattle a large sow with a bell on. As Morehouse approached 
the end of his journey, the sow disappeared. After considerable 
delay in a fruitless search for her, he proceeded on his way. In 
the following autumn he revisited the place of his former resi- 
dence, and on his return again tarried over night with Vrooman. 
He then related the circumstance of losing his sow, and again 
finding her. She had returned to the old stye in due time, to the 
great surprise of the neighborhood. Whether she retraced her 
way by the same path or not is unknown ; but to reach her for- 
mer place, had been compelled to swim the Hudson, and perform 
a solitary journey of one hundred miles. 

About the time Weiser and his friends left Schoharie, there 
were others among the dissatisfied, who, not choosing to follow 
his fortunes, sought a future residence in the Mohawk valley. 
Elias Garlock, the founder of Garlock's dorf, removed to the Mo- 
hawk, accompanied by several of his neighbors. Some of the 
party had relatives or friends there who located at the time the 
Schoharie settlements were begun, which induced them to remove 
thither. They settled in and about Canajoharie, at Stone Ara- 
bia, or upon the German Flats. 



78 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 

Tradition has preserved but little in the life of Justice Garlock, 
the most noted of the Schoharie Germans, who removed to the 
Mohawk valley. He is said, while there, to have been the only 
justice of the peace in the Schoharie vallfey. The name of the 
shrewd constable who aided him in administering the few laws by 
which they were governed, has been lost. Only one important 
decision of this sage justice is known to the author. His sum- 
mons was usually delivered to the constable viva voce, and thus 
by ,him to the transgressor of the law. If the justice wished to 
bring a culprit before him, he gave his jack-knife to the constable, 
who carried it to the accused, and required him at the appointed 
time to appear with it before the justice. What it meant he well 
understood. If two were to be summoned at the same time, to 
the second he gave the tobacco-box of the justice, and as that 
usually contained a liberal supply of the delectable narcotic, the 
consequences of a failure to return it in person to the justice, in 
due time, were dangerous in the extreme. The decision of Justice 
Garlock alluded to, terminated so happily for those most 
interested, that I cannot withhold it from the reader. A com- 
plaint having been entered before him, the knife, was issued, and 
the parties assembled forthwith. The plaintiff told his story, 
which appeared simple and true. The defendant, with more zeal 
and eloquence, plead his cause — quoting, if I mistake not, some 
previous decisions of his honor — and made out, as he thought, an 
equally good case. After giving the parties a patient hearing, 
the justice gave the following very important decision. " Der 
blandif an derfendur bote hash reght ; zo 1 dezides, an pe dunder, 
der knonshtopple moosh bay de kosht." 



( 79 ) 



CHAPTER III. 



After the removal of Weiser and others from Schoharie, the 
difficulties to which the ignorance and suspicions of the people 
had subjected them, were soon quieted, and they once more be- 
came a happy community. They were careful afterwards to se- 
cure legal titles to their lands, and thereby remove the danger of 
troubles in future, from a cause which had already tended greatly 
to decrease their numbers, and harrass their feelings. 

There were, as I have been informed, several apple trees stand- 
ing on the flats near the present dwelling of John Ingold, at the 
time the Germans arrived, supposed to have been planted by the 
Indians. One of these antiquated trees, at least 140 years old, 
was still standing in 1842, and very fruitful. Other trees of the 
same planting were yet bearing fruit in 1837. The trees from 
which the first apple orchards in Schoharie were derived, were 
procured, as Judge Brown assured me, in the following manner. 
One Campbell and several other individuals went from the Scho- 
harie valley to New York, to be naturalized, a few years after 
the settlement was commenced. Their business accomplished, 
they started for home on board of a sloop ; but not having money 
enough to pay their passage to Albany, they were landed at or 
near Rhinebeck, and traveled from thence on foot. Crossing the 
Rhinebeck flats, each pulled up a bundle of small apple trees in 
the nurseries they passed, from which the first orchards in Scho- 
harie were planted. 

The second season after the murder of his agent Truax, in 
Vrooman's Land, Peter Vrooman returned to that place and es- 
tablished a permanent residence. He planted an apple orchard, 



80 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

which is yet standing, near the dwelling of Harmanus Vrooraan. 
Some of the Svvarts, Eckers, Zielleys, Haggidorns, Feecks, and 
Beckers, with perhaps some other Dutch families, settled in that 
vicinity about the same time. 

There were few regular mechanics among the first settlers, on 
which account the native genius of all was more or less taxed. 
We have seen to what inconvenience and labor they were sub- 
jected for the want of mills. The first grist mill in the county 
was erected by Simeon Laraway, on the small stream called Mill 
brook, from that circumstance, which runs into Fox's creek near 
Waterbury's mills. Upon a bridge which crossed this brook, 
Sheriff Adams was left, after having had occular demonstration 
of the prowess of Magdalene Zeh, in the first anti-rent war. Some 
part of the race-way of this mill is still to be seen. Before the 
erection of Simeon's mill, as usually called, several hand mills, 
like the one at Weiser's dorf, were in frequent use. In the course 
of twenty or thirty years after Weiser and his friends left, several 
other mills were established in and about Schoharie. One Cobel 
erected two of those.* One of them was built on a small brook 
in a ravine on the south side of the road, a few rods distant from 
the river bridge, one mile from the Court House. The other mill 
he erected about the same time on Cobelskill, which took its 
name from that circumstance. It stood near the mouth of the 
kill. It was not until about the near 1760, that bolting cloths 
were used in Schoharie. Henry Weaver, who owned a mill near 
where Becker's now stands, on Foxes creek, was the first who 
introduced them. 

At almost as late a period as the revolution, the colonists pro- 

• This creek took its name after the paternal name of the niill-wright, as 
Judge Brown assured me. I find the name written Cobels kill in many of the 
old conveyances, and in all the early Session Jaws, of the state. It is, in 
truth, the correct orthography of the word. In writing Fox's and Cobel's 
kill, I shall in future omit the apostrophe and hyphen, for reasons obvious to 
the reader. 

The Indians called Cobelskill the Ots ga-ragee which signified the hemp 
creek. When first sctlied by the whites, an abundance of wild hemp grew 
along its banks. The natives often visited them to procure it, making from 
it fish nets, and ropes to aid them in transporting their portable wealth. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 81 

cured most of their sliocs at Albany, or East Camp ; and one pair 
was the yearly allowance for each member of the family. They 
were repaired by traveling cobblers. 

Those unaffected Germans were not votaries to fashion, of 
course they were not very particular about receiving their male 
fashions from England, or their female from France. The good 
wife and daughters generally cut and made the rude apparel of 
the family, and thought it no disgrace. The settlers manufactured 
most of their own buttons, and often the same garment had on 
those of very different sizes, of wood, horn, bone or lead. 

Not having been accustomed to luxuries from childhood, they 
were contented with simple fare and uncouth fashions. Their 
clothes, as may be supposed, did not set out a good form to very 
fascinating advantage. Those useless bipeds denominated dan- 
dies, noted for their mustaches, idleness and empty pockets, were 
unknown in the Schoharie valley at that day ; indeed, they are 
strangers there at the present time. Of course, other considera- 
tions than mere dress, or a display of jewelry, could create, influ- 
enced their choice of a partner for liie. They had little to be 
proud of, consequently many of the men did not shave oftener 
than once or twice a month. A Dow or a Matthias would hard- 
ly have been distinguished from them, had they appeared at that 
day. Habituating themselves to do men's work, many of the wo- 
men were,, from exposure, sun-burnt and coarse featured, and in 
some instances it became necessary for them to clip an exuberant 
growth of beard, which was done with scissors. 

Lawrence Schoolcraft, one of the first settlers in Schoharie, at 
the residence of Peter Vrooman, made the first cider in the coun- 
ty. The manner of making it being unique, was as follows. The 
apples were first pounded in a stamper similar to the Indian corn 
stamper before mentioned. After being thus bruised, the pumice 
was placed in a large Indian basket previously suspended to a 
tree, beneath which was inserted a trough, made by fastening to- 
gether the edges of two planks, which served to catch and carrj- 
the juice compressed by weights in the basket, into some vessel 
placed for its reception. In the year 1752, one Brown, the father 



88' fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of Judge Brown, removed from West Camp to Schoharie. He 
was then a widower, and soon after his arrival married a widow, 
who possessed ten acres of land and about one hundred and ten 
pounds in cash ; which enabled him to establish and carry on his 
trade successfully. He was a wheel-wright, and the first who 
prosecuted that business in the county. The people had manu- 
factured a kind of rude wagon before his arrival, with which 
they transported light loads to and from Albany, performing the 
journey in about five days. This Brown, in 1753, made the first 
cider--press ever used in the county. The same process which pre- 
pared the pumice for Schoolcraft did for Brown, as he purchased 
the same pounder. The press was first used at Hartman's dorf, 
where he resided. 

John Mattice Junk, or Young in English, the grand-father of 
Judge Brown, on the Mother's side, is said to have taught the 
first German school at the Camps, ever taught in America. This 
was about the year 1740. Schools began to be taught in the 
Schoharie settlements shortly after ; one Spease kept the first, 
and one Keller the next. German teachers were employed in 
the German settlements, while at Vrooman's land a school was 
taught in Dutch. About the year 1760, English instruction was 
introduced into those schools, and in some instances the 
English, German and Dutch languages were all taught by one 
teacher, in the same school. Little attention was then paid to the 
convenience or comfort of the scholars. Barns, in some instances, 
became school-houses as well as churches, in the summer ; and if 
schools were continued in the winter, some rude log dwelling be- 
came a witness to the child's improvement. Stoves, in those days, 
were unknown. The settlers had mammoth fire-places, however, 
and plenty of wood ; and in numberless instances, a fearful pro- 
portion of a cord was seen ignited in the same fire. 

Few horses were shod for many years after the settlement be- 
gan ; and those persons, who required any kind of smith- work 
their own igenuity could not create, were obliged to go to Alba- 
ny or Schenectada to get it done. John Ecker is said to hav« 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 83 

been the first black-sraitli in the Schoharie valley, and he was a 
self instructed one. 

The Germans formerly brewed a kind of domestic strong beer, 
and most of those in Schoharie brewed their own. 

From the fact, that the Dutch, who settled in Vrooman's Land, 
were more wealthy than their German neighbors located below 
them, a kind of pride or distant formality, was manifested by the 
former towards the latter for many years. When prejudices of 
any kind are allowed to gain a place in the human breast, it often 
requires generations to eradicate them. The prejudices alluded to 
as having existed between the Dutch and Germans, tended for 
many years almost wholly to prevent inter-marriages between 
them. The former, therefore, who did not choose to marry cous- 
ins — most of those settlers being related — went to Schenectada or 
Albany for wives. As Cupid is now and then a very mischievous 
boy, there may have been individual instances, in which the irre- 
sistible passion of love, aided by stratagem, trampled paternal 
prejudices under foot, and united the sturdy German and amorous 
Dutch maiden. But we must suppose such cases extremely rare, 
as the law which still requires in some parts of New England, 
the publishing of the bans for several Sabbaths preceding the 
nuptials, was then in force in New York. 

The Germans, when they located at Schoharie, owned no slaves, 
nor, indeed, did they for several years ; but these accompanied 
the Dutch on their arrival as a part of their gear. By industry, 
and a proper husbanding of what the earth produced, the wealth 
of the former increased rapidly, and it was not long before they, 
too, possessed them. 

The manner in which the slaves of Schoharie were generally 
treated by their masters, is not inaptly described by Mrs. Grants 
in her Memoirs of Albany. They were allowed freedom of speech, 
and indulged in many things, which other members of the family 
were, whose ages corresponded to their own ; and to a superficial 
spectator, had the color not interfered, they would have seemed on 
an equality. Individual instances may now be cited where blacks 
would be much better off under a good master than they now 



8*^ fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

are, or, indeed, than thousands of the operatives of England are — 
still, no one can from moral principle, although he may from 
motives of expediency, advocate the continuance of the evil as 
just and proper in any country. The existence of slavery in the 
United States, is the greatest stain upon their national escutcheon. 
This I believe to be a fact generally conceded, by all the good and 
virtuous in the land. The question then, which naturally arises, 
is, or rather it should be, what is the best and most proper man- 
ner of obliterating the stain 1 Let reason and common sense, not 
fanaticism and malice, reply. 

Many of the tools used in husbandry in former days, were both 
clumsy and uncouth. Rakes used in Schoharie, were made 
with teeth on both sides. Hay forks were made of wood, from a 
stick having a suitable crotch for tines, or by splitting one end of 
a straight stick and inserting a wedge. The improvement made 
in plows since that time, is perhaps as great as that made on any 
one implement of the cultivator. The wagons seen in Schoharie 
before the year 1760, had no tire upon the wheels. 

Grain was then thrashed, as it is at the present day by the de- 
scendants of those people who have no machines for the purpose, 
by the feet of horses. The process is simple, and as it is fast giv- 
ing place to the buzzing of machines, it may be well to relate it- 
In the center of the barn floor, which is roomy, an upright bar is 
placed, previously rendered a pivot at each end, to enter a hole in 
the floor below, and a corresponding one in a beam or plank over 
head. Through this shaft, at a suitable height from the floor, a 
pole is passed, to which several horses are fastened so as to travel 
abreast. Sometimes a number are fastened to each end of the 
pole, and in some instances, a second pole is passed through the 
shaft at right angles with the first, to which horses are also at- 
tached. A quantity of sheaves being opened and spread upon 
the floor, the horses are started at a round trot, thus trampling the 
grain from the straw. The upright, when the horses move, turns 
upon its own pivots. Persons in attendance, are constantly em- 
ployed in turning and shaking the straw with a fork, keeping the 
horses in motion, removing any uncleanness, &c. The outside 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 85 

horse travels, as may be supposed, much farther in his circuits 
than the inside one, for which reason they are occasionally shift- 
ed. Grain is broken less if thrashed with unshod horses. Some 
use a roller to aid in the process. This is a heavy, rounded tim- 
ber, worked much smaller at one end than the other, with square 
pins of hard wood inserted at proper distances the whole length. 
The smallest end of this roller is so fastened to the shaft as to pre- 
serve the horizontal motion of one, and the perpendicular motion 
of the other, at the same time. To the heavy end of the roller, 
horses are fastened, drawing it on the same principle, that the 
stone wheel in an ancient bark mill was drawn. In threshing 
with horses, the roller is a great assistance. Fanning-mills, for 
cleaning grain, were unknown in former times, it being separated 
from its chaff by fans, or shoveling ife in the wind. 

As I have already stated, much prejudice existed at Schoharie 
in former days, between the Germans and Dutch. These nation- 
al antipathies were manifested in nothing more clearly at first, 
than in matters of religion. The early Germans were, almost 
without exception, disciples to the doctrines of Martin Luther; 
while the Dutch, collectively, subscribed the Calvinistic, or Dutch 
Reformed creed. Time, however, the great healer of dissensions, 
aided by intelUgence, the champion of liberality, by degrees less- 
ened, and has now almost entirely removed those prejudices. 
While they existed, they tended to prevent that friendly inter- 
change of good feeling — that reciprocity of kindness, so necessa- 
ry to the. prosperity and happiness of an isolated people. As 
Judge Brown remarked, at our interview, " the Low Dutch girls 
formerly thought but little of the High Dutch boys," and the 
young people of both settlements kept separate companies for 
many years. In a few instances, elopement took place, but they 
were rare, as distant ministers were cautious about uniting a cou- 
ple who could not produce a certificate of publication, although 
occular demonstration might convince them of the genuineness of 
their affection, and demand their union. 

Among the first shoemakers who worked at the trade in Scho- 
harie, was one William Dietz. Few, if any, boots were then 
7 



M HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

worn. Men wore low, and women high heeled (called French 
heeled) shoes. A specimen of the latter may now be seen in the 
Cabinet of John Gebhard, jr. Esq., at Schoharie Court House. 
Shoes were then fastened with buckles, which, like those worn at 
the knees, were made of silver, brass or pewter. Caleb Cosput 
and John Russeau were the first tailors. They worked, as did 
the first shoemakers, by whipping the cat — from house to house. 
Breeches and even coats were made of deer-skins, and in some 
instances, of blankets, in their day : the former being fastened to 
striped hose at the knees with huge buckles, of silver, if attain- 
able, if not, of brass or pewter. 

One Delavergne was the first hatter, and is said to have been 
well patronized. Cocked, or three cornered hats were then the 
tip of fashion. 

To see an exquisite of the present, dressed in the costume of 
that day, with hair long-cramped before, and terminating at the 
neck in a braided cue, or if not braided, wound with black rib- 
bon or an eel-skin, the whole head being finely powdered and sur- 
mounted with a cocked hat ; with a blanket coat on, of no ordi- 
nary dimensions, ornamented with various kinds of buttons; 
breeches of deer-skin, too tight for comfort, and kept up without 
braces by a tight band above the hips, allowing the nether gar- 
ment to appear between them and the vest, and fastened at the 
knee with large bright buckles to a pair of striped silk hose ; the 
whole of the fabric described, resting upon a pair of pedestals 
cased in pen-knife pointed shoes clasped with daring buckles ; the 
hero with a pipe in his mouth, the bowl as large as a tea-cup — 
would be worth far more to the spectator, than to visit a menage- 
ry and see half a dozen country girls mounted upon the back of 
an elephant, or a fool-hardy keeper enter a cage with the most 
ferocious animals. 

Fish are said to have been very plenty formerly in most of the 
streams in Schoharie county. For many years after the Revolu- 
tion, trout were numerous in Foxes creek, where now there are 
few, if any at all. From a combination of causes, fish are now 
becoming scarce throughout the county. In many small streams. 



AND BOimER WARS OF NEW YORK. 87 

they have been nearly or quite exterminated by throwing in hme. 
This cruel system of taking the larger, destroys with more cer- 
tainty all the smaller fish. Such a mode of fishing cannot be too 
severely censured. The accumulation of dams on the larger 
streams, proves unfavorable to their multiplication. Fine pike 
are now occasionally caught in the Schoharie, as are also suckers 
and eels. Some eighty years ago, a mess of fish could have been 
taken, in any mill-stream in the county, in a few minutes. 

Wild animals of almost every kind found in the same chmate, 
were numerous in and about Schoharie, for a great length of time 
after the whites arrived. Bears and wolves, the more gregarious 
kinds, often appeared in droves numbering scores, and in some in- 
stances, hundreds ; and were to the pioneer a source of constant 
anxiety and alarm. Deer, which were then very numerous, the 
mountainous parts affording them, as all other animals, a safe re- 
treat, are still killed some winters in considerable numbers, in the 
south part of the county. But few incidents, worthy of notice, 
relating to wild animals, have come to my knowledge. One of 
the first German settlers was killed by a bear, between the resi- 
dence of the late Cyrus Swart (near the stone church,) and the 
hill east of it. He had wounded the animal with a gun, when it 
turned upon, and literally tore him in pieces. The Indians hunt- 
ed them for- food, and not unfrequently had an encounter with 
them. Nicholas Warner assured the author, that when a boy, he 
saw an Indian, called Bellows, returning from a hunt, holding in 
his own bowels with his hands. He had, after wounding a large 
bear, met it in personal combat, and although so terribly lacerated 
he slew it. Jacob Becker informed me, that there was an Indian 
about Foxes creek in his younger days, called The-bear-catcher, 
who received his name from the following circumstance. He was 
hunting — treed a large bear and fired upon it. The beast fell and 
a personal rencounter ensued. The Indian, in the contest, seized 
with an iron grasp the lower jaw of Bruin, and a back-hug was 
the consequence. He succeeded in holding his adversary so firm- 
ly that the latter could not draw his paws between their bodies. 
Bruin had, however, in the outset, succeeded in dravdng one of 



m 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE^OUNTY, 



them obliquely across the breast of the red man, scarifying it in 
a fearful manner. While thus situated, holding his adversary at 
bay, he called to a son, who was hunting in the woods not far off, 
for his assistance. The latter repaired hastily to the spot, and al- 
though he might at times have approved of a fair fight, in the 
present instance paternal affection demanded his immediate inter- 
ference. Placing the muzzle of his rifle between the extended 
jaws of the bear, he discharged it, to the great relief of his father, 
who had been so affectionately embraced. The followingadven- 
ture was related by Andrew Loucks. One Warner, who was 
among the first settlers at Punch- kill, went out towards evening 
to seek his cows. He met in his path a large bear, having cubs, 
which instantly pursued him. He ran for safety behind a large 
tree ; round which himself and madam Bruin played bo-peep for 
some time — neither gaining any advantage. At length Warner 
seized a hemlock knot, and with it, Sampson like, slew his shaggy 
pursuer. The following story was also told me by Jacob Becker, 
the scene in which is said to have been enacted near Foxes creek. 
John Shaeffer and George Schell went hunting. Shaeffer had a 
dog which treed a bear, and he being near at the time, instantly 
fired upon it. Bruin fell, though not passively to yield life. The 
dog attacked him, but was so lovingly hugged, that his eyes 
seemed starting from their sockets, and he cried piteously. Shaef- 
fer thought too much of his canine friend to see him fall a vic- 
tim to such affection, and endeavored to loosen one of the bear's 
paws : but as he seized it, it was relaxed and quicker than thought 
thrown round again, so as to include in the embrace his own arm. 
Shaeffer might as easily have withdrawn his hand from a vise. 
When he found he had caught a tartar, or, rather, that the bear 
had, he hallooed like a loon for his companion to come to his as- 
sistance and reach him his tomahawk. Many of the white hunt- 
ers, in former times, were as careful to wear tomahawks as their 
Indian neighbors. The missile was handed very cautiously at 
arms' length, and Shaeffer buried the blade of it in the brains of 
his game, to the relief of his other arm and the resuscitation of 
the dog. Bruin, as may be supposed, did not relish the interfer- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 89 

ence of the master, when he was evincing so much of the worWs 
genuine love for Carlo. 

The three most prominent hills east of Middleburgh village, 
are] called the Fire-berg, the Amos-berg, and the Clipper-berg. 
The first named is the most southern, and took its name (as Geo. 
Warner informed the author) from the following circumstance. 
A tar barrel having been raised to the top of a tall tree on that 
hill, it was, at a particular hour of a certain night, set on fire, to 
ascertain if the light could be seen from the residence of Sir 
"William Johnson, in Johnstown, at whose instigation it was done. 
Whether it was seen there or not, tradition does not inform us, 
but the «ircumstance was sufficient to originate a name for the 
hill. Amos-berg, the next one north, signifies the ant-hill, or 
hill of ants; it having been, in former times, literally covered 
with those insect mounds. Clipper-berg, directly north of Amos- 
berg, signifies the rocky-hill, or hill scantily covered with vegeta- 
tion. 

The following story was related to me by Maria Teabout. She 
with several other individuals, was on the Fire-berg before the 
revolution, when a loud scream like that of a child was heard 
some distance off, to which she made answer by a similar one. 
She was told by the men to keep still, that it was a fainter, and 
by answering it they would be in great danger. " A painter !" 
she exclaimed, "what then is a painter?" Being young and 
heedless, she continued to answer its cries, until her companions, 
alarmed for their own safety, had taken to flight, and she found 
herself alone. As she was part native she felt little fear, until 
the near approach of the animal struck terror upon her mind. 
She had not time enough left her to secure a safe retreat, but in- 
stantly concealed herself in a hollow tree. The animal approach- 
ed so near that she saw it from her concealment, but a;s that did 
not see her, it went back in the direction from whence it came. 
In the meantime, those who had fled on the panther's approach, 
went home and reported Maria as slain in an awful manner. A 
party, consisting of Col. Zielie, with half a dozen of his neighbors, 
and a few Indians, all mounted on horseback and armed with 



^ HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

guns, set out to seek and bring whatever of Maria might he left, 
after the panther had satiated his appetite. Leaving their horses 
near the entrance, they went into the woods and began to call 
to her. She heard the voice of Col. Zielie, and came out from her 
hiding place. The Indians then declared they would soon have 
the panther. After fixing a blanket on a tree so as to present a 
tolerable effigy of one. of their party, they all fell back and con- 
cealed themselves behind trees. An Indian then began to call, 
and was soon answered by the animal, which approached stealth- 
ily. When it came in sight, it fixed its eye on the effigy, and 
crawling along with the stillness of a cat, it approached within a 
few paces, from whence, after moving its tail briskly for a few 
seconds, it bounded upon it with the speed of an arrow. In an 
instant the blanket was torn into strings, and as the disappointed 
animal stood lashing its sides furiously with its tail, looking for 
the cause of the voice, (panthers having no knowledge or belief 
in ghosts) and its deception, a volley of rifle balls laid it dead on 
the spot. The skin was taken off, and some slices of the critter, 
as Natty Bumpo would call it, were taken home by several of the 
Indians to broil. Thus ended the panther, and thus did not end 
my informant. Few panthers have been killed in the county 
since the remembrance of any one living in it. One of the last 
was shot near the residence of John Enders, on Foxes creek. 

The sagacious beaver was a resident of this county on the ar- 
rival of the Germans. They were numerous along Foxes creek, 
and at a place called the Beaver-dam, on that stream, which is 
now in the town of Berne, Albany county, they had several strong 
dams. 

Wild-cats were numerous in Schoharie formerly. The follow- 
ing anecdote is related of old Doctor Moulter, a sort of physician 
who lived on Foxes creek, and flourished about the time of the 
Revolution. He awoke one night from pleasant dreams, to hear 
an unusual noise among his setting geese. Without waiting to 
dress, or seize upon any weapon, he ran out to learn the cause of 
alarm. On arriving at the scene of action, although his prospect 
was yet sombre, he discovered the cause of disturbance in the ap- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 91 

pearance of an unwelcome animal, that was paying its devoirs to 
the comely neck of the mistress of a polluted bee-hive. He ran 
up and seized it by the neck and hind legs, and although it strug- 
gled hard to regain its liberty, he succeeded in holding it until his 
boys, to whom he called for assistance, came and killed it. The 
reader may judge his surprize as well as that of his family, when, 
on taking it to the light, it proved to be a good sized wild-cat. 
Had he caught hold of it otherwise than he did, it is highly pro- 
bable that in his state of almost native nudity, he would have re- 
pented his grasp, if not lost his life. Many anecdotes are told of 
this same Dr. Moulter. When he located at Schoharie, he was 
afraid to ride on horseback, unless some one led his horse by the 
bridle. Those who led his nag for him, grew tired of gratifying 
his whims, and would occasionally let go his reins, and leave 
him to shift for himself. This kind of treatment soon taught the 
old Doctor the skill of horsemanship. He is said to have doc- 
tored for witches, and promulgcd the superstitious doctrine of 
witchcraft. Nor was he wanting in believers, as no dogmas, 
however doggish they may be, need much preaching to gain prose- 
lytes. 

Francis Otto, who is said to have established the first distillery 
in the county, (which was for cider-brandy, and stood perhaps 
half a mile east of the present site of the Court House) was also 
a kind of doctor. In fact, he was one of that useful class, who 
can turn their hand to almost anything ; being a brandy-maker, 
a doctor, a phlebotomist, a barber, a fortune-teller, etc., as occa- 
sion required. He too, believed in witchcraft. His death took 
place just before the Revolution, in the following manner. He 
had spent the evening at the house of Ingold, where now stands 
the dwelling of John Ingold ; and left there to go home, with the 
bosom of his shirt, his general traveling store-house, filled with 
apples. He may, to have kept off the chill of the evening, and 
increase his courage, tasted a potation of his own distilling, of 
which he was very fond. On the following morning he was 
found in a bruised state, having fallen off the rocks not far from 
his own dwelling. He was alive when found, but died soon af- 



91^ fflSTORY OF SCHOHABIE COUNTY, 

ter. As he was much afraid of witches, and the like evil genii, 
it was confidently asserted and generally beheved, that witches 
had thrown him off the rocks. Thus ended the first distiller, poor 
Otto, of bewitching memory. 

Deer, it has been remarked, were numerous in and about Scho- 
harie formerly. Jacob Becker, related the following story, which 
he had learned from his father. An old Indian, who lived in Gar- 
lock's dorf, was very skillful in the use of the bow and arrow. 
This Indian stationed himself one day, at a run-way the deer had 
on the north side of Foxes creek, not a great distance from Beck- 
er's mill. It was at a place where there is a small stream of wa- 
ter descends from the hill, affording a kind of path from that to 
the flats below. At this place this Indian was concealed, when 
a noble deer came leisurely down the declivity. An arrow from 
his bow pierced the heart of the unsuspecting victim, when it 
bounded forward a few paces and fell dead. Scarcely had he 
time to draw from his quiver an arrow, before another deer de- 
scended. A second arrow sped, and a second bleeding victim lay 
stretched near its fellow. Another and another descended to 
meet a similar fate , until six were, in quick succession, bleeding 
upon the ground. There were times, when, like the one named, 
the arrow was as trusty as the rifle ball. The distance must not 
be great, however, and the bow must be drawn by a skillful war- 
rior. The arrow giving no report to alarm the following deer, 
the Indian was enabled, by his masterly skill, to bring down sixj 
when a single discharge from a rifle, would have sent the five 
hindmost deer, on the back track. The arrow, however, would 
not tell upon a distant object like the rifle ball, and great muscu- 
lar strength was required to send it, even at a short distance, to 
the heart of a bounding buck. 

Rattle-snakes were very numerous formerly, along the north 
side of Foxes creek, and the west side of the Schoharie. Hun- 
dreds were often killed in a single day at either place. Neigh- 
borhoods turned out in the spring about the time they came from 
their dens, in the latter part of April, or early part of May, to 
destroy them, and by thus waging war against them, they were 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. W§ 

nearly exterminated. There are a few remaining now at both 
places. It was not uncommon, in raising a sheaf of wheat from 
the ground, on the flats near the hills, which afford their favorite 
haunts, as early as the revolution, to find one or more of those 
venomous serpents under it. They were but little dreaded then, 
especially by the Indians, for if they could get at the wound with 
their mouth, suction, with their other applications, generally saved 
the bitten. The Indians, said Andrew Loucks, rubbed their legs 
with certain roots, to avoid being bitten by rattle-snakes, and made 
use of several kinds of roots and plants, in effecting a cure for 
the bite of those reptiles. The knowledge they had of botany, 
although limited, was of a practical nature, and enabled them not 
unfrequently to effect a cure, when a similar application of a sci- 
entific mineral compound, would have destroyed. This country, 
undoubtedly, affords an herb for almost every disease of the climate, 
and more attention should be paid to the study and medical apph- 
cation of Botany. Rattle-snakes diminish rapidly in numbers, if 
hogs are allowed to run where they infest. They will eat them 
invariably, with the exception of the head, whenever they take 
them. There are individuals, in fact, who eat those venomous 
reptiles, and pronounce them palatable. The late Major Van 
Vechten, of Schoharie, formerly ate them, and at times invited his 
friends to the banquet. On one occasion, he had several young 
gentlemen to partake with him, who, as I suppose, were either 
ambitious to be able to say they had eaten of a " sarpent," or de- 
sired to rattle a little as they went through the world. Did they 
taste exceedingly flavorous, one would suppose the idea of eating 
a rattlesnake would sicken the eater, save in extreme cases of 
approaching starvation. 

The following Indian custom was himiorously told the author 
by George Warner. When Cupid has destroyed the red man's 
peace of mind, he provides himself with a quantity of corn, and 
seeks the presence of the ruddy squaw. He then commences 
snapping kernels at the coy maid he wishes to woo. If she 
snaps them back, the contract is considered firmly made. If she 
does not, the lover is led to conclude she " don't take," and leaves 



94 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

her presence somewhat mortified. If matters proceed favorably 
and a contract is made, she takes off one garter, and after the 
marriage ceremony is performed, he probably takes off the other 
— if, by the by, she has ever had any on. 

The Schoharie Indians, says Brown, claimed the lands lying 
about Schoharie, and made some sales, but were interrupted in 
those transfers of lands by the Mohawks, who proved that the 
land given to Karighondontee's wife, at the time her husband set- 
tled, was to be no more than would be required to plant as much 
corn as a squaw could hold in her petticoat; which, he adds, 
would be reckoned about a skipple. A squaw's petticoat 
neither has great length or breadth ; but the reader will 
understand that the grain was carried in the garment in the man- 
ner of a sack. 

But a few years after the Schoharie Germans had their difl&- 
culties with Bayard, the royal agent, and Sheriff Adams, they be- 
gan to secure land not only of the seven partners, but also of the 
natives, and made transfers among themselves. 

A bond in the writer's possession, given for what is unknown, 
by " John Andrews of Scorre, [Schoharie] to John Lawer [Law- 
yer,] for twenty-six pounds three shillings, corrant money of New 
York. Dated the 3d day of May, in the fifth year of our Sove- 
raign Lord George [I.] king of Great Britain, France and Ire- 
land, and in the year of our Lord God, 1720; shows the earhest 
date of any paper I have met with, that was executed between 
the early settlers in the Schoharie valley. This date is within 
ten years of their first arrival. The bond is written in a fair, 
legible hand, and most of the orthography is correct. 

In the early conveyances, lands in the vicinity of the Schoharie 
Court House, were located at " Fountain's town. Fountain's flats, 
and Brunen or Bruna dorf." Some of the old deeds bound those 
lands on the " west, by the Schoharie river, and on the east, on 
the king's road." The road then ran near the hill east of the 
old Lutheran parsonage house, which is still standing ; leaving 
nearly all the flats west of it. In ancient patents, the brook 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 96 

above Middleburgh village is called the Little Schoharie ; which 
name I have chosen to continue. 

Many of the Indian sales of lands in Schoharie county, were 
legalized by the governor and council of the colony. The fol- 
lowing paper, which is copied verbatim et literatim, will show 
the usual form of a royal permit : 

" By His Excellency the Hon. Georfre Clinton, Cap- 
tain-General and Governor in Chief of the colony of New 
L. S. York, and Territories thereon dependinj^ in America, 
Vice Admiral of the same and Admiral of the White 
Squadron of his Majesty's Fleet. 
"To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern, 
Greeting : — 

" Whereas Johannes Becker, jr., Johannes Schafer, jr., Hendrick 
Schafer, jr., and Jacobus Schafer, by their humble petition pre- 
sented unto me and read in Council this Day, have prayed my license 
to purchase in his Majesty's name, of the native Indian proprietors 
thereof, six thousand Acres of some vacant Lands, Situate, Lying 
and being in the County of Albany, on the North side of the Co- 
belskill, and on the East of the Patent lately granted to Jacob 
Borst, Jacob C. Teneyck and others near Schoharie: in order to 
obtain His Majesty's Letters Patent for the same or a proportionate 
quantity thereof I have therefore thought fit to give and grant, 
and I do by and with the Advice of his Majesty's Council, hereby 
give and grant unto the said Petitioners, full Power, Leave and 
lycense to purchase in his Majesty's Name of the Native Indian 
Proprietors thereof, the Quantity of Six thousand Acres of the 
vacant Lands aforesaid. Provided the said purchase be made in 
one year next after the Date hereof, and conformable to a report 
of a Committee of His majesty's Council of the second day of De- 
cember, 1736, on the Memorial of Cadwallader Colden, Esq., 
representing several Inconveniences arising by the usual Method 
of purchasing Lands from ' the Indians. And for so doing this 
shall be to them a sufficient lycense. 

" Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms, at Fort 
George, in the City of New York, the sixteenth Day of 
November, one thousand seven hundred and fiftv-two. 

" By his Excellency's command, G. CUNTON." 

" Geo. Banyar, D. Sec'ij." 

A conveyance made in December, 1752, of fifteen thousand 
acres of land in " New Dorlach," now in the town of Seward — 
bounds it on " West creek" — west branch of the Cobelskill be- 
ginning at a bank called in an Indian conveyance, " Onc-en-ta- 



9^ HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

dashe." This I suppose to have been the Indian name of the 
mountain south of Hyndsville. When the county of Tryon was 
organized, it took in " New Dorlach ;" which was embraced in 
Otsego county on Us organization ; and subsequently became a 
part of Schoharie county. 

The parties to an indenture, made November 30th, 1753, were 
Johannes Scheffer, Christ Jan Zehe, Johannes Lawyer, Michael 
Borst, Johannes Borst, Johan Jost Borst, Michael Hilkinger, 
"William Baird, Jacob Borst, Michael Bowman, Johannes Brown, 
Barent Keyser, Peter Nicholas Sommer, Johannes Lawyer Ser, 
Hendrick Heens, and William Brown." It was a purchase of 
fifteen thousand acres of land on the north side of the " Ostgarrege 
or Cobelskill, about seven miles westerly from Schoharre." 

The author has in his possession, a parchment copy of letters 
patent, dated March 19, 1754. It was granted in the reign of 
George II., under the administration of George Clinton as gover- 
nor, and James De Lancey lieutenant-governor, to John Frederick 
Bauch, [now written Bouck,] Christian Zehe, Johannes Zehe, 
Michael Wanner, [Warner,] and Johannes Knisker, [Kneiskern,] 
" For a certain Track of Land lately purchased by them of the 
Native Indian proprietors thereof, situate, lying and being in the 
county of Albany, to the westward of Schoharry, and on the 
south side of a creek or brook, called by the Indians Ots-ga-ra- 
gee, and by the inhabitants Cobelskill", containing about /ow?* thoiir- 
sand eight hundred Acres, and further bounded and described as 
by the Indian purchase thereof, bearing date the Ninth day of 
November last, might af^ear." The Patent grants among 
other things, Fishings, Fowlings, Hunting and Hawking; re- 
serving at the same time Gold and Silver mines, and "All 
trees of the Diameter of Twenty-four Inches and upwards at 
twelve Inches from the ground, for Masts for our Royal Navy. 
And also all such other trees as may be fit to make planks, knees, 
and other things necessary for the use of our said Navy :" with 
the privilege of going on and cutting the timber thus reserved, at 
any time or in any manner. The following singular sentence 
appears in the patent. The purchasers, after being individually 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 97 

named, were, with their heirs and assigns forever, " To be holden 
of us, our heirs and successors in fee and common socage, as of 
our Mannor of East Greenwich, in the County of Kent, within our 
Kingdom of Great Britain, yielding, rendering and paying there- 
for yearly, and every year forever, unto us our heirs and succes- 
sors, at our Custom House in Our City of New York, unto oUr 
Collector or Receiver General there for the time being, on the 
feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, commonly called 
Lady day, the yearly Rent of two shillings and six pence for each 
and every hundred acres of the above granted Lands, and so in 
proportion for any lesser quantity thereof." Within three years 
after the date of the patent, the purchasers whose interest was 
equal, were required " to settle and effectually cultivate at least 
tliree Acres of Gvexy ffly Acres, of the land capable of cultiva- 
tion." The conveyance was to be invalidated by the wanton 
burning of the growing timber. 

About the year 1760, says Brown, the Mohawks began to sell 
large tracts of land around Schoharie, through Sir William John- 
son, who was a royal agent of Indian affairs for the six nations 
of New York, and liberally paid by the British Government. 
These conveyances to be legal, he adds, were required to be made 
in his presence, he usually taking good care to secure a valuable 
interest to himself. 

Land was considered of little value among the pioneer settlers 
of New York, and large tracts were often disposed of for an in- 
considerable sum. The following certificate, found among the 
papers of the late Philip Schuyler of Schoharie, will serve to 
show from its vague limits, the value set by the owner on a large 
tract of now valuable land. 

" I do hereby certify to have sold to Messrs. Philip Schuyler and 
Abraham Becker, and their associates, the Flats of the Cook 
House with an equal quantity of upland near the path going to 
Ogwage [Oquago.] — And I hereby permit them to take up or mark 
off any quantity of land they may farther think proper, on the 
west side the said Cook House branch, granted to me, the sub- 
scriber, by the Governor and Council of this province of New York. 

Albany, 19th June, 1773. 

TH. BRADSTREET." 



ft HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Attached to this certificate is an affidavit made by George 
Mann in 1818, before Peter Swart, a Judge of the court of com- 
mon pleas for Schoharie county, which states that in the month 
of June, 1773, being then at the Indian village of " Orgquago," 
he saw " Philip Schuyler pay to the Chiefs of the Indian tribe of 
the same name, in behalf of John Bradstreet, the sum of one hun- 
dred dollars, which he understood to be money received by them 
in consideration of a deed for a certain tract of land given by the 
said Chiefs to the said Bradstreet, and which land w^as situated on 
the west branch of the Delaware river, commonly called the Koke- 
house branch.* He adds that Alexander Campbell, John H. 
Becker and David Becker, were also present at the time. 

I have before remarked that the Schoharie people owned slaves. 
Many of them were either purchased in the New England states, 
or of New England men. A certificate of the sale of a black 
girl about thirteen years of age, given on. the 7th day of July, 
1762, by " John McClister of Connecticut, to Jacob Lawyer of 
Schohary," for the sum of sixty pounds, [|150,] New York cur- 
rency, will probably show the average value of female slaves at 
that day. At a later period, able bodied male slaves often sold 
as high as $250. When slaves were purchased out of the Colo- 
ny, a duty was required to be paid on them, as the following cer- 
tificate of the Mayor of Albany will show. 

" Theas are to Certify, y' Nine negro men and women has been 
Imported Into y" County of Albany from New England, and ac- 
cording to an Act of y° Governor, y^ Council, and the generall As- 
sembly ; William Day has paid y' Duty for said negro men and 
women: witness my hand this twentieth Dav of Aug'. 1762. 

VOLKERT P< DOUW, Mayor." 

Five of the above mentioned slaves were sold at Schoharie. 

"While New York was a British province, public roads were 
called " The King's Highways," and were kept in repair by a 
tax levied by officers under the crow^n. Individuals were not 
compelled at that period to fence in their lands along the high- 
ways, but where the line fence between neighbors crossed them, 

• Koke is the Dutch of cook — to prepare to eat. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 99 

they placed gates. This was a source of constant vexation to 
the traveler, who often complained that more obstructions of the 
kind were stretched across the road, than necessity required. Ac- 
cordingly, to remedy the evil, a legislative act was passed, by 
which those obstructions could only be placed across the King's 
road by a legal permit ; signed by several of his Majest}'s Jus- 
tices of the peace. The traveler was annoyed by gates across the 
highway in thickly settled communities in the Mohawk and Scho- 
harie valleys, for many years after the American revolution. 

John Lawyer, named in the bond of 1720, and the father of 
one of the first white children born in Schoharie, was one of the 
principal settlers at Bruna dorf: and was the first merchant 
among those Germans — trading near the present residence of An- 
drew Seller, half a mile south of the Court House. He is said 
to have been a flax-hatcheler in Germany : and we must suppose, 
firom the state of his finances on his arrival in the Schoharie val- 
ley, that he commenced a very limited business. The natives 
were among his most profitable customers; as he bartered blank- 
ets, Indian trinkets, calicoes, ammunition, rum, &c., wilh them, for 
valuable furs, dressed deer-skins, and other commodities of the times. 
He was one of the best informed among the Germans who settled 
the county ; and before his death became an extensive land-hold- 
er. He was quite a business man and a useful citizen, aiding ma- 
ny who purchased land in making their payments; and acquired 
the reputation of a fair and honorable dealer. 

He became a widower when about eighty years old, and mar- 
ried a widow in New York city. Arriving at Albany he sent 
word to have one of his sons come after him : but they were so 
oflfended to think he should marry at that age, that neither 
of them would go. One Dominick took the happy couple to 
Schoharie ; where, we take it for granted, they spent the honey- 
moon. It has been stated that Lawyer had several children by 
this late marriage. Judge Brown assured the author he had 
indeed, but that they were many years old when he married their 
mother. A well executed family portrait of this father of the 



100 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Lawyers, in the fashion of that day, is now to be seen at the 
dwelHng of the late Wm. G. Michaels, near the Court House. 
It was painted in New York, and tells credibly for the state of 
the^w.c arts at that period. 

A second John Lawyer, who usually wrote his given name 
Johannes (the German of John), a son of the one mentioned 
above, succeeded his father in the mercantile business. He be- 
came a good surveyor, and surveyed much land in and around 
Schoharie county. He was also an extensive land-holder, own- 
ing at least twenty-five thousand acres of land, and his name 
appears in very many conveyances made in that county before 
the year 1760. 

I have before me a copy of the will of this man, which was 
dated March 10th, 1760 : by which it appears he was then a 
merchant. He had three sons and two daughters, and his will 
so disposed of his large estate, as to be equally distributed on the 
death of his widow, to the surviving children and the lawful heirs 
of the deceased ones. 

Few parents at the present day in Schoharie county, imitate 
the commendable example of this wealthy man, and divide their 
properly equally between sons and daughters. The latter, who 
are by nature the most helpless, are frequently unprovided for, 
and while a son or sons are enjoying the rich inheritance of a 
" wise father," a worthy daughter is sometimes compelled, on the 
death of her parents, either to marry against her own good sense 
and inclination, a man unworthy of her ; or feel herself really 
dependant on the charity of those from whom she should not be 
compelled to ask it 

Johannes Lawyer was succeeded by a son, his namesake, in the 
mercantile business. He was also a surveyor, and transacted no 
little business. Lawrence Lawyer, one of his sons, who was still 
living in Cobelskill in 1837, informed me that some person in 
New York presented his father with a small cannon while in 
that city purchasing goods, a short time previous to the French 
war : and that during that war, whenever the Schoharie Indians, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 101 

who were engaged with the Mohawks under General, afterwards 
Sir Win. Johnson, returned home with the scalps of ten or fifteen 
of the enemy, this cannon was fired for joy. Thus we perceive 
that the very cruel Indian custom of scalping, condemned in the 
savages during the Revolution about twenty years after, the 
whites had approved in the French war, and demonstrated that 
approval by the discharge of cannon. Can we blame the un- 
lettered savage for continuing a custom his fathers — indeed we 
ourselves have taught him to think fair and honorable, by our 
own public approval and celebration ? Ought we not rather to 
pity the degraded, injured Indian; and amid blushes, censure 
ourselves for encouraging his love of cruelty instead of tender 
mercy ? 

I learned from this old patriot, who was one of the early. set- 
tlers of Cobelskill, the origin of the name Punch-kill. His grand- 
father took a patent of lands adjoining this stream : and on 
running out the lines in making a survey, -punch was made and 
freely drank on the premises, on which account the brook was 
called Punch-kill, and has been so called ever since. This kill is 
in the northeast part of the town, and falls into the stream of that 
name. 

John I. Lawyer, who was a nephew of the second Schoharie 
merchant, was learned out, according to a phrase of the times, 
having received a share of his education in Boston, and proved a 
very correct surveyor. He was rather eccentric, and perhaps 
was not in all respects as happily married, as it is the good for- 
tune of some men to be. An anecdote related of him which 
tends to show his character, is as follows : He had been accus- 
tomed for a long time to occupy a high chair at the table while 
eating. A grandson of his coming home after a long absence, 
who was a great favorite with his grandmother, she insisted on 
his having the high chair at the festive board. The old gentle- 
man put up with the treatment for a few days, but at length 
growing impatient at such improper favoritism, he entered his 
dwelling as the table was setting, with a saw, and before any one 
8 



102 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

could stay proceedings, he raised the table and sawed off its legs. 
" JVoiv," said he to his wife, " your favorite can have the high 
chair. The old lady cast her eyes on the sorry picture which the 
dishes in fragments on the floor presented, and began to storm — 
but it was of no use — the husband kept his temper. His voice 
was not Jbr war. He went directly and procured a new set of 
dishes, and ever after he had no difficulty in occupying such a 
seat at his own table as he chose. 

It was formerly customary, not only in Schoharie, but in almost 
every county in the state, to provide refreshments at funerals. 
Indeed, within twenty years, the custom of providing hquor on 
such occasions has been in vogue, and the bearers and friends of 
the deceased were expected to return to the house of mourning 
after the burial, and drink. Neither was it at all uncommon for 
people in those days to go home from a funeral drunk : but the 
barbarous and unfeeling custom of passing the intoxicating bowl 
on such occasions, has yielded to a better spirit. It is said that 
John Lawyer, the second one mentioned in this chapter, kept a 
barrel of wine for several years before his death to be drank at 
his funeral ; that it was carried out on that occasion in pails, 
freely drank, and many were drunk of it. Cakes were carried 
round at such times in large baskets, and in some instances a fu- 
neral appeared more like a festival than the solemn sepulture of 
the dead. The old people give a reason somewhat plausible for 
the introduction of such a custom in this county. Its inhabitants 
were sparsedly settled over a large territory, and many had to go 
a great distance to attend funerals, — and as all could not be ex- 
pected to eat a regular meal from home, those extra provisions 
were made for friends present from remote sections. A custom of 
that kind once introduced, even if at the time justifiable, it is easy 
to perceive might be continued in after years, until it became ob- 
noxious to sympathy and highly reprehensible. 

The following is the copy of a receipt, evidently in the hand 
writing of the second mentioned John Lawyer, liis name being 
written as the contraction of Johannes. It was doubtless given 
as it purports, for liquor drank at a funeral. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 1 03 

" Scoherie, March 29, 1738. 

" Then Received of John Schuyler the sum of Twenty Shilings 
for the five galing [gallons] of Rum at the Bearing [burying] of 
Maria Bratt. Reed by me. JOH& LAWYER." 

The Schoharie Indians had but few serious difficulties with the 
early' white settlers. Judge Brown mentions in his pamphlet 
that a squaw once shot a man on the sabbath, while returning 
from Church. The Indians often had personal broils among 
themselves, and generally settled them in their own savage way. 
Brown also states that in his time he saw one William, a son of 
Jan, stab and kill another Indian at the house of David Becker, 
in Weiser's dorf. An eye-witness of the act informed the author, 
that the Indian killed was called John Coy. David Becker then 
kept a public house, which stood on the present site of the par- 
sonage house belonging to the brick church in Middleburgh. 
John had a child in his arms in the bar-room, and was asked by 
William, another Indian, to drink with him. The former de- 
clined drinking, and walked out of the room upon a piazza in 
front of the house. William soon after followed him out and bu- 
ried the blade of a long knife in his back — which he did not at- 
tempt to draw out — and departed. John died almost instantly. 
The cause of this assassination informant did not know : it is 
doubtless to be attributed to the red man's curse — alcohol. 

Mrs. Van Slyck related the following traditionary story, which 
serves to illustrate the Indian character. At a house which stood 
on the farm now owned by Henry Vrooman, and contiguous to 
Wilder Hook, about the year 1750, one Indian stabbed another 
on the threshold of the door to the entrance into the upper part 
of it. The deed was committed in the evening, and was the re- 
sult of a former quarrel. The tribe took little notice of the act, 
but when the corpse of the murdered man was about to be low- 
ered into the grave, the father of the murderer required his son to 
get into it to dig one end deeper. He did so, and while standing 
there, the father sunk a tomahawk into his brains. He was laid 
down in the narrow house with his implements of war beside him 
— the other victim placed upon the body of his murderer, and both 



104 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 

buried together. Thus bodies which in hfe were rendered so 
hateful to each other by the savage spirits which controlled them, 
mingled into one common earth after death, by the fiendish act of 
a father ; who, by endeavoring to punish the beheved wrong of a 
son, became himself the most guilty of the two. However im- 
natural an act like this may seem, it was by no means uncommon 
among the unlettered sons of the forest. The father often assumed 
the responsibility of punishing the son, and the son the father, for 
misdemeanors which might have a tendency to disgrace the 
avenger, even to the taking of life. 

The following anecdote will show another pecuharity of the 
Indian character. One of the Schoharie Chiefs, named Lewis, is 
said to have gone to battle — probably in the French war, — scalped 
a squaw, taken her home as his prisoner, and afterwards made her 
his wife and the mother of his children. 

The Indians were in the annual habit, to considerable extent, 
of taking up a temporary residence near corn fields — when the 
corn became eatable, — ^proving unprofitable neighbors to the 
whites. 



( 105 ) ?^t 



CHAPTER IV. 



It has been the intention of the writer, as expressed in the pre- 
face, not to confine this work to the hmits of Schoharie county, 
but to garner up as much unpublished historic matter as possible. 
Tradition has preserved but few of the personal adventures origi- 
nated in the French war. The facts contained in the following 
sketch were narrated to the author in 1841, by John L. Groat. 

]n the year 1716, Philip Groat, of Rotterdam, made a purchase 
of land in the present town of Amsterdam. When removing to 
the latter place. Groat was drowned in the Mohawk near Sche- 
nectada, by breaking through the ice. He was in a sleigh accom- 
panied by a woman, who was also drowned. His widow and 
three sons, Simon, Jacob and Lewis, the last named being then 
only four years old, with several domestics, made the intended 
settlement. In 1730, the Groat brothers erected a grist-mill at 
their place, (now Crane's village,) thirteen miles west of Sche- 
nectada — the first ever erected on the north side of the Mohawk. 
This mill, when first erected, floured wheat for citizens who dwelt 
upon the German flats, some fifty miles distant. The first bolt- 
ing cloth in this mill, was put in by John Burns, a German, in 
1772. 

When hostilities commenced between England and France, in 
the war alluded to, Lewis Groat was living at the homestead. 
He was a widower at the time with five children ; and owning a 
farm and grist-mill, he was comparatively wealthy. In the af- 
ternoon of a smnmer's day in 1755, two hundred Highland troops, 
clad in rich tartans, passed up the valley on their way to Fort 
Johnson, six miles above — then the residence of Gen. William 



106 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Johnson. Groat, observing the swing gate across the road had 
been left open by the troops, went, after sun down, to shut it. 
"When returning home, it began to rain, and for temporary shelter 
he stepped under a large oak tree : while there, three Indians, a 
father and sons, approached him. He took them to be Mohawks, 
and extending his hand to the oldest, addressed him in a friendly 
manner. The hand was received and firmly held by the Indian, 
who claimed Groat as his prisoner. Finding they were in earn- 
est, and seeing them all armed with rifles, he surrendered himself. 
The captors belonged to the Owenagunga* or River tribe of In- 
dians, whither they directed their steps. The object of their ex- 
pedition, which was to capture several negroes, they soon disclosed 
to the prisoner, who told them if they would let him go across 
the river to Philips', he would send them some. " Yes," said the 
old Indian, holding his thumb and finger together so as to show 
the size of a bullet, " you send Indian leetle round negar, he no 
like such." 

They had proceeded but a few miles, when a pack was placed 
upon the back of the captive, after which he walked much slow- 
er than before. The old Indian threatened to kill him if he did 
not mcrease his speed. " What can you get for a scalp?" asked 
Groat. " Ten litres," was the reply. " And how much for a 
prisoner ?" he again asked. " Two hundred livres," replied the 
Indian. " Well," said Groat, "«/" ten livres are better than two 
hundred, kill me and take my scalp !" The Indian then told the 
prisoner that he would carry his own pack and the one apportioned 
him, if the latter would but keep up with the party. The propo- 
sition was acceded to, and they moved forward — the old Indian 
with two packs on. He took a dog trot and Groat kept near him. 
The feet of the savage often had not left the ground, when those 
of his captive claimed occupancy of it. The warrior exerted all 
his strength to outrun his prisoner, who kept constantly " bruising 
his heel :" until the former, exhausted and covered with perspira- 

• The Owenagungas settled above Albany, on a branch of Hudson's river, 
that runs towards Canada, about the year 1672.— CoWen's History of th« 
Five Nations. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 107 

tion, fell upon the ground. They had run about a mile and were 
both greatly fatigued, but Groat had triumphed. 

When the Indian had recovered from his exhaustion, he told 
Groat if he would carry one of the packs, he might travel as he 
pleased. After this adventure he was kindly treated, and often on 
the way did his captors give him plenty of food and go hungry 
themselves, saying that they were Indians and could endure hun- 
ger better than himself, because accustomed to it. Nights, his 
feet were tied to temporary stocks made by bending down stad- 
dles, but always secured so high that he could not reach the cord 
as he lay upon the ground. After journeying a day or two, the 
prisoner resolved on attempting his escape. One evening when 
unbound, he hoped to give his captors the slip, but suspecting his 
motives they cocked their rifles, and not being able to gain even tem- 
porary covert of a large tree, he abandoned the hazardous project 
Near Fort Edward, the party fell in with two Mohawk Indians, 
one of whom, being an old acquaintance, gave the prisoner a 
hat, of which he had been plundered by his captors. The Mo- 
hawks were on a hunting excursion, and remained in company 
with the party for a day or two, in the hope of affording the pri- 
soner an opportunity to escape. The captors were to be made 
drunk by liquor in possession of the Mohawks ; but as the time 
for the expedient drew near, Groat fell sick, and had to see his 
friends depart without him. He, however, gave one of them his 
tobacco-box, and requested him to carry it to his family, and tell 
them when and where he had seen its owner, that they might 
know he was still alive. The Indian did return and deliver the 
box as requested : but the family were suspicious the Indian had 
killed him and fabricated the story ; which his protracted absence 
tended to confirm. When he got back, he presented the friendly 
Indian with a fine horse. 

They proceeded some distance by water down Lake Champlain, 
and on landing at an Indian settlement. Groat had to run the 
gantlet. His captors had conceived quite an attachment for him, 
and offered before arriving at the village, to place a belt of wam- 
pum around his neck, which, according to the custom of their 



108 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY 

tribe, would have entitled him to the same privileges as them- 
selves ; and exonerated him from the running ordeal. He thought 
the acceptance of the belt would be an acknowledgment of his 
willingness to adopt the Indian life, and refused the offer proffered 
in kindness, which he regretted when too late. As the lines of 
women and boys were drawn up through which he was to flee, 
and he was about to start, his captors, who had relieved him of 
his pack, buried their faces in their hands, and would not witness 
his sufferings. He was beaten considerably, and on arriving at 
the goal of freedom, the blood from some of his bruises ran down 
to his feet. A short time after, Groat was sold to a French Ca- 
nadian, itamed Lewis De Snow, who told him, on going to his 
house, that he was to be his future master, and his wife his mw- 
tress. The former replied that he had long known his master — 
" he dwells above," he added, pointing his finger upward. At 
first the Frenchman treated him unkindly. He was willing to 
work, but would not submit to imposition ; and on being severely 
treated one day, he assured his Canadian master, that sooner than 
put up with abuse, he would poison him and his wife, and make 
his escape. Learning his independent spirit, his owner ever af- 
ter treated him like a brother. The next summer, war was form- 
ally declared between Great Britain and France. Groat was 
claimed as a British prisoner previous to the capture of Quebec, 
and was for six months imprisoned at St. Francis^ -way, near Mon- 
treal : where he suffered from short allowance of food. He was 
finally liberated and returned home, after an absence of four years 
and four months, to the surprise and joy of his family, which had 
considered him as lost forever — was again married, and my in- 
formant was a son by his second wife. John L. Groat died in 
January, 1845, aged about 90 years. 

Early in the French war. Eve, the wife of Jacob Van Alstine, 
who resided in the Mohawk valley, not far from the Groat fami- 
ly, was proceeding along the road on horseback, with a little 
daughter in her arms ; and while in the act of opening a swing- 
gate which obstructed the road, was fired upon by a party of hos- 
tile Indians, and wounded in one arm. The enemy then dispatched 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 109 

and scalped her, but sparing her child, carried it to Canada. Af- 
ter a long captivity, the child returned, — and now, (1843,) at the 
age of nearly a century, is still living with her nephew, J. C. Van 
Alstine, Esq., at Auriesville, Montgomery county. 

The following particulars relating to Sir William Johnson and 
his family, which were mostly derived from Mr. Groat, will, I 
trust, prove interesting to the reader. Lewis Groat, his father, 
lived on terms of intimacy with the Baronet, from his first arrival 
in the Mohawk valley, to the day of his death. 

Sir William Johnson was born in Ireland in 1714, and was de- 
scended from honorable parentage. His uncle, Admiral Warren, 
(Sir Peter Warren,) secured a title to some fifteen thousand acres 
of land, lying mostly within the present town of Florida : not 
long after which, Sir William became his agent for those lands. 
Young Johnson had been disappointed in a love affair in his na- 
tive country, and was possibly sent to America on that account. 
He arrived in the colony of New York between the years 1735 
and 1740, and settled at a place then known as W^arren's Bush, 
a few miles from the present village of Port Jackson. On his 
arrival, the Mohawk valley was mostly peopled by Indians. 
Small settlements had, indeed, been made by Germans at Canajo- 
harie. Stone Arabia and the German Flats ; and the Dutch were 
tardily extending their settlements westward of Schenectada; 
but the white population in the valley was, comparatively speak- 
ing, very limited. He at once resolved on a permanent settle- 
ment — closely observed the habits and customs of the natives, 
and being an adept in the study of human nature, soon acquired 
their confidence and good will. 

He had not been long in the valley before he became an agent 
of the British government, for the Six Indian Nations, possibly 
through the instrumentality of admiral Warren. Johnson had 
been only a few years at Warren's Bush, when his friend Lewis 
Groat, who lived but a short distance from his own residence, 
asked him in a familiar manner why he did not get married ? 
He replied that he wanted to marry a girl in Ireland — that his 
parents were opposed to the match, and that since he could not 



110 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Tnarry the girl of his choice, he had resolved never to marry, but 
would multiply as much as he could. It is believed that he faith- 
fully observed this resolution for many years. Near the two 
canal locks below Port Jackson, some two miles from Johnson's 
residence, lived at that time, Alexander and Harman Philips, 
brothers. With those brothers, was living in the capacity of a 
servant girl, Miss Lana [Eleanor] Wallaslous, unless I am mis- 
taken in her name, of German parentage. She was a native of 
Madagascar, and on arriving at New York at an early age, was 
sold into servitude, to pay her passage. She was an uncommon- 
ly fair — wholesome looking maid. Groat, knowing his friend's 
determination not to marry, asked him why he did not go and 
get the pretty High Dutch girl at Philips^ s, for a housekeeper ? 
He repKed, / vdll do it ! and they parted. 

Not long after this interview. Groat was at Philips's on busi- 
ness, and not seeing her, enquired of one of the brothers where 
their High Dutch girl was? Said Philips, "Johnson, that d — d 
Irishman came the other day and offered me five pounds for her, 
threatening to horse-whip me and steal her if I would not sell her. 
I thought ^t"e pounds better than 2i flogging, and took it, and he's 
got the gal." Johnson obtained the girt in the precise manner 
he had assured his friend he would proceed. This German girl 
was the mother of Sir John Johnson, and the wives of Col. Guy 
Johnson, an Irish relative of Sir William, and Col. Daniel Claus. 

Henry Frey Yates, Esq., in a communication to his son, Ber- 
nard F., in which he notes several exceptions to sayings of Col. 
Stone, in the Life of Brant, which memoranda have been kindly 
placed in the hands of the writer by the son since the above was 
written, quotes from the first volume of that work, page 101, a re- 
mark that " the mother of Sir John Johnson was a German la- 
dy," and thus discourses : — " Mr. Stone has been misinformed as 
to the history of the mother of Sir John ; she was not a German 
lady. She was a German by birth." After naming William 
Harper, a former judge of Montgomery county, and his brother, 
Alexander, as authority for what he says, he thus continues : — 
" The facts with respect to the mother of Sir John are, that she 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. Ill 

was a poor German girl, who, on her arrival in New York, was 
sold for her passage over from Germany. That was then the uni- 
versal practice, and the only method that the poorer class of Gtr- 
man emigrants had, when they wanted to emigrate to this coun- 
try. They were obliged, before they embarked on ship-board for 
America, to sign articles by which they bound themselves to the 
captain, that, on their arrival here, they should be sold for their 
passage money, for one, two, three, or four years, as the captain 
could make a bargain with the purchaser, the captain being ob- 
liged to board them, &c. Whenever a ship arrived, it was imme- 
diately advertised that she had brought so many male and female 
immigrants, who were to be sold for their passage." 

They were usually sold into servitude, to such persons as would 
take them at the shortest period of services, and pay the captain, 
in advance, his charges for their passage and contingent expenses. 
Purchasers were bound, on their part, to treat those servants kind- 
ly, and release them at the expiration of their time. This custom 
continued for some twenty-five years after the close of the Ame- 
rican Revolution, and numbers who proved valuable citizens, avail- 
ed themselves of this method of crossing the Atlantic. When 
passengers were advertised for sale, says Mr. Yates — " The 
wealthy Germans and Low Dutch, from various parts of the 
country, w^ould then repair to New York and make their purcha- 
ses. Sometimes one would purchase for a number of families. 
In this way it was, that the mother of Sir John was purchased 
for her passage across the Atlantic by a man named Philips, re- 
siding about twelve miles above Schenectada, on the south side of 
the Mohawk ; and nearly opposite Crane's village on the north 
side of the river. Sir Wilham, seeing the young woman at the 
house of Mr. Philips, and being pleased with her, bought her 
of him and took her to his dweUing at the old fort. Sir William 
had three children by her. Sir John, Mrs, Guy Johnson and Mrs. 
Col. Claus. Sir William never was married to her, until on her 
death bed, and then he did it only with a view to legitimize 
[legitimatise] his children by her. The ceremony was performed 
by Mr. Barkley, the Episcopal minister residing at Fort Hunter, 



112 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

where he officiated in a stone church built by Queen Anne for 
the Mohawk Indians." 

At page 387, vol. 1, of Stone's Brant, Molly Brant, a sister of 
that chief, is spoken of as the wife of Sir William Johnson. With 
reference to this woman, says the memoranda of Yates — " It is 
true that Sir William was married to Molly according to the rites 
of the Episcopal church, but a few years before his death. The 
Baronet, feeling his life drawing to a close, and abhorring living 
longer in adultery, to quiet his conscience, privately married Molly 
to legitimize his children by her, as he had done those by the Ger- 
man girl, who was the mother of Sir John and his sisters." 

Among the few who witnessed the ceremony of the Baronet's 
second marriage, the memoranda names Robert Adams, a mer- 
chant of Johnstown, and Mrs. Rebecca Van Sickler : to the last 
mentioned he accredits his authority. Mrs. V. S., as the manu- 
script continues, " was always received into all the respectable fa- 
milies in Johnstown as a welcome guest, and was very fond of re- 
lating anecdotes of Sir William. Molly was a very exemplary 
woman, and was a communicant of the Episcopal church. Among 
all the old inhabitants on the Mohawk, Molly was respected, as 
not only reputable, but as an exemplary, pious, christian woman. 
The care that she took of the education of her children, and the 
manner in which she brought them up, is at once a demonstration 
of the depth of the moral sense of duty that she owed her off- 
spring." 

As early as the summer of 1746, Golden, in his Indian history, 
speaks of Mr. William Johnson (afterwards Sir William John- 
son) as " being indefatigable among the Mohawks." " He dressed 
hunself," says that writer, " after the Indian manner, made frequent 
dances according to their custom when they excite to war, and 
used all the means he could think of, at a considerable expense, 
(which His Excellency, George Clinton, had promised to repay 
him,) in order to engage them heartily in the war against Cana- 
da. [The same writer, noticing the efforts made by Johnson to 
engage the Mohawk Nation in the British interest against the 
French, in a war then existing, says that with a part of the Mo- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 113 

hawks then residing principally in the vicinity of the Lower Cas- 
tle, he went to Albany to attend a treaty.] " That when the In- 
dians came near the town of Jllbany, on the 8th of August, Mr. 
Johnson put himself at the head of the Mohawks, dressed and 
painted after the manner of an Indian war-captain; and the In- 
dians who followed him were likewise dressed and painted as is 
usual with them when they set out in war. The Indians saluted 
the Governor as they passed the fort, by a running fire, which his 
Excellency ordered to be answered by a discharge of some cannon 
from the Fort. He afterwards received the sachems in the fort- 
hall, bid them welcome, and treated them with a glass of wine." 
Sir WilUam was a military man of some distiction in the colony, 
and during the French war, held a general's commission. Soon 
after the signal defeat of Baron Dieskau, in 1755, by the troops 
under Gen. Johnson, in the northern wilds of New York, the title 
of baronet was conferred upon him, with a gift of parliament to 
mdke it set easy, oi Jive thousand powids sterling, nearly twenty 
thousand dollai-s — in consideration of his success. His fortune 
was now made, and he was the man to enjoy it. Previously, he 
erected Fort Johnson, a large stone mansion on the north side of 
the Mohawk, about three miles west of Amsterdam, where he 
resided for nearly twenty years. This building, which was a 
noble structure for the middle of the last century, is pleasantly 
situated near the hill on the west bank of a creek, on which the 
Baronet built a grist mill. This dwelling, which was finished in- 
side in a then fashionable style, is said to have been fortified 
from the time of its erection, until the conquest of Canada and 
termination of the French war. 

This place, (now owned by Dr. Oliver Davidson,) is called 
Fort Johnson to this day. At a latter period he erected dwell- 
ings for his sons-in-law, Guy Johnson and Daniel Claus. That 
occupied by the first named, a large stone dwelling, is still stand- 
ing one mile above Amsterdam, and was formerly called Guy 
Park. Previous to its erection, he occupied a frame building 
standing upon the same site, which was struck by lightning and 
consumed. 



114 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 




SOUTH VIEW OF FORT JOHNSON. 



The mansion of Col. Claus, which was about centrally distan 
between Fort Johnson and Guy Park, was also constructed of 
stone, and was large on the ground ; but being only one and 
and a half stories high, it presented a less imposing appearance 
than did the other Johnson buildings. The cellar of the latter 
house is still to be seen. Each of those dwelhngs had a farm 
attached to it of one square mile, or six hundred and forty acres. 
About ten years before his death, Sir Wm. Johnson erected Johnson 
Hall, a large wood building with detached stone wings, situated one 
mile west from the village of Johnstown ; and on his removal to 
that place, (at present owned and occupied by Mr. Eleazer Wells,) 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



115 



Fort Johnson became the residence of his son, who, during a 
visit to England, had also been gifted by royalty with a title to 
his name ; and an annual stipend of five hundred founds for the 
honors of knighthood. Sir John married a Miss Watts of New 
York city. He was also on terms of intimacy for several years 
with Miss Clara Putman of the Mohawk valley, by whom he had 
several children 




EAST VIEW OF JOHNSON HALL. 



The following notice of the Baronet is from the September No. 
( 1755) of the London Gentleman's Magazine. The article was 
an extract from a journal written in America. 

" Major General Johnson, (an Irish gentleman) is universally 
esteemed in our parts, for the part he sustains. Besides his skill 
and experience as an old officer, he is particularly happy in ma- 
king himself beloved by all sorts of people, and can conform to all 
companies and conversations. He is very much of the fine gen- 
tleman in genteel company. But as the inhabitants next him are 
mostly Dutch, he sits down with them, and smokes his tobacco, 
drinks flip, and talks of improvements, bears and beaver skins. 
Being surrounded with Indians, he speaks several of their lan- 
guages well, and has always some of them with him. His house 
is a safe and hospitable retreat for them from the enemy. He 
takes care of their wives and children when they go out on par- 
ties, and even wears their dress. In short, by his honest dealings 
with them in trade, and his courage, which has often been suc- 
cessfully tried with them, and his courteous behaviour, he has so 
endeared himself to them, that they chose him one of their chief 
sachems or princes, and esteem him as their common father.'' 



116 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Sir William Johnson lived in comparative opulence from the 
time of his knighthood to the day of his death, which occurred 
suddenly at Johnson Hall, on the 24th of June, 1774. He died 
at the age of nearly sixty years. It was supposed by many of 
his neighbors at that time, that he found means to shorten his 
days by the use of poison. Col. Stone, in his Life of Brant, ex- 
presses a different opinion j but several old people still living, 
who resided at that time, and have ever since, but a few miles 
from Johnson Hall, believe to this day that he took the suicidal 
draught. There were certainly some very plausible reasons for 
such a conclusion. As the cloud of colonial difficulty was 
spreading from the capital of New England to the frontier Eng- 
lish settlements, Sir William Johnson was urged by the British 
crown to take sides with the parent country. He had been taken 
from comparative obscurity, and promoted by the government of 
Eno-land, to honors and wealth. Many wealthy and influential 
friends around him, were already numbered among the advocates 
of civil liberty. Should he raise his arm against that power 
which had thus signally honored him ? Should he take sides 
with the oppressor against many of his tried friends in a thousand 
perilous adventures ? These were serious questions, as we may 
reasonably suppose, which often occupied his mind. The Baronet 
declared to several of his valued friends, as the storm of civil dis- 
cord was gathering, that " England and her colonies were ap- 
proaching a terrible war, but that he should never live to witness 
it." Such assertions were not only made to Lewis Groat, but 
also to Daniel Campbell and John Baptist Van Eps, of Schenec- 
tada, and to some of them repeatedly. At the time of his death, 
a court was sitting in Johnstown, and while in the court house on 
the afternoon of the day of his death, a package from England, of 
a political nature, was handed him. He left the court house, 
went directly home, and in a few hours was a corpse. The fore- 
going particulars are corroborated by the researches of Giles F. 
Yates Esq. The excitement of the occasion may have produced 
his death without the aid of poison ; but as he died thus suddenly, 
his acquaintances believed he had hastened his death. The three 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. U? 

individuals named, being together after the event, and speaking 
of the Baronet's death, agreed in their opinion that his former 
declarations were prophetic, and that he was a man sufficiently 
determined 1o execute such design if once conceived. Col. Guy 
Johnson succeeded Sir William at his death,as the superintendent 
of Indian affairs for the colony of New York. 

In 1775, Guy Johnson abandoned his situation on the Mohawk, 
and, with Joseph Brant and a formidable number of the Six Na- 
tions, went to Canada. Whether Colonel Claus accompanied 
Guy Johnson or Sir John to Canada, is uncertain ; but sure it is, 
he also left his possessions in the valley and removed thither. 
Sir John, violating a compact of neutrality made with General 
Schuyler, set out for Canada in the month of May, 1776, ac- 
companied by about three hundred followers, mostly Scotch 
settlers in and around Johnstown. After a march of nineteen 
days through an almost unbroken wilderness, suffering severely 
for the want of provisions, they reached Montreal. The wife of 
Guy Johnson died a short time after her removal to Canada. 




NORTH VIEW OF GUY PARK. 

Guy Park, which was just completed when its owner left it, 
was occupied during the war by Henry Kennedy ; Fort Johnson 
by Albert Veeder ; and the Claus' house by Col. John Harper, 
until it accidentally took fire from a supposed defect in the chim- 
ney, and burned down. A tavern was afterwards erected near 
9 



118 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

■*• 

its site, and was for years known as the Simons place. These 
buildings, and the lands of their owners, with Johnson Hall and 
the lands belonging to it, were confiscated to the United States ; 
as was also the property of Col. John Butler, one of the King's 
justices for Tryon county, a man of influence and wealth, who re- 
moved at the beginning of the war from the same neighborhood 
to Canada. 

The commissioners appointed March 6th, 1777, for disposing 
of confiscated personal property in Tryon county, were Col. Fre- 
derick Fisher, Col. John Harper, and Maj. John Eisenlord. The 
latter was, however, killed in the Oriskany battle, early in August 
following, and his place supplied by one Garrison. 

When the personal property of Sir John Johnson was sold, 
which was some time before the sale of his real estate, his slaves 
were disposed of among the " goods and chattels." Col. Volkert 
Veeder bought the confidential one with whom the Knight left 
his plate and valuable papers, who buried them after his former 
master left. He kept the concealment of those valuables a secret 
in his own breast for four years, until Sir John visited the Mo- 
hawk valley in 1780, and recovered them and the slave. 

The commissioners for selling real estates in Tryon county, 
were Henry Otthout and Jeremiah Van Rensselaer. They sold 
Johnson Hall, with seven hundred acres of land, to James Cald- 
well of Albany, for ^66,600— who soon after sold it for jE 1,400. 
Caldwell paid the purchase in public securities, bought up for a 
song, and said he made money in the speculation, although he 
disposed of the property for ^£5,200 less, " on paper," than he 
gave for it. This transaction will serve to show the state of 
American credit at that period — probably in 1778 or '79. 

Tradition says that a black ghost appeared several times dur- 
ing the Revolution, in a room in the north-west part of Fort 
Johnson, while occupied by Veeder. In one of the rooms at Guy 
Park, a female ghost resembling the then deceased wife of Guy 
Johnson is said to have appeared, to the great annoyance of the 
credulous Kennedy family. Even in the day time, they were 
more than once alarmed. About this time a German, a stranger 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 119 

to the family, called there, and inquired if the lady of its former 
proprietor had not been seen ; and when answered in the affirma- 
tive, he requested permission to tarry over night in tlie haunted 
room. It was readily granted, and he retired at an early hour. 
In the morning before his departure, he told the family they need 
be under no further apprehension, that the ghost would not again 
appear ; and in truth she did not. The mystery of the visits to 
those dwellings, which was a favorite theme on the tongue of the 
marvelous for many years, has never been revealed, and some of 
the old people living in the vicinity still believe that the visitants 
were supernatural beings, or real ghosts. The truth probably is, 
that the black ghost seen at Fort Johnson, was not the ideal, but 
the flesh and blood person of the confidential slave of its former 
proprietor ; who, by showing his ivory to some purpose, took ad- 
vantage of the fears of the family to bear off some valuable arti- 
cle secreted in some part of the building by its former occupants. 
Nor is it unlikely that a similar mission prompted some female to 
visit Guy Park — for ghosts never travel by daylight — that she 
could not find the article sought for, and that consequently a man, 
a stranger to the family, whose agent she may have been, know- 
ing she had failed to obtain the treasure, visited the house, and 
by gaining access to the room, found the object desired, and could 
then tell the family confidently that the ghost would not reap- 
pear. Many valuable articles were left behind by tories in their 
flight, who expected soon to return and recover them ; and when 
they found the prospect of their return cut off, or long delayed, 
they then obtained them by the easiest means possible — and sure- 
ly none were easier than through the mystery of superstition. 

From the great facility of Sir William Johnson to obtain lands, 
he became a most extensive land-holder. He was remarkably 
fond of women; and is believed to have been the father of 
several scores — some say an hundred children ; by far the larger 
number of whom were part native, some by young squaws, and 
others by the wives of Indians who thought it an honor to have 
them on intimate terms with the king's agent ; and would even 
bring them a great distance to prostitute them to his insatiable 



120 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

lust. The Five Nations, says Colden, carried their hospitali- 
ty to distinguished strangers so far, as to allow them their choice 
of a young squaw, from among the prettiest in the neighborhood, 
(washed clean and dressed in her best apparel) as a companion 
during his sojourn with them ; who performed all the dviies of a 
fond vnfe. Of this custom, which was in vogue when the Baron- 
et settled among them, he availed himself He had a rich scar- 
let blanket made, and bound with gold lace, which he wore 
when transacting business with the Indians, and it being a par- 
tial adoption of their own style of wardrobe, it pleased them very 
much. He often boasted of the pleasurable scenes of which that 
blanket was the sole witness. He erected buildings at a place 
called the Fish House, on the south bank of the Sacondaga river, 
some twelve or fifteen miles north-east of Johnstown, where he 
kept two white concubines, by the name of Wormwood. After 
the death of the mother of Sir John Johnson and his two own 
sisters, the Baronet took to his bosom Molly Brant, with whom 
he lived until his death. She was the mother of seven of his 
children. 

Many pleasing anecdotes are related of Sir "William Johnson, 
who perhaps exerted an unbounded influence over a greater num- 
ber of Indians, than it was ever the lot of another white man to 
obtain in North America. Wisgenei-al character was rather happily 
elineated by Paulding in his Dutchman's Fireside. When he 
had trinkets and other presents to distribute among the Five Na- 
tions, and they assembled around Fort Johnson, and afterwards 
Johnson Hall, his tenants and neighbors were invited to be pre- 
sent. He was extravagantly fond of witnessing athletic feats, 
and on such occasions was gratified. On those festivals, not only 
young Indians and squaws, but whites, both male and female, 
were often seen running foot races, or wrestling for some gaudy 
trinket, or fancy article of wearing apparel. Men were some- 
times seen running foot races for a prize, with a meal-bag drawn 
over their legs and tied under the arms. The ludicrous figure 
presented by the crippled strides and frequent tumbles of those 
competitors, was a source of no little pleasure. Not unfrequent- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 121 

ly a fat swine was the prize of contention. Its tail being well 
greased, the u'hole hog was given its freedom, and the individual 
who could seize and hold it by the tail became its lawful owner. 
It required a powerful gripe to win, and many a hand did such 
prizes usually slip through. An old woman is said to have seized 
on one, amid the jeers of the laughing multitude, after it had es- 
caped the grasp of many strong hands, and firmly held it. The 
secret was, she had prepared herself with a handful of sand. On 
one occasion, half a pound of tea was awarded to the individual 
who could, by contortion of feature, make the wryest face. Two 
old women were sometimes heard scolding most vehemently, the 
successful one to be rewarded with a bladder of Scotch snuff. 
The erection of a straight pole, after it had been peeled and well 
besmeared with soft-soap, with a prize upon its top worth seek- 
ing, — and after which the young Indians, in a state of nudity, 
would climb, was an oft repeated source of amusement. Children 
were sometimes seen searching in a mud-puddle for coppers Sir 
William had thrown in. His ingenuity was taxed for new sour- 
ces of merriment, and various were the expedients adopted to give 
zest to the scenes exhibited on those gala days. He was also a 
man of considerable taste, and discovered not a little in the culti- 
vation of shrubbery around Fort Johnson. 

As the Johnsons were extensive land-owners, and preferred leas- 
ing to selling land, their disaffection to the American govern- 
ment, and its final confiscation, was a good thing for the country-, 
as it became subsequently occupied by freeholders. The confis- 
cated lands of the Johnson family, must have yielded no in- 
considerable sum to an impoverished treasury. 

The following anecdote is related of Sir William Johnson, who 
preferred retaining in himself the right of soil to his landed pos- 
sessions. He one day visited a tenant who was engaged in chop- 
ping wood for him. After some little conversation, the chopper 
described a certain cnie hundred acre lot in Albany bush, (now the 
eastern part of Johnstown,) and asked the Baronet what he would 
take for it, and execute him a deed. The latter, supposing the 
man had very little money, named a sum which was about the 



122 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

real value of the soil. " / will take it^'' was the quick and em- 
phatic reply of the laborer ; and he began counting out the mo- 
ney to his astonished landlord, upon the very stump the last fallen 
tree had left. " I would rather not have sold it for twice that 
sum," said Sir William, " but since you have fairly bought it, 
you shall have a title to it ;" and taking the money, he executed 
a deed to him. He was the patron of many laudable enterprises, 
and I must suppose him to have aided in establishing Queen's 
College, N. J., as he was the first trustee named in the charter. 

In the summer of 1764, says the Gentleniari's Magazine, pub- 
lished soon after, 

" Sir William Johnson, with a body of regular and provincial 
forces, to which more than one thousand friendly Indians have 
joined themselves, has lately marched to visit the forts of Osicego, 
Niagara, Detroits, Pittsburg, ^c, in order to strike terror in the 
Western nations, and to reduce them to reason ; many of these 
nations are unknown to their brethren, and some have already of- 
fered terms of peace ; the Shaivnese are the most formidable of 
those who stand out : And the friendly Indians express great eager- 
ness to attack them. Since the march of these troops, the back 
settlements have enjoyed perfect tranquility ; and the Senecas have 
sent in a great number of English prisoners, agreeable to their en- 
gagement." 

In the May number of the same Magazine, for 1765, 1 find the 
following additional notice of the Baronet : 

" Sir William. Johnson at his seat at Johnson Hall, in North 
America, has had a visit lately paid him by upwards of a thousand 
Indians of different tribes, all in friendship ; greatly to the satis- 
faction of his Excellency, as tending to promote a good understand- 
ing with those nations, for the good of his Majesty's subjects." 

Before his death. Sir William Johnson willed to his children by 
Miss Brant, the valuable lands known as the Royal Gi'ant, which 
he obtained so easily from the celebrated warrior Hendrick. Af- 
ter death, his remains were placed in a mahogany coffin, and that 
inclosed in a leaden one, previous to being deposited in a vault 
beneath the Episcopal Church ; which building was erected m 
Johnstown about the year 1772. At some period of the Revolu- 
tion, lead being very scarce, the vault was opened and the leaden 
coffin taken by the patriots and moulded into bullets. The coffin 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



123 



containing the body having become somewhat broken, a new one 
was made after the war closed, and the Baronet's remains trans- 
ferred to it. The lid of the first coffin, which bore his name in 
silver nails, was afterward suspended in the church. Not many 
years ago, the edifice was fitted up at considerable cost, at which 
time the vault was filled up with sand. In a destructive fire which 
subsequently visited Johnstown, the church Nvas burned down ; 
and on its being rebuilt, the site was so altered as to leave the 
grave of Sir William* outside its walls. — Alexander J. Comrie. 




HENDRICK, GREAT CHIEF OF THE MOHAWK NATION. 

" The brave old Haidrick, the great Sacheivc or Chief of the 
Mokaick Indians, one of the Six Nations now in Alliance with, and 
subject to the King of Great Britain." 

• A portrait of Sir William Johnson was owned in Johnstown until about 
the year 1830, when it was purchased by a member of the Col. Claus family 
for a small sum, and taken to Canada.— Jl/rs- W. S. 



124 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 

At the bottom of the picture is the preceding explanation. 
This celebrated warrior, commonly called King Hendrick, was, 
for a time, the most distinguished Indian in the colony of New 
York. For the picture from which the above was engraved, I 
would here acknowledge my indebtedness to John S. Walsh, Esq., of 
Bethlehem. This interesting relic of the Mohawk valley, around 
which cluster associations of classic interest, connected with the 
colonial history of the state, was sold in the revolution among the 
confiscated property of Sir John Johnson, went into the Cuyler 
family for a length of time, and subsequently into that of Mr. 
Walsh. The tradition in the latter family is, that Hendrick visit- 
ed England in the evening of his life, and that while there was 
presented, by his Majesty, with a suit of clothes richly embroid- 
ered with gold lace, in which he sat for his portrait. As he is 
represented in full court dress, it is highly probable the tradition 
is correct. The original picture is a spirited engraving — colored 
to life and executed in London, but at what date is unknown ; 
probably about the year 1745 or '50. He visited Philadelphia 
some time before his death, says the historian DvngJit, at which 
time his likeness was taken ; from which a wax figure was made, 
said to have been a good imitation of his person. 

King Hendrick was born about the year 1680, and generally 
dwelt at the Upper Castle of the Mohawk nation, although for a 
time he resided near the present residence of Nicholas Yost, on 
the north side of the Mohawk, below the Nose. He was one of 
the most sagacious and active sachems of his time. He stood high 
in the confidence of Sir William Johnson, with whom he was en- 
gaged in many perilous enterprises against the Canadian French ; 
and under whose command he fell in the battle of Lake George, 
September 8th, 1755, covered with glory. In the November 
number of the Gentleman's Magazine, for 1755, is the following 
notice of his death : 

'* The whole body of our IndiaJis were prodigiously exasperated 
against the French and their Bidiafts, occasioned by the death of 
the famous Hendrick, a renowned Indian warrior among the Mo- 
hawks, and one of their sachems, or kings, who was slain in the 
battle, and whose son upon being told that his father was killed, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 125 

givin£r the usual Indian p^roan upon such occasions, and suddenly 
putting Ills hand on his left breast, swore his father was still alive 
in that place, and stood there in his son." 

The tract of land owned by Sir William Johnson, and called 
the Royal Grant, which contained nearly one hundred thousand 
acres of choice land, now mostly situated in the county of Herki- 
mer, was obtained from Hendrick in the following manner. Be- 
ing at the Baronet's house (Fort Johnson) the sachem observed a 
new coat, richly embroidered with gold lace, which the former 
intended for his own person ; and on entering his presence after a 
night's rest, he said to him, "Brother, me dream last night." 
" Indeed," responded the royal agent, " and what did my red 
brother dream?" "Me dream," was the chief's reply, "that 
this coat be mine !" " Then," said the sagacious Irishman, " it 
is yours, to which you are welcome." Soon after this interview, 
Sir William returned his guest's visit, and on meeting him in the 
morning said to him, " Brother, I dreamed last night !" " What 
did ray pale-faced brother dream?" interrogated the Sachem. 
" I dreamed," said his guest, " that this tract of land," describing 
a square bounded on the south by the Mohawk, on the east by 
Canada creek, and on tbe north and west by objects familiar to 
them, " was all my own !" Old Hendrick assumed a thoughtful 
mood, but although he saw the enormity of the request, he would 
not be outdone in generosity, or forfeit the friendship of the 
British agent, and soon responded, " Brother, the land is yours, 
but you must not dream again !" The title to this land was con- 
firmed by the British government, on which account it was called 
the Royal Grant. — Henry Frey Yates, Esq. 

In the summer of 1754, a plan of colonial alliance was pro- 
posed in the American colonies, to resist the encroachments of 
the Canadian French and Indians, in furtherance of which the 
chiefs of the Six Nations of New York met the commissioners 
of the several governments at Albany on the 2d of July ; when 
those Sachems were addressed by James De Lancey, then lieu- 
tenant governor of the colony. Hendrick, whose speeches are 
said to have been correctly reported for the London Magazine, in 



126 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

■which I find them, was the principal speaker; and as those 
speeches will compare for reasoning and pathos with those of 
modern statesmen, indeed, would not have disgraced a Demos- 
thenes, and will serve to introduce the young reader to an almost 
extinct race of men, I insert them. 

Abraham, Sachem of the Upper Castle of the Mohawks, rose 
up and said — 

" Brethren, You, the governor of Neiv York, and the commis- 
sioners of the other governments, are you ready to hear us ! The 
governor replied, they were all ready. 

" Then Hendrick, brother to the said Abraham, and a Sachem 
of the same castle, rose up and spake in behalf of the Six Na- 
tions as follows : 

" Brethren, just now you told us you were ready to hear us ; 
hearken unto me. 

" Brother Corlaer, (a name given to the governor of Neiv York 
by the Indians long ago,) and brothers of the other governments, 
Saturday last you told us that you came here by order of the great 
king our common father, and in his name to renew the antient 
chain of friendship between this and the other governments on 
the continent, and us the Six United Nations : And you said also, 
there were then present commissioners from Massachusetts Bay, 
New Ha?npshire, Co7mecticut, Rhode Island, Pe?isylvama, and 
Maryland ; and that Virginia and Carolina desired to be con- 
sidered also as present: We rejoice that by the king's orders, we 
are all met here this day, and are glad to see each other face to 
face ; we are very thankful for the same, and we look upon the 
governors of Sojiih Caroliiia and Virgiiiia as also present, [a belt. 

" Brethren, We thank you in the most hearty manner for your 
condolence to us ; we also condole all your relations and friends 
who have died since our last meeting here. [gave three 

strings of wampum. 

" Brethren, (holding the chain belt given by his honor and the 
several governors in his hand,) We return j'ou all our grateful 
acknowledgements for renewing and brightening the covenant- 
chain. 

" This belt is of very great importance to our united nations 
and all our allies. We will therefore take it to Onondago, where 
our council-fire always burns, and keep it so securely, that neither 
thunder nor lightning shall break it. There we will consult over 
it, and as we have lately added two links to it, so we will use 
our endeavors to add as many links more as it lies in our power : 
And we hope when we shew you this belt again, we shall give 
you reason to rejoice at it, by your seeing the vacancies in it filled 
up (referring to his honor's explanation of it in his general speech). 
In the mean time we desire that you will strengthen yourselves, 
and bring as many into this covenant as you possibly can. We 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 127 

do now solemnly renew and brigliten the covenant-chain with our 
brethren here present, and with all our other absent brethren on 
the continent. 

" Brethren, As to the accounts you have heard of our livinsr 
divided from each other, it is very true, we have several times 
attempted to draw off those of our brethren who are settled at 
Oswegatie, but in vain ; for the governor of Canada is like a 
wicked deluding spirit ; however, as you desire, we shall persist 
in our endeavors. 

" You have asked us the reason of our living in this divided 
manner; the reason is, your neglecting us these three years past; 
(then taking a stick and throwing it behind his back) You have 
thus thrown us behind your backs, and disregarded us ; whereas, 
the French are subtle and vigilant people, ever using their utmost 
endeavors to seduce and bring our people over to them. [a belt. 

" Brethren, The encroachments of the French, and what you 
have said to us on that article on behalf of the king our father ; 
as those matters were laid before us as of great importance, so 
we have made strict enquiry among all our people_, if any of them 
have either sold or given the French leave to build the forts you 
mention, and we cannot find that either sale has been made or 
leave has been given ; but the French have gone thither without 
our consent or approbation, nor ever mentioned it to us. 

" Brethren, The governor of Virginia and the governor of 
Canada are both quarrelling about lands which belong to us, and 
such a quarrel as this may end in our destruction. They fight 
who shall have the land ; the governors of Virgiriia and Pennsyl- 
vania have made paths through our country to trade, and built 
houses without acquainting us with it ; They should have first 
asked our consent to build there, as was done -when Oswego was 
built. [ff^ve a belt. 

" Brethren, It is verj' true, as you told us, that the clouds 
hang hea^'y over us, and it is not very pleasant to look up, but 
we give you this belt [giving a belt] to clear away all clouds, that 
we may all live in bright sunshine, and keep together in strict 
union and friendship ; then we shall become strong, and nothing 
can hurt us. 

" Brethren, This is the antient place of treaty where the fire of 
friendship always used to burn, and it is now three years since 
we have been called to any public treaty here ; 'tis tnie, there are 
commissioners here, but they have never invited us to smoke 
with them (by w^hich they mean, the commissioners had never 
invited them to any conference), but the Indians of Canada (Tame 
frequently and smoked with them, which is for the sake of their 
beaver, but we hate them (meaning the Fretich Indians) : We 
have not as yet confirmed the peace with them : 'tis your fault, 
brethren, we are not strengthened by conquest, for we should 
have gone and taken Crottm Point, but you hindered us : We had 
concluded to go and take it ; but we were told it was too late, and 



128 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY 

that the ice would not bear us. Instead of this you burnt your 
own fort at Saraghtogee and run away from it ; which was a 
shame and a scandal to you. Look about your country, and see 
you have no fortifications about you, no, not even to this city. 
'Tis but one step from Canada hither, and the French may easily 
come and turn you out of doors. 

" Brethren, You desired us to speak from the bottom of our 
hearts, and Ave shall do it. Look about you, and see all these 
houses full of beaver, and the money is all gone to Canada; like- 
wise your powder, lead, and guns, which the French make use of 
at the Ohio. 

" Brethren, You were desirous we should open our minds and 
our hearts to you ; look at the French, they are men ; they are 
fortifying everywhere; but we are ashamed to say it ; you are 
like women, bare and open, without any fortifications." 

At the close of the above speech, Abraham, a brother of Hen- 
drick, rose up and said : 

" Brethren, We should let you know what was our desire three 
years ago, when Col. Johmon [he was promoted to Major General 
in 1754] laid down the management of Indian affairs, which gave 
us great uneasiness ; the governor then told us, (governor of New 
York) it was in his power to continue him, but that he would con- 
sult the council of New York ; that he was going over to England, 
and promised to recommend our desire, that Col. Johnson should 
have the management of Indian affairs, to the king, that the new 
governor might have power to reinstate him. We long waited in 
expectation of this being done, but hearing no more of it, we em- 
brace this opportunity of laying this belt [and gave a belt] before 
all our brethren here present, and desire that Col. Johnsvn may be 
reinstated and have the management of Indian affairs ; for we all 
lived happy whilst under his management ; for we love him, and 
he us ; and he has always been our good and trusty friend. 

" Brethren, I forgot something ; we think our request about Col. 
Johnson, which governor Clinto7i promised to carry to the king our 
father, is drowned in the sea ; the fire here is burnt out ; and 
turning his face to the New York commissioners for Indian affairs 
in Albany there present, desired them to notice what he said." 

On the same day, Hendrick, in the name of the Mohawks of 
the Upper Castle [Connejohary) in a private audience, delivered 
the following speech — in the presence of several sachems of each 
of the other nations, to the governor of New York : 

" Brother, We had a message some time smce to meet you at 
his place w^hen the fire burns ; we of Co?inejohary, met the mes- 
senger you sent with a letter at Col. Johnson^s ; and as soon as 
we received it we came running down, and the Six Nations are 
now here complete." 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 129 

The Governor replied— 

" Brethren of the Six Nations, you are welcome. I take this op- 
portunity, now you are all together, to condole the loss in the 
death of your friends and relations since you last met here ; and 
with this string of wampum 1 wipe away your tears, and take sor- 
row from your hearts, that you may open your minds and speak 
freely." [a string of wampum. 

Hendrick continued — 

" Brother, We thank you for condoling our loss ; for wiping 
away our tears that we may speak freely ; and as we do not doubt 
but you have lost some of your great men and friends, we give you 
this string of condolence in return, that it may remove your sor- 
rows, that we may both speak freely : [gave a string.] (Then Hen- 
drick, addressing himself to the Six Nations, said,) " That last 
year he attended Col. Johnson to Onondago to do service to the 
king and their people ; that Col. Johnson told them, another gov- 
ernor was expected soon, and they would then have an opportu- 
nity of seeing him, and laying their grievances before him. — That 
the new governor arrived soon after, and scarcely had they heard 
of his arrival, but they had an account of his death : and that 
now he was glad to see his honor, to whom he would declare his 
grievances. 

"Brother, We thought you would wonder why we of Connejo' 
hary staid so long ; we shall now give you the reason. Last sum- 
mer we of Connejohary were at Neio York to make our complaint, 
and we thought then the covenant chain was broken, because we 
were neglected ; and when you neglect business, the French take 
advantage of it ; for they are never quiet. — It seemed so to us, 
that the governor had turned his back upon the Five Nations, as 
if they were no more ; whereas the French are doing all in their 
power to draw us over to them. We told the governor last sum- 
mer, we blamed him for the neglect of the Five Nations j and at 
the same time we told him the Freyich were drawing the Five Na- 
tions away to Ostccgechie, owing to that neglect which might have 
been prevented, if proper use had been made of that warning ; 
but now we are afraid it is too late. We remember how it was in 
former times, when we were a strong and powerful people : Col. 
Schuyler used frequently to come among us, and by this means we 
kept together. 

" Brother, We, the Mohawls, are in ver\' difficult circumsran- 
ces, and are blamed for things behind our backs which we do not 
deserve. Last summer, when we went up with Col. Johnso7i to 
Onondago, and he made his speech to the Five Nations, the Five 
Nations said they liked the speech, but that the Mohawks had made 
it. We are looked upon by the other nations as Col. Johnson's 
counsellors, and supposed to hear all the news from him, which is 
not the case ; for Col. Johnson does not receive from, or impart 
much news to us. This is our reason for staying behind, for if we 
had come first, the other nations would have said that we made the 



130 mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Governor's speech ; and therefore, though we Avere resolved to 
come, we intended the other nations should be before us, that they 
might hear the Governor's speech, which we could hear afterwards. 
" There are some of our people who have large open ears, and 
talk a little broken Ejiglish and Dutch, so that they hear Avhat is 
said by the Christian settlers near them, and by this means we 
come to understand that we are looked upon to be a proud nation, 
and therefore stayed behind. 'Tis true and known we are so ; and 
that we, the Mohawks, are the head of all the other nations. Here 
they are, and must own it. But it was not out of pride we Conne- 
joharits stayed behind ; but for the reason we have already given." 

A speaker followed Hendrick, in behalf of all the Six Nations. 
After expressing his joy at the renewal of the ancient covenant- 
chain between all his Majesty's governments on the continent and 
the Six Nations ; for the promises on the part of the New York 
Governor of future protection ; and the danger he thought they 
would be in, if Col. Johnson left off the management of Indian af- 
fairs, — observing, if he fail us, we die, — he alluded to Vi'hat the 
Governor of Pennsylvania, through Mr. Weiser, his interpreter, had 
said on the day before, respecting a new road from Pennsylvania 
to Ohio. " We thank the Governor of Virginia,^' said he, " for 
assisting the Indians at the Ohio, who are our relations and allies ; 
and we approve of the Governor of Pennsylvania not having 
hitherto intermeddled in this affair. He is a wise and prudent 
man, and will know his own time." He closed as follows : — 

" Brethren, We put you in mind in our former speech of the de- 
fenceless state of our frontiers, particularly of the country of Che- 
nectady, and of the country of the Five Nations, You told us yes- 
terday you were consulting about securing both yourselves and us. 
We beg you will contrive something speedily: you are not safe 
from danger one day. The French have their hatchet in their 
hands both at the Ohio and in two places in New England. We 
don't know but this very night they may attack us. One of the 
principal reasons why we desire you to be speedy in this matter is, 
that since Col. Johnson has been in this city, there has been a 
French Indian at his house, who took measure of the wall round 
it, and made a very narrow observation of every thing thereabouts. 
We think him {Col. Johnson) in very great danger, because the 
French will take more than ordinary pains either to kill him or 
take him a prisoner, upon account of his great interest among us, 
being also one of the Five Nation." {Col. Johnson is one of their 
Sachems.) [Gave four strings of wampum. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 131 

The Governor replied — 

'.' I have now done speaking to you ; but before I cover up the 
rire I must recommend to you to behave quietly and peaceably to 
all your bretliren and their cattle, in your return home." 

Hendrick responded — 

" Your honor told us you now covered up the fires, and we are 
all highly pleased that all things have been so amicably settled ; 
and hope that all that has passed between us may be strictly ob- 
served on both sides. 

" Brethren of the several governments. We hope that you will 
not fail in the covenant-chain, wherewith we are mutually bound, 
and have now so solemnly renewed and strengthened ; if we do 
not hold fast by this chain of friendship our enemies will laugh us 
to scorn. 

" Brethren, We wish you would all contribute to make some 
provision for us in our return home, which will effectually prevent 
our people from killing the inhabitants' cattle ; and we desire you 
will provide some wagons for us to go to Cheneetady. We think 
this expense will fall too hea\y upon our province, as we have the 
presents from all to carry up. We beg we may take all care of 
the fire of friendship, and preserve it, by our mutual attention, 
from further injuries. We will take care of it on our sides, 
and hope our brethren will do so on theirs. We wish the tree of 
friendship may grow up to a great height, and then we shall be a 
powerful people. 

'' We, the United Six Nations, shall rejoice in the increase of 
our strength, so that all other nations may stand in awe of us. 

" Brethren, I will just tell you what a people we were formerly. 
If any enemies rose against us, we had no occasion to lift our whole 
hand against them, for our little finger was sufficient ; and as we 
have now made so strong a confederacy, if we are truly earnest 
therein, we may retrieve the ancient glor\' of the Five Nations. 

" Brethren, We have now done. But one word more must we 
add : If the French continue their hostilities, the interpreter will 
want assistance — three or four to be joined with him ; but this 
matter we submit to the Governor. We have now fully finished 
all we have to say." 

The following speech, delivered at the same convention by one 
of the River or Stockbridge Indians, is too full of figure and me- 
lancholy truth to be omitted in this place : 

" Fathers, We are greatly rejoiced to see you all here; it is by 
the will of Heaven that we are met here, and we thank you for 
this opportunity of seeing you all together, as it is a long while 
since we had such a one. 



132 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

" Fathers, who are here present, We will give you a short rela- 
tion of the long friendship which has subsisted between the white 
people of this country' and us. Our forefathers had a castle -on 
the river : as one of them walked out he saw something on the 
river, but was at a loss to know what it was ; he took it at first for 
a great fish ; he run into the castle and gave notice to the other 
India?is ; two of our forefathers went to see what it was, and found 
it a vessel with men in it ; they immediately joined hands with 
the people in the vessel, and became friends. The white people 
told them they should not come up the river any further at that 
time, and said to them they would return back from whence they 
came, and come again in a year's time, and come as fair up the 
river as where the old fort stood. Our fathers invited them ashore, 
and said to them " Here we will give you a place to make you a 
town ; it shall be from this place up to such a stream, (meaning 
where the petteroon mill now stands,) and from the river back up 
to the hill. Our forefathers told them, though they were now a 
small people, they would in time multiply, and fill up the land 
they had given them. After they were ashore some time, some 
other Indians, who had not seen them before, looked fiercely at 
them ; and our forefathers observing it, and seeing the white peo- 
ple so few in number, lest they should be destroyed, took and shel- 
tered them under their arms ; but it turned out that those Indians 
did not desire to destroy them, but wished also to have the same 
white people for their friends. At this time which we have now 
spoken of, the white people were small, but we were very numer- 
ous and strong ; we defended them in that low state : But now the 
case is altered ; you are numerous and strong, but we are few and 
weak ; therefore we expect that you will act by us in these cir- 
cumstances, as we did by you in those we have just now related. 
We view you nOAv as a very large tree, which has taken deep root 
in the ground, whose branches are spread very wide. We stand 
by the body of the tree, and we look round to see if there be any 
one who endeavors to hurt it, and if it should so happen, that any 
are powerful enough to destroy it, we are ready to fall with it. 

[gave a belt. 

" Fathers, you see how early we made friendship with you ; we 
tied each other in a strong chain : That chain has not yet been 
broken : We now clean and rub that chain to make it brighter 
and stronger ; and we determine on our parts that it shall never 
be broken ; and we hope that you will take care, that neither you 
nor any one else shall break it ; and we are greatly rejoiced, that 
peace and friendship have so long subsisted between us." — Gen- 
tlemen's Magazine. 

The three Castles of the Mohawk Nation, says Colden, were 
all surprised and captured by a party of six or seven hundred 
French and Indians, on the 8th of March, 1693. The Lower 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 133 

Castle was bravely defended by the few warriors who chanced to 
be in it, until they were overpowered by numbers. 

In the reign of Queen Anne of England, and about the year 
1710, a frontier military post was established at the junction of 
the Schoharie and Mohawk rivers, on the east bank of the form- 
er, and near the eastern Mohawk Castle. Captain John Scott, 
an English officer, erected a small fort of hewn timber at this 
place, and called it Fort Hunter, in honor of Robert Hunter, then 
governor of the colony ; which fort was intended to protect the 
natives agamst the hostile French, and secure their trade. About 
the same time a small church was built near the fort, and called 
Queen Anne's Chapel. It was erected by the Queen, whose mu- 
nificence endowed it, says Colden, " with furniture, and a valuable 
set of plate for the communion table." It was a substantial stone 
edifice, somewhat resembling in appearance the one afterwards 
erected at Caughnawaga, and was for a great length of time un- 
der the management of an Episcopal Society in England, for 
propagating the gospel in foreign parts, which society supported 
a minister ai this place as a missionary among the Mohawk In- 
dians. The entrance to the chapel was on its north side near the 
centre. The pulpit, which was provided with a sounding board, 
iJtood at the west end, and directly opposite were two pews fin- 
ished for the occupancy of Sir William Johnson and the minister's 
family ; the floor of which was elevated. Johnson's pew was 
also furnished with a wooden canopy. Moveable benches served 
the rest of the congregation with seats. 

Fort Hunter was a place of no little importance in the early 
history of the Mohawk valley ; and at that post were doubtless 
planned some important enterprises against the Canadas. Speak- 
ing of the Indian " war dances," Colden says : 

" An officer of the regular troops told me, that while he was 
commandant of Fnrt Hunter, the Mohaieks on one of these occa- 
sions, (that of a war dance,) told him, that tliey (the Indians) ex- 
pected the usual military honors as they passed the garrison. The 
men presented their pieces as the hidians passed, and the drum 
beat a march ; and with less respect, the officer said, they would 
have been dissatisfied. The Indians passed in single row one af- 
10 



134 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 



ter another, with great gravity and profound silence ; and every 
one of them, as he passed the officer, took his gun from his should- 
er, and fired into the ground near the officer's foot : They marched 
in this manner three or four miles from their Castle. The women 
on these occasions follow them with their old clothes, and they 
send back by them their finery 
Castle." 



which they marched from the 



The ruins of old Fort Hunter were torn down at the beginning 
of the Revolution, and the chapel enclosed by hea^'y palisades. 
In the corners of the yard were small block houses mounting can- 
non. This place, which continued to be called Fort Hunter, was 
garrisoned in the latter part of the war, and Capt. Tremper, from 
below Albany, was its commandant. The chapel was torn down 
about the year 1820, to make room for the Erie canal. 







QUEEN ANNE'S CHAPEL PARSONAGE. 



Queen Anne's chapel was early provided wdth a small bell, 
which is now in use on the Academy in Johnstown. A glebe or 
farm of three hundred acres of good land was attached to it, 
which was conveyed at some period by the natives to Dr. Bar- 
clay, and by him to the society alluded to, on their reimbursing 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 135 

him moneys expended upon it. The parsonage house, said to have 
been built about the time the chapel was, is still standing in Flo- 
rida, half a mile below the Schoharie, and a few rods south of 
the canal, from which it is visible. It is a stone building, some 
twenty-five by thirty-five feet on the ground, two stories high, 
with a quadrangular roof, presents a very ancient appearance, 
and is possibly the oldest house west of Schenectada in the Mo- 
hawk valley. The chapel farm was disposed of some years ago, 
and part of the proceeds, nearly fifteen hundred dollars, were laid 
out in erecting the Episcopal Church at Port Jackson, in the 
same town ; and the residue, an equal sum, invested in the Epis- 
copal Church of Johnstown. — Spufford's Gazetteer, Peter Put- 
man, J. L. Groat, A. J. Comrie, and others. 

The chapel parsonage at Fort Hunter, is now owned and oc- 
cupied by Nicholas Reese. The last occupant under the patron- 
age of the Missionary Society, was the Rev. John Stuart, who 
was officiating there at the beginning of the revolution. He re- 
moved, with the Indians under his charge, to Canada — they choos- 
ing to follow the fortunes of the Johnsons and Butlers. I have 
in my possession a bill of sale from Mr. Stuart to John Conyn, 
who returned to the Mohawk after the revolution, of a male slave 
called Tom Doe, who went from Fort Hunter with his master to 
Canada. The sale was for $'275 in specie, and was dated at 
Montreal, November 19, 1783. At the close of the war, Mr. 
Stuart settled on Grand river, and resumed his ministerial labors. 

In 1720, Captain Scott took a patent for the lands extending 
from Aurie's creek to the Yates and Fonda line, near the present 
village of Fultonville. Aurie is the Dutch of Aaron, and the 
creek was so called after an old Indian warrior named Aaron, 
who lived many years in a hut which stood on the flats now 
owned by J. C. Yost, on the east side of the creek. The adjoin- 
ing village was named after the stream. 

Early in the eighteenth century, three brothers named Quack- 
enboss emigrated from Holland to the colony of New York; one 
of them locating at New York city, and the other t?vo at Albany. 
Peter, one of the latter, settled on Scott's patent, only two or 



136 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

three years after it was secured. He resided near Aurie's creek 
at the now Leslie Voorhees' place. Mr. Quackenboss had several 
children grown up when he arrived in the country, and David, 
his elder son, after a somewhat romantic courtship, married Miss 
Ann, a daughter of Captain Scott, and settled on Scott^s Paterit, 
where the Montgomery county poor house now stands. A young 
officer under the command of Captain Scott, requested young 
Quackenboss, then in the employ of the captain, to speak a good 
word for him to Miss Ann, which he readily promised to do. 
While extolling the good qualities of her admirer, he took occa- 
sion to suggest his partiality for herself. The maiden, who had 
conceived an attachment for Quackenboss instead of the young 
subaltern, shrewedly asked him why he did not make advances 
on his oion account. He had not presumed on so advantageous 
a match ; but the hint was sufficient to secure his fortune and 
happiness. His son John, a fruit of this connection, born about the 
year 1725, was the first white child born on the south side of the 
Mohawk — west of Fort Hunter, and east of the German settle- 
ments some distance above. Captain Scott had one son who be- 
came a general officer. — John Scott Quackenboss. 

About the year 1740, a small colony consisting of sixteen 
families of Irish immigrants was planted, under the patronage of 
Wm. Johnson, afterwards baronet, on lands now owned by 
Henry Shelp, a few miles south-west of Fort Hunter, in the pre- 
sent town of Glen. Several years after they had built them- 
selves rude dwellings, cleared lands, planted orchards, and com- 
menced their agricultural labors, a disturbance arose between the 
Indian Confederacy of New York and the Canadian Indians, 
which the colonists conceived endangered their domestic tranquili- 
ty ; in consequence of which the settlement was broken up, and 
the chicktn-hearted pioneers, then numbering eighteen or twenty 
families, returned to the Emerald Isle. Traces of their residence 
are visible at the present day. — John Hughes and Peter Putman. 

The first merchant in the Mohawk valley west of Schenectada, 
was Maj. Jelles (Giles) Fonda, a son of Douw Fonda, an early 
settler at Caughnawaga. For many years he carried on an ex- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 137 

tensive business for the times, at the latter place — trading with 
the white citizens of the valley, and the natives of western New 
York ; the latter trade being carried on at old Fort Schuyler, now 
Utica; Fort Stanwix, (called in the revolution Fort Schuyler,) 
now Rome, and Forts Oswego, Niagara and Schlosser. An ab- 
stract from his ledger shows an indebtedness of his customers at 
one time just before the revolution, amounting to over ten thou- 
sand dollars. Many of his good he imported directly from Lon- 
don. To his Indian customers he sold blankets, trinkets, ammu- 
nition and rum ; and received in return, peltries and ginseng root. 
The latter was at that time an important item among the ex- 
ports of what was then, Western New York ; and the two named 
added to the article of pot-ash, almost the only commodities pur- 
chased in a foreign market. 

The following anecdote is believed to be true. In the employ 
of Sir William Johnson a few years before his death, was an 
Irishman named McCarthy, by reputation the most noted pugil- 
ist in Western New York. The baronet offered to pit his fellow 
countryman against any man who could be produced for a fist fight. 
Major Fonda, tired of hearing the challenge, and learning that 
a very muscular Dutchman named John Van Loan, was living 
near Brakabeen, in the Schoharie valley, made a journey of some 
forty or fifty miles, to secure his professional sevices, for he, too, 
was reputed a bully. Van Loan leadily agreed to flog the son 
of Erin, for a ten pound note. At a time appointed, numbers 
were assembled at Caughnawaga to witness the contest between 
the pugilists. After McCarthy had been swaggering about in the 
crowed for a while, and greatly excited public expectation by 
his boasting, inducing numbers to bet on his head, his competi- 
tor appeared ready for the contest — clad for the occasion in a 
shirt and breeches of dressed deer-skin fitted tight to his person. 
A ring was formed and the battle commenced. The bully did 
his best, but it was soon evident that he was not a match for his 
Dutch adversary, who slipped through his fingers like an eel, 
and parried his blows with the greatest ease. Completely ex- 
hausted and almost bruised to a jelly. Sir William's gamester was 



138 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY^ 

removed, looking if not expressing — feccavi. — Abraham A. Van 
Home, who obtained the facts from a son of Van Loan. 

I have spoken in the preceding chaper, of the custom of pro- 
viding refreshments at funerals ; a practice which continued in 
vogue in some degree for at least one hundred years, and until 
about the year 1825. Smoking was an attendant on the prevail- 
ing habit, as the following order from Col. Dl. Glaus, will show. 

" Sir — I have sent the bearer for four dozen of Pipes and a 
few pounds of Tobacco, for the burial of Mr. Raworth's child 
wh please to charge to me. 

" Monday, 27th Aug., 1770. D. GLAUS." 

" To Maj'r Jelles Fonda." 

The trade with the Indians along the Great Lakes and 
the St. Lawrence, was carried on by the aid of boats propelled 
from Schenectada up the Mohawk at great personal labor, in con- 
sequence of their being several rifts or rapids in the stream. 
The first obstruction of the kind was met with six miles above 
Schenectada, and was called Six Flats' rift ; proceeding west 
came in course similar obstructions known as Fort Hunter rift; 
Caughnawaga rift ; Keator's rift, at Spraker's, the greatest on 
the river, having a fall of ten feet ; Brandywine rift, at Cana- 
joharie, short but rapid ; Ehle's rift near Fort Plain ; Kneiskern^s 
rift, a small rapid near the upper Indian castle, a little above the 
river dam; ?ind the Little falls*, so called as compared with the 
Cahoes on the same stream near its mouth. At the Little Falls, 
a descent in the river of forty feet in half a mile, boats could not 
be forced up the current, and it became a carrying place for 
them and merchandise, which were transported around the rapids 
on wagons with small wide rimmed wheels, the water craft re- 

• The village of Little Falls, so romantically situated on the Mohawk, al- 
ready has a population numbering some three thousand inhabitants, and is 
rapidly increasing. It seems destined to become the largest place between 
Albany and Utica in the Mohawk valley. A manufactory for woolen goods 
has recently been erected here, and an academy, a large stone edifice, con- 
structed of masive granite from the vicinity, recently completed, was opened 
in November, 1844, with a male and female department; the former under 
the charge of MerritG. McKoon, A. M., and the latter under the superin- 
•^endance of Miss Amanda HodgeraaUj a young lady of real merit. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 139 

launched and and re-loaded to proceed onward. On such occa- 
sions one of the party usually staid with the goods deposited 
above, while the team returned for the boat. Small batteaus, 
known in early times as three-handed and four-handed boats, were 
in use on the Mohawk, which carried from two to five tons each ; 
and so sailed because three or four men were required to propel 
them. There boats were forced over the rapids in the river with 
poles and ropes, the latter drawn by men on the shore. Such 
was the mode of transporting merchandize and Indian commodi- 
ties to and from the west, for a period of about fifty years, and until 
after the Revolution. A second carrying place in use at an early 
day was near Fort Stanwix, from the boatable waters of the 
Mohawk to Wood creek. Passing into Oneida lake, the batteaus 
proceeded into the Oswego river, and from thence to Oswego on 
lake Ontario. From Oswego to Niagara, a place of much im- 
portance, merchandize was transported in the same boats or on 
sloops. Major Fonda, as his papers show, had much to do with 
the navigation of the river in the French and American wars with 
England. — Joseph Spraker. 

After the Revolution, the tide of emigration was " Westward 
Ho ! " and a corporate body, known as the " Inland Lock Navi- 
gation Company," constructed a dam and sluice to facilitate busi- 
ness at Wood creek, and built several locks at Little Falls, so that 
boats might pass and repass without unloading. These locks were 
constructed under the supervision and direction of Gen. Philip 
Schuyler, whose memory, for services rendered his country in her 
most trying period, will ever be held in grateful remembrance by 
the citizens of New York. The locks at Little Falls were com- 
pleted m 1795. The following original paper, given by Gen. 
Schuyler to a namesake, and son of the Rev. Mr. Schuyler, of 
Schoharie, will show at what time the business was most actively 
prosecuted. 

To Mr. Philip Schuyler : 

" By virtue of the powers vested in vne by the directors of the 
Inland Lock Navigation Companies in this state, I do hereby ap- 
point you an Assistant Superintendent, to superintend, direct and 



140 mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

command the mechanics and labourers, and their respective over- 
seers, already employed in the service of the said companies, 
hereby requiring the said overseers, and others so employed, in 
all things to pay due obedience to all your lawful requisitions and 
directions. 

" Given under my hand, in the county of Herkimer, this eighth 
day of May, 1793. 

"PH: SCHUYLER, 

'■^President and Superifitendent.^^ 

In June following, Gen. S. gave his namesake the annexed ve- 
ry flattering testimonial, which shows the usual caution of that 
great man in guarding against accidents : 

Falls, June 22, 1793. 
" Dear Sir : — I experience so much satisfaction from your at- 
tention, and the readiness with which you comprehend the hints 
given by me for the construction of the works, that I consider it 
as a duty to give you this written testimony of my perfect satis- 
faction of your conduct, and to evince my sense of it by a pecuni- 
ary reward. Your compensation, from the original time of agree- 
ment, will be two dollars per day ; this, however, I do not wish you 
to mention, least others should conceive that I made a discrimina- 
tion unfavorable to them, although in reality I do not, for their ser- 
vices are by no means as important to the Lock Navigation Com- 
pany as yours. 

" Least an accident should happen to me, which might deprive 
you of the benefit of the above mentioned allowance, you will 
keep this letter as a testimony thereof. 
" I am. Dear Sir, 

" Your friend and humble servant, 

"PH: SCHUYLER, 
. " President of the Board of Directors. 
"To Mr. Philip Schuyler." 

After the locks were built at Little Falls, business on the river 
greatly increased, and apples and cider were then among the com- 
modities sent west. The clumsy batteau, which had for half a 
century usurped the place of the Indian's bark canoe, — the little 
craft which had danced on the bosom of the Mohawks' river for 
many ages, — soon gave place to the Durham boat, carrying from 
ten to fifteen tons, and constructed, in shape, not unlike a modern 
canal boat. Few of them were decked over, except at the ends, 
but all were along the sides, where elects were nailed down to give 
foothold to boatmen using poles. Boating, at this period was at- 
tended with great personal labor ; the delay of unloading at Lit- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 141 

tie Falls had been obviated, but it was found more diiTicult to force 
large than small craft over the rapids. Several boats usually went 
in company, and if any arrived first at a rift, they awaited the ap- 
proach of others, that the united strength of many men might aid 
in the labor before them. Those boats were often half a day in 
proceeding only a few rods, and not unfrequently were they, after 
remaining nearly stationary on a rapid for an hour, when the 
strength of numbers was united with poles and ropes in propel- 
ling, compelled to drop below the rift and get anew start. Twen- 
ty hands, at times, were insufficient to propel a single boat over 
Keator's rift. When boat's crews were waiting at a rapid for the 
arrival of their fellows, they usually did their cooking on shore. 
Poles used on those boats had heads, which rested against the 
shoulder, which was often calloused or galled, like that of a col- 
lar-worn horse. Black slaves, owned by settlers in the neigh- 
borhood of rapids, both male and female, were often seen assist- 
ing at the ropes on shore, when loaded boats were ascending the 
river. 

Accidents sometimes occurred to bojitmen, though seldom at- 
tended with loss of life. A three-handed boat once struck a rock 
in Keator's rift, upset, and a negro was drowned. At Fort Hun- 
ter rift, a three handed boat upset, when Wm. Hull and Kennedy 
Failing were drowned, — the third person in the boat, a son of 
Abraham Otthout, of Schenectada, swam ashore. One of the 
last accidents of the kind on the river, occurred while the Erie 
Canal was building, to a Durham boat, one of the best of that 
class of river craft, called the Butterfly. It was descending the 
river, then swollen, laden with flour, \vhen it became unmanage- 
able, swung round, and struck its broadside against a pier of the 
Canajoharie bridge, and broke near the centre. The contents of 
the boat literally filled the river for some distance, and a hand on 
the boat was drowned. His name was afterwards ascertained to 
be John Clark. His body was recovered twelve miles below, and 
was buried on the river bank, in the present village of Fulton- 
ville. His bones having been disclosed by the sprmg freshet ol 
1845, they were taken up and buried in the village burying- 



142 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ground. The owner of the boat, a Mr. Myers, had its fragments 
taken to Schenectada and rebuilt, after which it entered the ca- 
nal, (the eastern sections being completed,) and from thence he 
transported it into Cayuga lake. While there engaged, his boat 
sunk laden with gypsum, and he was drowned. Thus ended the 
Butterfly and its owner. Boats managed by skilful hands some- 
times sailed down the rapids at Little Falls when the river was 
high, but it was always attended with danger. Several row-boats, 
constructed expressly to carry some twenty passengers each, from 
Utica to Schenectada, and tastefully curtained, were in use on the 
Mohawk some forty years ago. They'were called river packets. — 
Myndert Stann. 

The first bridge of any importance in the Mohawk valley, was 
built by Maj. Isaiah Depuy, a resident of Glen at the time of his 
death (1841), and was erected across the Schoharie at Fort Hun- 
ter. It was commenced in October, 1796, and on the 4th day of 
July following, the anniversary of Liberty was celebrated upon it. 
The next bridge worthy of note in the valley, was an elliptic or 
arched one over the Mohawk at Schenectada. It was begun in 
1797, and when nearly completed, the winter following, was up- 
set by the wind, taken down, and rebuilt on piers. While this 
bridge was building, an incident of no little interest occurred. Af- 
ter the string pieces had been laid, and before they were planked, 
a young son of the contractor walked unobserved over the middle 
of the stream. A workman discovering the urchin upon the tim- 
bers, directed the attention of the father that way. With feelings 
of deepest anxiety he beheld his darling boy in a position from 
which a misstep would inevitably launch him into eternity. Pru- 
dence dictated silence, and after the little fellow had surveyed the 
premises to his satisfaction, he returned to the shore, to the great 
relief of his agitated parent, who gave him a good basting for his 
motherly curiosity. 

A bridge was begun at Canajoharie before the Schenectada 
bridge was completed. This was also an elliptic, and required to 
be taken down at the end of a year or two, when it was placed 
on three piers. Some years previous to the erection of this bridge , 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 143 

a ferry was established at Canajoharie, and owned by the Messrs. 
Roseboom, who traded where the ferry was located, one mile east 
of the village. At an early period, a good bridge was built over 
the east Canada creek, which aflbrded a pattern lor one construct- 
ed at Caughnawaga — where, for many years, there had also been 
a ferry. The last mentioned bridge was put up in the summer 
and completed by the following winter, so as to be used on one 
track, but the first spring freshet carried it off. Afterwards, the 
Mohawk Turnpike Company erected another, some thirty rods 
farther up the river, which is still standing. A bridge was stretched 
across the river many years ago, a little below the Nose, but it 
was soon after swept away by the ice and never rebuilt. Bridges 
have also been erected over the Mohawk at Cahoes Falls, Am- 
sterdam, Fort Plain, Little Falls, Herkimer and Utica. 

Archibald and James Kane, brothers, established themselves in 
the mercantile business on the Mohawk about the year 1795 ; lo- 
cating between the Rosebooms and the present village of Cana- 
joharie, where one of their buildings, having an arched roof, is 
still to be seen. The Kanes were, for a time, the heaviest deal- 
ers west of Albany. At this period there was much gambling 
and horse-racing in the Mohawk valley. Indeed, there continued 
to be until about the year 1825. Intemperance, the parent of 
many vices and miseries, wgs an attendant, and to such an extent 
did it stalk abroad for thirty or forty years, that numerous churches 
were seriously affected by it, their ministers often setting the ex- 
ample, then prevalent in New York and New England, not only 
of placing the beaded liquid before friends, but of drinking with 
them at taverns. On a certain occasion in 1797 or '98, when a 
party were playing cards (a game of lieu) at Canajoharie, with 
stakes upon the table amounting to some five hundred dollars, 
Archibald Kane became indebted to Barney Roseboom for nearly 
one hundred dollars, and another of the gamesters becoming the 
debtor of Kane for about the same sum, a difficulty originated in 
trying to reconcile the liability of the parties to each other, and 
Kane gave Roseboom a challenge to personal combat. It was 
supposed that the challenge would not have been given, had the 



144 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

challenger believed his antagonist would have accepted it, the lat- 
ter having a lovely wife and several interesting children ; but it 
was accepted, ground paced off, and shots exchanged with a brace 
of trooper's pistols. Kane was wounded in his left arm, and 
with the wound his bruised honor was healed ; the combatants be- 
came as warm personal friends as ever, and thus ended an affair 
which created no little excitement for a time, in Western New 
York. A few years after the transaction above related, Archibald 
Kane went to Hayti, [married into the family of the governing 
nobility y and died there. 

A pleasing story was originated when the Kanes were trading 
at Canajoharie, about an imposition practised by a shrewd Yan- 
kee, upon an honest Dutch justice of Herkimer county, who had 
arrested him for journeying on the Sabbath. According to the 
story, the Yankee was stopped, but as his business was urgent, 
the man of equity agreed to give him a written permit to proceed 
for a nominal sum. The justice, requesting the traveler to write 
it, is said to have set his hand unconsciously to an order on the 
Messrs. Kane for some fifty dollars, instead of a permit to travel ; 
which, when presented for payment, he pronounced the tarn Yan- 
kee pass: but James Kane, who now resides in Albany, pronoun- 
ces the whole narrative a hoax. 

The Caughnawaga church, a land mark of former days, is a 
Btone edifice, and was erected in 1763, by voluntary contribu- 
tions. Sir William Johnson gave liberally towards building it. 
The steeple was placed on it in 1795. Of this church and con- 
gregation, the Rev. Thomas Romeyn was the first pastor. He 
died, and was succeeded in June, 1795, by the Rev. Abraham 
Van Horn, one of the earliest graduates of Queen's College, New 
Jersey. Mr. V. H. was settled in Ulster county five years previ- 
ous to taking charge of the congregation at Caughnawaga, and 
married, during his whole ministry, about fifteen hundred cou- 
ple — more, perhaps, than any clergyman now living in the Unit- 
ed States. He died suddenly at an advanced age, January 5, 
1840. 

This church was without a bell until the confiscated property 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



145 



of Sir John Johnson was sold in the revolution, when the former 
dinner-hell of his father, Sir William, ^vas purchased by several 
male.raerabers, conveyed to it on a pole by friendly Indians, and 
placed upon it. On the bell is the following inscription — " S R 
William Johnson Baronet 1774. Made by .Miller and Ross in 
Eliz. Town." It weighs something over one hundred pounds. 




CAUGHNAWAGA CHURCH. 

This edifice, now under the management of the Rev. Douw 
Van OLinda, who has fitted it up for a classic school, is hereafter 
to be known as the Fonda Academy; tlie first term of which in- 
Btitution commenced with flattering prospects in the latter part of 
1844, under the tuition of Mr. Jacob A. Hardenbergh, a gradu- 
ate of Rutger's College, New Jersey. 

At an early period, a small church was constructed of wood 



146 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

near the Upper Mohawk Castle, at which place the missionary 
minister, resident at Fort Hunter, sometimes officiated. This 
church was provided with a small bell, similar to the one on 
Queen Anne's chapel, and after the revolution, the Indians who 
had removed from its neighborhood, made application to obtain it. 
Being denied their request, they succeeded in getting it down in 
the night ; and in a canoe paddled up the Mohawk with it un- 
molested — transporting it as best they could to Canada. — Joseph 
Wagner. 

Churches were erected by Lutherans at Stone Arabia in 1770, 
in the western part of Palatine in 1772, and at the German flats 
before the revolution. The two latter were of stone. The last 
named was situated in the valley, on the south side of the river, 
four miles westward of Little Falls. Some ten rods west of this 
church stood the parsonage, a stone dwelling (torn down to give 
place to the Erie canal) which was inclosed with palisades hav- 
ing block-house corners, and known in the revolution as Fort 
Herkimer.* Fort Dayton, another military post of the Mohawk 
valley, was situated in the western part of the present village of 
Herkimer. In going from the former to the latter fort, the river 
was crossed at a rapid one mile above Fort Herkimer. Fort 
Plain, a military establishment of great importance in the border 
transactions of the Mohawk valley, stood eighteen miles eastward 
of Fort Herkimer, and within the present thriving village which 
bears its name. Forts Plain, Herkimer and Dayton were all three 
erected as early as 1776, and in their vicinity many thrilling 
events transpired, which characte'rised the war of the revolution 
«n the frontiers of New York ; not a few of which have gone 
down to oblivion. 

There was much speculation in new lands in the interior of 
New York, between the French and American wars with Eng- 
land, and thousands upon thousands of acres changed owners for 
a mere song — land now valued at millions of dollars. Among 

• Some writers have stated that Fort Herkimer stood near General Herki- 
mer's house — not so : although called after him, it was six miles westward of 
his residence. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



147 



the speculators were Sir William Johnson, Governor Tryon, Ma- 
jor Jelles Fonda, and Colonel John Butler. Lands on the Sacon- 
daga river were brought into market at this period. 




FORT PLAIN. 

Above is a view of this Fort as it was seen in the revolution, 
except that it was inclosed by strong palisades. The little church 
seen in the right of the picture, was burned down by the Indians 
during the war. 

The following sketch of a transaction not generally known, is 
no doubt the most authentic account of it ever obtained. It is 
drawn, by permission, from notes of a journey to Niagara, made 
by a friend in 1806. 

In the summer of 1759, Sir William Johnson landed with a bo- 
dy of troops at the mouth of a creek four miles from Niagara, 
since called Johnson's creek, and took possession of forts Niagara 
and Schlosser, posts of much importance, on the east side of Nia- 
gara river, as they commanded the trade of the upper lakes. In 
1760, Mr. Stedman, an Englishman, contracted with Sir William 
to construct a portage road from Queenston Landing, now Lewis- 
ton, to Fort Schlosser, a distance of about eight miles. The road 
having been completed, on the morning of the 17th Sept., 1763, 15 
wagons and teams, mostly oxen, under an escort of 24 men, com- 
manded by a sergeant, and accompanied by the contractor, Sted- 
man, and Capt. Johnson, as a volunteer, set out from Fort Niagara, 



148 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

with stores, &c., intended for the garrison at Fort Schlosser. Arri- 
ving something over two miles from the top of the mountain above 
Lewiston, and ten or twelve from Niagara, the escort and wagons 
halted about 11 o'clock, on a little savanna of green sward to rest 
and take refreshments, beside a gulf called in Indian and English, 
the Devil's Hole. This is a semi-circular precipice or chasm of 
some two hundred feet diameter up and down the river on the 
summit, but less at the bottom. A little distance from the brink 
of the hole is a kind of natural mound, several feet in height, al- 
so of cresent shape ; and sixty feet from the top issues a fine 
spring, which dashes down through the underbrush to the river. 
A small brook in the neighborhood, called the bloody-run, now 
runs into the chasm. The Seneca Indians continued in the French 
interest at this period, and fearing a hostile movement on their part, 
a detachment of volunteers consisting of one hundred and thirty 
men, under the command of Capt. Campbell, marched from 
Queenston to strengthen the escort. Just as the troops under 
Capt. C. reached the spot where the escort had halted, about five 
hundred Indians, who had been concealed behind the mound, 
sprang from their covert with savage yells, and like so many ti- 
gers began an indiscriminate slaughter of the troops, who were 
thrown into the utmost confusion. Resistance against such odds 
did not long continue, and those of the party who were not killed 
or driven from the precipice with their teams, attempted their es- 
cape by flight. In the midst of the conflict, Stedraan sprang up- 
on a small horse, and giving the faithful animal a slap on the 
neck with his hand, it bore him over the dead and dying, and 
through the thick ranks of the foe, who discharged their rifles, 
and hurled their tomahawks in vain at his head. 

Of those who jumped directly down the precipice in front, some 
seventy or eighty feet, which has an uneven surface below, only 
one escaped with life. This was a soldier named Mathews, from 
whom these particulars were obtained by the tourist. He was then 
living on the Canada shore, near Niagara, and familiarly called 
Old Brittania. Several trees were growing from the bottom of 
the hole, the tops of which reached near the surface of the ground. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 149 

Into one of these trees Corporal Noble leaped and hung, in which 
position eleven bullets riddled his body. Captain Johnson, of the 
escort, was killed, and Lieut. Duncan, of the relief, a native of 
Long Island, and a promising young ofificer, was wounded in the 
left arm, of which he died. The whole number of troops and 
teamsters was about one hundred and seventy-five, of this number 
only some twenty-five escaped with life, and all of them, except 
Stedman and Mathews, did so below or near the north end of the 
hole, at a little sand ridge, which served to break the fall. Of 
Capt. Campbell's command, only eleven escaped with life. The 
loss of the enemy was inconsiderable compared with that of 
the British. A short time after this horrid affair, the Indians, 
who considered Stedman a charmed man, gave him as a reward for 
his daring feat, a large tract of land, which embraced all that he 
rode oyer in his previous flight. He returned to England, taking 
along this favorite horse, and never afterwards would he allow it 
to be saddled or harnessed. 

My friend T., in whose journal I find the above facts, first visit- 
ed the Devil's Hole, with a relative, August 10th, 1806, at which 
time he entered it by descending a tree, to search for evidences of 
the event related. In the bottom of the chasm he found the sculls 
of several oxen "mouldering and covered with moss," apiece of 
a wagon, and the small part of a horn ; which latter relic he took 
from the place, and after retaining it in his possession thirty-eight 
years, kindly presented to the author. 

The close of the French war left the colony of New York 
deeply in debt, and resort was had to direct taxation to sustain the 
government. The assessment was levied "By virtue of three acts 
of General Assembly of the Colony of New York ; the first for 
the payment of the second .£100,000 tax, the second for the pay- 
ment of the je60,000 tax, and the third, for the raising and col- 
lecting the arrears of several acts therein mentioned." The com- 
missioners of the county, who set their hands and seals to the war- 
rant sent "Mr. John Fonda, Collector for Mohawks," were 
" Rens. Nicoll, Marte Halenbeck, Abraham Douw, and Cornelis 
Van Schaack." The warrant was dated at Albany, July 17th, 
11 



150 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY 



1764. The tax on the citizens of the Mohawk valley amounted 
to £242,17 6— $607 19, and was collected, except $2 81 bad 
debts, and receipted by John Stevenson, in Albany, the 11th of 
October following. Were not part of this tax list gone, I would 
present it to the reader. The following are some of the largest 
sums taxed to individuals on the portions of the manuscript re- 
maining : 



Valuation. 


Assess 






Valuation. 


Assess 




Sir Wra. Johnson, 


£167 


£20 17 


6 


Peter Young, 


£13 


£1 12 


6 


Margrit Flipse, 


24 


3 00 





John Nukerk, 


13 


1 12 


6 


Marte Van OLinda, 


21 


2 12 


6 


Hans Klyn, 


13 


1 12 


6 


Lewis Groat, 


20 


2 10 





Daniel C)as, 


10 


1 5 





Davit Pruyn, 


20 


2 10 





Guy Johnson, 


10 


1 5 





Isaac D. Graf, 


18 


2 5 





John Have, 


10 


1 5 





Hans Antes, 


17 


2 2 


6 


Jacob Potman, 


10 


1 5 





James McMaster, 


16 


2 





Clas D. Graf, 


9 


1 2 


6 


Harme Vedder, 


16 


2 





Harmanis Mabe, 


9 


1 2 


6 


Wouter Swart, 


16 


2 





Cor's Potman, 


9 


1 2 


6 


John Johnson, 


16 


2 





Cor's Nukerk, 


9 


1 2 


6 



The following tax list will show the names of many of the ci- 
tizens living in and near that part of the Mohawk valley now 
embraced in Montgomery county, and their comparative wealth 
at that period. The manuscript, which has been preserved among 
the papers of the late Maj. Fonda, is without date: it is written 
in a fair, legible hand, and must have been executed a few years 
prior to the revolution. 

" A List of the persons that are assessed above Jive pounds, u'ith 
the sums they are to pay, and the number of days they are to work 
upon the King's highways, annexed. 



PERSONS NAMES. 







^ 












> 










<! 


tf. 








C^ 




Q 






c 




<: 


2; 



PERSONS NAMES. 





U, 




!(^ 






5 


<, 






C^ 














< 



John Eleven, 
Abraham Hodges, 
John &. Evert Van Eps, 
Wm. & Woulter Swart, 
Martinus Van OLinda, 
Mary Phillipse, 
Abraham Phillipse, 
William Allen, 
John Souts, 



£ 6 


,9l 


(i6 


4 


10 


1 


6 


4 


15 


3 





5 


10 


1 


6 


4 


17 


3 




5 


17 


3 




5 


6 


1 


6 


4 


15 


3 




5 


6 


1 


6 


4 



Christian Earnest, 
John Waters, 
Christopher McGraw, 
James Phillipse, 
William Snook, 
Samuel Pettingall, 
Patrick McConnelly, 
John Van Dcwake, 
4lPeter Young, 



£13 


s3 


d 


12 


3 




9 




6 


10 




6 


8 




6 


8 




6 


8 




6 


10 




6 


10 


1 


6 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



151 



PERSON'S NAMES. 





«■ 


^ 






S 






> 










< 


»> 








O" 


a 


Q 




<! 


o 



PERSONS NAMES. 



Jacobus Cromwell, 


15. 3| 


5 


I'imothy Lender.^c, 


15; ; 


' 


S 


Andrew Frank, 


If 


3 


5 


Charles H. Van Eps, 


1.5 






s 


Abraham Van Alstine, 


hS 


3 


5 


Peler Jost, 


(j 




6 


4 


Crownidge Kincade, 


u 


1 


6 4 


Piiilip Phillipse, 


13 






5 


John S. Vrooman, 


7 


1 


6 4 


Jacoi) Van Dewarke, 


9 


] 


6 


4 


Adam Stcrnbergh, 


15 


3 


5 


John Everse, 


7 


] 


6 


4 


Henry and John Lewis. 


e 


1 


6 4 


Malkcrt Van Duesar, 


12 






5 


Abraham Yates, 


20 


3 


5 


Mrs. Sophia Denniston, 


r 


J 


6 


4 


David and Peter Lewis, 


10 


1 


6 4 


Capl. Norm'd McLead, 


6 


1 


6 


4 


Hendrick Divindorf, 


7 


3 


5 


Widow Vrooman & son 


6 


] 


6 


4 


David Potman, 


15 


3 


5 


Dow Fonda, 


l(i 






5 


I^ips Spinner, 


15 


3 


5 


John Funda, 


C 


] 


6 


4 


Samuel Rose, 


10 


1 


6 4 


Jelles Funda, 


40 


c 




8 


Hendrick Hofl', 


10 


1 


4 


Barent B. Wcmplc, 


8 


1 


6 


4 


Adam Gardeneer, 


13 


3 


5 


Gilbert Tice, 


6 


1 


6 


4 


Arent Bradt, 


13 


3 


5 


Peter Cooley 


7 


1 


6 


4 


Adam Dagstadcr, Sen. 


18 


3 


5 


Samson Simens, 


15 


3 




4 


Fredrick liagstader. Sen 


20 


3 


5 


John Wemple, 


fi 


1 


6 


4 


Hendrick Dagstader, Sr. 


20 


1 


6 4 


Andries Wemple, 


fi 


1 


6 


4 


John Bowen, 


7 


1 


(i 4 


Peter Conyn, Esq., 


30 


5 




e 


William B. Bowcn, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Harman Visher, 


27 


5 




6 


John V. Potman, 


7 


I 


<J 4 


Hanse Clement, 


8 


1 


6 


4 


John Butler, Esq., 


27 


5 


(i 


Lewis Clement, 


14 


3 




5 


John Nare, 


12 


3 


5 


INIichael Stallor, 


lo; ] 


6 


4 


John and Jacob Kilts, 


20 


3 


5 


Daniel McGregor, 


10 1 


6 


4 


Conradt Linkefeller, 


11 


3 


5 


Pliilip Weamer, 


e! 1 


6 


4 


Arent Potman, 


7 


1 


6 4 


Baltus Ergetsinger, 


8 


] 


6 


4 


Sir Wm. Johnson, Bart., 


202 


12 


9 


Robert Adams, " 


14 


3 




4 


Sir John Johnson, Kt., 


25 


5 


6 


Martin Lessler, 


10 


1 


6 


4 


Col. Daniel Claus, 


2] 


5 


6 


Frans Salts, 


15 


3 




5 


Col. Guy Johnson, 


21 


5 


6 


Hanse Clyne, 


12 


3 




5 


Frederick Degraff, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Jacob Potman, 


9| 1 


6 


4 


Nicholas Degraff, 


6 


] 


6 4 


Corni lius Potman, 


lo; 1 


6 


4 


1. DcgraliJk. son Jer'h, 


13 


3 


5 


Harmanus Meaby, 


8 1 


6 


4 


Lewis Groat, 


16 


3 


5 


Garrent C.Newkirk, 


8| 1 


6 


4 


Jacob Bushart, 


7 


1 


6 4 


John Newkirk, 


10, ]' 6 


4 


Hendrick Bushart, 


7 


1 


6 4 


Peter INIarlin, Esq., 


13 3' 


5 


Adam Tonda, 


9 


1 


6 4 


Isaac Collier, 


10 


11 6 


4 


Peter AVhitmore, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Adam Zeelie, 


13 


3 


5 


John & Conradt Smith, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Ephraim Wemple, 


13 


3; 


5 


Guysbert 8c Garret Van 








Barent Hansen, 


7 


1 6 


4 


Brachler, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Hendrick Hansen, 


7 


1 (5 


4 


James Davis, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Abraliam Quackenbush, 


8 


1 


6 


4 


Peler Frederick & sons. 


12 


3 


5 


Jeremiah Quackenbush, 


11 


3 




5 


Jolm Wilson, 


7 


] 


6 4 


\. Si P. Quackenbush, 


10 


1 


6 


4 


J. Rupart & Lottridge, 


8 


1 


6 4 


Vincent Quackenbush, 


6 


1 


6 


4 


Peter Service, 


18 


3 


5 


Ab'm Quackenbush, 


7 


1 


6 


4 


Hans Albrant, 


7 


1 


6 4 


John Malatt. 


8 


1 


6 


4 


Andrics Snyder, 


8 


1 


) 4j Samuel Gardeneer, 


18 


3 




5 


Hans Doren, 


7 


1 


S 4 Jacob Gardeneer, 


12 


3 


5 


Philip Cromwell, 


17 


3 


5 William Schylder, 


6 


1 


6 4 


Volkert Vceder, 


6 


1 


5 4 Hans Wart, 


7 


1 


6 4 


Widow Smith and sons, 
John V. Veeder, 


17 
27 


3 
5 


A 




4 

6 


Total Assess. 


£141 


111 


(3 


>55 



152 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

I have observed that RUM was one of the principal articles of 
traffic with the Indians on the frontiers of New York. Says Col- 
den — 

" There is one vice which the Indians have all fallen into, since 
their acquaintance with the Christians, and of which they could not 
be guilty before that time, that is drunkemiess. It is strange, how 
all the Indian nations, and almost every person among them, male 
and female, are infatuated with the love of strong drink; they 
know no bounds to their desire, while they can swallow it down, 
and then indeed the greatest man among them scarcely deserves 
the name of a brute." 

Alcohol has, in a very great degree depopulated the state of a 
noble race of men and women, and much demoralized and ener- 
vated its present race of inhabitants. One single invoice now be- 
fore me, of rum purchased in New-York, in October 1770, and de- 
signed for the Mohawk valley trade, was for ten hogsheads and 
twenty barrels, containing seventeen hundred and seventy-nine 
gallons ; which, at the low price of two shillings and four pence, 
amounted to over five hundred dollars. 

Tryon county, so called after the Governor of New York at the 
time, was organized in 1772, and took in the present counties of 
Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer and portions of several others. 
The first court of general quarter sessions of the peace for this 
county, was held in Johnstown, so called after Sir William John- 
son, on Tuesday September 8, 1772. The Bench consisted of 

" Guy Johnson, Judge. 

" John Butler, Peter Conyne, Judges. 

" Sir John Johnson, knight, Daniel Glaus, John Wells, Jelles 
Fonda, Assistant Judges. 

"John Collins, Joseph Chew, Adam Loucks, John Fry, Fr, 
Young, Peter Ten Broeck, Justices.'^ 

In 1791, the county of Herkimer was organized from Tryon, 
and called after General Herkimer who fell at Oriskany ; and in 
1794 the name of Tryon county was changed to that of Mont- 
gomery, who fell at Quebec. 

About the year 1800, might have been seen, as in New England 
at a still later period, at some public place in every town in New 
York, a public whipping-post and stocks ; and justices of the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 153 

peace had authority to order that individual confined in the stocks, 
who got drunk or used profane language. Criminals guilty of 
petty thefts, and other violations of the law, were not unfrequently 
seen with their hands tied, and their arms drawn up to their ex- 
tent around the public post, which was made square, receiving 
upon their bare backs, from the hands of a sheriti' or constable, 
the scorpion lash of justice. 

A few moments may not be unprofitably spent, in reflecting on 
the great and important changes that have passed over New York 
since the peace of 1783 — changes not only visible on every wa- 
ter-course and thoroughfare, but on almost every acre of ground, 
from the then frontier settlements of Albany and Tryon counties 
to the shores of St. Lawrence and the great western lakes. In the 
territory named, and at the period to which I have alluded, where 
were dense forests, unbroken for many miles, may now be seen 
waving fields of grain, and flocks and herds upon a thousand 
hills — may now be heard the complicated machinery of the me- 
chanic arts — may now be felt the genial influence of unfettered 
science. The revolution in mind and individual interest in eastern 
New York, under cultivation two generations removed from the 
present, is almost as apparent as that in matter, where then roam- 
ed the happy savage in quest of his game. The difference in the 
mode of traveling, particulary in the Mohawk valley, in the last 
thirty years, is worthy especial notice. Pubhc conveyance was 
then either in stages or boats propelled on the river by manual la- 
bor ; — rail-road cars, moved by steam power have now not only 
driven post-coaches from the valley, but the commodious canal 
packet drawn by horses, now subserves the purpose of the slow 
moving Durham craft. Indeed, the New England tourist, who 
might then have been seen mounted on horseback, with an enor- 
mous portmanteau fastened upon his saddle, journeying in the 
valley, is seen no longer : his economy is rendered unnecessary 
by the cheapness of the passenger line-boat. 

Extensive manufactories — indeed large cities and villages have 
sprung up as if by enchantment, where but little more than hall 
a century ago might have been heard the dismal howl of the 



J54 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY. 

wolf; the frightful scream of the panther ; or the terrific yell of 
the savage. In fact, little hamlets, in number almost countless, 
with the domes of their seminaries and church spires towering 
aloft, are scattered over the hunting grounds of the mocasined 
Indian ; the site of whose little bark dwelling and intricate foot- 
path, has been usurped by an iron-bound road, or an artificial river. 
Not only has enterprise peopled those portions of New York 
lying west of the frontier settlements at the close of the revolution, 
with a population of one and a half millions of freemen, with an 
estimated valuation of property exceeding $100,000,000, and a 
real one more than five times greater ; but it has thickly popu- 
lated several States west of New York; and the American Eagle, 
as if undetermined where to alight, is conducting the hardy sons 
of New England and New York toward the shores of the great 
Pacific. Judging from the past and present, what may we rea- 
sonably expect will be the future condition and resources of the 
Empire State ? — resources which now more than equal those of 
the thirteen States, when under British tyranny. 



( 155 ) on 



CHAPTER V. 



There '^'ere among the early Schoharie settlers, some remarka- 
ble for great personal strength. Cornelius, Samuel, Peter and 
Isaac, sons of Peter Vrooman, are said to have possessed the 
strength of giants. They erected the first saw-mill in the county, 
which stood in dauvcr-icy, on the little Schohaiie kill. Two of 
those brothers could easily carry a good sized log on the carriage. 
Many anecdotes are related by the aged, showing the strength of 
the Vrooman family. At the hill mentioned as the Long-berg, on 
the road to Albany, Cornelius, the strongest of the brothers, al- 
ways made a practice when going to Albany with wheat, to car- 
ry one or two bags, each containing two or three skipples, up 
this hill to favor his horses. Twenty-five skipples was the ordi- 
nary load to Albany, and usually brought fifty cents per skipple. 

Samuel Vrooman is said to have carried at one time, twelve 
skipples of wheat and a harrow with iron teeth, from his father's 
house across a small bridge back of it, and set them down 
in a field. At another time, Cornelius carried ten skipples of 
peas, the same harrow, and a brother on the top of them, the 
same distance : in either case, eight or nine hundred pounds. 

The stout Vroomans had a remarkably strong sister. A quar- 
relsome man being at her father's, warm words passed be- 
tween him and her brother Cornelius, when the sister, fearing the 
consequences, if her kinsman laid hands upon the intruder in an- 
ger, seized him, although a pretty stout man, and pitched him 
neck and heels out of the house. This we may look upon as a 
very charitable act, considering it was done solely to save his life. 
There were other individuals in Schoharie who, if not as strong 



156 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

as the brothers mentioned, were sufficiently so to protect them- 
selves. Several of the Boucks and Borsts, it is said, could easily 
raise a barrel of cider and drink from the bung-hole. 

Before the revolution, and for some forty years after its close, 
there was much horse-racing and sporting of different kinds in 
the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys. An ox-race once took place 
in Cobelskill. There was also much fair boxing, and many quar- 
rels were settled by personal combat. The settlers sometimes 
played cards for coppers, but seldom for silver. 

About the year 1770, a challenge was given and accepted be- 
tween the people of the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys, to try 
speed and strength. Which gave it, is uncertain. The Mohawk 
champions went to Schoharie at the appointed time, and multi- 
tudes were assembled to witness the strife. A sleigh was placed 
on bare ground, and with twelve heavy men in it, Cornelius Vroo- 
man, by the end of the tongue, drew it one and a half feet. Cor- 
nelius Fonda, the Mohawk bully, attempted, but in vain, to start 
it. On the same day, Adam Crysler ran a foot-race with one 
Dockstader from the Mohawk valley — the former winning the 
race with ease. 

Formerly, almost every country woman, in some parts of Ame- 
rica, was to be seen in certain seasons of the year, at work on a 
farm. It is now very justly determined, that woman's place is in 
the house and maris in the field. 

Wheat and poultry were the most important articles of traffic 
taken from Schoharie to Albany, an hundred years ago, which 
was usually done by sleighing. But little grain, except wheat? 
was carried to market for many years by the early settlers : in 
fact, much of that grain was fed their horses by the Germans and 
Dutch. The fondness of the Dutch for good horses, has origi- 
nated a proverb, that " a Dutchman thinks more of his horse 
than his wife." 

In going from the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys, to and from 
Albany, some fifty years ago, the Dutch were in the habit of run- 
ning their horses up a good share of every hill. Starting the 
team as they neared it, they dashed on at a furious rate, thus gain- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 157 

ing an impetus which carried them nearly to the top of the hill, 
arriving at which they often halted to rest or feed. 

It was customary, as already observed, for the people of Scho- 
harie to go to market in squads, and not unfrequcntly fifteen or 
twenty teams were seen together, some of which were driven by 
the wives and daughters of the farmers, who were of the party. 
The custom yet prevails of their accompanying their husbands, 
fathers and brothers to market ; not, however, in the capacity of 
drivers. Mounted upon the top of a good load of grain, the tidy 
house-wife or neatly clad daughter is often to be seen as a passen- 
ger — or rather as a mortgage on the load, as they are not inaptly 
termed : for she claims some portion of the proceeds to be appro- 
priated to the purchase of a new dress, or such other articles as 
her wardrobe may require. 

Weddings, in the days of which I am speaking, were celebrat- 
ed differently from what they now are. The law ihen required 
the publishing of the bans three successive times, in a religious 
meeting, before a couple could get married. After the notice had 
been once read, the young friends usually had a dance, and after 
the couple were united, they had several dances. Some good an- 
ecdotes are told of these weddings. Before the revolution, says 
George Warner^ a man came from Freehold and married a Miss 
Schaeffer. Her father was rather fastidious about asking some of 
his neighbors, on the score of their not being sufficiently opulent, 
but invited among the guests an Indian friend, and gave him per- 
mission to ask such of his friends as he chose. The Indian, on 
such an occasion, shows no great respect for persons — indeed, he 
never does unless it be for distinguished prowess, and acknowledg- 
ed personal favors — and the sequel proved he had many friends : 
for when the guests began to assemble, a large part of the Scho- 
harie tribe were there, some with wedding garments on, and others 
^vith few garments, if any at all on. The dismayed parent was 
not a little perplexed, and in order to get rid of his red guests, he 
freely distributed several gallons of rum, when they pronounced 
the wedding a good one — gave a glorious whoop and retired, to 
the great relief of the family. 



ISj^ HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Judge Brown related the following — to use his own words — as 
" a nobleman's wedding j" which took place in his younger days. 
George Henry Stubrach was married to a daughter of John Fre- 
derick Bouck, who lived in the present town of Fulton. In an 
open field near Mr. Bouck's residence, a booth was erected and a 
liberty pole raised. The marriage ceremony took place in the 
early part of the day, and the guests resorted to the booth. On 
such occasions, there was generally some quidnunc present, who 
assumed the responsibilities of a captaincy, to direct the move- 
ments of the joyous company. At the time of which we are 
speaking Nicholas York was the admitted dictator. While all 
were busily engaged in such occupations as their own taste se- 
lected, a circumstance took place which afforded the party an 
unexpected source of amusement. A woodchuck made its ap- 
pearance in a fallow near the booth. Captain York instantly or- 
dered the field surrounded, directing a simultaneous march to the 
centre. The party had not approached to a concussion, before 
the intruder was slain. It was handed over to the captain — 
whose word on such occasions was law. He cut a piece of flesh 
from the warm victim and ate it, requiring all, male and female, 
to follow his example. Most attempted, but few succeeded in 
getting down the dainty morsel. A general " removal of depo- 
sits" was the result of this austere mandate; after which the 
guests again resorted to their chosen occupations. In this jolly 
manner the festivities were continued for three successive days. 
What disposition to make of the guests nights, 1 am at a loss to 
know. On the evening of the third day, the blushing bride was 
taken home to the residence of her husband, in Kneiskern's dorf. 
Two barrels of home brewed beer, twenty-two gallons of rum and 
a proportionate quantity of wine, were the spirits poured down to 
raise the spirits of the party up, on this noted occasion : and it is 
a fact worthy of remark, that all the liquors were quaffed from 
wooden dippers. This wedding took place when it was the fashion 
for ladies to wear short dresses — flowered ^ilk hose — and French- 
heeled slippers, fastened with silver buckles. The large pocket 
made separately and worn loose over the dress, as also the hoop, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 159 

both of which were part of female attire at a later period, may 
have been in service at the time of this wedding. This brief de- 
scription will serve to give the reader a pretty good idea of the 
manner in which most weddings of consequence were celebrated 
in bygone days. Nearly all the people — old as well as young — 
were then in the habit of dancing on such occasions. Their style, 
perhaps, was not of the most graceful kind. The French steps 
had not then been taught in that beautiful valley. The last wed- 
ding which seventy-two hours were required to complete, is be- 
lieved to have been that of the late Judge Swart, and took place 
in April, 1775. The revolution broke them up, as they could not 
in safety be celebrated then ; and after the war was over, few felt 
as though they could afford to give them — many being under the 
necessity of erecting themselves new dwellings, upon the ashes of 
their old ones. 

Jacob Becker related an anecdote, which shows the faithful 
manner in which those weddings were celebrated. They had in 
his father's family at one time a shoemaker at work, so that a 
brother of his might learn the trade. While he was there, Joseph 
Kneiskern — a widower, was married. Becker's brother George, 
several years older than himself, attended the wedding. As he 
was putting on a new pair of shoes with very thick soles — the 
workmanship of the cobbler, the latter good humoredly told him if 
he danced those soles through, he would put on a new pair for 
nothing. Away went the guest to the wedding, from which he 
returned home on the evening of the third day. He pulled off 
his shoes and threw them to the mechanic, who, on examining, 
found he had been taken at his word — and that not only the 
outer, but the inner soles of both were worn entirely through. 
In those days house-floors in New England and New York, were 
scoured clean, and instead of a carpet, received a coat of fine 
white sand — which will enable the reader to understand how the 
shoes could have been used up. 

It was customary for the groom, after the ordeal of proposing 
tJie question, to make his intended a present of some kind — usually 
a pair of silver shoe-buckles, sleeve buttons — or snuff-box. 



160 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Whether the modern low-lived and Hl-bred custom of celebrating 
weddings in the street, usually termed horning — now in vogue in 
ignorant communities — prevailed before the revolution in Scho- 
harie, I can not say. 

Several black fiddlers were, in their day, noted persons. Jack, 
a slave beloging to Col. Zielie, and another of the same name, 
belongmg to John Lawyer, who, to distinguish them, were 
called Jack ZieHe and Jack Lawyer, flourished in their way, 
about the time of the revolution. A frolic could not easily be 
sustained then, unless one of them was present. They played the 
fiddle, holding it in various positions, sometimes before and at 
others behind them. One of the two was formerly represented 
on a tavern sign (painted by George Tiffany, Esq.) as playing for 
a jolly company ; some part of which device is still visible on the 
sign now in the cabinet of John Gebhard, jr., Esq. of Schoharie. 

Dancing oifrolicing, as then called, was still the order of the 
day some fifty years ago, in most of the Dutch and German set- 
tlements. Old, middle-aged, and young — dressed much alike — 
usually assembled on those occasions, which were on Saturday 
evening, and as often as two or three times in a month. Males 
frequently danced with their hats on. The female dress was 
strapped caps of lawn, striped linsey petticoats, with short-gowns 
of differently striped calico or silk, an outside chintz pocket tied 
round the waist with ribbon or tape, and high heeled cloth boots. 
After the guests were assembled, a six or eight reel, then a four? 
a jig, and a hornpipe were danced in succession, in the centre of 
a room crowded by spectators to a small space for the dancers, if 
a fight did not take place before the hornpipe was reached — which 
was very frequently the case — owing to the impatience and fre- 
quent liquoring of the gentlemen not dancing. Then might have 
been seen a happy couple, manifesting great disparity of age, 
"jigging merrily down the middle, through a line of succeeding 
generations.''^ The musician was generally either Jack Lawyer 
or Jack Zielie, who accompanied the motion of his bow with a 
continual stamping of one foot — saying, in effect, hear dis nigger 
mark time on de floor. The slaves of the citizens, on those oc- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 161 

casions, were permitted to witness the performance at the doors 
and windows, which they literally fdled. At the period of which 
I am speaking, much liquor was drank in all the frontier settle- 
ments, and j^ugilism, though not then treated as a science, was of 
very frequent occurence. It was not at all imcomraon during 
those personal encounters, for a young miss to hold the coat and 
hat of her lover, while he was knocking another man down, or 
being knocked down himself. The reader is aware that the ban- 
ner of Temperance — the friend of peace and social order — was 
not unfurled o'er the land Jifti/ years ago. 

Judge Brown assured me, that in his younger days he often 
made bows and arrows, and hand-sleds, to sell to boys. The or- 
dinary price for one of the latter was three coppers. This fact is 
mentioned to show the value of money in the French war. He 
said he had, among other things to gain a livelihood when young, 
often fiddled for a respectable company to dance. His wife hu- 
morously remarked to him while relating that fact — " and from a 
fiddler you rose to be a JtidgeJ' 

Few dishes were formerly seen upon the tables of the Schoha- 
rie people. It was no uncommon sight to see a family of eight 
or ten persons seated at an old fashioned round table — which was 
tm-ned up in every dwelling when not in use — each with a spoon 
eating from a single dish of supaan. Every member had a cavi- 
ty in the pudding filled with milk, from which he or she, was al- 
lowed freely to scoop. On eating through into each other's divi- 
sions, a quickened motion of the spoon ensued, if trouble did not. 
If bowls were not then found indispensible in a large family, for 
eating a supper of supaan and milk, neither were plates in eating 
a hearty dinner. Each member of the family — seated at the 
round table, the quality and neatness of which no cloth concealed — 
was given a large slice of bread upon which they ate their meat 
and potatoes ; after which, the time serving plate was broken up, 
thrust into a dish to receive a coat of dope (gravy,) and soon de- 
voured. Bread was then sliced by one of the heads of the fami- 
ly, and dealt out around the table as a whist player would deal 
his cards. Rice and milk was, like supaan, also eaten from one 



IS'S fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

dish, after receiving the liberal scrapings of a cake of maple su- 
gar. Happy days were those when the good house-wife had few 
bowls or plates to wash, and little envy about the quality or num- 
ber of those possessed by her neighbor. 

That good custom of calling on friends and reciprocating kind 
feelings on the first day of the year, which still prevails in our 
larger towns, existed in Schoharie before the revolution : and no 
people improved the privileges of the custom or turned them to 
better account, than did the Indians. They not only called on the 
whites with a happy neiw-jahr, expecting to renew their claims 
to friendship by eating cakes and drinking liquor, but also expect- 
ed a liberal donation of eatables to take to their cabin, the squaws 
carrying baskets on their heads to receive them. On those gala 
days, the tables of the Germans and Dutch were loaded with sev- 
eral skipples of bread and fried cakes, and a fearful array of li- 
quors. Said Mattice Ball to the author — " I have alone cut up 
six loaves of bread on new year's day, and distributed to the 
Indians." 

In the Dutch settlements along the Mohawk, calls began among 

neighbors on new year's day at midnight, with the following 

greeting : 

" Ik wens u glucksaalic nieu jar ! 

Dat gy Jang leben mag — 

Veel geben mag — 

En de kernigh-reich von de himmel erben mogb !" 

I wish you a happy new-year ! 

May you long live — 

Have much to give — 

And in heaven at last appear ! 

Christmas is a day still observed in the Dutch and German 
settlements of New York, though not as much as formerly. On 
the evening before Christmas, children hang up their stockings on 
going to bed, expecting to find them filled in the morning with 
presents, such as cakes, fruit, nuts, &c. by an imaginary visitor 
called Santa Claas. If the children have been wilful and refrac- 
tory, the messenger of St. Nicholas, who is only a neighbor dis- 
guised, sometimes arrives before bed-time with a whip instead of 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 163 

a present; and lucky are the mischievous urchins who can hide 
themselves under a bed, or their mother's apron to avoid chas- 
tisement. Formerly, the occasion was improved to punish dis- 
obedient slaves, whose superstitious fears prevented them from 
penetrating the disguise which often concealed some member of 
the family in which they lived. 

Paas, Easter-day ; and Pinkster, Whitsunday, are days also 
noted in the annals of the Dutch. The former day is ushered in 
by the young, with presents of eggs colored various hues ; while 
the latter is more particularly observed by the colored population. 
The blacks are seen with smiling faces on that day, clad in thcii 
best apparel, going to visit their friends — often bearing flowers 
called by them Pinkster-bloomies ; which are known in New Eng- 
land as blossoms of the swamp-apple. 

The early farmers of Schoharie turned their attention mostly to 
raising wheat, as do their descendants — or rather did, until the 
weevil prevented. They have ever kept too many horses, and too 
few cattle and sheep for profit — the well fed horse being a very 
expensive boarder. Not many of the Dutch to this day keep large 
dairies, as very few of them make English cheese. Some of them, 
however, make considerable butter, and the world may be chal- 
lenged to excel them in making it palatable. Many of them 
churn the milk with the cream, and when that is not done, it 
goes through a process in working it called washing, which in 
either case, divests it of a greasy flavor more common to butter 
made in English settlements. The Dutch also make excellent 
bread. 

Sour-crout* is a German dish much eaten in the Schoharie and 
Mohawk valleys. Many families make a barrel of it every fall. 

• This article is made as follows. Late in the fall a quantity of good sound 
cabbage is prepared as it would be for slaugk, or salad, to conform to Web- 
ster. It is cut with knives set in a plank. In a clean barrel the packing is 
commenced. A layer of cabbage is closely laid by the aid of a heavy pounder, 
after which a handful of common salt is sprinkled upon it, and also a little 
water, to moisten the whole. This process is repeated until a sufficiency is 
secured ; when a board is laid upon the top and kept down by weights. The 
barrel is then put in the cellar. Fermentation causes a scum to rise upon 



164 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

I have before observed that witchcraft was believed in by some 
of the Schoharie people, many years ago. A man by the name 
of Rector once shot, with impunity, an old woman living on the 
bank of the Schoharie, opposite the present village of Esperance, 
said to have been bewitched. She was shot through a window 
of her own house. Cattle were sometimes killed for the same 
supposed malady and burned up. I have spoken of old Doctor 
Moulter, as a believer in witchcraft. He is said to have had re- 
peated battles with witches, and on one occasion to have encoun- 
tered seven at once, at a small brook, near the corner of the roads 
in the north part of Schoharie village, and retreated until he 
placed his back against the brick church, when he overpowered 
them. It is not unlikely he met a Mary Magdalene, as they still 
lurk at times about the same corners. One anecdote more of the 
old Doctor. He pretended he could drive rats from one house to 
another, and was often hired by the superstitious — by whom he 
was very liberally paid, to drive the rats from their dwellings to 
those of their neighbors with whom they were not on good terms. 
Moulter, at precisely such an hour of the night, woiild rap on the 
corners of the house — repeat a lingo of his own, and command 
every rat, dead or alive, to leave the house thus thumped, and go 
to such an one as he was hired to send them to. Possibly he 
threatened to bewitch them if they did not pack up and be off. 
The silly doctrine of witchcraft has fled the Schoharie valley, 
never more to enter it. 

The inhabitants of Schoharie suffered but little in the French 
war. A block fort was then erected on the west side of the road, 
nearly opposite the residence of the late Philip Dietz. It is said, 
however, to have been but little used and not even garrisoned. 
The Six Nations of Indians which embraced the Schoharie tribe, 
were English allies in the war, consequently the frontier settle- 
ments were not much exposed. A small number of hostile In- 
dians entered Schoharie once during this war. Jacob Folluck 

the board, which should be cleansed as often as the barrel is disturbed. Sour- 
crout is usually cooked with potage, and for persons who exercise, it is very 
nutritious. It is much used in long voyages at sea. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 165 

was the only person killed by them. Near the present residence 
of David Lawyer, on Foxes creek, the enemy were secreted by 
an oat-field, intending the capture of several persons expected 
there to cut oats. Mr. Folluck with his dog and gun had just left 
home to go hunting. Passing the Indians, his dog began to bark ; 
when the former, fearing discovery, shot the dog and his mas- 
ter, whom they scalped ; and then precipitately left Schoharie. 
Mr. Sternberg, returning from Beaver Dam, passed unmolested 
by his concealed foes, just before his neighbor was shot. They 
were desirous of taking several prisoners at once, and he, being 
alone, passed unmolested. Sternberg had lost part of his nose, 
which was observed by the Indians in ambush. After the war 
he was recognized by some of them in the Mohawk valley, by 
the deficiency of his nasal organ. He was asked if he did not 
remember passing by the oat-field on the morning his neighbor 
was killed, leading a cow by a rope ? He replied that he did. He 
was then assured that Folluck would not have been injured, but 
for his dog. 

At the beginning of the French war a treaty was held with the 
Indians near where Boyd's mill now stands, in the present town 
of Middleburgh. The meeting was very numerously attended. 
Queter, (Peter,) an Oquago chief, who it would seem was in the 
French interest, closed a speech as follows. Laying down an 
iron wedge upon a fallen tree, said he, alluding to their union 
with the French, " We are like that — strong and can not be brO' 
ken /" Mrs. Josiah Swart, who perfectly understood the Indian 
dialect, is said to have acted as interpreter on the occasion. 
When the symbol was explained, Mrs. S. emphatically address- 
ed Queter in his native tongue, and in behalf of the British 
interest as follows. Said she — taking a guinea from her pocket 
and laying it upon the wedge, " We are like that, which is equally 
strong and can outlive your symbol; for if both be buried in the 
ground the rust icill destroy yours, while ours will come out as 
strorig and as bright as ever .'" When the squaw's speech was in- 
terpreted — Indians call all women squaws — it was pronounced 
superior to any other delivered on the occasion. It is supposed 
12 



l#fi mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Sir William Johnson — under whom some of the white citizens 
and Indians of Schoharie served during this war, was present at 
this meeting, as there were chiefs assembled from several tribes. 
Abraham, a Schoharie chief, was among the speakers on the oc- 
casion. On the same ground, after the Canadas were conquered, 
a jubilee was held, at which time a barrel of rum was drank. A 
bonfire was also made by piling a large quantity of pine knots 
around a dry tree, the light of which, when " the evening shades 
prevailed," beautified the rich mountain scenery around. At this 
jolly festival. Judge Brown, from whom these facts were obtained, 
wrestled with a young Indian and threw him. He bellowed ter- 
ribly when he got up, and his mother hearing his cries, ran to the 
spot and struck Brown upon the head with a pine knot, which 
felled him to the ground and nearly extinguished life. 

Pleasure wagons were unknown in Schoharie in former times, 
and persons attending church, going to frolicks, or to visit distant 
friends, usually went on horse-back. Many a horse, to which 
had been fed a double allowance of wheat for the occasion, has 
borne not only his master to a dance, but at the same time a sub- 
stantial guest of the gentler sex. Riding on horse-back was a 
healthy exercise much indulged in by ladies formerly. The side- 
saddles upon which they rode, exhibit the pretty form of a large 
mud-turtle. 

When neighbors returned from social visits, they always car- 
ried home for the children, a liberal quantity of oli-cooks — small 
round cakes with raisins in the centre and fried in lard, and sweet 
cakes. 

The practice among the early Germans and Dutch, of sparking 
it without fuel or rush-light, has now become obsolete. 

That the Americans as a people have degenerated from their 
ancestors in point of stature, limitation of life, and ability to en- 
dure fatigue, would seem to be a fact generally admitted. Some 
of the causes it may be well to notice, as it is highly important 
as a nation, we should not only have vigorous understandings, 
hut strength of body to plan and execute any undertaking man 
may perform. One of the most obvious causes of declining 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 167 

strength, is the sedentary hie of an increasing number of our ci- 
tizens, added to the fact that far too httle exercise is taken in the 
open air. It is so ordered on our planet, that man shall acquire 
a living hy the sweat of his hroic* — and it is further ordained, that 
the labor implied in the mandate shall invigorate his bodily pow- 
ers. Another reason why we do not possess the constitutions of 
our ancestors, is, our luxurious mode of life when compared with 
theirs. We use more tea, coffee and sugar than they did, and our 
food is frequently seasoned to death. In fact, modern cookery is 
becoming a science, calculated to pamper the appetite of the in- 
dolent ; leaving the victim no other excuse than pastry for be- 
coming a gouty dyspeptic. Another palpable cause of pulmona- 
ry habits, is fashionable di-essijig. What tends much to weaken 
us, although perhaps not so considered, is the use of stoves instead 
of fire-places for warming rooms : and I may add to this another, 
in the general introduction of bolting-cloths into grist-mills, ^n- 
drew Loucks, who, at our interview, was in his ninety-seventh 
year, in answer to the question, " why were people of your day 
healthier than those born at a later period," replied — " We ate 
lighter food when I was a boy than at present, such as soups ; 
used a great deal of milk and but little tea and coffee : we some- 
times made chocolate by roasting wheat flour in a pot, though not 
often. But ah ! added the old man, " young people are now up 
late nights — to run about evenings is not good, but to take the 
morning air is good." 

1 should, perhaps, have remarked that the feeding of candy 
and sweat-meats to children, has tended more than most people 
imagine, to destroy the vigor of our race. There are, however, 
in spite of the evils of infant pupilage, causes beginning to oper- 
ate favorably, for the extension of human life, so that in the ag- 
gregate, it is estimated that the average limitation of man's exist- 
ence is now annually on the increase. Reasons obvious for this 
are, that science is augmenting its mastery of disease, while tem- 
perance is manifesting its benevolent operations in its preventicm. 

The first tea party in Schoharie county was given by one of the 
Vrooman families, in Vrooman's Land. Miss Loucks, a sister of 



168 HISTORY OF SCHOHAEIE COUNTY, 

my informant, was a guest. When the enlivcner was announced 
as ready, the party gathered about a round table, upon which 
stood not a morsel of any thing to eat, except a liberal lump of 
maple sugar, placed beside each cup. As the India beverage en- 
tered the cups from a kettle in which it had been boiled as one 
■would boil potatoes, great was the curiosity to loiow how it might 
taste ; but it was soon satisfied in most of the guests, who sipped 
and did nothing but sip, at a beverage that would have borne an 
egg. No milk was used in the tea at Vrooman's. Miss Loucks, 
who did not like sugar, ashamed to have the rest of the party 
think she had not used her's, slipped it into a side pocket and car- 
ried it home. The ancient Dutch custom always placed a lump 
of sugar beside each cup, and did not allow it to dissolve until it 
entered the mouth, when a frequent nibble sufficed. — Ji. Loucks. 
In doing the honors of a tea-table 25 years ago, the question — 
vrill you bite or stir ? — was asked each guest. 

Before tracing those events of the American Revolution, which 
the reader, in the course of this work, is to expect, I will insert 
for the benefit of the young, some of the leading causes which 
brought it about. 

Much had occurred during the colonizing of the several Ame- 
rican states, to estrange their affection and allegiance from the 
British Crown. Repeated attempts had been made to abrogate 
their charters — limit their manufactures, and circumscribe their 
commerce : while numerous measures were adopted to render them 
more servile, and less confident in their own capacity for govern- 
ment and self-protection. 

The war between Great Britain and France, called the French 
war, which lasted from 1755 to 1762, and ended so gloriously for 
Britain in the conquest of Canada and other French possessions 
in America, discovered to England the importance of her Ameri- 
can colonies. The Enghsh, at that period, knew but little of the 
true state of feeling existing in America, except that obtained 
through prejudiced sources : which remark is not wholly inappli- 
cable, even at the present day. The war to which I have alluded, 
created for Britain a heavy national debt. To liquidate this debt, 
the colonies were taxed, without having a voice in the councils 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 1 69 

of the mother country ; against which they firmly, and with great 
unanimity remonstrated. The British ministry, ignorant of the 
geography of the colonies, treated those popular remonstrances 
with a degree of indifference and contempt, that tended to lessen 
the confidence of the colonists in the English government. To the 
mad policy the British ministry pursued, there were in England 
some most honorable opposers. Among the foremost may he re- 
gistered the illustrious names of a Pitt, a Conway and a Barre. 
From the fact, that the colonists found some noble champions in 
England to assert their rights, they were the more united and un- 
tiring in their attempts to obtain redress. As the criminal, if re- 
strained even for an imaginary olfence, is the more closely confined 
and watched if he makes any attempt to regain his liberty, so it 
was with the colonies ; the more they remonstrated, the heavier 
the manacles that were wrought for them. It is not to be won- 
dered at, that a people taught from the cradle to appreciate liber- 
ty, should manfully assert and maintain it. 

A system of taxation was devised by the British ministry as 
early as 1754. The plan proposed that the colonies should erect 
fortifications, raise troops, &c.; with power to draw on the Bri- 
tish treasury to defray the expense of the same — the whole ulti- 
mately to he reimbursed by a tax from the mother country on the. 
colonies. This plan was objected to by the sagacious Franklin, 
who, in a written reply to Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, 
proved clearly that the Americans could never submit to a tax 
that would render them servile — that they were already taxed in- 
directly without having a voice, being compelled to pay heavy du- 
ties on the manufactures of the mother country ; although many 
of the articles might be manufactured on American soil, or pur- 
chased cheaper in some other foreign market. 

Dissatisfaction was for years gaining ground in the colonies; 
and as the intelligence of the people Increased, so that they could 
the better appreciate the value of liberty, the prejudices against 
the mother country were correspondingly augmented. Every 
new step the ministry took, having for its ultimate object to fix 
upon the Americans a system of taxation, was regarded with jeal- 



ifO HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ousy. They were aware that Great Britain had so fettered their 
foreign trade, as almost wholly to confine their commerce to her- 
self. 

The French war had swelled the national debt of England to 
nearly three Inindred and twenty millions of dollars. George 
Grenville, then prime minister of England, wishing to devise some 
means for raising a revenue to meet the increased expenses of the 
British government, which should not prove onerous at hornet pro- 
posed to raise a revenue in America to go into the exchequer of 
Great Britain. The first act for this object was passed in 1764. 
It imposed a duty on " clayed sugar, indigo, ^c," and would have 
been submitted to, had it not been closely followed by others still 
more oppressive. Governor Bernard, of Massachusetts, issued a 
pamphlet, doubtless from sinister motives, justifying the course of 
England. He recommended abolishing the colonial charters — a 
new division of the colonies — a nobility for life in each division — 
the whole to come under one general government, and that to be 
mider the control of the King, abolishing, at the same time, re- 
ligious freedom of opinion, etc. It may well be imagined what 
effect sentiments would produce in America, which were intended 
to demolish colonial rights. In March, of the same year, Mr. 
Grenville reported a resolution imposing certain stamj) deities on 
the colonies. It was not to be acted upon, however, until the 
next session of Parliament. Opportunity being thus afforded the 
colonies, nearly all expressed in the interim, their disapprobation. 
In strong terms the House of Burgesses, of Virginia, signified their 
sense of the measure. They addressed lucid and sensible remon- 
strances to the King and both houses of Parliament. In those, 
they exhibited the want of a precedent to such a proceeding — the 
subversion of their rights as subjects of Great Britain — the ex- 
hausted state of their finances by the late war, which left that 
colony involved in a debt, to cancel which must impose for years 
to come a tax on her citizens — the general depression of business — 
their present exposed state, as the Indians on the frontier were 
unsubdued, and might increase their colonial debt, &c. The ad- 
dresses throughout, breathed a tone of humble firmness. Those 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 171 

memorials were not even allowed to he read in the House of Com- 
mons. Doctor Franklin, who was then in England, waited upon 
Mr. Grenville in person, to persuade him to abandon a measure, 
he well knew must excite the whole continent. Grenville perse- 
vered, and in March, 1765, the obnoxious bill was brought into 
the House of Commons. General Conway was the only member 
who openly contended against the right of Parliament to enact 
such a law. Charles Townsend, an advocate for the bill, closed 
a long and rather eloquent speech as follows : 

" And now will those Americans, children ^planted hy our care, 
nourished by oicr indulgence, till they are grown to a degree of 
strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge 
to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that 
burden which we lie under?" 

Colonel Barre, one of the most respectable members of the 
House of Commons, with strong feelings of indignation in his 
countenance and expression, replied to Mr. Townsend in the fol- 
lowing eloquent and laconic manner : 

" They planted by your care? — No. Your oppressions plant- 
ed them in America. They fled from your tyranny into a then 
uncultivated land, where they were exposed to all the hardships 
to which human nature is liable ; and among others, to the cruel- 
ties of a savage foe, the most subtle, and, 1 will take upon me to 
say, the most terrible, that ever inhabited any part of God's earth. 
And j^et, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met 
all these hardships with pleasure, when they compared them with 
those they suffered in their own country, from men who should 
have been their friends. 

" They nourished by your indulgence ? — They grew up by 
your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about them, 
that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them in one de- 
partment and in another, Avho were perhaps the deputies of depic- 
ties to some members of this House, sent to spy out their liberties, 
to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them. — Men whose 
behavior on many occasions, has caused the blood of those sons of 
liberty to recoil within them. — Men promoted to the highest seats 
of justice, some of whom to my knowledge were glad, by going 
to a foreign country, to escape being brought to the bar of a court 
of justice in their own. 

" They protected by your arms ? — They have nobly taken up 
arms in your defence. They have exerted a valor amidst their 
constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a countr}' whose 



172 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

frontier was drenched in blood, while its interior parts yielded all 
its little savings to your emolument. And believe — remember I 
this day tell you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated 
that people at first, will accompany them still: but prudence for- 
bids me to explain myself further. God knows I do not at this 
time speak from any motives of party heat ; what I deliver are 
the genuine sentiments of my heart. However superior to me in 
general knowledge and experience the respectable body of this 
House may be, yet I claim to know more of Americans than most 
of you, having seen and been conversant in that country. The 
people, I believe, are as truly loyal as any subjects the King has, 
but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them, 
if ever they should be violated: but the subject is too delicate — I 
will say no more." 

The bill was passed by the Commons, and met with no oppo- 
sition at all in the House of Lords. On the twenty-second of the 
same month, 1765, it received the royal assent. Soon after the 
passage of the bill. Doctor Franklin, in a letter to Mr. Charles 
Thompson, afterwards secretary to Congress, thus writes : " The 
sun of liberty is set ; you must light up the candles of industry 
and economy." Said Mr. Thompson, in his reply to Franklin, — 
" Be assured that we shall light up torches of quite another sort." 
To Mr. Ingersoll, who left London about the time the bill passed, 
Doctor Franklin said : " Go home and tell your people to get 
children [for soldiers] as fast as they can." The act, which was 
not to take effect until the following November, provided, that all 
contracts should be written on stamped paper, or have no force in 
law. As a matter of course, the paper was to be furnished at 
extravagant prices. As it was foreseen that unusual measures 
would be required to enforce a law, which, from its very nature, 
must meet with resistance, provision was made that all penalties 
for its violation might be recovered in the admiralty courts, which 
received their appointment from the crown. This was intended 
to obviate the process of trial hj jury, as it was supposed no co- 
lonial jury would aid in enforcing a law so obnoxious. The news 
of its fmal passage was received in the colonies with sorrowing 
of heart. Almost every thing was done by the people that could 
be, to manifest their abhorence of the stamp act. The shipping 
in the harbor at Boston displayed colors at half mastj church- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 173 

bells were mulllcd and tolled, and societies in most of the colonies 
were formed to resist the execution of the law. Masters of ves- 
sels who brought the stamps, were treated with indignity, and 
compelled to deliver up the stamps to the populace, who made 
bonfires of them and the law. Effigies of Andrew Oliver, who 
had been appointed stamp-distributer for the colony of Massachu- 
setts, and the British minister, lord North, (who had succeeded 
Mr. Grenville,) and some of his advisers, were made, and in so- 
lemn mockery, pubhcly burned. Justices of the peace refused to 
interpose their authority to enforce the law. Stamp officers were 
compelled to yield to the popular will, and agree never to deliver 
a stamp. And what was most alarming to Great Britain, many 
of the merchants entered into solemn engagements to import no 
more goods from the mother country, until the act was repealed. 
In the month of May following the passage of the act, five 
spirited resolutions against the law were introduced into the le- 
gislature of Virginia, by Patrick Henry, and after a very warm 
debate, were adopted. The fifth resolution read as follows : 

" Resolved therefore, That the General Assembly of this colony 
have the sole riglit and power to lay taxes and impositions upon 
the inhabitants of this colony ; and that every attempt to vest such 
power in any person or persons whatever, other than the General 
Assembly aforesaid, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as 
well as American freedom." [Neaa'ly at the same time the As- 
sembly of Massachusetts adopted similar resolves.] 

In the city of New York the stamp-act was printed, under the 
title of " The folly of England, and the ruin of America," and 
thus hawked about the streets. When it became known that co- 
lonial assemblies were evincing hostility to the law, the timid be- 
came more bold and the tendency to mobocracy could not be re- 
strained. In many parts of Connecticut and Rhode-Island, mobs 
to oppose the law were collected, while in Boston the populace 
wantonly destroyed the buildings and property of the stamp offi- 
cers. In June the Legislature of Massachusetts proposed the ex- 
pediency of calling a Continental Congress, to meet in New York 
the following October. Nine of the colonies sent delegates. The 
esult of their deliberations was, a declaration of rights, in which 



174 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

they claimed the exclusive right to tax themselves, and the privi- 
lege of trial by jury, a memorial to the House of Lords, and a pe- 
tition to the King, and Commons. Colonies prevented by the pro- 
roguing power of their governors from sending delegates to the 
convention, expressed their earliest possible approbation of the 
proceedings. On the first day of November, when the stamp-act 
was to take effect, sadness was manifest in all the colonies. In 
Boston the workshops and stores were closed, and while the bells 
tolled as for a funeral, effigies of the friends of the act, were 
marched in solemn procession through the streets, to a gallows 
on Boston neck, where, after the hang-man had done his duty, 
they were cut down and destroyed. At Portsmouth, public no- 
tice was given to the friends of liberty to attend her funeral — a 
coffin was prepared, upon which was inscribed in large letters the 
word Liberty. This was followed by a numerous procession, 
while the bells were tolling and minute guns were firing, to the 
grave. There an oration was pronounced, in which it was hinted, 
that the deceased might possibly revive. The coffin was then dis- 
interred, the word Revived conspicuously added to the inscription, 
after which the bells rang a merry peal. Printers boldly printed 
and circulated their papers, without the required stamp. Asso- 
ciations were formed from Maine to the Mississippi, entitled the 
" Sons of Liberty," composed of the talent and wealth of the 
people ; pledging their fortunes and their lives to defend the 
liberty of the press, and put down the stamp-act. The scheme 
of continental alliance, which afterwards followed, sprang from 
these associations. Nor were the males alone patriotic — females 
of the highest rank, and bred to luxurious ease, became members 
in all the colonies, of societies, resolving to forego luxuries, and 
to card, spin, and weave their own clothing. Fair reader ! a suit 
of home-spun, was then a mark of popular distinction. Such was 
the spirit of opposition, to a favorite measure of the British minis- 
try. Parliament again convened in January, 1766 ; when a mul- 
titude of petitions, from all parts of England and America, were 
presented for the repeal of the stamp-act. Some changes had 
taken place in the English Cabinet, more favorable to the colonial 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 175 

cause, but Mr. Grenville still retained a place in it. After the 
speech of the King had been read, Mr. Pitt, the great champion 
of equal rights, occupied the floor. He briefly censured the acts 
of the late ministry, after which he thus expressed himself. 

" It is a long time, Mr. Speaker, since I have attended in Par- 
liament : when the resolution was taken in this House to tax Ame- 
rica, I was ill in bed. If I could have endured to have been car- 
ried in my bed, so great was the agitation of my mind for the con- 
sequences, I would have solicited some kind hand to have laid me 
down on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it. It is 
my opinion, that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colo- 
nies. At the same time, I assert the authority of this kingdom to 
be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of government 
and legislation whatsoever. Taxation is no part of the governing 
or legislative power ; the taxes are a voluntary gift and grant of 
the Commons alone. The concurrence of the Peers and the 
CroAvn is necessary only as a for?n of law. This House represents 
the commons of Great IBritain. When in this House we give and 
grant, therefore, we give and grant what is our own, but can we 
give and grant the property of the Commons of America ? It is an 
absurdity in terms. There is an idea in some, that the colonies 
are virtually represented in this House. I would fain know by 
whom ? The idea of virtual represe7itatio7i is the most contemptible 
that ever entered into the head of man : — It does not deserve a se- 
rious refutation. The commons in America, represented in their 
several Assemblies, have invariably exercised this constitutional 
right of giving and granting their own money ; they would have 
been slaves if they had not enjoyed it. At the same time this 
kingdom has ever professed the power of legislation and commer- 
cial control. The colonies acknowledge your authority in all 
things, with the sole exception that you shall not take their money 
out of their pockets without their consent. Here would I draw the 
line — quam ultra citraque 7ieqmt consistere rectum'''' — [right forbids 
you to go beyond or fall short of it.] 

Mr. Grenville, the prime mover of all the mischief, arose to de- 
fend his measures. He compared the tumults in America to an 
open rebellion — said he feared the doctrine that day promulgated 
would lead to revolution. He justified the right of taxing the 
colonies, &c. Said he — 

" Protection and obedience are reciprocal. Great Britain pro- 
tects America, America is therefore bound to yield obedience. If 
not, tell me, when were the Americans emancipated ? The sedi- 
tious spirit of the colonies, oives its birth to the factions in this 
House. We were told we trod on tender ground ; we were bid to 



176 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

expect disobedience ; what is this but telling America to stand out 
against the law ? To encourage their obstinacy Avith the expecta- 
tion of support here ? Ungrateful people of America ! The nation 
has run itself into an immense debt to give them protection ; 
bounties have been extended to them ; in their favor the act of 
navigation has been relaxed: and now that thev are called upon 
to contribute a small share towards the public expense, they re- 
nounce your authority, insult your officers, and break out, I might 
almost say, into open rebellion." 

Mr. Grenville took his seat, and Mr. Pitt, with permission of 
the House, rose, with indignation visible in his countenance, to 
reply. 

" Sir," [addressing the Speaker,] " a charge is brought against 
gentlemen sitting in this House, for giving birth to sedition in 
America. The freedom with which they have spoken their senti- 
ments against this zmhappy act, is imputed to them as a crime ; 
but the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty which 
I hope no gentleman will be afraid to exercise ; it is a liberty by 
which the gentleman who calumniates it, might have profited. 
He ought to have desisted from his project. We are told America 
is obstinate — America is almost in open rebellion . Sir, / rejoice 
that America has resisted. _ Three millions of people so dead to all 
the feelings of libert}', as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would 
have been fit instruments to have made slaves of all the rest." 
[After a very happy reply to some old law passages cited by Mr. 
Grenville ; he thus continued] — " 'When,' said the honorable gen- 
tleman, ' were the colonies emancipated V At what time, say I in 
answer, were they made slaves ? I speak from accurate know- 
ledge when I say, that the profits to Great Britain from the trade 
of the colonies, through all its branches, is tAvo millions per an- 
num. This is the fund AA'hich carried you triumphantly through 
the war ; this is the price America pays you for her protection ; 
and shall a miserable financier come Avith a boast that he can fetch 
a pepper-corn into the exchequer, at the loss of millions to the na- 
tion ? I knoAV the valor of your troops — I knoAv the skill of your 
officers — I knoAv the force of this country ; but in such a cause your 
success Avould be hazardous. America if she fell, Avould fall like 
the strong man : she icould embrace the pillars of the State and 
pull doion the Constitutimi with her. Is this your boasted peace ? 
Not to sheathe the sAvord in the scabbard, but to sheathe it in the 
boAvels of your countrymen ? The Americans haA^e been Avronged ; 
they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish 
them for the madness you have occasioned ? No : let this country 
be the first to resume its prudence and temper ; I Avill pledge 
myself for the colonies, that on their part animosity and resent- 
ment will cease. The system of policy I would earnestly adopt in 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 177 

relation to America, is happily expressed in the words of a favo- 
rite poet : 

'•■ Be to her faults a little blind, 

Be to her virtues very kind, 

Let a!l her ways be unconfined 

And clap your padlock on her mind." 

Upon the whole I heg leave to tell the House, in a few words, 
what is really my opinion. It is that the stamp-act he repealed, 

ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY. 

In addition to the information contained in the numerous peti- 
tions laid before Parliament, Doct. Franklin was called to the bar, 
and questioned freely as to the real state of feeling existing in the 
colonies towards the act. By a division of the House a large 
majority were in favor of not enforcing ; and shortly after a bill 
passed for repealing the law. The news of its repeal produced 
joy throughout England and America. Illuminations and deco- 
rations took place in the former, while in the latter country, public 
thanksgivings were offered in the churches — non-importation re- 
solutions rescinded, and the home-spun apparel given to the poor. 
The difficulty between the two countries would soon have been 
healed, had not the repeal of the stamp- act been followed with 
the " Declaratory Ad,^' which was, " that Parliament have, and 
of right ought to have, power to hind the colonies in all cases 
whatsoever.''^ In this the vight to tax was still maintained : in 
addition to this probe to open the wound anew, a law remained 
unrepealed, which directed that whenever troops should be march- 
ed into any of the colonies, necessary articles should be provided 
for them at the expense of the colony. The Assembly of New 
York refused obedience to this law, and Parliament, to punish 
that body, suspended its authority. The alarm occasioned by this 
act, considered by the people despotic, had not time to die away, 
before a new and aggravated cause of grievance was added, by 
the passage of a law imposing duties on the importation of glass, 
tea, and other enumerated articles, into the colonies, provision by 
the act being made for the appointment of commissioners of the 
customs, to be dependent solely on the Crown. About the same 
time Gov. Bernard of Massachusetts who had received private in- 



|.9'P HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

structions to see that the colony made provision to remunerate the 
losses of those who had honored the stamp-act, Leing already very 
unpopular with the people, assumed, in his message to the As- 
sembly, a tone of haughty reproach. This message produced a 
sarcastic and indignant reply. From this time the friends of 
liberty daily increased, and the court party correspondingly de- 
clined. The joy felt in the colonies for the repeal of the stamp- 
act, was of very short duration. The non-importation agreements 
were revived — looms and cards once more set to work — the spin- 
ning-wheel, the piano of the times, was heard buzzing in the 
dwellings of the rich — articles of domestic manufacture became 
again, with patriots, the fashion of the day — petitions and re- 
monstrances were drawn up and circulated — and India tea, yield- 
ed its place on the tables of its fond drinkers, to a decoction of 
sassafras, sage, or a glass of cold water. 

In 1768, troops were stationed in New York and Boston, to 
awe the people into submission to the acts of Parliament. Early 
in the same year, Massachusetts addressed a circular letter to the 
legislatures of the sister colonies, to have them unite in advising 
what course it was best to pursue. A series of essays, published 
in a Philadelphia newspaper at this period, entitled, "Letters 
from a farmer in Pennsylvania to the inhabitants of the British 
Colonies," from the pen of that enlightened patriot, John Dick'- 
inson, Esq., augmented the spirit of union. In 1769, resolutions 
were adopted in Parliament reprobating in strong terms the con- 
duct of the people of Massachusetts, and directing that pliant tool 
of oppression. Governor Bernard, to make strict inquiry into all 
treasonable acts committed in that province since 1767, that per- 
sons thus guilty might have their offences investigated, and their 
fate decided upon within the realm of Great Britain. 

The House of Burgesses of Virginia, which met shortly after, 
adopted, with closed doors, from fear of being prorogued by the 
Governor, resolutions expressive of their sense of the injustice 
and unconstitutionality of transporting criminals for trial among 
strangers, believing it to be highly derogatory to the rights of 
British subjects. Soon after this public manifestation of popular 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 179 

displeasure, the general court of Massachusetts convened at Cam- 
bridge, the public buildings in Boston being filled at that time 
with Briti^ soldiers. Governor Bernard wished them to provide 
funds to defray the expenses of quartering his Majesty's troops — 
no notice, however, was taken of the request : and he shortly af- 
ter left the province — unhonored and unlaraented. He had for 
some time been a pliant tool for the British ministry, and his sys- 
tem of espionage had won for him the curses of the Union, which 
was then forming. Had the colonies been governed by men who 
were more willing to redress known grievances, and less anxious 
to please a ministry three thousand miles distant, it is possible the 
separation of the colonies from the mother country might have 
been delayed, if not prevented. Governor Trumbull of Connec- 
ticut, it should be observed, was an exception to ihe general rule. 

Nothing occurred in 1769, to avert the impending storm. The 
mass of the people, in the mean time, were properly investigating 
the causes which were agitating the country, and which were fast 
approaching a crisis. Non-importation agreements were now as- 
suming a form, and producing an effect which told on the mother 
country. In June of that year, delegates from the several coun- 
ties in Maryland met at Annapolis and adopted spirited resolves : 
in one of which they took measures to secure to the country the 
article of wool, by agreeing not to kill any ewe lambs. 

The troops quartered hi New York and Boston were a constant 
source of irritation and difficulty with the inhabitants. On the 
second day of March, 1770, a quarrel took place at Boston, be- 
tween a British soldier and a man employed at a rope-walk. This 
quarrel was renewed by the citizens on the evening of the fifth, 
when a part of Captain Preston's company, after having been 
pelted with snow-balls, derided, and dared to, fired upon the mul- 
titude, kilUng three and wounding five others. The ringing of 
bells, the beating of drums and the shout to arms / by the peo- 
ple, soon brought together thousands of citizens. A body of 
troops, sent in the mean time to rescue Preston's men, would 
doubtless have been massacred, had not Governor Hutchinson and 
some of the leading citizens, among whom was Samuel Adams, 



ISO HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

interfered. The Governor promised that the matter should be 
amicably adjusted in the morning ; and the mob dispersed. The 
anniversary of this first martyrdom in the cause of American lib- 
erty, was celebrated by the Bostonians until the close of the war. 
The immortal Warren delivered two of the anniversary orations. 
In the first, which he delivered in 1772, on alluding to the events 
of that memorable evening, he thus speaks : 

" When Ave beheld the authors of our distress parading in our 
streets, or drawn up in a regular battalia, as though in a hostile 
city, our hearts beat to arms ; we snatched our weapons, almost 
resolved, by one decisive stroke, to avenge the death of our slaugh- 
tered brethren, and to secure from future danger, all that we held 
most dear : but propitious heaven forbade the bloody carnage, and 
saved the threatened victims of our too keen resentment, not by 
their discipline, not by their regular array, — no, it was royal 
George's livery that proved their shield — it was that which turned 
the pointed engines of destruction from their breasts." [In a note 
of reference to the forgoing extract, he thus adds :] " I have the 
strongest reason to believe that I have mentioned the only circum- 
stance which saved the troops from destruction. It was then and 
now is the opinion of those who were best acquainted with the 
state of affairs at that time, that had thrice that number of troops, 
belonging to any power at open war with us, been in this toAvn, in 
the same exposed condition, scarce a man would have lived to 
have seen the morning light." 

Three days after the massacre, the obsequies were solemnized. 
Every demonstration of respect was manifested. The stores and 
work-shops were closed — the bells of Boston, Charlestown and 
Roxbury were tolled, and thousands followed the remains to their 
final resting place. The bodies were all deposited in one vault. 
This unhappy event and its annual observance, tended greatly to 
widen the breach between the colony of Massachusetts and the 
mother country. In New York, quarrels also arose between the 
citizens and soldiers. Liberty poles, erected by the former, were 
cut down by the latter. 

While such events were transpiring, an attempt was made in 
England to repeal the laws for raising a revenue in America. The 
duties were removed from all articles except tea, it being thought 
necessary by Parliament, to have at least one loaf constantly in 
the oven of discord. The repeal of a part of the obnoxious law 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 181 

produced little effect in the colonies, except to modify the non- 
importation agreements so as to exclude only tea from the coun- 
try ; and those patriots who had not before substituted, instead of 
tea, a cold water or herbaceous beverage, did now. 



J3 



( 182 ) 



CHAPTER VI. 



The reader will perceive that the Revolution had, for several 
years, been progressively taking place : he is now approaching 
that period, when, by the clashing of steel, it was to be main- 
tained. 

In 1772, his Majesty's revenue cutter Gaspee, while giving 
chase to the Providence, a packet sailing into Newport, and sus- 
pected of dealing in contraband wares, ran aground in Providence 
river, and was burned by the merchants and citizens in the 
vicinity. This was a bold act, and the sum of Jive hundred 
pounds was offered for the discovery of the offenders, and full par- 
don to any one who would become state's evidence : but in this 
case, as in that of Andre's capture, gold had no influence. 

In 1773, provinces not exposed to the acts of a lawless soldiery, 
were fast breathing the same spirit manifested by those which 
were : propitious gales wafted it to the remotest parts. The ta- 
lented Patrick Henry, who made human nature and human events 
his study, prophesied, during this year, that the colonies would 
become independent. Virginia, in March of 1773, again took the 
lead in legislative resolves, against tyrannic oppression. The le- 
gislatures of New England and Maryland responded cordially to 
them. Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts, who succeeded 
Mr. Bernard, by a system of espionage similar to that carried on 
by the latter, became to the people of that commonwealth very 
odious. During this year, standing committees were appointed 
in the colonial assemblies, to correspond with each other. At this 
period, town committees had been formed in almost every town in 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 183 

some of the colonies, which liad for their chief object, the speedy 
communication of important information, there being then but few 
printing presses in the country. Some time in this year, Doctor 
Frankhn obtained in London several original letters, written by 
governor Hutchinson and others at Boston, to members of the 
British Parliament ; stating that the opposition to the laws, were, 
in Massachusetts, confined to a few factious individuals : recom- 
mending at the same time, the abridging of colonial rights, and 
the adoption of more vigorous measures. These letters were 
transmitted to America, and their contents being soon known in 
every hamlet in New England, the popular indignation was great- 
ly increased. The legislature of Massachusetts, in an address to 
his Majesty, demanded the recall of the governor and lieut. gov- 
ernor. This legislative proceeding was the cause of much oppro- 
brium being cast upon Franklin in England. 

Owing to the rigid observance of the non-importation resolves, 
the East India company now found their tea accumulating in vast 
quantities in their ware-houses. They were therefore under the 
necessity of petitioning Parliament for relief. Permission was 
granted them to import it on their own account : and they accord- 
ingly appointed consignees in several American sea- ports, and 
made heavy shipments to them. They intended, no doubt, to 
land it free of duty to the American merchant, but the law im- 
posing the duty yet remained on the statute book of England ; 
and the popular voice decided, that while the right to tax was 
maintained, the tea should not be landed. In Philadelphia, the 
consignees declined their appointment. In New York, hand-bills 
were circulated, threatening with ruin those who should vend tea; 
and warning pilots, at their peril, not to conduct ships into that 
port laden with the article. In Boston, inflammatory handbills 
were also circulated, but the consignees, being in favor with the 
governor, accepted their appointments. This excited the whole 
colony of Massachusetts, and enraged the citizens. In the mean 
time, several ships, containing thousands of chests, arrived on the 
coast. So determined were the people not to allow the tea to be 
landed, that ship after ship was compelled to return to England, 



184 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

without unlading a single chest. Philadelphia took the lead, and 
was nobly sustained by New York. In Charleston, it w-as landed 
but not permitted to be sold. On the twenty- ninth of November, 
the Dartmouth, an East India ship, laden with tea, entered the 
harbor of Boston. At a numerous meeting of the citizens, held 
to consult on the course to be pursued, it was resolved, " that the 
tea should not be landed, that no duty should be paid, and that it 
should be sent back in the same vessel." To enforce the resolu- 
tions, a vigilant watch was organized to prevent its being secret- 
ly landed. The captain was notified to return with his cargo ; 
but Governor Hutchinson refused to sanction his return. In the 
mean time, other vessels, laden with tea, arrived there. On the 
sixteenth December, the citizens of Boston and vicinity assembled 
to determine what course to adopt. On the evening of that day, 
when it was known that the governor refused a pass for the ves- 
sels to return, a person in an Indian's dress gave the war whoop in 
the gallery of the Assembly room. At this signal, the people 
hurried to the w^harves ; when a party of about twenty men, dis- 
guised as Mohawks, protected by thousands of citizens on shore, 
boarded the vessels, broke open and emptied the contents oi three 
hundred and forty-two chests of tea into the ocean, without tu- 
mult or personal injury. What a tea party the fishes and sea- 
serpent must have had that night. 

These violent proceedings greatly excited the displeasure of the 
British government. Early in 1774, an act was passed in Par- 
liament, levying a fine on the town of Boston, as a compensation 
to the East India company for the tea destroyed the preceding De- 
cember. About the same time, an act closing the port of Boston, 
and removing the custom house to Salem : and another depriving 
the colony of Massachusetts of her constitution and charter, were 
passed : and to cap the climax of oppression, a bill was introduced 
making provision for the trial in England, instead of that colony 
for capital offence ; which passed the same year. A few indivi- 
duals strenuously opposed those measures, believing that the colo- 
nists would be driven to acts of desperation ; but they were passed 
by large majorities. When the bill for blockading the town of 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK, 185 

Boston was under discussion in March of this year, Gov. John- 
ston, who opposed the measure, said in a speech on that occasion, 
" I now venture to predict to this house, that the effect of the pre- 
sent bill must be productive of a general confederacy, to resist 
the power of this country." Gen. Conway was again found the 
champion of equal rights, and when the bill was under discussion 
to destroy the chartered privileges of the colony, he closed a brief 
but pertinent speech with the following sentence : " These acts 
respecting America, will involve this country and its ministers in 
misfortunes, and, I wish I may not add, in ruin." It has often 
been asserted that the M'hole bench of Bishops in England, who 
are legally constituted members of Parliament, were in favor of 
forcing the colonies to submit to the unwise acts of the mother 
country. As there was one most honorable exception, I take 
pleasure in making it more generally known. The Rev. Dr. Jona- 
than Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, was the nobleman to whom I 
allude. When the bill for altering the charter of the colony of 
Massachusetts was under discussion, he prepared a speech replete 
with wisdom, and containing the most convincing proofs, that the 
British government were in the wrong and were pursuing a course 
illy calculated to bring the colonies again to prove profitable to 
England. He showed the evil of making the governors depend- 
ent on the crown, instead of the governed, for support. Said he : 

Your ears have been open to the governors and shut to the peo- 
ple. This must necessarily lead us to countenance the jobs of in- 
terested men, under the pretence of defending the rights of the 
crown. But the people are certainly the best judges whether 
they are well governed ; and the crown can have no rights incon- 
sistent with the happiness of the people." [Speaking of the act 
of taxation, he said:] " If it Avas unjust to tax them, [the Ameri- 
cans] we ought to repeal it for their sakes ; if it was unwise to 
tax them, we ought to repeal it for our own." [He exhibited the 
fact that the whole revenue raised in America in 1772, amounted 
only to eighty-five pounds.] " Money that is earned so dearly as 
this [said he] ought to be expended with great wisdom and econo- 
my. My lords, were you to take up but one thousand pounds more 
from North America iipon the same terms, the nation itself woidd 
be a bankrupt." [He added, in another place:] "It is a strange 
idea we have taken up, to cure their resentments, by increasing 
their provocations, to remove the effects of our own ill conduct, by 



186 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

multiplying the instances of it. But the spirit of blindness and 
infatuation has gone forth. * * Recollect that the Americans 
are men of like passions with ourselves, and think how deeply 
this treatment must affect them." 

The able and argumentive speech of the learned Bishop, which 
was not delivered in the House for want of an opportunity, was 
published soon after, but, as he had anticipated, " not a word of 
it was regarded." While the declaratory bill of the sovereignty of 
Great Britain over the colonies was under discussion, in March, 
Mr. Pitt, then lord Chatham, again opposed the principle of taxa- 
tion without representation, and closed an animated speech as fol- 
lows : 

" The forefathers of the Americans did not leave their native 
country, and subject themselves to every danger and distress, to 
be reduced to a state of slavery : they did not give up their rights ; 
they looked for protection, and not for chains, from their mother 
country ; by her they expected to be defended in the possession of 
their property, and not to be deprived of it ; for should the pre- 
sent power continue, there is nothing they can call their own; 
or, to use the words of Mr. Locke, ' what property have they in that 
which another may by right take, when he pleases, to himself?' " 

The news in the colonies of the passage of the unjust laws 
above mentioned, carried with it gloom and terror. The better 
informed saw the approaching contest, yet firmly resolved to live 
or die freemen. From the north to the south the same spirit was 
manifested, and the kindest sympathy felt for the Bostonians, who 
were considered as suffering in the cause of liberty. The first day 
of June, when the Boston iwrt-bill began to operate, was observed 
in most of the colonies as a day of fasting and prayer. 

Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was recalled early in 
1774, and General Gage appointed his successor ; but the inter- 
ests of the people found no material benefit from this change of 
rulers. On the 17th of June, the general com-t of Massachusetts, 
at the suggestion of a committee in Virginia, recoirmended the 
calling of a Congress at Philadelphia, on the first Monday of the 
following September. At a numerous meeting of the inhabitants 
of the city of New York, convened in an open field on the sixth 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 187 

of July, with Alexander McDougal in the chair, a series of spirit- 
ed resolutions were adopted, among which was the following : 

" Resolved, That any attack or attempt to abridge' the liberties, 
or invade the constitution of any of our sister colonies, is imme- 
diately an attack upon the liberties and constitution of all the oth- 
er British colonics." 

About this time, the motto, " United we stand, divided we fall P^ 
originated in Hanover, Virginia ; while almost at the same in- 
stant the motto, " Join or die .'" had its origin in Rhode Island. 
On the first day of September, the following circumstance gave a 
new impulse to the spirit of independence in the colony of Massa- 
clmsetts. Gov. Gage had ordered a military force to take posses- 
sion of the powder in the provincial arsenal at Charlestown, near 
Boston. It was rumored abroad, that the British fleet in the har- 
bor were bombarding the town, and thirty thousand men, in less 
than two days, mostly armed, were on their way to Boston. An- 
other circumstance took place in that city, about the same tune, 
which added oil to the lamp of liberty. Gov. Gage deprived 
John Hancock of his commission as colonel of cadets; a volun- 
teer body of governor's guards. The company took offence at 
the act, and instantly disbanded themselves. The late governors, 
Bernard and Hutchinson, repeatedly represented to the British 
ministry, that the colonies could never form a union. They had 
hoped as much, and taken no little pains to prevent such an event ; 
but when the fifth of September arrived, delegates from twelve of 
the thirteen colonies met in convention, Georgia alone excepted : 
she soon after joined the confederacy. Peyton Randolph, of Vir- 
ginia, was chosen president, and Charles Thompson, of Pennsyl- 
vania, secretary of this body. Patrick Henry was the first to ad- 
dress the meeting. While in session, this Congress passed reso- 
lutions, approving the course of the citizens of Boston — opposing 
the acts of Parliament — advising union, peaceable conduct, etc. 
They remonstrated with General Gage against fortifying Boston 
Neck — recommended a future course to be pursued by the colo- 
nies — setting forth clearly the present evils, their causes and re- 
medies. They advised economy and frugality — the abstaining 



188 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

from all kinds of intemperance, festivities, and the like — requir- 
ing committees to report all the enemies of American liberty, 
that their names might be published. They also addressed a pe- 
tition to the king — a memorial to the citizens of England — an 
address to the people of the colonies — and another to the French 
inhabitants of Quebec, Georgia, Nova Scotia, and other British 
provinces not represented. In their petition to the king, they 
simply asked to be restored to their situation in the peace of 1763, 
in humble, strong and respectful terms. They urged the colonies 
" to be prepared for every contingency." They invited the co- 
operation of the British colonies not represented in that congress, 
in their resistance to oppression ; and adjourned on the twenty- 
sixth of October, after a session of ffty-two days, to meet again 
on the tenth of the following May. Says Mr. Allan, author of 
the American Revolution : 

" That an assembly of fifty-two men, born and educated in the 
wilds of a new world, unpractised in the arts of polity, most of them 
unexperienced in the arduous duties of legislation, coming from 
distant colonies and distant governments, differing in religion, 
manners, customs and habits, as they did in their views with re- 
gard to the nature of their connexion Avith Great Britain — that 
such an assembly, so constituted, should display so much wisdom, 
sagacity, foresight and knowledge of the world, such skill in ar- 
gument, such force of reasoning, such firmness and soundness of 
judgment, so profound an acquaintance with the rights of man, 
such elevation of sentiment, such genuine patriotism, and above 
all, such unexampled union of opinion — was indeed a political 
phenomenon, to which history has yet furnished no parallel." 

The resolves of Congress were strictly observed, by all the thir- 
teen colonies, a system of commercial non-intercourse Avith the 
mother country was maintained, and the militia were drilled and 
preparations made for any emergency. In December following, 
Maryland alone resolved to raise jC 10,000, for the purchase of 
arms and ammunition for her defence. In January, 1775, colo- 
nial difficulties were the cause of warm discussions, in both Houses 
of the mother government. On a motion for an address to his 
Majesty, to give immediate orders for removing his troops from 
Boston, Lord Chatham delivered a powerful speech. He asserted 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 189 

that the measures of the preceding year, which had placed their 
American affairs in so alarming a state, were founded upon mis- 
representation — that instead of its being only a faction in Boston, 
as they had been told, who were opposed to their unlawful go- 
vernment, it was, in truth, the whole continent. Said he, 

"When I urge this measure for recalling the troops from Bos- 
ton, I urge it on this pressing principle — that it is necessarily pre- 
paratory to the restoration of your prosperity." [He termed the 
troops under General Gage,] " an army of impotence — and irrita- 
tion — I do not mean to censure the inactivity of the troops. It is 
a prudent and necessary inaction. But it is a miserable condition, 
where disgrace is prudence ; and wliere it is necessarj' to be con- 
temptible. Woe be to him who slicds the first, the unexpiable 
drop of blood in an impious war, with a people contending in the 
great cause of public liberty. I will tell you plainly, my lords, no 
son of mine, nor any one over whom I have influence, shall ever 
draw his sword upon his fellow subjects." [He stated, that from 
authentic information he knew that the whole continent was unit- 
ing, and not commercial factions, as had been asserted. Speaking 
of the principles which united the Americans, he said,] — " 'Tis 
liberty to liberty engaged, that they will defend themselves, their 
families and their countr}'. In this great cause they are immova- 
bly allied. It is the alliance of God arid nature — immutable, eter- 
nal, fixed as the firmament of Heaven. When your lordships 
look at the papers transmitted us from America, when you consi- 
der their decency, firmness and wisdom, you can not but respect 
their cause and wish to make it your own — for myself I must de- 
clare and avow that, in all my reading and observation, and it has 
been my favorite study — I have read Thucidydes, and have stu- 
died and admired the master states of the world — that for solidity 
and reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under 
such a complication of different circumstances, no nation or body 
of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Phila- 
delphia. I trust it is obvious to your lordships, that all attempts to 
impose servitude on such men, to establish despotism over such a 
mighty continental nation — must be vain — must be futile. To 
conclude, my lords, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvising 
and misleading the King, I will not say that they can alienate his 
subjects from his crown, but I will affirm that they will make the 
crown not worth his wearing. I shall not say that the King is be- 
trayed, but I will pronounce that the kingdom is u?idone" 

Lord Chatham was nobly sustained by Lord Cambdcn, but 
they were of a small minority, and their reasoning was buried in 
the popular will of that immortal mortal, Lord North. A favo- 
rite measure of the latter gentleman, for healing the dissensions 



190 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

in the colonies was adopted, which was in substance, that if any 
colony would consent to tax itself for the benefit of the mother 
country, Parliament would forbear to tax that colony, as long as 
the contribution was punctually paid. One would suppose that 
head brainless that looked for a very beneficial result from the 
passage of such a law. In March of this year, the celebrated 
Edmund Burke delivered a long and able speech in Parliament in 
favor of conciliating colonial difliculties — but to no purpose. An 
eflfort was made by the British ministry, when they iound the 
Americans uniting, to create a separation of interest, and prevent 
a union of the northern and southern, by conciliating the middle 
colonies, but without effect : the motto, United ice stand, had gone 
forth, and no political manouvering could annual it. At this pe- 
riod, there were not a few in the colonies, who, from reverence, 
timidity or sinister motives, clung to the authority of the mother 
country. The most of those, however, were recent immigrants 
from England and Scotland, and a multitude of officers dependent 
on the Crown and its authority, for a continuance of kingly honors. 
These adherents to British authority were called Tories, and the 
friends of liberty and equal rights were called Whigs; names 
originated many years before in England. To compel New Eng- 
land to submit to the acts of Parliament, they were prohibited, in 
the course of this year, from fishing on the banks of Newfound- 
land ; and armed vessels were sent to enforce the law. This pro- 
hibition was severely felt, as several colonies were extensively en- 
gaged in that business. 

The storm which had so long been gathering over this conti- 
nent, was now about to descend in all its fury. On the 19th day 
of April, 1775, Gen. Gage sent from Boston a detachment of 8 
or 900 troops, under the command of Col. Smith and Maj. Pit- 
cairn, to destroy a collection of military stores, accumulated at 
Concord by the friends of liberty. At Lexington, a small village 
which they had to pass, a company of sixty or seventy militia were 
paraded near the village church. Maj. P. riding forward, ex- 
claimed, Disperse, you rebels — throw down your arms and dis- 
perse ! The militia hesitated, and the Maj. firing a pistol, ordered 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 191 

a company under Capt. Parker, to fire upon them : the command 
was obeyed, and eight were killed and several wounded. The 
militia dispersed, and the troops marched on to Concord. Some 
of the stores had been removed, what remained were destroyed. 
The minute men of that town had assembled belore the arrival of 
the regulars, but being too weak to oppose the latter, retired on 
their approach. As the report of the firing upon the militia at 
Lexington spread with almost lightning rapidity, from the ring- 
ing of bells, firing of signal guns, &c., the country was soon in 
arms. Finding themselves reinforced, the Concord militia ad- 
vanced, and a skirmish ensued, in which several were killed on 
both sides. The British troops, seeing that they were to have 
hot work, as almost every male citizen between the ages of ten 
and eighty were arming for the fight, began to retreat. In their 
course they were fired upon from all manner of concealments. 
Every stone-wall, tree, stump, rock, old barn or workshop, 
sent forth its unerring bullet into the ranks of the enemy. Had 
not the British been reinforced by about 900 men under Lord 
Percy, few of the first detachment would ever have reached Bos- 
ton alive. The British loss in this battle, called the battle of 
Lexington because it commenced and much of it was fought in 
that town, in killed wounded and prisoners, was 273 ; and that 
of the Provincials, 87. General Gage had thought, previous to 
the battle of Lexington, that five regiments of British infantry 
could march from Maine to Georgia. Possibly he had entered 
the right school, to learn how to appreciate American valor with 
more certainty. Thus closed the opening scene of a tragedy, 
destined to last eight long years. The news of this battle spread 
rapidly through the New England provinces. The plow was left 
in the furrow — the chisel in the mortice — the iron in the forge ; 
and the hand that had placed it there, grasped the missile of death, 
and hastened to the vicinity of Boston. In a few days, a large 
army was assembled under the command of Generals Ward of 
Massachusetts, and Putnam of Connecticut, and closely invested 
the town. 

While matters stood thus, in and around Boston, a plan for 



192 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

the capture of the fortresses of Ticonderoga, Crown Point and 
Skeenesborough, now Whitehall, commanding the route of mter- 
communication between the colonies and Canada ; was conceiv- 
ed and boldly executed. The fortresses were all surprised and 
captured, as was a sloop of war near the outlet of Lake George, 
without bloodshed, by colonels Ethan Allen, and Seth Warner, 
with two hundred and thirty Green Mountain boys, and officers 
Dean, Wooster, Parsons, and Arnold, and forty other brave 
spirits of Connecticut. On the evening of the 10th of May, as 
the invaders approached Ticonderoga, a sentinel snapped his gun 
at Colonel Allen and retreated, followed by the latter and his 
brave comrades. On gaining possession of the fortress, the com- 
mander was found napping. Colonel Allen demanded of him 
the immediate surrender of the fort. " By what authority, sir ?" 
It is possible the thought may not have entered the mind of the 
rebel chieftain, that such a question would be propounded ; but 
his fruitful genius instantly prompted the following, singular, and 
laconic reply — "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Con- 
tinental Congress." As may be supposed, the summons was 
from too high a power to be resisted. 

A minute account of the battle of Lexington, with depositions 
to prove that the British troops shed the first blood, were trans- 
mitted without delay to England, by the provincial legislature of 
Massachusetts then in session ; closing with the following sen- 
tence : Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we de- 
termine to die, or he free. The Colonial Congress again assem- 
bled, on the very day their authority had been so successfully an- 
ticipated, by the intrepid Allen at Ticonderoga. Preparations 
at this time, were every where being made in the colonies, for 
the maintenance of the stand taken against oppression, by a resort 
to arms. A new impulse seemed given to the spirit of opposi- 
tion, by the defeat of the British troops at Lexington, and the 
capture of the northern military posts ; but a majority of Con- 
gress, had not as yet formed the resolve, to aim at a final sepa- 
ration from the mother country. John Hancock, in consequence 
of his having been proscribed by the British government, was 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 193 

chosen president of this Congress. As military preparations were 
making, a resort to arms had commenced, and it was pretty 
evident that others must follow ; Congress saw the necessity of 
giving to those preparations a head, and most fortunately ap- 
pointed THE world's model man — George Washington, to that 
honorable post. He received the appointment of commander-in- 
chief while a member of Congress, on the 22d of May, and be- 
gan immediately to prepare for his laborious duties. He arrived 
at the American camp on the 3d day of July. Georgia having 
sent delegates to the Congress of 1775, all the colonics were then 
represented. 

Early in June, several transports filled with troops under the 
command of generals Howe, Clinton and Burgoyne, arrived at 
Boston. On the 17th, the battle of Breed's, now called Bunker's 
hill, was fought. An intrenchment was thrown up on the pre- 
ceding evening, by a body of one thousand men under Colonel 
Prescot. The intention was to have fortified Bunker's hill, but 
the officers sent to throw up the redoubt, found that less tenable, 
and built the fortification on Breed's hill. Ground was broken 
at twelve o'clock at night, and by daylight a redoubt had been 
thrown up eight rods square. In the morning, a reinforcement 
of five hundred men was sent to their assistance. Although a 
heavy cannonading was kept up from daylight by the British 
shipping, the Americans, encouraged by General Putnam and 
other brave officers, did not cease their labors. About noon, 
General Gage, astonished at the boldness of the American miU- 
tia, sent a body of three thousand regulars, under Generals Howe 
and Pigot, to storm the works. Generals Clinton and Burgoyne, 
took a station in Boston, where they had a commanding view of 
the hill. The towers of the churches — the roofs of the houses — 
indeed every eminence in and around Boston, was covered with 
anxious spectators ; many of whom had dear relatives exposed 
to the known danger, awaiting with almost breathless anxiety 
the deadly conflict. Many, and heart-felt were the prayers then 
offered up, for the success of the patriot band. About the time 
the action commenced, General Warren, who was president of the 



194 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, joined the Americans on 
the hill as a volunteer. The British troops, having landed from 
their boats, marched to attack the works. The Americans, re- 
serving their fire tmfil the lahite of the eye was visible, then open- 
ed a most destructive one, dealing death on every hand. Indeed, 
rank after rank vv^as cut down, like grass before the mower. 
The enemy wavered, and soon retreated in disorder down the hill. 
Then might doubtless have been heard a stifled murmur of ap- 
plause, among the eye witnesses in Boston, who beheved their 
countrymen fighting a just cause. And then too, might have 
been seen the lip of the British officer and rank tory, compress- 
ed with anger and mortification. While this attack was in pro- 
gress, the fire-brand of the licensed destroyer, by the diabolical 
order of Gen. Gage, was communicated to the neighboring vil- 
lage of Charlestown, containing some six hundred buildings, and 
the whole in a short time were reduced to ashes ; depriving about 
two thousand inhabitants of a shelter, and destroying property 
amounting to more than half a million of dollars. The British oflS- 
cers with much difficulty, again rallied their troops, and led them 
a second time to the attack. They were allowed to approach 
even nearer than before ; when the Americans, having witnessed 
the conflagration of Charlestown, themselves burning to revenge 
the houseless mother and orphan, sent the messenger of death 
among their ranks. The carnage became a second time too great 
for the bravery of the soldier — the ranks were broken, and the 
enemy again retreated, some even taking refuge in the boats. 
When the British troops wavered a second time, Chnton, vexed 
at their want of success, hastened to their assistance with a re- 
inforcement. On his arrival, the men were again rallied, and 
compelled, by the officers, who marched in their rear with 
drawn swords, to renew the attack. At this period of the con- 
test, the ammunition of the Americans failed, and the enemy 
entered the redoubt. Few of the former had bayonets, yet for 
a while they continued the unequal contest with clubbed muskets, 
but were finally overpowered. The American loss in numbers, 
was inconsiderable until the enemy scaled the works. They 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. I 95 

were forced to retreat over Charlestown Neck, a narrow isthmus 
which was raked by an incessant fire from several floating bat- 
teries. Fortunately, few were killed in crossing the Neck. The 
following anecdote is characteristic of Bunker bravery : While 
the Americans were retreating from the hill across Charlestown 
Neck, Timothy Cleveland, of Canterbury, Ct., was marching 
with others with trailed arms, when a grape shot struck the 
small part of the breech of his gun-stock, and cut it off. He 
had proceeded several rods before he was aware of his loss — 
but ran back and picked it up, declaring, " 27ie darned British 
shall have no part of my gun" The gun-stock was repaired 
with a tin band, and was long after in the service of its patriotic 
owner, who was from the same county and under the command 
of Gen, Putnam. — Joseph Simms. The British loss in this, 
which was the first regular fought battle in the Revolution, was, 
in killed and wounded, one thousand and jijty-four, including 
many oflScers, among whom was Major Pitcairn of Lexington 
memory.* The American loss in killed and wounded, was four 
hundred and fifty-three ; and among the former was the talent- 
ed, the kind-hearted and zealous patriot, Gen. Warren ; who 
received a musket bullet through the head. He was a distin- 
guished physician in Boston, and warmly espoused the cause of 
his country, and yielded his life a willing sacrifice in her defence ; 
undying he his memory in the American heart ! 

What a scene of sublime grandeur must this battle have pre- 
sented, to the citizens of Boston and the surrounding hills ! The 
roar of cannon and musketry — the clashing of steel, as hand to 
hand the foeman met — the groans of the wounded and dying — 
the shouts of the combatants — the dense cloud of smoke which 
enveloped the peninsula, lit up transversely by streams of death- 
boding fire — the sheet of flame and crash of burning buildings 
and falling towers at Charlestown — the intense anxiety of those 
interested for the safety of friends and their property — the proba- 

• For some further particulars relating to this battle, and ihe death of 
Pitcairn, see a sketch of the personal character of Gen. James Dana, insert- 
ed under Cobelskill. 



J&6 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ble effect of that day's transactions, on the future prosperity of 
the colonies — combined to render it one of the most thrilUng 
spectacles mortal eye ever witnessed. The British trumpeted this 
battle as a victory. " If they call this a victory, how many such 
can the British army achieve without ruin?" asked the Ameri- 
cans. 

The following anecdotes of the battle of Bunker's Hill, I find 
in a letter from Col. John Trumbull, the artist, to Daniel Putnam, 
a son of Gen. Israel Putnam, dated New York, March 30th, 1818. 
The letter is published in a reply of the latter to an unkind at- 
tack made by Gen. Dearborn, some time previous, in a public 
journal, in which the imputation of cowardice was cast upon the 
brave " Old Put" — who always dared to lead where any dared to 
follow. The writer, though a native of the same county in which 
the old hero died, never heard of but one act in his adventurous 
life which evinced a want of judgment, and that was far from a 
cowardly one. It was that of his " entering a cavern to kill a 
wolf, and leaving his gun outside," until he entered a second time. 

Says Trumbull : 

" In the summer of 1786, I became acquainted, in London, with 
Col. John Small, of the British army, who had served in America 
many years, and had known General Putnam intimately during 
the war of Canada from 1756 to 1763. From him, I had the two 
following anecdotes respecting the battle of Bunker Hill : I shall 
nearly repeat his words. Looking at the picture which I had then 
almost completed, he said : ' I don't like the situation in which you 
have placed my old friend Putnam ; you have not done him jus- 
tice. I wish you would alter that part of your picture, and intro- 
duce a circumstance which actually happened, and which I can 
never forget. When the British troops advanced the second time 
to the attack of the redoubt, I, with the other British officers, was 
in front of the line to encourage the men : we had advanced very 
near the works undisturbed, when an irregular fire, like a feu-de- 
joie, was poured in upon us ; it was cruelly fatal. The troops fell 
back, and when I looked to the right and left, I saw not one officer 
standing ; — I glanced my eye to the enemy, and saw several young 
men leveling their pieces at me ; I knew their excellence as marks- 
men, and considered myself gone. At that moment, my old friend 
Putnam rushed forward, and striking up the muzzles of their pieces 
with his sword, cried out, "For God's sake, my lads, don't fire at 
that man — I love him as I do my brother." We were so near 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 197 

each other that I heard his words distinctly. He was obeyed ; I 
bowed, thanked him, and walked away unmolested.' " 

The other anecdote relates to the death of Gen. Warren : 

*' At the moment when the troops succeeded in carrying the re- 
doubt, and the Americans were in full retreat, Gen, Howe (who 
had been hurt by a spent ball, which bruised his ancle,) was lean- 
ing on my arm. He called suddenly to me : ' Do you see that ele- 
gant young man who has just fallen? Do you know him?' I 
looked to the spot towards which he pointed — ' Good God, sir, I 
believe it is my friend Warren.' ' Leave me then instantly — run ; 
keep oft' the troops, save him if possible.' I flew to the spot: 'My 
dear friend,' 1 said to him, ' I hope you are not badly hurt.' He 
looked up, seemed to recollect me, smiled and died ! A musket- 
ball had passed through the upper part of his head." 

The Congress which met in the summer of 1775, had not yet 
determined to throw off all allegiance to the British crown, and 
in July of that year, prepared a declaration of American griev- 
ances for the preceding ten years, with the causes which had led 
to them. They also drew up a respectful address to the King, in 
which they avowed boldly, that they were " resolved to die free- 
men rather than live slaves." This Congress established a gener- 
al post office and general hospital, and resolved to emit a paper 
currency. Its proceedings, however, effected nothing towards 
healing the difficulties with the mother country. In November, 
the House of Lords, at the motion of the duke of Richmond, met 
to interrogate e.\-governor Penn, who had been two years gover- 
nor of Pennsylvania. He stated, in reply to certain questions, 
that he had resided four years in the colonies — that he was per- 
sonally acquainted with all the members of the American Con- 
gress — that the colonists were united — were, to considerable ex- 
tent, prepared for war — could make powder, small arms and can- 
non — were more expert at ship-building than Europeans — and 
that if a formidable force was sent to America, the number of co- 
lonists who would be found to join it, would be too trivial to be 
of any consequence. The duke of Richmond then proposed the 
last petition of Congress to the King, as a base for a plan of ac- 
commodation, and urged the impossibility of ever conquering 
America, as the learned John Wilkes had emphatically done w 
U 



108 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

the House of Commons, the preceding February : but the motion 
was lost. In December, Mr. Hartley made an effort to have hos- 
tilities suspended : and in the following February, Mr. Fox at- 
tempted the same thing ; soon after which, the King, by a treaty 
with the Prince of Hesse Cassel, made an arrangement to hire 
sixteen thousand troops of that Prince, to aid in subduing his 
American subjects. It was urged in vain, that they were setting 
the example for the colonies to call in foreign aid. In March of 
1776, the duke of Grafton made another ineffectual attempt to 
open the eyes of the King and ministry, after which war was con- 
sidered as actually declared. It was thought by the court party, 
that one or two campaigns at most, would bring America in sack- 
cloth and ashes at the foot of the British throne. 

In 1775, the colonies adopted a plain red flag. By a resolution 
of Congress, the flag of the United States, consisting of thirteen 
stars and thirteen stripes, was adopted June 14th, 1777. On the 
13th January, 1794, two new states having been added to the 
compact, the stars and stripes were increased to fifteen each. In 
January, 1817, by an act of Congress, it was resolved that it 
should consist of thirteen stripes, and a star for every additional 
state. 

If matters were every day becoming worse in England, in the 
latter part of the year 1775, and the early part of '76, they were 
assuming an aspect no more favorable to a reconciliation in the 
colonies. Many events had transpired after the battle of Bunker's 
hill, which served to feed the flame of discord. Lord Dunmore, 
governor of Virginia, had pursued a course which rendered him 
not only odious to a majority of the colonists, but which tended 
greatly to unite the anti-tea party. The governor of North Ca- 
rolina, also proved himself to be a tool of the British ministry : 
while Governor Tryon, of New York, in his efforts to please his 
master, became so unpopular, that he was obliged, in the course 
of the year to follow the example of Gov. Dunmore, and seek 
personal safety on board of an armed vessel. 

The British, in 1775, burnt Stonington in Connecticut, Bristol 
in Rhode Island, and Falmouth in Massachusetts ; and during the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 199 

same year, the colonists, in several expeditions, had conquered a 
pood part ol' Canada. Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, had 
for some lime been arming the slaves, and instigating them to im- 
brue their hands in the blood of their masters ; and on the first of 
January, 177G, he burnt Norfolk. On the 17th of March follow- 
ing, the liiitish having been compelled to evacuate Boston, 
Washington entered it, to the great joy of its patriotic citizens. 
A fleet under Sir Peter Parker, with several thousand British and 
Hessian troops, arrived on the coast of America early that year. 
Sir Henry Clinton, after leaving Boston, intended to take posses- 
sion of New York, but finding General Lee there to oppose him, 
he sailed with the British fleet to attack Charleston, South Caro- 
lina. Lee, learning his intentions, managed to arrive there before 
him, and prepare the city for an attack. A fort was quickly 
thrown up on Sullivan's Island, of palmetto trees and sand, com- 
manding the entrance to the harbor. 

On the 3 1st of May, the enemy under Commodore Parker and 
Sir Henry Clinton, attacked it with a strong force, but were re- 
pulsed with severe loss, by the troops under Col. Moultrie^ whose 
name it afterwards bore. The conduct of two sergents, Jasper 
aud McDonald, deserves particular notice. 

Says the biographer of Marion : " A ball from the enemy's 
ships carried away our flagstaff. Scarcely had the stars of liberty 
touched the sand, before Jasper flew and snatched them up and 
kissed them with great enthusiasm. Then having fixed them to 
the point of his spontoon, [a kind of spear,] he leaped upon the 
breast-work amidst the storm and fury of the battle, and restored 
them to their daring station — waving his hat at th(; same time 
and huzzaing, ^ God save liberty and my country forever P A 
cannon shot from one of the enemy's guns entered a port-hole 
and dreadfully mangled McDonald, w;hile fighting like a hero at 
his gun. As he was borne off in a dying state, he said to his 
comrades, " Huzza, my brave fcllou's ! I die, but don't Id the cause 
of liberty die xoith meP'' The day after the action, many citizens 
of Charleston of the first rank of both sexes visited the fort, to 
tender in person their thanks for its gallant defence, and by it 



200 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

their own protection. Among them was Gov. Rutledge, (lis- 
tinguis-hed for his patriotic zeal and devotion to the cause of his 
country. In the presence of the regiment to which Jasper be- 
longed, he loosed his own sword and presented it to him, tender- 
ing him at the time a commission. The brave sergeant with 
heart-felt thanks declined accepting the latter, because he could 
not read. Let parents who neglect to educate their children, 
consider well the reason this young man gave, for not accepting 
proffered honor. Nor was this a solitary case, hundreds of dar- 
ing spirits in the course of the war, were obliged to decline for 
the same reason the laurels their own valor had won, and see 
them adorn the brow of their less meritorious brethren. 

A Mrs. Elliot, (whose husband was colonel of artillery.) on the 
occasion above referred to, presented the regiment with a beauti- 
ful American standard, richly embroidered by her own hands. 
It was delivered to Jasper, who, on receiving it, declared he 
never would fart ivith in life. He kept his promise ; for some 
time after in an effort to bear off those colors in an attack on 
Savannah, he was mortally wounded. A short time before his 
death, he was visited by Major Horry. He spoke with freedom 
of his past life and future prospects, and dwelt with evident sa- 
tisfaction on the virtues of his mother. How true it is, that 
mothers generally lay the foundation for man's future greatness — 
future happiness. The last moments of many a poor soldier and 
weather-beaten tar, have added their testimonny to the fact, that 
lasting advice may generally be traced to the affectionate and 
pious mother. Jasper sent the sword presented him by Gov. 
Rutledge, to his father, as a dying memento of his own patriot- 
ism. He also left with Major Horry his tender regards for the 
Jones family,* in whose fate he had, by a daring exploit, become 

• His acquaintance with the Joneses originated as follows: 
In disguise, and accompanied by his trusty friend Newton, he visited a 
British post at Ebcnezer, where they tarried several days. Before leaving, 
they learned that a parly of ten or twelve American prisoners were confined 
there in irons, to be sent back to Savannah, from whence some of them had 
deserted the British service. The friends begged permission to see them, 
among whom were a Mr. Jones, his weeping wife, and smiling boy. The 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 201 

interested; giving evidence in death, that a just reward attends 
the good deeds of the virtuous. 

About the time the attack was made on Fort Moultrie, Con- 
gress appointed Dr. FrankUn, Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll 
commissioners to carry addresses into Canada, but they affected 
very little ; the Canadians being then, as they have ever since 
been, too loyal to appreciate liberty. 

Early in May, 1776, Congress took measures to sound the co- 
lonies on the propriety of casting off all allegiance to the mother 
country. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, gave notice that on a 
future day he would move for a declaration of Independence. 
From the time of his notice the press proved a powerful auxiliary 
in the popular cause. Many essays and pamphlets were publish- 
ed and distributed on the subject, and one from the pen of Thomas 
Paine, entitled Common Seiise, aided much in preparing public 
opinion to sanction the step about to be taken. On the 1st of 
July it was introduced, and the three following days it was ably 
discussed, when the vote was taken and six st:\tes were enrolled 
for and six against the declaration, and one equally divided. One 
of the delegates from Pennsylvania, it is said, was influenced to 
leave the House, and thus a majority of one vote in a committee 

two friends were much interested in the fate of the Joneses, and soon after 
left the camp and retired to a neishboring wood, where they pledged their 
lives to rescue the prisoners or perish in the attempt. They remained in tlie 
British camp until the prisoners, under a guard of a sergeant, corporal, and 
eight soldiers set forward for Savannah. About two miles from ihe place 
of destination, Jasper and Newton secreted themselves near a spring, a little 
distance from the road, where the party soon after halted. Watching their 
opportunity, they sprang from they covert, and seizing two muskets that 
were resting against a tree, they shot two soldiers who were keeping guard, 
and reached them in time to strike down with clubbed muskets, two others 
who were in the act of taking up their arms. Seizing the two loaded guns 
they gained command of tliose left by five of the party near the road, and 
the other six surrendered themselves prisoners. The heroes liberated the 
captive Americans, and placing guns in their hands, after stripping the four 
dead soldiers, led the party in salety to the American garrison at Purysburg. 
When the affray at the spring commenced, Mrs. Jones fainted to the earth, 
but recovering and finding her husband and boy safe, she became frantic 
with joy, and viewing her deliverers in the light of angels, she called down 
heaven's blessings upon them. 



202 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of the whole, decided the fate of the declaration. Thomas Jef- 
ferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and R. 
R. Livingston were appointed to draft a Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. Each prepared one, but that of Jefferson was, with a few 
slight alterations, adopted, on the fourth of July, 1776 ; and read 
as follows. 

"THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 

*' When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary 
for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected 
them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, 
the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of 
nature's God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of 
mankind requires, that they should declare the causes which im- 
pel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evi- 
dent — that all men are created equal ; that they are endowed by 
their Creatw with certain unalienable rights ; that among these 
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure 
these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their 
just powers from the consent of the governed ; that when any form 
of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of 
the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new govern- 
ment, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its 
powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect 
their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that 
governments long established should not be changed for light and 
transient causes ; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that 
mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, 
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are 
accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, 
pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce 
them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to 
throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their 
future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these 
colonies ; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to 
alter their former system of government. The history of the pre- 
sent king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and 
usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an ab- 
solute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be sub- 
mitted to a candid world. 

" He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and ne- 
cessary for the public good. 

" He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and 
pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his 
assent should be obtained ; and, when so suspended, he has ut- 
terly neglected to attend to them. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 203 

" He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of 
large districts of people, unless those people would relirKiuish the 
right of representation in the legislature — a right inestimable to 
them, and formidable to tyrants only. 

" He has called together legislative bodies, at places unusual, 
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public re- 
cords, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with 
his measures. 

" He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for oppos- 
ing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people. 

" He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause 
others to be elected ; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of 
annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exer- 
cise ; the state remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the dan- 
ger of invasion from without and convulsions within. 

" He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states, 
for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreign- 
ers ; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migration hither, 
and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. 

"He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his 
assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. 

" He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the ten- 
ure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 

"He has erected a multitude of offices, and sent here swarms of 
officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. 

"He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, 
without the consent of our legislatures. 

" He has affected to render the military independent of, and su- 
perior to, the civil power. 

" He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, 
foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws ; giv- 
ing his assent to their acts of pretended legislation : 

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: 

For protecting them by a mock trial, from punishment for any 
murder they should commit on the inhabitants of these states : 

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world : 

For imposing taxes on us without our consent : 

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by 
jury : 

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended of- 
fences : 

For abolishing the free system of English law in a neighboring 
province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarg- 
ing its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit in- 
strument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies : 

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, 
and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments : 

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves 
invested with power, to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever : 



204 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

" He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his 
protection, and waging war against us. 

" He has phindered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, 
and destroyed the lives of our people. 

" He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mer- 
cenaries, to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, 
already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely 
paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the 
head of a civilized nation. 

" He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the 
high seas, to bear arms against their countr}'-, to become the exe- 
cutioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by 
their hands. 

" He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has en- 
deavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless 
Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished 
destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. 

" In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for re- 
dress, in the most humble terms: our petitions have been answered 
only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked, 
by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of 
a free people. 

" Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British breth- 
ren. We have warned them from time to time, of attempts made 
by their legislature, to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over 
us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emi- 
gration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native 
justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties 
of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would 
inevitably interrupt our connexions and correspondence. They, 
too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. 
We must, therefore, acquiesce in necessity, which denounces our 
separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind — ene- 
mies in war ; in peace, friends. 

" We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of 
America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme 
Judge of the world, for the rectitude of our intentions, DO, in the 
name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, 
solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonics are, and 
of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are 
absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all po- 
litical connexion between them and the state of Great Britain, is 
and aught to be totally dissolved ; and that as free and independ- 
ent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, con- 
tract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and 
things which independent states may of right do. And for the 
support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



205 



of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, 
our fortunes, and our sacred honor." 

Signed by order and in behalf of the Congress. 

JOHN HANCOCK, President. 
Attest. Charles Thompson, Secrctanj. 



^cw Hampshire. 
Josiuh Bartlelt, 
William Whipple, 
Matthew Thornton. 

Massachusetts Bay. 
Samuel Adams, 
John Adams, 
Kohert Treat Paine, 
Elbridge Gerry. 

Rhode Island, tfc. 
Stephen Hopkins, 
William Ellery. 

Delaware. 
Csesar Rodney, 
Thomas M'Kean, 
George Read, 

Maryland. 
Samuel Chase, 
William Paca, 
Thomas Stone, 
Charles Caroli of Ca- 
roUloii. 



Connecticut. 
Roger Sherman, 
Samuel Huntington, 
William WiUiais, 
Oliver Wolcott. 

New York. 
William Floyd, 
Philip Livingston, 
Francis Lewis, 
Lewis Morris. 

Virginia. 
George Wythe, 
Richard Henry Lee, 
Thomas Jellerson. 
Benjamin Harrison, 
Thomas Nelson, jr. 
Francis Lighiloot Lee, 
Carter Braxton. 

North Carolina. 
William Hooper, 
Joseph Hewes, 
John Penn. 



New Jersey. 
Richard Stockton, 
John Witherspoon, 
Francis Hopkinson, 
John Hart, 
Abraham Clark. 

Pennsylvania. 
Robert Morris, 
Benjamin Franklin, 
Benjamin Rush, 
John Morton, 
George Clymer, 
James Wilson, 
George Ross. 

South Carolina. 
Fdward Rutlcdge, 
Thomas Heyward, jr. 
Thomas Lynch, jr. 
Arthur Middleton. 

Georgia. 
Button Gwinnett, 
Lyman Hall, 
George Walton. 



( 206 ) 



CHAPTER Vn. 



While the colonists along the sea-board were beginning to 
realize the horrors of war, most of the frontier settlers were 
spectators for a while — not idle ones however. There was a 
restless anxiety which reached the log tenement of the most dis- 
tant pioneer. Committees of vigilence, whose duty it was to 
gather information relative to the portending storm, and prepare 
for the defence of the settlements, were organized in Tryon 
county as early as 1774. A council of safety was chosen in 
Schoharie not long after. 

At an early period of the difficulties, an effort was made by the 
Schoharie settlers to get the Indians in their neighborhood to re- 
main quiet, and let the colonies settle their own quarrel with the 
mother country. A meeting was held for that purpose at the 
old council ground in Middleburgh. Brant with several Mohawk 
chiefs is said to have been present, on which occasion a Mrs. 
Richtmyer, living in the vicinity, acted as interpreter. The In- 
dians agreed to remain neutral or join the Americans, says an old 
citizen who was present at the time ; but they were too fond of 
war to remain inactive, while the British government was urging 
them at once to take up arms. 

Previous to the Revolution, a small castle had been erected for 
the natives at Brakabeen,* on the west bank of the Schoharie, 
several miles above Wilder hook, to which many of them re- 
moved from the latter place. Near it they had a burying ground. 

A deputation from the Schoharie tribe were present in August, 

* Brakabeen is the German word for rushes, and obtained from the unusual 
quantity of that plant found along the banks of the river at that place. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 207 

1775, when several commissioners met the chiefs of the Six 
Nations at the German Flats ; and it is believed they were at 
Albany, where a subsequent meeting was held the same year, 
for the same purpose. At the time the Indians left the Mohawk 
valley to follow the fortunes of the Johnsons, the Schoharie In- 
dians, who survived a pestilence, except two or three families, 
imitated their example, leaving the council grounds and green 
graves of their fathers. 

Broim says, that while the Indians were assembled to treat 
with the commissioners of the Indian department, a contagious 
disease — which he calls yellow-fever — broke out amongst them, 
which carried them off in great numbers. That the survivors 
super stitiously supposed the Great Spirit was angry with them 
for not serving their king, or for hesitating about entering his 
service; and that consequently they joined the royalists and 
went to Canada. 

Warree, an old Cherokee squaw, said to have been 105 years 
old, usually called the mother of the Schoharies, who was living 
at Brakabeen at the beginning of hostilities, took the prevail- 
ing epidemic in 1775, and died with it. This good old squaw 
who was familiarly called Granny Warree, was the second wife 
of Schenevas, a Schoharie chief, after whom Schenevas creek 
in Otsego county, was called.* For several years before her 

'Brown's pamphlet originates the name ol this stream from the following 
circumstance: Two Indians, Schenevas and son, were there in the winter 
on a hunt— a deep snow fell and ihey concluded to return home. After tra- 
veling some distance, they kindled a fire and tarried over night. The fol- 
lowing morning they set forward on their journey,, but the father became 
fatigued, and finally returned to the place from whence they had first started. 
The son, discovering his father had taken the back track, returned also, and 
found him seated by a fire which he had kindled. The son killed his father 
with a tomahawk, buried him in the snow and returned to Schoharie, since 
which lime this stream has been called Schenevas creek. 

At a personal interview. Judge Brown related the following tradition, 
which he believed true: A Schoharie chief named Schenevas, whom I sup- 
pose to have been the one killed at the Schenevas creek, was living in the 
lower part of Schoharie. His mother, an aged widow, was living with him- 
She was a quarrelsome old squaw — was very fretful, and often wished her- 
self dead when in a fit of ill humor. Her son, getting out of patience with 
her, went to Lambert Sternberg and borrowed a shovel, with which he dug 



308 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

death, she used to walk with two canes, a good example for the 
modern exquisite, while her hair, unconfined and white as the 
Alpine snow, floated loosely at the sport of the breeze. When 
she felt the prevailing malady stealing upon her, and witnessed 
its fatal effects upon many of her tribe, believing her days were 
numbered, she desired to be carried to the spot where her hus- 
band had died. She was universally beloved by the whole tribe, 
indeed by all the white citizens who knew her, and her request, 
although it subjected Ihera to great inconvenience in their pre- 
sent difficulties, was readily complied with. She survived the 
journey but a day and two nights, and "was gathered to her 
fathers, to enter new hunting grounds." She was buried by her 
faithful warriors who had carried her the whole distance — fifteen 
or twenty miles — beside her departed husband, near the present 
residence of Mr. Collier. 

It is a remarkable fact, that while a large part of the Scho- 
harie Indians died of this contagious disease, not a single white 
citizen took it. 

Who the first chosen council of safety were in Schoharie, 1 
am unable to say. Johannes Ball, a thorough going W^hig, was 
chairman of the committee from its organization to the end 
of the war. It consisted generally of six members, and under- 
went some changes to meet the exigencies of the times. The 
following persons it is believed were members in the course of the 
war : Joseph Borst, Joseph Becker, Peter Becker, Col. Peter 
Vrooman, who is said to have done most of the writing for the 
board, Lt. Col. Peter Zielie, Peter Swart, Wm. Zimmer of 

a grave, in Sternberg's orchard. He then conducted his mother to it. You 
have often ivisked yourself dead, said lie, / have prepared your grave — you 
must die. When she saw the open grave, and realized that she had been 
taken at her word, she was terrified and began to cry. The savage son told 
her she must not be a baby — that she was going to the Great Spirit who 
did not like babies. He then forced her into the grave — bade her lie down — 
and buried her alive. She struggled hard as the earth covered her, but, re- 
gardless of her entreaties, he stamped down the earth upon her, and closed 
up the grave. We could wish for poor human nature that those parental 
murders were mere (iction; but we have loo much reason to believe them 
true — indeed history furnishes us with abundant evidence of inhuman olro- 
cities in savage life. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 209 

Brakabcen, Wm. Dietz, Samuel Vrooman, Nicholas Sternberg, 
Adam Vrooman, George Warner of Cobelskill, and Jacob Zim- 
mer of Foxes creek. 

Mr. liall, chairman of the Schoharie committee, had two sons, 
Peter and Mattice — who were both living in 1837, in the town 
of Sharon — who, with their father warmly espoused their coun- 
try's cause; while another son, and his brother, Captain Jacob 
Ball — a leader among the torics at Beaverdam ; and John Peter 
Ball, another relative, as warmly advocated that of the oppressor. 

As appears by the ancient records preserved in the Secretary's 
office at Albany, a regiment of militia was organized for the 
" Schoharie and Duanesburgh districts," as i\ie fifteenth regiment 
of New York militia, and commissions to its officers were issued 
and dated October 20, 1775. It was composed at first of only 
three companies, and as their members were not all well affected 
toward rebellion, and scattered over considerable territory, the 
reader will see their need of foreign assistance. The following 
is a list of officers to whom commissions were at first issued. 

" Peter Vrooman, Col. ; Peter \V. Zielie, Lieut. Col. ; Thomas 
Eckerson, Jr. 1st Maj. ; Jost Becker, 2d Maj. ; Lawrence School- 
craft, Adjt. ; Peter Ball, Qr. Master. 

" First Company — George Mann, Capt. ; Christian Stubragh, 
1st Lieut. ; John Dominick, 2d Lieut. ; Jacob Snyder, Ensign. 

" Second Compamj — Jacob Hager, Capt. ; Martynus Van Slyck, 
1st Lieut. ; Johannes W. Bouck, 2d Lieut. ; Johannes L. Lawyer, 
Ensign. 

" Third Company — George Rechtmyer, Capt. ; Johannes I. Law- 
yer, 1st Lieut. ; Martynus W. Zielie, 2d Lieut. ; Johannes Lawyer 
Bellinger, Ensign." 

A small company of militia was afterwards organized in Co- 
belskill, under Capt. Christian Brown and Lieut. Jacob Borst, 
which was possibly attached to the Schoharie regiment. 

On the 14th of June, 1776, I find by the Albany records, that 
Schoharie was represented in the " general committee chamber," 
by chairman Ball and Peter Becker, of the Schoharie council 
of safety. At a meeting of the New York State Committee of 
Safety, convened at Fishkill, October 9, 1776, the following reso- 
lution was adopted — 



2U0 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

" Resolved, That the persons hereafter mentioned, be appointed 
to purchase at the cheapest rate, in their several counties, all the 
coarse woollen cloth, linse)^ woolsey, blankets, woollen hose, mit- 
tens, coarse linen, felt hats, and shoes fitting for soldiers ; and that 
they have the linen made up into shirts." [The committee named 
for Albany county were] — " Capt. John A. Fonda, of the manor of 
Livingston ; Peter Van Ness, of Claverack ; Barent Van Beuren, 
of Kinderhook ; Isaac V. Arnum, of Albany ; Cors. Cuyler, of 
Schenectada ; James McGee and Henry Quackenboss, of the ma- 
nor of Rantselear ; Anthony Van Bergen, of Cocsakie ; Henry 
Oothout, of Katskill ; and Johannes Ball, of Schoharie ; and that 
the sum of 100 pounds be advanced to each of them for purchasing 
the above articles." 

The following oath of allegiance was found among the papers 
of the late Chairman Ball — 

" You shall swear by the holy evangelist of the Almighty God, 
to be a true subject to our continental resolve and Provincial Con- 
gress and committees, in this difficulty existing between Great 
Britain and America, and to answer upon such questions as you 
shall be examined in, so help you God. 

" Derrick Laraway appeared and swore the above mentioned, 
before the chairman and committee, at Schoharie, and signed the 
association, on the 30th day of June, in the year 1776." 

The following papers are copied from a record made by Judge 
Swart some years before his death. They were obtained through 
the politeness of the late Gen. Jacob Hager, and although they 
exhibit personal services, as they will throw some light on Scho- 
harie affairs in the Revolution, I give them an insertion. 

" JVames of the Persons that made resistance in 1777, against 
McDonald and his Party." 

The Hager Family.* Peter Zielie, jr. Storm Becker jr. 

Peter Vrooman, [Col.] Thomas Eckerson, John H. Becker, 

Jonas Vrooman, Thomas Eckerson jr. John I. Becker, 

Peter Swart, [after- [Maj.] David Becker, 

wards judge,] George Richtmyer, Albertus Becker, 

Peter A. Vrooman, Cornelius Van Dyck, Peter Zielie, [Lt. Col.] 

Peter Povvlus Swart, Tunis Eckerson, Peter Van Slyck, 

Abraham Becker, Cornelius Eckerson, Martinus Zielie, 

John A. Becker, Hendrick Becker, Peter Becker, 

Storm A. Becker, John S. Becker, Christian Richtmyer. 
John Van Dyck, 

• It is a fact worthy of note, that while members of almost every family of 
distinction in the Scnoharie settlements were found in hostile array, as father 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 211 

The preceding memorandum embraces few if any names of in- 
dividuals north of the present limits of Middleburgh ; although 
there were many patriots about Foxes creek, and the Schoharie 
valleys farther north, and not a few in the more distant set- 
tlements. The party named assembled at Middleburgh, and be- 
gan fortifying the stone house of John Becker, afterwards picket- 
ed in, and occupied as the middle fort. The record of Swart thus 
continues : 

" I was enrolled in the militia at sixteen years of age ; [this was 
the lawful age for enrolling at that period] served as a private six 
months; then I was appointed a corporal — served in that capacity 
about one year; then 1 was appointed sergeant in Capt. Hager's 
company; 1778, I was appointed ensign in said company, in the 
room of John L. Lawyer; 1786, I was promoted to first major of 
the regiment; 1798, I was promoted to lieut. colonel com't; 1784 
I was appointed justice of the peace without my knowledge ; 1796 
I was appointed one of the judges of the county, which office I 
have resigned 1818; 1798 I was elected a member of assembly ; 
the next election I was solicited to stand again as a candidate, 
which I utterl}' refused ; 1806 I was elected a member of Con- 
gress. I was afterwards again requested to stand as a candidate 
for Congress, Avhich I refused ; when John Gebhard, Judge Shep- 
ard, and Boyd were candidates for Congress. Gebhard and 
Shepard met with their friends at the Court House for one of 
them to give way ; no arrangement could be made ; they both 
signed a written declaration to give way in case I would accept a 
nomination, which I also refused. 1816 I was elected a senator. 
At the expiration of my time I was again requested to stand a can- 
didate for the senate, which I also refused. I never craved or re- 
quested an office. 

" I was one of the first that signed the compact and association. 
1776 I turned out to Stone Arabia to check the progress of the 
enemy and tories. In the fall of the same year, I turned out to 
Albany, from thence to Fort Edward, from thence to Johnstown, 
to check the enemy. 1777, in the spring, I turned out to Har- 
persfield, from thence to the Delaware to take up disaffected, from 
there home. Three days home, I went down the Hellenber^rh to 
take tories ; after we had together about twenty-five of them, 
went to Albany and delivered them in jail. A few days after- 
wards went to Harpersfield ; from thence to Charlotte river to take 

against son, brother against brother, &.C., all the members of the Hagcr fa- 
mily at once united with those who were unfurling to «he winds of Heaven. 
the stars and stripes of freedom. From the number of Beckers on this lisi, 
we may reasonably suppose that few of that name were tories. 



212 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

McDonald, and send him to jail. In August 1777, was one of the 
thirty-two that made a stand to oppose McDonald and his party. 
I was one of the two that risked our lives to crowd through the 
tories' guns to go to Albany for assistance ; was taken prisoner by 
the Indians and tories ; the same evening I made my escape.* I 
was one of the six councillors that went from the stone house 
across Schoharie creek into the woods in a cave, to consult what 
measures to adopt — secresy at that time was the best policy.t 
Did not McDonald and his party come down as far as my house, 
and there encamp till next day, and destroy every thing ? I had 
left home. The same day McDonaJd and his party were defeated 
and fled into the woods, and went ofTto Canada, and about twenty- 
six from Brakabeen went with him. What Avould have been the 
result if our small party had made no resistance, and had tamely 
submitted ? McDonald would have marched through Schoharie, 
and in all probability reached Albany. What was the conse- 
quence as far as he came down? Was not the farm of Adam 
Crysler confiscated ? Also the farm of Adam Bouck and brothers ? 
Also the farm of Frederick Bouck ? Also the farm of Bastian 
Becker ? Also the farm of John Brown ? Also the farm of Hen- 
drick Mattice ? Also the farm of Nicholas Mattice, and a number 
of others that were indicted ? And a number more that had 
joined McDonald and fired on our men." 

Peter and Mattice Ball, as their father was chairman of com- 
mittee, were subjected to much arduous duty, snd consequently 
■were often pressed into unexpected service. Pettr Ball related 
to the author the following melancholy incident. He had been 
sent to Ticonderoga with a sleigh load of stores for the army, 
during the winter preceding Burgoyne's campaign. While re- 
turning, in company with other sleighs which had been there for 
the same purpose, the horses attached to one of them, which was 
driven by a boy and contained six soldiers, took fright at the 
sound of a drum in one of the sleighs. They were driving upon 
ice at the time, and if I mistake not, they were on the Hudson, 

• Swart and his neighbor, Ephraim Vrooman, were sent to Albany for aid, 
by Col. Vrooman, and started on foot, supposed the day before Col. Harper 
did, and arrived there almost as soon. They were detained on their way, by 
coming unexpectedly upon a party of armed royalists ; but finally escaped 
from them and pursued their journey. 

t The stone house to which he alludes, was that of John Becker, after- 
wards fortified as the middle fori. The cave, or place of concealment, for- 
merly called " the committee hole," was on the opposite side of the river 
from Middleburgh, in a ravine between the mountains. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 213 

near Saratoga. When the horses started, one of the men took 
the reins from the boy, who jumped out and escajicd ; but the 
soldiers and horses broke through the ice and were all drowned. 
Ball assisted in recoverinj^ the bodies of the soldiers, and conveyed 
them to Albany in his sleigh. 

Once he carried a load of powder in a wagon to Lake George ; 
three other loads went at the same time, and all were guarded by 
military from Albany. On two other occasions, he was sent to 
Fort Edward with Hour from Schoharie, and was pressed to take 
loads from there to Lake George. On those occasions he had to 
lie out nights, and suffered from cold. 

Chairman Ball resided about half a mile north of the stone 
church in Schoharie, known, when fortified in the Revolution, as 
the Lower Fort. His son, Wilhelmus Ball, now resides on the 
same ground. Peter Ball once playfully remarked to the author, 
that his father had nine children by his fust wife, and only ten by 
his second. 

Several anecdotes of interest are told of Chairman Ball. His 
neighbor, George Mann, who M^as a captain of militia, kept a 
public house where Cornelius Vrooman now lives, and warmly 
advocated royalty. His house was made the rallying point for To- 
ries and Indians in the year 1776 and early part of '77, to con- 
sider the past and plan future operations. The individuals of this 
stamp who usually met there, neither liked Johannes Ball nor his 
politics. It was therefore thought best to get him out of the way 
if possible : indeed, it was afterwards asserted and confidently be- 
lieved, that^i'e hundred guineas were offered by an a^-ent of the 
king for his destruction. David Ogeyonda, a subtle Schoharie 
warrior, who had a hut on the lands of Adam Vrooman, and who 
had been for some time active for the Tories, doing the duties of 
a runner, spy, &c., was to be the instrument of his death. Ball 
was to be invited to the house of Mann, under the pretence of 
having important business to transact with him, or some one else, 
when David was to provoke him to a quarrel, and thus have a 
plausible pretext to kill him. Hostilities had not yet gone so far 
in Schoharie, that either party felt justified in imbruing their 
15 



214 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

hands in the blood of an old neighbor, without the show of cause. 
Ball went to the house of Mann, at the appointed time, taking 
the precaution to go armed with a brace of loaded pistols. He 
found that the business was of little importance, but that the In- 
dian, David, was determined to quarrel with him. As the savage 
not unfrequently seized the handle of a long knife worn in his 
girdle, he suspected his motive and made good his escape ; keep- 
ing a chair with one hand between his enemy and himself until 
he reached the door, while the other hand rested upon a pistol. 
This transaction took place but a short time previous to the death 
of this Indian, as will appear hereafter. 

It had been the usual custom for ministers of the gospel, to re- 
member the king in their prayers on the Sabbath, previous to the 
commencement of difficulties. One Sunday, as Chairman Ball 
was leaving the stone church, just before the outbreak of hostili- 
ties, when the excitement of stifled feeling was scarcely controlled, 
he said to one of his Whig neighbors, who was standing so near 
old domine Schuyler that the latter could hear the remark, " the 
domine does not dare to pray for King George any more, and for 
Congress he will not pray." Schuyler usually preached in Low 
Dutch at Middlebuigh, and in German at Schoharie. 

Col. Peter Vrooman, one of the Schoharie committee, was a 
major of militia before the revolution. He was a captain in the 
French war, and assisted in erecting fortifications at Oswego. If 
not as energetic as some officers, he was far from being as pusil- 
lanimous as represented in the Annals of Tryon County, or 
Stone's Life of Brant. The old soldiers who served under 
him, represent him as having been a bold and determined man, 
and his conduct on several occasions during the war, gave good 
evidence of that fact. He was very much respected in the coun- 
ty, and is said to have been nineteen years a member of either the 
senate or assembly of New York. An attempt was made to 
take him prisoner during the war. A liberal reward had been 
offered for his apprehension. A meeting of the council of safety 
was to take place at his house, and supposing he would remain 
at home, several of the enemy had secreted themselves, intending 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 215 

to secure his person when the rest of the committee retired. The 
snow was deep and the enemy expected an easy conquest ; but it 
became necessary for him to leave home with his guests, and the 
intentions of the foe were thwarted. 

In 1776, a plan was devised by Governor Tryon, aided by the 
Mayor of New York, to seize the person of Gen. Washington ; 
some of whose guard were in the plot : but the design of the 
enemy was seasonably discovered, and those who were conniving 
with the enemy, executed. — Bancrofts Washington. 

In the fall of 1776, Congress sent Dr. Franklin, Silas Dean 
and Arthur Lee as commissioners to the court of France for aid : 
and also resolved to build a navy. 

The year 1776 closed without any thing remarkable occurring 
to disturb, unusually, the peace of the frontier settlements. After 
the Declaration of Independence, events transpired in other places, 
involving the safety of the republic. In August, the whole of 
Long Island fell into the hands of the enemy, and in September, 
the city of New York followed the same fate.* 

•The masterly retreat of Gen. Washington with his army across the East 
river from Brooidyn to New York, is thus related by Major, afterwards Col. 
Benjamin Tallmadge, in his military journal : " In the face of many diffi- 
culties, the Commander-in-chief so an anged his business, that on the eve- 
ning of the 29th, [Aug.] by 10 o'clock, the troops began to retire from the 
lines in such a manner that no chasm was made in the line, but as one regi- 
ment left their station on guard, the remaining troops moved to the right and 
left, and filled up the vacancies, while Gen. Washington took his station at 
the ferry, and superintended the embarkation of the troops. It was one of 
the most an.\ious, busy nights that I ever recollect, and being the third in 
which hardly any of us had closed our eyes to sleep, we were all greatly fa- 
tigued. As the dawn of the nest day approached, those of us who remained 
in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, at which time there 
were several regiments still on duly. At this time a very dense fog began to 
rise, and it seemed to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments. I 
recollect this peculiar, providential occurrence perfectly well, and so very 
dense was the atmosphere, that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards 
distance. When the sun rose we had just received orders to leave the lines, 
but before we reached the ferry, the Commander-in-chief sent one of his aidi 
to order the regiment back to its former station. Col. Chester immediatelj 
faced about and returned to the lines, where we tarried until the sun had 
risen, but the fog remained as dense as ever. Finally, the second order ar- 
rived for the regiment to retire, and we very joyfully bid those trenches a 



216 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

I shall have repeatedly to speak of the difficulty the Americans 
experienced in procuring a supply of the munitif ns of war. The 
following anecdote will show that it extended to small concerns. 
In the early part of the contest, gun-Jlints were so scarce, that 
troops while performing the manual exercise, substituted wooden 
ones for those of silex. While James Williamson was on duty 
one moonlight night in 1776, on Long Island off Gardiner's Isl- 
and, as piquet guard, he saw an armed barge approaching the 
shore near him from one of the British ships off the Island. He 
instantly raised his piece and cocked it, when, to his chagrin, he 
found it had a wooden flint in the lock. The men in the barge, 
who were sufficiently near to see the leveled musket, ignorant of 
its harmless condition, shifted their course without attempting to 
land. — James Williamson. 

The defeat of the Americans on Long Island and the loss of 
New York, were succeeded by a catalogue of disasters, which 
tended to make the royalists more bold, and greatly to dishearten 
the Americans. Several hundied houses were destroyed in New 
York by fire, soon after the British took that city. In November, 
Forts Washington and Lee, situated nearly opposite each other on 

long adieu. When we reached Brooklyn ferry the boats had not returned 
from their last trip, but lliey very soon appeared and took the whole regi- 
ment over to New York ; and I think I saw Gen. Washington on the ferry 
stairs when I stepped into one of the last boats that received the troops. I 
left ray horse tied to a post at the ferry. 

" The troops having all safely reached New York, and the fog continuing 
as thick as ever, I began to think of my favorite horse, and requested leave 
to return and bring him off. Having obtained permission, I called for a crew 
of volunteers to go with me, and guiding the boat myself, I obtained my 
horse and got ofl' some distance into the river before the enemy appeared in 
Brooklyn. As soon as they reached the ferry, we were saluted merrily from 
Iheir musketry and finally by their field pieces, but we returned in safely. In 
the history of warfixre, I do not recollect a more fortunate retreat. After all, 
the providential appearance of the fog saved a part of our army from being 
captured, and myself, for certain, among others who formed the rear guard. 
Gen. Washington has never received the credit which was due to him for this 
wise and most fortunate measure. When the enemy had taken possession of 
the heights opposite to the city, they commenced firing from the artillery, and 
the fleet pretty soon were in motion to take possession of those waters ; had 
this been done a little earlier, this division of our army must inevitably have 
fallen into their hands." 



AND BORDIOl WARS OF NEW YORK. 217 

the banks of the Hudson, about ten miles above New York, which 
commanded the river, fell into the hands of the enemy : the 
former after a most gallant defence, and the latter by being aban- 
doned ; and the Commander-in-chief, unable to oppose a superior 
force, retreated into New Jersey. By the fall of Fort Washing- 
ton, says the diary of Col. Tallmadge, " we lost about three thou- 
sand men, a great part of whom 'perished in prison hy severe 
usage, sickness, Sfc." While a dark pall seemed spreading around 
the cause of Liberty, Gen. Howe issued a proclamation offering 
pardon to all who would submit to royal authority. The pros- 
pects looked so gloomy, that many of the best citizens of New 
Jersey were induced to sacrifice their feelings — abandon Free- 
dom's cause, and claim British protection. Gen. W^ashington, 
with the remains of his army, was obliged to retreat over the De- 
laware ; about which time the British gained possession of Rhode 
Island. The sagacious commander, who had seen his troops re- 
peatedly in retreat before a well fed and well clothed enemy, not 
only observed their numbers fast lessening by desertion, but also 
the necessity of staying the tide of that enemy's success, and roll- 
ing back the cloud which seemed ready to burst and obscure the 
light of Liberty forever. He resolved to hazard all in one bold 
effort, and on Christmas night he crossed the Delaware at Tren- 
ton, surprised a body of Hessian soldiers — took nearly a thousand 
prisoners, and recrossed the river in safety, with the loss of only 
nine men. 

On the 2d of January, 1777, the main body of the British ar- 
my under Cornwallis, who had hastened on from New York after 
the capture of the Hessians, marched to attack the Americans. 
They encamped near Trenton at night, intending to commence an 
action in the morning, when W^ashington, knowing the compara- 
tive weakness of his famished troops, conceived and executed an- 
other bold project. After renewing his fires, he left his encamp- 
ment about midnight, and by a circuitous route gained the rear of 
the enemy — pushed on to Princeton, near which place he met and 
defeased a body of them, and again took several hundred prison- 
ers. The enemy finding himself out-generaled, retreated to New 



.218 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Brunswick, and the American army went into winter quarters at 
Morristown, New Jersey. The brilUant victories of Trenton and 
Princeton, while they tended with magnetic power to raise the 
drooping spirits of the patriot band — in fact, of the whole Ame- 
rican people — won for their great leader the appellation of the 
American Fabius. Few can realize at this day, the importance 
of those victories to the American arms. For months, a series of 
disasters had attended them, and the stoutest hearts w^re begin- 
ning to yield to despair. The great and good Washington led 
forth to conquest on those occasions, a half-naked, famished troop 
of heroes, who, under similar circumstances, would have followed 
no other leader. 

Reader ! would you realize the sufferings of that little band of 
patriots, who remained willing to follow the fortunes of your 
bleeeing country, in the darkest hour of her adversity ? — and by 
so doing arrive at a more just estimate of the value of that liber- 
ty you now enjoy ? Imagine yourself on some of the coldest 
nights of winter, when the wintry winds are moaning around you, 
and the stars are looking coldly from the blue vault above, seated 
by the road side where is passing in silence a body of armed men, 
fatigued, disheartened, ragged, barefooted, faint from want of 
food, and many with limbs frozen from exposure : — and on the 
morrow, go trace their footsteps o'er the frozen ground by their 
oion hlood ; then tell me if you can guard with too much watch- 
fulness — or look with favor upon any attempt to mar that lib- 
erty ? 

The proverbial caution and prudence of General Washington, 
were perhaps evinced in nothing more visibly during the war, 
than in his general orders to avoid the ill will or needless suffer- 
ing of the citizens. When his cold and wearied troops encamped 
the night after the battle of Princeton, as has been stated by an 
officer who was present, his orders contained this unusual requisi- 
tion — " not to burn the stone walls !" — tacitly implying, that they 
might, on that one occasion, burn rail fences, which are said to 
have been burned with impunity. 

The enemy having matured his plans during the winter, began 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 219 

to move early in the summer of 1777, and expected to make an 
easy conquest of the whole colony of New York. Gen. Burgoync 
left Crown Point with such an army as he had vauntingly de- 
clared in the British Parliament, he could lead from Maine to 
Georgia ; and with it one of the best trains of artillery ever seen 
in America. He was to push his way to Albany along the Hud- 
son. Colonel St. Leger, with a large body of British, Tories and 
Indians, left Oswego about the same time, intending to pillage the 
beautiful valley of the Mohawk, and rest himself after his work 
of destruction, at Albany. Sir Henry Clinton, whose well fed 
troops had been basking in some of the smiles and some of the 
frowns of the New YorkyaiV, after doing what mischief he pleased 
along the romantic shores of the Hudson, was tO offer his services 
and compliments in person to the citizens of Albany. And lastly 
Captain McDonald, a noted Tory leader — a Scotchman who had 
been living for a time on Charlotte river, with a body of several 
hundred royalists and Indians, was making his way down through 
the Schoharie settlements, intending to meet the trio already 
named, and revel with them in " the beauty and booty" of Al- 
bany. 

This was a most trying period for New York. To meet and 
repel the several attacks, appeared to some of the most patriotic 
a matter of impossibility — but with a firm reliance on the God of 
battles for success, they buckled on their armor, and resolved to 
try. Most of the published accounts erroneously make the irrup- 
tion of McDonald and his legions at a later date. 

Some of the Schoharie militia were called into service on seve- 
ral occasions in the latter part of the year 1776, and early part of 
1777. Matlice Ball said he was under Capt. Hagcr in the enter- 
prise which Judge Swart alludes to, as having taken place in the 
spring of 1777. The party were volunteers, and proceeded to 
Loonenburg, now Athens, to arrest Col. James Huetson, who was 
maishaling Tories. They were in seach of him thirteen days, a 
part of which time they levied a tax upon his poultry yard, and 
ate up his chickens. After securing him and some twenty other 
genial spirits, they delivered them to the military department at 
Albany for safe keeping. Huetson was afterwards hung. 



220 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

I have remarked briefly, that members of families in Schoharie 
were found entertaining different opinions respecting the belUge- 
rent attitude of England and her colonies, and consequently were 
in hostile array. Capt. Jacob Ball, mentioned as the brother of 
Johannes Ball, raised a company of 63 royahsts at the Beaver- 
dam and in Duanesburgh and went to Canada, accompanied by 
several relatives. George Mann, another captain of militia to 
whom we have alluded, on being ordered out with his company 
to oppose the enemy, openly declared himself friendly to the royal 
power. Adam Crysler and his brothers, with several other indi- 
viduals, who were men of no little influence residing in the south 
part of the Schoharie settlement, also sided with royalty. The 
example of several respectable ofllicers and other individuals of 
reputation, as may be inferred, augured no good for the welfare 
of that community, as the prudent knew full well that " a house 
divided against itself,^' like Franklin's empty bag, " could not 
stand alone.'^ 

As appears by an affidavit of William Jchnston,jr., made July 
16, 1777, which I find on the journal of the New York council 
of safety, Joseph Brant had then, with some eighty warriors, 
commenced his marauding enterprises on the settlements at Una- 
dilla; by appropriating their cattle, sheep and swine to his. own 
benefit. To obtain satisfaction for those cattle, and if possible 
get the Indians to remain neutral in the approaching contest, in 
the latter part of June, 1777, Gen. Herkimer, with three hun- 
dred and eighty of the Tryon county militia, proceeded to Una- 
dilla, (an Indian settlement on the Susquehanna,) to hold an in- 
terview with Brant. That celebrated chief, then at Oquago, was 
sent for by Gen. Herkimer, and arrived on the 27th, after the 
Americans had been there about eight days in waiting. 

Colonel John Harper, who attended Gen. Herkimer at this 
time, made an affidavit on the 16th of July following the inter- 
view, showing the principal grievances of which the Indians 
complained, as al^o the fact that they v-erc in covenant with the 
king, whose belts were yet lodged among them, and whose service 
they intended to enter. The initrument farther testified, that 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 221 

Brant, instead of returning to Oswego, as he had informed Gen. 
Herkimer was liis intention; had remained in the neiglihorhood, 
on the withdrawal of the American militia, and ^vas preparing 
to destroy the frontier settlements. 

The fjllowing particulars relating to the interview between 
Gen. Herkimer and Brant, were obtained from the venerable 
patriot, Joseph Wagner, of Fort Plain. He states that at the first 
meeting of Gen. Herkimer with Brant, the latter was attended 
by three other chiefs, William Johnson, a son of Sir "William 
Johnson by Molly Brant, which son was killed at the battle of 
Oriskany the same year. Pool, a smart looking fellow with curly 
hair, supposed part indian and part negro, and a short dark skin- 
ned Indian, the four encircled by a body-guard of some twenty 
noble looking warriors. 

When in his presence, Brant rather haughtily asked Gen. Her- 
kimer the object of his visit, which was readily made known ; 
but seeing so many attendants, the chief suspected the interview 
was sought for another purpose. Said Brant to Herkimer, I 
have Jive hundred wairiors at my command, and can in an in- 
stant destroy you and your party ; but ice are old neighbors and 
friends, and I will not do it. Col. Cox, a smart officer who ac- 
companied Gen. Herkimer, exchanged several sarcastic express- 
ions with Brant, which served not a little to irritate him and his 
followers. The two had had a quarrel a few years previous, 
about lands around the upper Indian castle. Provoked to anger, 
Brant asked Cox if he was net the son-in-law of old George Klock? 
Yes! replied Cox in a tone of malignity, and what is that to you, 
you d — d Indian ? At the close of this dialogue Brant's guard 
ran off to their camp, firing several guns, and making the hills 
echo back their savage yells. Gen. Herkimer then assured Brant 
that he intended his visit for one of a pacific nature, and urged 
him to prevent their moving to hostilities. A word from that 
chief hushed the tempest of human passion, which but an in- 
stant before had threatened to deluge the valley with blood ; the 
parties, however, were too heated to proceed with the business 
which convened them. Said Brant, addressing Gen. Herkimer, 



222 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

it is needless to multiply words at this time, I will meet you here 
at precisely 9 o'clock to morrow morning. The parties then se- 
parated to occupy their former position in camp. 

From what had transpired, I presume Gen. Herkimer did not 
feel wholly secure in his person j for early on the following morn- 
ing he called on Mr. Wagner, then an active young soldier of 
his party, and taking him aside, asked him if he could keep a 
secret. When assured in the affirmative, he informed Wagner 
that he wished him to select three other persons, who, with him- 
self should be in readiness at a given signal, to shoot Brant and 
the other three chiefs, if the interview about to take place did not 
end amicably. In case of the least hostile movement on their 
part, the chiefs were to be sacrified. Wagner selected Abra- 
ham and George Herkimer, nephews of Gen. Herkimer, and a 
third person name now forgotten. Col. Stone, speaking of this 
transaction in the Life of Brant, not aware of its having been 
dictated by the circumstances as any arrangement of caution, 
which should reflect credibly on the prudence of Gen. Herkimer, 
thus comments on it — " There is something so revolting — so rank 
and foul — in this project of meditated treachery, that it is difficult 
to reconcile it with the known character of Gen. Herkimer." In 
another place he adds, " A betrayal of his [Herkimer's] confi- 
dence, under those circumstances, would have brought a stain 
upon the character of the provincials, which all the waters of the 
Mohawk could not have washed away." Difficult indeed would 
it be if necessary, to reconcile this affair with the honorable life 
of the brave Herkimer, but such is not the case, and I have 
presented this whole matter solely to correct an impression con- 
veyed in the life of Brant, which reflects ignobly on the charac- 
ter of that officer. The whole proceeding was only one of j9re- 
caution, and had it been otherwise would have been executed, 
as ample opportunity was afforded Wagner and his accomplices, 
to assassinate the chiefs. Col. Stone quotes the manuscript of 
my informant as authority for what he states, but there is some 
mistake in the matter, as Wagner assured the writer he never 
had furnished a manuscript account of the affair to any one. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 223 

With the arrangement of circumspection on the part of Gen. 
Herkimer, as stated above, the parlies held their interview on 
the 2Sth of June ; the last convention of the kind held in New 
York. Brant was the first to speak : said he—" Gen Herkimer, 
I now fully comprehend the object of your visit, but you are too 
late, I om already engaged to serve the king. We are old fiends 
and I can do no less than let you return home unmolested, al- 
though you are entirely within my power.'' After a little more 
conversation, in which the parties agreed to separate amicably, 
the conference ended, at which time Gen. Herkimer presented 
to Brant seven or eight fat cattle that had but just arrived, ow- 
ing to obstructions on the outlet of Otsego Lake, down which 
stream they were driven or transported. For three days previous 
to the arrival of the cattle, the Americans were on very short 
allowance. 

Whether Brant had five hundred men at his command may be 
doubted ; Col. Harper has given their number as about one hun- 
dred and thirty-seven — possibly there were foes in concealment 
unknown to that officer. The Americans retraced their steps to 
the Mohawk valley, and scarcely had they set out, when the In- 
dians began to repeat their depredations on the patriotic citizens 
in the neighborhood. Brant soon after fell back to Oquago, to 
strengthen his numbers, and prepare to act in concert with St. 
Leger. 

After the war Brant visited the Mohawk valley, at which time 
Mr. Wagner conversed with him about the treaty at Unadilla. 
On being assured by ray informant that he was in readiness at 
the second interview to shot hira down, that chief expressed 
much surprise that Gen. Herkimer had taken such precaution. 

Among the papers of Chairman Ball I find the following : 

" Schoharie, July 7th, 1777, in Committee Chamber first Re- 
solved, that all the persons between tha ages of sixteen and fifty 
years, from the dwelling house of Christian Shaffer and to north- 
ward in Schoharie, are to bring their arms and accoutrements 
when thev come to the meeting at either of the two churches in 



224 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Fountain Town and Foxes Town,* on Sunday or any other day 
when kept ; and if any of them shall neglect in bringing their 
arms and accoutrements to either of the churches, shall for- 
feit and pay the sum of three shillings, New York cuuency, into 
the hands of Mr. Johannes Ball, for the use of paying the cost for 
the district of Schoharie ; or if any person shall not pay the said 
sum as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for Mr. Johannes Ball to give 
a warrant directed to a sergeant or corporal, and levy the same on 
the offender's goods and chattels, and also the costs thereof. 

" And the persons inhabiting from the dwelling of Baltus Krys- 
ler to the said Christian Shaffer, are to bring their arms, &c. to 
the church in Weiser's Town, as they are ordered to [in] Foxes 
Town ; and if neglected to pay the same to Mr. Johannes Becker, 
and be put in execution by him as ordered by Mr. Ball aforesaid. 

" And persons southward from Baltus Krysler's are to be armed 
when [they] come to any meeting that may be kept in Brakabeen, 
and if neglected, to pay the fines to Mr. William Zimmer, and^to 
be put by him in execution as beforementioned, and for the use as 
aforesaid. 

" N. B. Their resolve in Fountain Town Church is to be paid 
to Mr. Johannes Lawyer, and to be put by him in execution as 
within mentioned, and for the use as aforesaid ; and George War- 
ner is appointed to see [that] the inhabitants of Cobelskill bring 
their arms when [they] come to meeting there, and put this re- 
solve in execution as within mentioned, and for the use aforesaid. 

" Secondly, Resolved, that four watches are to be kept in Scho- 
harie ever}' night from this time constant : the first is to be kept 
at the dwelling house of Capt. George Mann, and under his com- 
mand, and in his absence the next in command; the inhabitants 
from Christian Shaffer's dwelling house and to northward, are to 
be under Capt. Mann's command for the watch to consist of eight 
men. The second is to be kept at the dwelling house of Mr. Hen- 
drick P. Becker, and under the command of Capt. George Richt- 
myer, and in his absence the next officer in command : the inha- 
bitants from Hendrick Tansen's house and so northward to Chris- 
tian Shaffer's, are under the command of this second watch, and 
to consist of six me7i. The third is to be kept at the dwelling 
house of Mr. Johannes Feak, and under the command of Lieut. 
Martynus Van Slyck, and in his absence the next officer in com- 
mand ; the inhabitants from Baltus Krysler's dwelling house and 
so northward to Hendrick Tanse's are under the command of this 
third watch, and to consist of six men. And the fourth is to be 
kept by the inhabitants from Baltus Krysler's and so southward, 
at the dwelling house of Mr. Hendrick Hager under the command 
of Capt. Jacob Hager, in his absence the next officer in command ; 

" The former a Lutheran church then standing a little distance east of tli» 
Court House, and the latter the stone edifice erected by the Dutch church, 
and still standing one mile north of the Court House. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 225 

and this watch is to consist of six men. Every person or persons 
ncgk'cliiii;^ to serve on such or either of such watches aforemen- 
tioned, shall for every neglect pay and forfeit the sum of twelve 
ihillings for the use of the district of Schoharie." 

At an early stage of difTicultieS; the little settlement at Harpers- 
field, -which was greatly exposed to savage inroads, organized a 
committee of vigilance, of which Isaac Patchin was chairman. 
This settlement was within the limits of Tryon county. In view 
of the enemy's proximity, Mr. Patchin wrote to the State Coun- 
cil of Safety, on the 4th of July, 1777, as follows : 

" Gentlemen — The late irruptions and hostilities committed at 
Tunadilla, by Joseph Brandt, with a party of Indians and tories, 
have so alarmed the well-afTectcd inhabitants of ihis and the 
neighboring setllcinents, who are now the entire frontier of this 
state, that except your honors doth afTord us immediate protection, 
we shall be obliged to leave our settlements to save our lives and 
families ; especially as there is not a man on the outside of us, but 
such as have taken protection of Brant, and many of them have 
threatened our destruction in a short time, the particular circum- 
stances of which Col, Harper, (who will wait on your honors,) can 
give you a full account of, by whom we hope for your protection, 
in what manner to conduct ourselves." 

On the Sth July, William Harper wrote the Albany council 
from Chei ry Valley, also within Tryon county, stating the ex- 
posed condition of that place, and the rumor of the enemy's 
nearness under Brant. The committee to which was referred the 
correspondence of Isaac Patchin and Wm. Harper, introduced 
several resolutions to the council of safety on the 17th July ; in 
which they recommended raising two companies of rangers, to 
serve on the frontiers of Tryon, Ulster, and Albany counties, un- 
der the command of John Harper and James Clyde, as captains, 
and Alexander Harper and John Campbell as lieutenants. Lt. 
Harper, as soon as twenty-five men were enlisted by Col. John 
Harper as recruiting officer, was to take charge of them and 
repair to a post of danger. 

In the corres^pondcnce of the Provincial Congress o/JVew York, 
I find the following : 

Schoharie Committee Chamber, July 17, 1777. 
'• Gentlemen — The late advantage gained over us by the ene- 



226 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

my, has such effect upon numbers here, that many we thought 
steady friends to the state seem to draw back ; our state therefore, 
is deplorable ; all our frontiers [frontier settlers] except those that 
are to take protection from the enemy, are gone, so that we are 
entirely open to the Indians and tories, which we expect ever)' 
hour to come to this settlement : part of our militia is at Fort Ed- 
ward; the few that are here many of them, are unwilling to take up 
arms to defend themselves, as they are not able to stand against so 
great a number of declared enemies, who speak openly without 
any reserve. Therefore, if your honors do not grant us immediate 
relief, of about five hundred men to help defend us, we must either 
fall a prey to the enemy, or take protection also. For further par- 
ticulars we refer you to the bearer, Col. Wills, in whom we confide 
to give you a true account of our state and situation, and of the 
back settlements, as he is well acquainted with them. We beg 
that your honors will be pleased to send us an answer by the 
bearer. We remain, 

your honors' most obed't humble servants. 

Signed by order of the committee. 
JOHANNES BALL, Chairjnan.. 

The above letter was read in Council, at their afternoon session, 
on Saturday, July 19th, and after some discussion it was referred 
to Messrs. Jay, Piatt, and R. R. Livingston. On the 22d, the 
Council wrote " To the Chairman of the Committee of Schoha- 
rie" as follows : 

" Kingston, Juhj 22, 1777. 

"Gentlemen : It greatly astonishes this Council that the settle- 
ment of Schoharie, which has always been considered as firmly 
and spiritedly attached to the American cause, should be panic- 
struck upon the least appearance of danger. Can you conceive 
that our liberties can possibly de redeemed from that vassalage 
which our implacable foes are, with unrelenting cruelty, framing 
for us, without some danger and some vigorous efforts on our 
part ? To expect that Providence, however righteous our cause, 
will, without a vigorous use of those means which it has put in our 
power, interpose in our behalf, is truly to expect that God will work 
miracles for us, when those means, well improved, will afford suf- 
ficient security to our inestimable rights. It is your bounden du- 
ty, if you wish for the smiles of Heaven in favor of the public 
cause in which you are so deeply interested, to acquit yourselves 
like men. A few worthless Indians, and a set of villains, who 
have basely deserted their country, are all the enemies you have to 
fear. 

"We have good reason to believe that the greatest and most de- 
serving part of the .Six Nations are well disposed toward us. This 
Council is exerting itself to secure you against danger, and only 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 227 

wish you would second their efibrls, Tryon county is a frontier 
to your settlement ; in that county Fort Schuyler is a respectable 
fortress, properly garrisoned. Major General Schuyler has sent 
up a part of a regiment as a further reinforcement. We have au- 
thorized Colonel Harper to raise and embody two hundred men for 
covering and protecting the inhabitants, and have formed such a 
disposition of the militia of the county of Tryon for alternate re- 
lieves as we hope will tend eflectually to secure you. 

" If any proclamations or protections should be offered you by 
the enemy, by all means reject them. From the woful experience 
of those who have fallen within their influence in other parts of 
the country, we have the highest reasons to believe that your ac- 
ceptance of those tenders of friendship, should they be made, will 
render your misery and slavery unavoidable. 

" In further attention to the cause of your settlement and Tryon 
county, we have this morning sent Mr. Robert Livingston to Gen. 
Washington. He is authorized to concert with his Excellency the 
most effectual measures for putting the western frontiers of this 
state in all possible security. 

" In the mean time we expect much from your public virtue ; 
that it will induce you to apprehend and send to us the disafTected 
among you ; that it will lead you to the most eflectual means of 
securing your property from the depredations of a weak but insidi- 
ous foe ; and that it will teach you the impropriety of deserting 
your habitations, and keep you in continual readiness to repel the 
assaults of the enemies of the liberty of your country. We write 
to the general committee of the county of Albany, to give you all 
the countenance, assistance, and support in their power." 

The following is part of a letter from the same body, under 
the same date, to the Albany Committee. 

" Gentlemen — The great depression of spirits of the inhabitants 
of Tryon county, and the settlers of Schoharie, give this Council 
much uneasiness, as it exposes them to the depredations of an ene- 
my whom they might otherwise despise. 

" We hope that your committee will not be wanting to support 
the drooping spirits of the western inhabitants in general, and par- 
ticularly of those within your county. Wc have great reason to 
fear the breaking up of the settlement of Schoharie, unless our 
exertions be seconded by your efforts. You well know that such 
an event on the frontiers will not only be attended with infinite 
mischief to the inhabitants, but will furnish cause for discourage- 
ment to the country in general. Every means should thereforebe 
tried to prevent it. 

" This Council are earnestly solicitous to put the western fron- 
tiers of this state in a situation as respectable as possible ; and 
though they conceive the enemy's strength to consist principally in 
those exaggerations which result from the threats of our internal 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

foes, and the fears of our friends ; j-^et as those may be productive 
of real mischief, they would endeavor by every means in their 
power to prevent the evil. Your known exertions in the public 
cause will not permit them to doubt of your straining every nerve 
to second their endeavors," &:c., &c. 

The reader will observe that in the letter to the Schoharie com- 
mittee, the state council, in speaking of the foe to which the Scho- 
harie settlement was exposed, consisted only of a few worthless 
Indians and Tories ; and that they believed the Six Nations, as 
a whole, were well affected towards the republicans. This, how- 
ever, as the result showed, was not the fact — as the principal 
warriors of four of the Six Nations had already taken up the Bri- 
tish hatchet, and were led on by a formidable number of royalists. 
They also spoke of Tryon county as ihc frontier of Schoharie — the 
whole being well protected by the garrison of Fort Schuyler, ge- 
nerally known as Fort Stanwix. This part of the letter discovers 
the ignorance of the council of the true geography of the frontier 
settlements ; as that fort was situated at least 100 miles northwest 
of Schoharie, while the enemies of the latter were expected from 
a southwest direction, from whence they usually approached. In 
that direction were the settlements of Unadilla, Harpersfield and 
Wyoming, either of which could be avoided ; but the two former 
were early broken up and their well disposed inhabitants driven in 
upon less exposed communities — while the fate of the latter is too 
well known to be commented on here. The truth is, that, as an 
old soldier {James Williamson) of Fort Schuyler once observed 
to the writer, that fortress did not answer the purposes for which 
it was intended in the revolution, as the enemy could, and did 
pass round it in every direction to the frontier settlements — the 
unbroken forest concealing their approach, until, as if by magic, 
they appeared at the very dwellings of the pioneers. 

On the 22d of July, the chairman of the Albany committee 
wrote to Gen. Schuyler as follows — 

" Hon. Sir — Colo. Vrooman and two other gentlemen from 
Schoharie, are now with us, and represent the distress their part 
of the county is driven to. 

" Threats', they hourly receive ; their persons and property are 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 229 

exposed to imminent danger: nearly one-half of the people here- 
tofore well disposed, have laid down their arms, and propose to side 
with the enemy. AH which change has taken its origin from the 
desertion of Ticonderoga, the unprecedented loss of which, we are 
afraid, will be followed by a revolt of more than one-half of the 
northern part of this county. We therefore beg leave to suggest 
whether it would not be advisable to detain one or two companies 
of continental troops, which are expected here, to be sent that way 
for a few days, which we suppose might bring the greater part 
again to a sense of their duty." 

On the 24th of July, the chairman of the Albany committee 
wrote to the council of safety as follows — 

Gentlemen — Yours of the 22d instant is now before us, recom- 
mending us to use our utmost influence to revive the drooping spi- 
rits of the inhabitants of this and Tryon county. A duty so es- 
sential as this, has long since been our principal object, by follow- 
ing the example you have recommended to us ; but upon the whole, 
gentlemen, they are only words upon which we have long played, 
and we earnestly hope they may be realized in such a manner as 
that the usual confidence the people of this and Tryon county have 
in our board, may not depreciate in the eyes of the public, on 
which head we beg leave to remark, that your sanguine expecta- 
tions of Col. Harper's rangers will by no means answer the pur- 
pose. The gentleman undoubtedly has abilities, and will exert 
himself; but when this matter is held up in a more clear view, it 
will appear that every man, almost, in this and Tr}^on county, 
adapted for the ranging service, is engaged in the continental, 
occasioned by the amazing bounty that has been given ; and on 
the other hand, the necessary men employed in various branches 
attending an army, together with the constant drain of militia, 
though but few in number, occasioned by the above circumstance, 
are still necessitated to discharge their duty to their country, all 
which point out to you the impracticability of the plan. After con- 
sidering these particulars, (which we believe have not been suffi- 
ciently suggested by the honorable the council,) we conceive it 
will be impossible to collect any more men on the proposed plan, 
by reason that their pay and encouragement is not adequate to the 
times. If the foregoing difliculties have any weight, you may 
judge that no essential service can be expected from the rangers, 
nor can have any weight with the people to the westward. 

" We enclose you a copy of a letter by us sent to Gen. Schuy- 
ler, from which you will perceive the distressed situation the people 
of Schoharie are in." 

On the 25th of July, Mr. Livingston returned from his confer- 
ence with the Commander-in-chief, and reported that his excel- 
16 



230 mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

lency had already ordered Gen. Glover's division of the army to 
march to the relief of Tryon county ; and a letter was immediate- 
ly dispatched to the committee of that county, informing them 
that Glover's brigade had marched to Albany, there to receive 
directions from Gen. Schuyler, then in command of the northern 
army. The latter officer, in a letter to the Albany committee, 
dated Moses Creek, four miles below Fort Edward, July 24th, 
after speaking of the gloomy aspect of military affairs in that 
quarter, the desertion of New England troops, &c., thus adds : 

" Happy I should still be, in some degree, if I could close the 
melancholy tale here ; but every letter I receive from the county 
of Tryon, advises me that the inhabitants of it will lay down their 
arms, unless I support them with continental troops. From what I 
have said you will see the impossibility of my complying Avith 
their request. The district of Schoharie has also pointedly inti- 
mated, that unless continental troops are sent there, they will also 
submit to the enemy. Should it be asked Avhat line of conduct I 
mean to hold amidst this variety of difficulties and distress, I would 
answer, to dispute every inch of ground with Gen. Burgoyne, and 
retard his descent into the country as long as possible, without the 
least hopes of being able to prevent his ultimately reaching Albany, 
urdess I am reinforced from Gen. Washington, or by a respectable 
body of the militia. The former I am advised I am not to have, 
and whence to procure the latter I know not. I must therefore 
look up to you ; but though I am under the fullest conviction that 
you will readily afford me every aid in your power, yet I fear it 
cannot be much. 

*' In this situation you will be pleased to permit me to observe, 
that I think the council of safety ought to press Gen. Washington 
for an immediate reinforcement of at least fifteen hundred good 
continental troops. Those of our own state, if possible, if not from 
any of the southern colonies ; one thousand to reinforce me, the 
remainder to be sent to Tryon county." 

In the same letter Gen. Schuyler expressed his fears that 
should Burgoyne be able to penetrate to Albany, the force ap- 
proaching the Mohawk under Col. St. Ledger would be able to 
meet him there ; in which case if Gen. Howe pressed up the 
river. Gen. Washington would either be put between two fires, 
or compelled to file off into New England. He however trusted 
such a result might not be realized, and hoped the freedom of his 
sentiments would not be thought to rise from a 'principle which 
would disgrace a soldier. He added, " I assure you they do not ; 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 231 

and I hope my countrymen will never have occasion to blush for 
me, whatever may be the event of this campaign." 

The Council of Safety, in reply to the Albany Committee's let- 
ter of the 24th, responded on the 27th of July as follows: — 
" Gentlemen — Your letter of the 24th inst. has just been received 
and laid before the council. It was not by words alone that the 
council expects the drooping spirits of the inhabitants of Tryon 
county should be revived, nor do they know any other way of 
realizing those expectations than by vigorous exertions. 

" It is highly unreasonable to expect that the militia of other 
states or additional detachments from the continental army should be 
sent to Tryon or Schoharie, when their own exertions, with the aid 
already afforded, would secure them. Harper's rangers are not the 
only measures taken for their support; a third part of the militia 
is ordered to be embodied, and the council will provide for their 
pay. But if when their all is at stake, they should think the 
wages too little, and from such degenerate, mercenary' principles 
refuse to march, they will merit the distinction to which their 
want of courage and public spirit will expose them. 

" It is by example, not speeches, that the council wish they 
may be encouraged. They expect the county of Albany will ex- 
ert itself; that their leading men on other occasons, will not be 
backward now ; that they will march with the militia, and ani- 
mate the body of the people by their perseverance, spirit and pa- 
triotism. If the salvation of such a cause be not sufficient to in- 
duce us to such actions, future generations may with propriety 
say that we did not deserve to be free. If malcontents among you 
are fomenting divisions or encouraging a revolt, they ought to be 
immediately apprehended, and it is presumed you have sufficient 
strength at least for the purpose of internal goverment. If a few 
dispirited people are permitted to lay down their arms, and with 
impunity, not only to disobey orders, but to say they will side 
with the enemy, government has become base and feeble indeed. 
Your powers are equal to all these exigences, and the council 
hope you will exert them. That large drafts of men have been 
made from the militia is a fact not to be denied ; but it is equally 
true that their number is still ver\' respectable, and if they please, 
very formidable. In short, there is reason to fear that the panic 
and irresolution which seems to prevail in the western district, 
will, by being introduced into the history of the present glorious 
contest, injure the reputation which this state has justly acquired 
by its strenuous and noble exertions in the common cause of 
America. 

"P. S. "We have the best assurances that Gen. Glover, with 
his brigade, is sent up to reinforce the northern department ; and 
we flatter ourselves that Major General Schuyler will, as he finds 
himseli' reinforced, cause troops to file off for the defence of the 



282 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

western frontiers. To facilitate this, we have written pressingly 
to the Governor of Connecticut for aid." 

The following extract of a letter from Col. Gansevoort to Col. 
Van Schaick, dated Fort Schuyler, July 28th, will show one of 
the earliest of those tragedies which crimsoned the frontier forest 
of New York. 

" Dear Sir — Yesterday, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, our garri- 
son was alarmed with the firing of four guns. A party of men 
was instantly dispatched to the place where the guns were fired, 
which was in the edge of the woods, about five hundred yards from 
the fort ; but they were too late. The villians were fled, after 
having shot three girls who were out picking raspberries, two of 
whom were lying scalped and tomahawked ; one dead and the 
other expiring, Avho died in about half an hour after she was 
brought home. The third had two balls through her shoulder, but 
made out to make her escape. Her wounds are not thought dan- 
gerous : by the best discoveries we have made, there were 
four Indians who perpetrated these murders. 

" I had four men with arms just passed that place, but these 
mercenaries of Britain come not to fight, but to lie in wait to mur- 
der; and it is equally the same to them, if they can get a scalp, 
whether it is from a soldier or an innocent babe." 

Instead of Gen. Schuyler's affording the western settlements 
any relief after having been reinforced by Glover's brigade, we 
find him, under date of August 1st, writing from Saratoga to the 
New York council as follows : 

" I have desired Col. Van Schaick to apply for all the militia of 
Schoharie, Duanesburgh, Schenectada and Tryon county, that can 
be collected ; but I forsee that nothing will be effected, unless a 
committee of your body is deputed to repair to Albany." [Those 
militia were intended to reinforce the northern army.] 

Let us take a hasty glance at the progress of the enemy's cam- 
paign in the summer of 1777 ; when he hoped by one energetic 
blow, to separate the New England from the Middle states. Col. 
St. Leger, checked in his progress down the Mohawk, by a 
bloody battle with the Tryon county militia, at Oriskany, on the 
morning of August 6th, under the brave old Herkimer, in which 
some of his men performed prodigies of valor ; and a timely sor- 
tie from Fort Schuyler by troops under Col. Willet — finding his 
Indians deserting him — Col. Gansevoort unwilling to surrender — 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 233 

and a body of troops under Gen. Arnold advancing to raise the 
siege of that fortress — was obliged to make good his retreat to 
Canada. Gen. Burgoyne, after contesting the ground for some 
time, and meeting with repeated defeats — seeing his Indian allies 
deserting him from a dislike to Morgan's rifle-men, and his own 
retreat cut off, surrendered his army to Gen. Gates, who had suc- 
ceeded Schuyler, as prisoners of war. Gen. Vaughan, with a 
body of troops from the army of Sir Henry Clinton, after ascend- 
ing the Hudson as far as Kingston, and reducing that flourishing 
village to ashes, learning that Gov. Clinton was marching to op- 
pose him, fell back down the river. 

It remains for us to follow the footsteps of McDonald. At this 
unsettled period, when no forts had been erected in the Schoharie 
settlements to which the timid might fiee for safety, confusion, for 
want of union, was manifest among the courageous.* 

Under date of August 9th, the Albany committee wrote to the 
council of safety as follows : 

" We inclose you a copy of a letter just now received from the 
committee of Schenectada. You will perceive by its contents, 
that a reinforcement is called for in that quarter. It gives us pain 
to inform you that it is out of the power of this county to send them 
any. The depredations committed by the tories is of the worst 
consequences, as it effectually prevents the militia from joining the 
army pursuant to Gen. Ten Broeck's request ; each part calls for 
more help to assist themselves. A Captain Mann, of the militia 
of Schoharie has collected a number of Indians and tories ; de- 
clares himself a friend to King George, and threatens destruction 
to all who do not lay down their arms or take protection from our 
enemies. In order to support our friends in that quarter, a force 
should be sent to them. This is needless to attempt, as a reason 
is assigned why no force can be had. 

" In yours of the 27th ult., you desire that every nerve may be 
exerted ; this has been done, though without the desired effect. 
Our army to the northward, we have already informed you, does 
not appear adequate to repel the force supposed to be coming 
against them," &c., &c. 

The above letter, and one from Gen. Schuyler, dated at Still- 

• In the Annals of Tryon County, the invasion of McDonald is erroneously 
set down as having occurred in 1778. Campbell also states that three forts 
had been erected in Schoharie the fall before. The forts were erected at the 
time he states ; but not, however, until after McDonald's visit. 



^ 234 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

water, August 6th, were received by the state council on the 11th: 
from the latter, I take the following extract : 

" General Ten Broeck has ordered out the whole of the militia ; 
but I fear very few will march, and that most of them will behave 
as the Schoharie and Schenectada militia have done. How that is, 
you will see by the inclosed, which are copies of letters I have 
this morning received." [What the conduct alluded to was, does 
not appear on the journal of the council, but we may suppose they 
refused to march until some provision was made for the protection 
of their own families against the common foe.] 

On the afternoon of Monday, the 11th, Benjamin Bartholomew, 
from Schoharie, was admitted to the council chamber, and in- 
formed the council in substance : 

" That a certain man at Schoharie was collecting a party in fa- 
vor of the enemy: had dispirited the inhabitants ; that the few re- 
solutely well affected were escaping from thence privately." [That 
body then drafted the following letter to Gov. Clinton:] "Sir — The 
council have received advice, that one Captain Mann is collecting 
a force in Schoharie, and has prevailed upon the inhabitants, 
through fear, to take part with him, and even to take up arms 
against us. As this must expose the frontiers of Ulster and Alba- 
ny counties, and the flame may possibly extend further, if not in- 
stantly checked — 

" They would suggest to your Excellency the propriety of send- 
ing a party under the command of an active and intelligent officer, 
by the way of Woodstock or Catskill, who may fall upon the par- 
ty, arouse the spirits of our friends, and give the Indians such an 
impression of our activitj', as will render them cautious of opposing 
us. Perhaps about two hundred men might be spared for this pur- 
pose from the garrison in the Highlands, and, if necessary, they 
might again be reinstated by other militia. The council submit 
this plan to your Excellency, and if it should be approved, doubt 
not but that it will be carried instantly into execution, since secre- 
cy and expedition will ensure its success." 

On the 11th, the Albany committee, in a letter to the council, 
speaking of their apprehensions for the northern army and the ul- 
timate fate of Albany, and the meritorious conduct of Gen. Her- 
kimer, after he was severely wounded, in refusing for hours to 
leave the Oriskany battle field, thus observe : 

"The people of Schoharie have informed us that they will be 
obliged to lay down their arms. The militia that could be collect- 
ed in this county have been sent to the army: they have been long 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 235 

in service, and seeing no prospect of relief, intend soon to return 
and remove their families to a place of greater safety." 

Gov. Clinton addressed the president of the council from New 
Windsor, on the 11th of August, as follows : 

" Sir — I wrote this morning to Colo. Pawling, advising him of 
the conduct of Capt. Mann, of the Schoharie militia, mentioned 
in the letter of the committee of Albany, a copy of which you sent 
me. I am apprehensive, that unless he and his party are speedily 
routed they will become formidable and dangerous neighbors to 
our western frontiers. I therefore proposed to Colo. Pawling, in 
the letter I addressed to him this morning, the propriety of em- 
bodying a party of men out of his regiment, under an active offi- 
cer, for this purpose, and directed him to call on your Honorable 
House for their advice and assistance on this occasion, which, 
should they agree with me in sentiment, they will please to afford 
him. 

" It is clearly my opinion, that it is essential to the public safe- 
ty to have this business executed with dispatch and effectually. 
That fellow, without doubt, acts under the encouragement and by 
the advice of the enemy ; and even though he should not attempt 
to commit hostilities on the inhabitants of the western frontiers, 
the very deterring of the militia from marching to the aid of the 
northern army alone is a capital mischief; besides suffering such 
an atrocious and open offender to pass with impunity, would, in 
point of example, be extremely impolitic. It may be necessary to 
exercise a good deal of prudence with respect to the Indians who 
are with Capt. Mann, the management of which I must submit to 
the council." 

The next day, his excellency again addressed the president of 
the council, as follows : 

" New Wi7idsor, I2th Aug't, 1777. 
" Dear sir — On the receipt of a letter yesterday morning from 
General Scott, enclosing a copy of a letter from the committee of 
Albany, to your honble. board, containing the same intelligence 
respecting Capt. Mann, mentioned in j'our letter of the 11th inst.. 
just now delivered me, I immediately Avrote to Colonel Pawling 
on that subject, pointing out the propriety of destroying Mann and 
his party hy a sudden exertion, with a detachment of the militia 
under an active officer, and desiring him, if he thought it practica- 
ble, to set about it immediately; and in that case to call upon the 
council for their advice and aid. This morning I addressed a let- 
ter to your honorable board on the same subject, by which you 
will observe my sentiments coincide exactly with the council's on 
this occasion. I dare not however, at present, venture to take any 
of the continental troops from the garrison in the Highlands for 
this business. 



236 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 

" The designs of the enemy under General Howe, are yet un- 
certain ; the garrison not over strong ; and should any unlucky ac- 
cident happen in that quarter, in the absence of troops, which 
might be dra^ATi from thence for this expedition, I would be greatly 
and perhaps deservedly censured. If the militia are to be em- 
ployed, they can be much easier and more expeditiously had in 
the neighborhood of Kingston and Marbletown, than by marching 
them up from the fort. 

" Major Pawling was charged with my letter to council, and left 
my house this morning for Kingston, I mentioned this scheme to 
him, and he expressed a strong desire to command the party, to 
which I consented, provided a party proper for him to command 
should be ordered out on this occasion, I know him to be possessed 
of prudence as well as spirit." 



( 237 ) 



CHAPTER Vm. 



The reader will perceive by the correspondence in the preceding 
chapter, that provision had been made, although tardily, to succor 
Schoharie. Many well disposed citizens in McDonald's descent 
through the southern settlements, seeing no assistance at hand, 
anxious for the safety of their families and property, accepted his 
offered protection of royalty — while not a few joined in the wake 
of the tory chief, to swell his already formidable numbers. In 
his approach to the more thickly settled parts of Schoharie, he 
could have numbered several hundred followers — Indians and 
loyalists — armed with various weapons, which number rumor, with 
her many tongues, greatly multiplied. It is not surprismg that 
the comparatively small body of militia assembled at the house of 
John Becker — a part of which house is now standing — felt them- 
selves too weak to oppose their enemies unaided. They, how- 
ever, began barricading the windows and doors of this stone dwel- 
ling ; and deputed two of their number, Vrooman and Swart, to 
go to Albany for assistance. 

Henry Hager, of North Blenheim, late a judge of Schoharie 
county, very kindly furnished the author with a manuscript of 
some facts relating to Schoharie. He states that McDonald 
reached the river above Brakabeen, on Sunday the 10th of Au- 
gust, and "marched up and down the road, stationing guards, 
&c." As the enemy were over-running the valley, Henry Hager, 
grandfather of my informant, then over 70 years old, was anxious 
to inform the patriot party below of the invader's progress and 
espionage along the valley. There was no whig near with 



238 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

whom he could consult — indeed the Hager family was the only 
one, for a distance of several miles, that had not either already 
joined the enemy's standard, or accepted of his proffered protec- 
tion : he therefore started to do the errand himself, a distance of 
nearly nine miles. Leaving home about sun-down, he had pro- 
ceeded but a short distance when he was brought to a stand by 
an emissary of royalty ; who demanded where he was going, his 
business, etc. His good judgment readily prompting a reply, he 
feigned business with a blacksmith living below. The sprig of 
his majesty informed him that the man he wished to see was in a 
house near by. He was permitted to enter and do his errand, 
which was to order some small job. We suppose the interview 
between Mr. Hager and Vulcan to have been on Sunday: the 
latter told him he would do his work, and that he might call for 
it as early as he pleased next morning. Leaving the infected 
house, Hager again encountered the man endowed with brief au- 
thority, who granted him permission to return home. 

It was nearly dark when the aged patriot left the tory senti- 
nel. Proceeding a few hundred yards on his way home, until out 
of sight of the enemy, he went down a bank of the river which 
he forded, and by a circuitous route, reached the Stone House in 
safety and communicated the approach of the invaders. Capt 
Jacob Hager, his son, was there at the time. He had returned 
with a party of Schoharie militia from the northern army but a 
few days before, where he had distinguished himself in several 
hazardous enterprises, transporting cannon to Fort Edward, etc. 
On Monday morning Col. Vrooman, fearing Swart and his com- 
rade might not reach Albany in season to obtain assistance, sent 
Capt. Hager and Henry Becker on the same errand ; with in- 
structions to keep the woods whenever there was danger of meet- 
ing with detention. 

At this juncture of their proceedings, in the afternoon of the 
day on which Hager and Becker hadleft. Col. John Harper — whose 
duty the reader will remember, required him to look to the pro- 
tection of Schoharie — arrived, to consult with Col. Vrooman and 
the Whigs there assembled, on the best course to be adopted un- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 239 

der the circumstances. It was readily agreed that the friends of 
equal rights assembled, or likely to be in season, were too few to 
oppose successfully McDonald's progress. No time was to be 
lost, as it was expected the band of outlaws would reach that vi- 
cinity on the following day : in order, therefore, to get aid in 
season to be of service, it was thought advisable for a messenger 
to proceed immediately to Albany on horseback. Col. Harper 
volunteered his services, and although the day was far spent, he 
mounted and set forward. Knowing that it would be extremely 
hazardous to pursue his journey in the night, he rode about five 
miles and put up at a public house then kept by John I. Lawyer, 
mentioned in Chap. III. of this work : in the latter part of the 
war his son, Jacob Lawyer, Jr. was its host. This ancient inn 
stood near the old Lutheran parsonage. The building is still 
standing on the premises of Chester Lasell — Mrs. W. G. Michaels. 

On the night Col. Harper staid at Lawyer's, there was quite a 
gathering of Indians and tories, at the tavern known in those days 
as. The Brick House at the Forks of the Road* distant from the 
former inn about a mile and a quarter. The object of this meet- 
ing of genial spirits, was, no doubt, to receive and commimicate 
intelligence from and to the royalist party above, and also to 
learn tidings from such as kept an eye on the movements at Law- 
yer's tavern. A whig (George Warner, Jr. of Cobelskill) who 
was a watchman secreted with others that night, along the fences 
south of the Brick House, to note the motions of the enemy, as- 
sured the author that he saw individuals all night passing and re- 
passing — whom he supposed communicating with the McDonald 
party. 

Col. Harper, having secured his horse and taken supper, retired 
early to an upper room, and locked the door, but did not think it 
prudent to undress. Some time in the evening, a party from the 
Brick House arrived at Lawyer's. The object of their visit being 
made known to the landlord, which was to get Harper to accom- 

• This house, now owned and occupied by Cornelius Vrooman, stood in the 
forks of the old Albany and Schenectada roads. It was a two story dwelling 
at the period of which I am speaking. 



240 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

pany them to their rendezvous, he expostulated with them for in- 
truding upon the rest of his guest, but to no purpose, for see him 
they would. Knowing that he was near an infected district, Col. 
Harper had taken the precaution to leave a light burning. Hear- 
ing an imusual noise below, he seized his pistols and stepped to 
the door, and while listening to learn the cause of his disturbance, 
he overheard the suppressed but earnest voice of the landlord on 
on the stairs, urging the intruders not to ascend. Said he — *^Fot 
God's sake, gentlemen, desist ! for I tell you he is a soldier, terri- 
bly armed, and some of you must die before he will be taken ! " 
Expostulation was in vain, and the landlord was thrust aside by 
the tory party, which rapped at the door of his guest. With pis- 
tol in hand he opened it, threatening death to the first man who 
should step over its threshold. The intruders then made known to 
him the object of the visit, and the intrepid Harper, with a pistol 
in each hand, replied, " / will be there in the morning, but attempt 
to take me there to-night at your peril ! " Seeing him thus arm- 
ed, and knowing from the flash of his eye that his threat would 
be executed, the party quailed before him and withdrew. He 
again locked his door, and was not afterwards disturbed. 

Col. Harper started next morning, about 8 o'clock, armed as 
on the night previous, with a sword and brace of pistols. Cross- 
ing Foxes creek bridge, which stood where the present bridge now 
stands, without any opposition, (some writer has erroneously sta- 
ted that a Tory sentinel was on the bridge) he rode up to Manv^s 
tavern, as I have been credibly informed by an eye-witness,* fas- 
tened his horse, and went in. He was in the house but a few mi- 
nutes, came out, remounted, and started off on the Schenectada 
road, via. Duanesburgh, for Albany. He rode a small black mare, 
with a white stripe in the forehead, which started from the inn up- 

•David Warner, of Cobelskill. At the time alluded to, he states that he 
•was a lad about ten years of age ; that he then boarded with Capt. Mann's 
father, and went to school near Foxes creek ; that several boys, himself with 
the rest, had assembled after breakfast near the tavern to go to school. The 
morning vi^as unusually pleasant. It v?as not usual, at that period, to see a 
stranger, vrith holsters, upon his saddle. Mr. W. also saw Col. Harper re- 
turn next day with cavalry. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



241 



on a pace, struck a gallop near the top of the hill, and soon bore 
the rider out of sight. He had disappeared but a few mi- 
nutes, hefore Jive Indians arrived at Mann's, and entered the cellar 
kitchen, followed by the boys, who were still at play in the street. 
Within half an hour, two of Captain Mann's horses, a black and 
a roan, were brought before the door, and two Indians, Seth's 
Henry,* a tall, dark Schoharie chief, sometimes familiarly called 
Set, or Sethen Henry, and David, a small Indian, before noticed, 
mounted them, and started at a full gallop on the road Col. Har- 
per had taken. The Indians, in pursuit were armed only \vith 
knives and tomahawks. 




COLONEL HARPER CONFRONTING THE INDIANS. 

For a distance of several miles, at that period, there was scarce- 
ly a house on the old Duanesburgh road. As Col. Harper drew 
near Righter's place, he discovered that he was pursued. Passing 
over a knoll, or turn in the road, which hid him from his follow- 



•The name of this Indian's father was Seth, and his own Henry ; he was 
known in the war by the name in the context. 



242 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ers, he dismounted, drew his sword from its scabbard, and stuck 
the point of it in a dry stump before him, and holding a pistol in 
each hand, ready cocked, he leaned back against his horse, and 
awaited the approach of the Indians, the tallest of whom he had 
already recognized. Riding at a rapid rate, and before they were 
aware of their proximity, they drew very near the object of their 
pursuit. The instant they saw him, they reined up, within reach 
of his pistols. Not choosing to risk a shot, he exclaimed in a 
voice and manner that carried terror to their savage breasts — 
" Stop you villains— face about and he off this instant, or these 
hullets shall whistle through your hearts." The Indians, seeing him 
thus armed, dared not advance, and wheeling their horses, sullen- 
ly withdrew. It is said, however, that Set dogged him, at a res- 
pectful distance, a good part of the way to Albany. I have 
been enabled to be thus circumstantial, from having conversed 
with several individuals who received from Col. Harper's own 
mouth the account of his pursuit soon after its occurrence, whose 
statements do not vary in anything material. 

Col. Harper's arrival in Albany, on Tuesday, August 12th, is 
thus noticed in the Journal of the Council of Safety the following 
day. Christopher Fiero stated to that body that one Du Boise, 
who left Albany the evening before, reported " That every road 
from Schoharie is obstructed and filled up by the tories there; that 
Col. John Harper had escaped from thence, and that Col. Vroo- 
man, with about twenty-five whigs, had fortified themselves in a 
house there." Under the same date on the Council's Journal, I 
find the copy of a letter written by that body, to Col. Pawling, 
on the subject of Gov. Clinton's letters, previously inserted, which 
reads as follows : 

" Sir — We enclose you two letters received from the Governor, 
by which it appears that he is very anxious to have the party 
detached for Schoharie. Wc have received information that 
Col. Vrooman, with a party of whigs, is besieged there by the to- 
ries. 

" It is necessary that he should be relieved immediately. You 
will therefore be pleased to issue your orders this night for two 
hundred drafts to be made from your regiment ; after which you 
will, agreeably to the Governor's directions, repair to this plac«, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 243 

and confer with the Council about the most practicable means of 
executing your plan. 

" We are extremely sorry that so much precious time has alrea- 
dy been lost by the miscarriage of your letter." [The above let- 
ter was signed by the President and forwarded by a light- 
horseman ; after which the Council] "Resolved, That Gen. Scott, 
R. R. Livingston, and Maj. Tappan, be a committee to assist Col. 
Pawling in executing the secret expedition," 

Col. Harper, unadvised of the proceedings of Gov. Clinton and 
the Council, on his arrival in Albany, applied either to the Albany 
committee, or Col. Van Schaick, then in command of that milita- 
ry station — or, what is quite likely, to both — for assistance j and 
a small body of cavalry was granted him. The company con- 
sisted in rank and file of twenty-eight stout looking men.* They 
were well-clad, wore caps, and made a fine military appearance. 
By whom they were commanded, the author has been imable sa- 
tisfactorily to learn. The old citizens of Schoharie all assert 
that he was a Frenchman, and spoke imperfect English. The 
party, conducted by Col. Harper, left Albany in the evening, and 
riding a good part of the night, arrived in Schoharie early on 
"Wednesday. One of the party had a trumpet, the first, probably, 
ever heard echoing among the mountains of Schoharie — an occa- 
sional blast of which is said to have carried terror to the hearts of 
the evil doers, and produced an effect equal to that of an army 
with banners. 

On arriving at the brick house, a halt was ordered. Mine host 
hearing the warlike sound of the trumpet while it was yet a little 
way off, fancying no doubt that he heard his own death knell in 
every blast, fled to a barrackf of wheat on his premises, where he 
snugly ensconsed himself beneath its sheaves j thinking, that 

• Col. Stone, who, in the Life of Brant, (see chapters 14 and 16, vol. 1,) 
has adopted Campbell's erroneous date of this transaction, placing it in 1778, 
gives the name of Capt. Woodbake as the commanding officer of the party. 
The Schoharie people say that was not the commandant's name. Stone also 
puts down their number at 200 : but six or eight persons still living in differ- 
ent parts of the county who counted them, state their number to have been 
ooly twenty-eight. 

t The word barrack is both German aod Dutch, la the Schoharie and 



244 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

" The man who lives to run away, 
May live to fight another day." 

The commandant of the little squadron assumed a terrifying 
aspect, as, half drawing his sword, and rising in his stirrups, he 
demanded of Mrs. Mann, who had been summoned to the door 
for the purpose, in imperfect English, the whereabouts of her 
husband. The good woman, who should not at that time have 
been so frightened as to turn deadly pale, assured the speaker 
she could not inform him. In fact she did not herself know. 
The premises of the tory were then strictly searched for his per- 
son, even to the barrack in which he was concealed : and several 
troopers ran their swords down into the wheat sheaves beneath 
which he lay, without discovering him. 

A small number of men who were found at the brick house, 
with some exceptions, submitted to the authority of the American 
officers, and destroyed their royal protections, with the promise of 
pardon for accepting them. A few who had been very active 
amono- the tories were however arrested, among whom was the 
malicious Indian, David ; who had gained notoriety by his attempt 
on the hfe of Chairman Ball — his pursuit of Col. Harper, and the 
aid he had rendered the British cause in the capacity of messen- 
ger he having just arrived from the camp of McDonald, when 

arrested. The troop then proceeded to the public house of Jacob 

Mohawk valleys, much hay and grain was formerly deposited in barracks— 
indeed, such depositaries are considerably used there at the present day. 
They are commonly made by erecting four upright poles or posts, so as to 
form a square, firmly set in the ground, or held at equal distances by timbers 
framed into them above the ground. The upper part of the posts is perfo- 
rated with holes, and a roof, made of a quadrangular form, terminating in 
a vertex, rests upon wood or iron pins thrust through those holes. The roof 
is usually constructed by framing two timbers, crossing at right angles, and 
secured by side pieces, into which are framed four upright poles, firmly se 
cured at the apex above. The roof is sometimes boarded and shingled, bul 
usually thatched. When a barrack is to be filled, the roof is raised to the 
lop of the corner posts, and the hay or grain in the sheaf is stacked beneath 
it : and as the contents arc removed the roof is let down. Some barracks 
have a floor, and are so constructed as to last many years, subserving most 
of the purposes of a barn. They are generally built with four corners, but 
sometimes with more. Soldiers' huts are, by the French, also called barracks. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 2AC 

Snyder, a whig living a little distance east of Mann's to obtaii 
refreshments; in the mean time the news of Col. Harper's arriva 
from Albany with troops having wonderful music, spread up anc 
down the valleys of Foxes creek and Schoharie, with almost 
lightning rapidity. Leaving their work unfinished, the friends of 
liberty began to assemble, and many good citizens who had only 
been waiting to see a prospect of succor in case they espoused 
their country's cause, now did so cheerly. Stone's account of 
there having been a large body of tories, with scarlet patches on 
their hats assembled at Capt. Mann's, to whom that officer was 
making a speech on the arrival of Col. Harper and his party, 
needs authentication. 

On the evening of the day on which Col. Harper left the Stone 
House to obtain assistance, McDonald and his followers descend- 
ed the river to the residence of Swart, as stated in his diary, where 
they encamped over night ; taking quiet possession of the pre- 
mises, and helping themselves bountifully to the best the house 
afforded. 

As soon as the steeds of the cavalry were rested, and them- 
selves refreshed, quite a party of militia variously armed having 
already assembled, preparations were made to advance and meet 
the enemy, about six miles distant. The militia, some of whom 
were mounted and others not, were officered by Col. Harper for 
the occasion, and accompanied the cavalry. David, the Indian 
captive, was fastened by a cord around his wrist, to a fellow 
prisoner. The little army a few hours after its arrival in the val- 
ley, moved up the river, at the inspiring sound of the trumpet, 
which laughed among the cncrinital and trilohital hills — and 
danced far away in the distance. Those who had been the most 
boisterous for King George, were, as if by magic, all converted 
into Congress-men ; after hearing the voice of the vociferous 
Frenchman, and that of his musician speaking to his distant au- 
ditors with a brazen tongue. No musician ever rendered his 
country more evident essential service, unless perchance he was 
rivaled by Anthony Van Corlear, of Knickerbocker memory. 
At times the militia who were on foot, were obliged to take a 
17 



246 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

dog trot to keep up with the excited commander of cavalry, 
while the sweat of the brow as it coursed adown their sunburnt 
cheeks, denoted their blood to be at fever heat. 

After proceeding about five miles, as the troops were passing 
an alder swamp, in Hartman's dorf, the prisoner David, watch- 
ing a favorable opportunity, slipped the cord from his arm and 
ran into it. The party were halted, ordered to surround the 
marsh, and shoot down the captive if he attempted to escape. 
The mounted militia who knew the ground, led the cavalry round 
the swamp ; and the Indian being observed skulking from tree 
to tree, and just ready to emerge in the direction of the river, 
was instantly brought down by a pistol shot in the back, with 
the exclamation, " Ganno ! ganno I" The commanding officer, 
impatient at the delay, ordered one of the militia men to advance 
and shoot him. He was then lying partly upon his side, his 
head was resting upon his hand, and his elbow upon the ground, 
while his eye calmly surveyed his foes. George Shell, of Foxes 
creek, (who sometime after bravely assisted in the defence of 
Major Becker's house,) advanced from the ranks, presented his 
old fire-lock and attempted to fire. Click, click, click, said the 
old rusty lock — while its antiquated cylinder remained cold and 
silent. " Tam te Meleshee giinsP' exclaimed the oflficer; as, 
riding forward, he snapped one of his own pistols, which missed 
fire, and ordered his troopers to shoot him. A pistol snapped by 
the man next the captain also missed fire, but that in the hand 
of his follower exploded, sending a bullet through the Indian's 
head. As those pistols were l^snapped, the Indian turned round 
to avoid seeing them. He was left in his gore, and the party 
resumed their march. This Indian was the first person killed 
in the Schoharie settlements in the Revolution; and I have 
been thus particular in detailing the circumstances attending his 
death, because the manner of it as related in the Life of Brant, 
where he is misnamed Peter Mckus, is so very far from the truth 
as stated by several eye witnesses.* 

• Jacob Becker, Jacob Enders, and George Warner, who were militia 
men present. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 247 

Damd Ogeyonda, although a notorious offender, would not 
have been slain had he not attempted to escape while a prisoner. 
The story of his having been " inhumanly hacked to pieces" by 
the cavalry, is not true. It is a well-known characteristic of the 
Indian, that whoever does an injury to one of his blood, incurs 
his hatred and revenge. This same Indian had several sons, 
who, knowing all the circumstances attending their father's death, 
not only remained friendly to the American cause, but Yon, pro- 
bably the oldest, rendered the citizens of Schoharie no little ser- 
vice during the war. 

On arriving at the Stone House, a ladder was raised against 
it, and the prisoners taken at Mann's were compelled to mount 
upon the roof, which was not very steep, when the ladder was 
removed, and they were placed in temporary and somewhat novel 
confinement. A squaw among them, is said to have rendered the 
situation of a prisoner, named Weaver, so uncomfortable, that 
he requested Jacob Enders to remove her. 

The party had been at Middleburgh but a short time, when a 
woman by the name of Staats, known in the valley by the un- 
poetic cognomen of Rya^s Pup, was seen approaching the Stone 
House in the direction of the river, nearly half a mile distant. 
She halted soon after being discovered as if hesitating about ad- 
vancing, when the officer of cavalry beckoned to her to come 
forward ; upon which she faced about and ran the other way. 
Two troopers were sent in pursuit, and captured her while ford- 
ing the river ; and each seizing a hand they turned their horses 
and rode back to the house, to the great amusement of its inmates, 
and discomfiture of the prisoner who was almost — out of breath. 
After panting a while, she was enabled to answer the interroga- 
tories of the American officers. She said she had just come from 
the camp of McDonald — that his numbers were very great — and 
that he was then preparing to march down and capture the Stone 
House and its inmates. — George Warner and Jacob Enders. 

On receiving this information, the troops were sent to collect 
several fences to aid in throwing up a temporary breastwork 
around the house, that they might be the better able to repel an 



248 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

attack. After waiting sometime, however, for the appearance 
of the enemy, it was thought advisable by the Americans who 
were somewhat respectable in numbers, to proceed to meet him. 
On arriving near Swarfs place, two miles distant from the Stone 
House, it was ascertained that the foes were on the retreat up 
the valley ; and it was only by a rapid movement of the mounted 
troops that they were overtaken at the Flockey* At this place 
Adam Crysler resided before the war — it is now the residence of 
Samuel Lawyer. The house which is situated at the upper end 
of Vrooman's land, is pleasantly located upon a bank which slopes 
to the road. A brook or mill stream runs at the base of the 
bank near the road, between which and the river was formerly 
a small swamp. As the Americans drew near, they found Mc- 
Donald had made a stand on the lawn in front of the house, pre- 
pared to give them a warm reception. A few shots only were 
exchanged, when the cavalry, at a long and terrifying blast of 
the trumpet, dashed impetuously among the Indians and tories ; 
who, panic struck, took to their heels and fled up the river. 
They were pursued but a short distance as the ground above was 
unfavorable for cavalry ; besides, it was nearly dark, and the lat- 
ter were much fatigued, having rode about forty-five miles since 
the evening before. David "Wirt, lieutenant of the cavalry, was 
killed in this encounter, and two privates wounded, one Rose, 
mortally — who died three days after. Angelica, a daughter of 
Col. Vrooman, assured the writer in 1837, that she furnished the 
winding sheet for Lieut. Wirt — who was the first man that fell 
in Schoharie defending the principles of a free government. Wirt 
was shot as was afterwards learned, by one Shafer, a royalist. 
What loss the enemy sustained in this brush is unknown, few, 
however, chose to stay long enough to be killed. The cavalry re- 
turned to the Stone House and encamped for the night. As it 
was then supposed that madam Staats had been sent down by 
McDonald to afford him an opportunity to escape, she was sought 
for on the return of the Americans, but had slept out. — Mattice 
Ball, Jacob Van Dyck and others. 

• The name for this spot as known among the old inhabitants, and doubt- 
less signified, ground near a swamp. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 249 

The enemy retreated up the river through Brakabeen, and by 
way of the Susquehanna laid their course for Niagara. Judge 
Hager states, that upwards of twenty male citizens went off from 
Vrooman's land, Brakabeen, and Clyberg (Clay hill,) with the 
enemy ; among whom were Adam Crysler, Joseph Brown, sever- 
al of the Boucks, Beckers, Keysers, Mattices, Freemires, William 
Zimmer, one of the Schoharie committee, one Shafer and one 
Kneiskern. He also adds, that while the enemy remained in 
Schoharie, they doubtless lived well, as they were in a land of 
plenty. 

On the return of the light horse, as nothing appeared to crimi- 
nate the father of Capt. Mann, who was inoffensive and consider- 
ably advanced in life, he was suffered to remain at liberty — and 
as the title to the hrick house and valuable farm adjoining is said 
to have been vested in him and not his son, it was never confis- 
cated to the republic. 

Not long after the cavalry and militia had proceeded up the 
valley, Capt. Mann came down from his hiding place, crossed the 
river below the mouth of Fox's creek, and secreted himself un- 
der the Karighondontee mountain, at a place where a small stream 
of water has cut a ravine. The next day, David Warner, the lad 
before mentioned, and John Snyder, with a basket of food, went 
in pursuit of him. They crossed the river and followed up the 
ravine before named, just above which, seated in a cavity of the 
rock, they found the object of search, smoking a pipe and fast- 
ing ; with an apology for a fire, a few brands smoldering in the 
recess. Mann had very wisely taken with him from home a tin- 
der box and matches, as the chosen place of secretion was in- 
fested by rattle-snakes; and it being usually damp, was a cold 
place at night even in midsummer. The little nook in which 
Mann was found by his friends, is a familiar one to the Schoharie 
geologists, who have been there to obtain strontian, especially if 
they ever chanced to be there, as the writer once did, in a very 
hea\7 shower. The ravine alluded to, affords the geologist some 
of the most beautiful deposits o{ fossil moss found in Schoharie 
county. 



250 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

When Mann heard his friends approaching, his fearful appre- 
hension was aroused, but on hearing their familiar voices calling 
him by name, he readily discovered himself. From his mountain 
retreat, he shortly after went to Kneiskern's dorf, several miles 
further down the river, where he was concealed by friends until 
fall J at which time, he surrendered himself to the military au- 
thority established in the valley, by which he was transfered to 
Albany for trial. The following paper will show the time when 
Capt. Mann became a prisoner. 

" Schoharie, Bee. 8th, 1777. 
Gentlemen of the committee : — We have taken it upon us to 
let George Mann come in, by a sufficient bail-bond, which we 
thought he could not get ; but since he did, we Avould not affront 
the people, and took it ; and if you think that it is not sufficient, 
let me know it, for I am ready now to act against the tories to the 
utmost point Avhich is in my power, if the other committee are 
willing to join : if not, I will no longer be a committee man. 

" Gentlemen, I beg one favor of you, which is, to give me in- 
telligence in what form we are to act with the tories now : so no 
more at present. " I remain, sirs, 

" Your friend and well wisher, 

"JOHANNES BALL." 

Owing to the great influence and respectabihty of his whig 
relatives and neighbors, Mann's trial was kept off until the war 
closed — when, a very liberal policy having been adopted toward 
those who had committed no very flagrant act, he was set at lib- 
erty, and returned home to the bosom of his family and the quiet 
possession of his property. From the fact that he surrendered 
himself a prisoner, instead of trying to flee to Canada, there can 
remain no doubt but that his views had undergone a change in 
regard to what course he should from the beginning have adopted. 
He had early, beyond a doubt, been warmly solicited by the friends 
of royalty, and the most flattering inducements, to advance their 
cause. But a life of repentance showed his error in judgment to 
have been of the head and not the heart, — while his firm and 
willing support ever after of the newly established order of things, 
fully atoned for his single offence. 

From a long and intimate personal acquaintance with the de- 
scendants and other relatives of Capt. George Mann, I express 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 251 

an opinion without fear of contradiction, that they are as patriotic 
citizens and as firm and consistent supporters of the federal con- 
stitution, as an equal number of men found in any other part of 
the American union. 

The command of Capt. Mann's company, after his disappear- 
ance, was given to his lieutenant. Christian Stubrach. 

Some individuals in the Schoharie settlements who had been 
persuaded to accept of kingly protection under McDonald, when 
the prospects of the colonies looked to them most gloomy, soon 
after his defeat and hasty flight, found means, in the confusion 
that ensued, to return home and become the supporters of the fed- 
eral compact, while others followed his fortunes to Canada to 
await the speedy triumph of the British arms, when they expect- 
ed to return and enjoy not only their own, but the confiscated 
property of their whig neighbors. 

Letters from Colonels Harper and Vrooraan, dated August 20th, 
1777, were received by the council of safety, as appears by the 
journal of that body, and transmitted on the 29th to his excellen- 
cy the governor, recommending him to provide five hundred 
troops — one hundred of whom to be riflemen — to protect the 
frontiers of Albany and Tryon counties : and under the date of 
August 30th, I find entered upon the council's journal, the follow- 
ing letter : 

" Schoharie, August 2Slh, 1777. 

" Gentlemen — Since we put Capt. McDonald and his army to 
flight, I proceeded with some volunteers to Harpcrsficld, where 
we met many that had been forced by McDonald, and some of 
them much abused. Many others were in the woods, who were 
volunteers ; and as we could not get hands on those that were ac- 
tive in the matter, I gave orders' to all to make their appearance, 
when called on, at Schoharie, in order to give satisfaction to the 
authority for what they have done ; and if they do not, that they 
are to be proclaimed traitors to the United States of America ; 
which they readily agreed to, and further declare that they will 
use their best endeavors to bring in those that have been the cause 
of the present disturbance. I Avould, therefore, beg the honorable 
council of safety, that they would appoint proper persons to try 
those people, as there will be many that can witness to the pro- 
ceedings of our enemy, and are not in abibty to go abroad. 

"From vour most obedient, humble servant, 
" JOHN HARPER, Colo. 

" P. S. The people here are so confused that they do not know 



252 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

how to proceed. I therefore would beg the favor of your honora- 
ble body to appoint such men as are strangers in these parts. 
" To the honorable, the council of safety, at Kingston." 

The above letter was referred to a committee who reported on 
the same, September 1st, and the council ordered the followmg 
letter written to Col. Harper in reply, under that date — 

" Sir — Your favor of the 28th of August last, was received and 
communicated to the council. They congratulate you on the suc- 
cess of our arms in that quarter, which must be doubly grateful to 
the brave inhabitants of Trj'on county, Avhose virtuous exertions 
have so greatly contributed to it. 

" The trial and punishment of those inhuman -wretches who 
have combined with a savage foe to imbrue their hands in the 
blood of the innocent, demands a speedy attention. But while 
the council agree with you in the impropriety of removing them 
to any distance from the witnesses of their guilt, they can not con- 
sent, nor indeed are they empowered to institute any new court for 
the trial of such offences. These wicked parricides, however de- 
testable, are nevertheless, by our free constitution, entitled to the 
inestimable privilege of a trial by their peers. A court of oyer and 
terminer will be held in your county [Albany county meant — 
Col. Harper was then a resident of Tryon county :] as soon as the 
present storm hath a little subsided. In the mean time the public 
officers of the county will exert themselves to detect, apprehend 
and secm'e the rebels. 

" You will be pleased to communicate this letter to the commit- 
tee of Schoharie, and to such other persons as may be concerned 
in it." 

The following letter directed to " The Commissioners for Se- 
questrings for Tryon County, ^^ and found among the papers of 
Col. Fisher, one of those commissioners, was from a member of 
the New York council of safety. 

" Kingston, 2\st August, 1777. 
" Gent. — The enclosed resolution was thought necessary, that 
vou may have it in your power to remove the women and children 

such place (if even it should be to the enemy,) as you with Gen. 
' jrates may think proper. Should you Avant any thing farther, you 

nil please to let the House know. I wish you health and spirits 

1 these trying times — which we will all get over ; and that it may 
be soon, is the prayer of Gent, your most hum'e serv't. 

"ABM. YATES, Jun." 
[The resolution above alluded to] — " Resolved, That the com- 
missioners for sequestrating the effects of persons gone over to, or 



* AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 253 

who are with the enemy, be directed immediately to seize the ef- 
fects of all such of the inhabitants of the counties of Albany and 
Tryon, as are gone over unto and joined the enemy, and to dis- 
pose thereof, agreeably to the resolutions in that case made and 
provided. That the said commissioners be empowered to remove 
the wives and children of such disaficcted persons aforesaid from 
their habitations, to such place or places as they shall conceive 
best for the security of the state. That the said commissioners (if 
Gen. Gates shall think it advisable) be empowered to send all or 
any part of the said women and children to their said husbands." 

On the council's journal under date of September 5th, I find the 
following entry — 

The committee to whom was referred the petition of William 
Cameron and the other six prisoners brought by Maj. Wjmkoop's 
party from Schoharie, delivered in their report, which was read, 
amended and agreed to, and is in the words following, to wit: 
' That it appears from the said petition of William Cameron and 
the six prisoners brought with him as aforesaid, that they have, 
contrar}' to the resolutions of this state, aided and assisted the ene- 
mies thereof, by taking up arms against it, and therefore that they 
be confined in irons in one of the jail rooms at Kingston.' " 

The above no doubt refers to the prisoners captured by the ca- 
valry which accompanied Col. Harper to Schoharie. In alluding 
to this transaction, the Rev. Daniel Gros, in a work on Moral 
Philosophy, published about the year 1806, thus observes — 

" Neither must it be forgotten that Lieut. Wallace, Wm. Wills 
and John Harper, Avho at that time of general distress on our 
western frontiers, when tAvo hundred royalists and Indians had 
advanced into the heart of Schoharie, where treachery, assisted by 
the panic with Avhich the inhabitants had been struck, had al- 
most accomplished a total defection among them, with forty men, 
cellected in a strong brick house, [stone house,] braved the ene- 
my, hindered the defection from taking the intended effect ; and 
afforded time for succor, by which the whole design of the enemy 
was defeated, and a valuable part of the frontier preserved." 

On the 13th of August, the same day on which Col. Harper so 
opportunely led troops to Schoharie, Lt. Col. Schermerhorn pro- 
ceeded to Norman's k-ill with a body of Schenectada militia, and 
forty Rhode Island troops, — in all about one hundred men, — to 
root up a tory gathering at that place. The expedition was very 
successful ; David Springer, a noted royalist, was killed, thirteen 



254 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of his comrades captured, the remainder dispersed, and confidence 
again restored, where all was doubt and disaffection, without the 
loss of a single man on the part of the Americans. — John J. 
Schemerhorn, son of Col. S. ?iamed in the context. 

In the fall of this year the following resolution was made pub- 
lic : 

"Advertisement. — This is to give notice to all persons, that the 
Committed of Schoharie have Resolved that nobody shall sell any- 
thing to disaffected persons, and especially to such persons as buy 
and send it to the Scotch settlements [on the Charlotte and Sus- 
quehanna rivers ;] and if any person does it, we shall seize it. 

" By order of the committee, 
" Schoharie, Nov. 24.th, 1777. JOHANNES BALL, Ch'n." 

The citizens of Schoharie were engaged in the fall in trans- 
porting provisions to the army under Gen. Gates, as the follow- 
ing will show. 

" Half Moon, 18th Oct., 1777: Received of Jacob Cuyler, Esq., 
D. C. G. of P., [deputy commissary general of provisions] sixty- 
six barrels and two tierces of flour, containing 13 Ic. 3qr. 81b. — 
tare 1471, in seventeen wagons, which I promise to deliver to 
Dirck Swart, D. C. of P. at Stillwater, having signed two receipts 
of the same tenor and date. JOHANNES BALL." 

About twenty of Mr. Ball's neighbors were engaged with their 
teams in conveying the flour mentioned, as appears by another 
certificate in possession of the writer. 

The following anecdote will serve to show the patriotism of the 
late patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer. When the troops under 
Gen. Gates were opposing Burgoyne near Saratoga, Gen. Ten 
Broeck, who was the guardian of the patroon, then in his minori- 
ty, visited some of his nephew's tenants near the Helleberg, and 
requested them to take all the provisions and grain they could 
spare (reserving a bare competency for their families,) to the Ame- 
rican army. Several emptied their granaries, pork-barrels, cattle- 
stalls and pig-styes, and delivered their effects to the commissary 
department at Saratoga ; not expecting any usual reward for so 
doing. Some time after, to their surprise, the young patroon in_ 
vited those tenants to Albany and 'presented them with valid titles 
to their lands. Such was one of the many acts of that good 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 255 

man, distinguished through life for his generosity and benevo- 
lence.* 

When news first reached Schoharie that the British had been 
defeated at Bennington, the tories believed it a falsehood, told to 
excite their fear. 

In the Revolution, that part of Sharon contained in the town 
of Seward, was called New Dorlach. It was a settlement of 
twenty-five or thirty families, only four of which, those of Jacob 
Hynds, William Hynds, Bastian France, and William Spurnheyer 
were active whigs. An old man named Hoffman, who took no 
part on either side, was, with his whig neighbors, made an object 
of savage cupidity. When St. Leger was beseiging Fort Schuy- 
ler, about thirty individuals went from this settlement and united 
with his forces. When the seige was raised, they would gladly 
have returned to their homes, but were compelled to go to Ca- 
nada ; only two came back at that time, and they deserted in the 
night. — Henry France, son of Bastian France. 

In the summer of 1777, when the several British commanders 
were proceeding towards Albany, some of its citizens, fearing the 
enemy would reach that city, secreted their money. A man 
named Ten Eyck buried a tin cup full of gold and silver in his 
cellar. After Burgoyne's surrender, search was made in vam 
for this treasure ; one Jacob Radley dug the ground floor of the 
cellar all over without finding it, and the superstitious notion 
obtained in the familiy, that it had disappeared through super- 
natural agency. Here is a spook story for the credulous. The 
cup had been removed by animam viventum — a living soul. — 
Judge Brown. 

The surrender of Burgoyne to Gen. Gates, which took place 
after the other British enterprises in New York had proved ab- 
ortive, diffused joy and gladness throughout the union. In Al- 
bany, the event was celebrated with much display. An ox was 
roasted whole for the occasion. A pole passing through It and 
resting on crotches served as a spit, while a pair of cart wheels 

'Frederick Vogel, to -whom the facts were communicated after the war, by 
Frederick Crounse, one of the tenants alluded to in the context. 



256 msTORY OF schoharie county, 

. at the ends of the pole were used to turn it. A hole was dug 
in the ground, in which, beneath the ox a fire was made. While 
cooking, several pails of salt water were at hand, to be applied 
with swabs to keep the meat from burning. When roasted it 
was drawn through the principal streets, and the patriotic secur- 
ed a good slice. A constant roar of artillery was kept up during 
the day. 

/ The aged met with joy of heart, 

The youthful met with gleej 
While little children played their part, 
The happiest of the three. 

In the evening almost every dwelling in the city was illumin- 
ated. A pyramid of pine fagots which had been collected for 
the occasion, in the centre of which stood a liberty pole sup- 
porting on its top a barrel of tar, was set on fire on the hill 
near the city early in the evening. When the fire reached the 
tar, it not only illuminated every part of the city, but sent its 
ominous light for many miles around, presenting a most impos- 
ing effect.* 

To show the enthusiasm that prevailed during the celebration 
above related, I insert the following incident. Evert Yates, of 
Montgomery county, who then lived in Albany, assured the writer 
that he, with several young friends, was without the city firing 
muskets in honor of the happy event. After firing a good many 
loud guns they returned home — when he found to his great sur- 
prise, his gun was half full ! The party, as often as they had 
loaded, fired together ; and he continued to load, not doubting 

* The author is indebted to Mrs. Henry France of Seward, who was a 
resident of Albany at the time, for the manner in which this event was cele- 
brated ; and also for the following narrative: Her father, John Home, was 
a butcher in Albany previous to the French war. In the early part of that 
war, he with six other Albanians, went up the Hudson in a battcau with 
merchandize to trade with the Indians for furs. Landing at some place and 
leaving their boat in which were their weapons of defence, they were pro- 
ceeding a little distance from it, when, as they were crossing a small bridge 
a party of seven armed Indians, who had been sometime watching their mo- 
tions, sprang out from under the bridge and made them captives. As they 
all had prisoners, each Indian at night took care of his own, and Home* 
watching his opportunity after traveling several days with his new master, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 257 

but his old fusee went off — too much excited to discover the^n- 
creasing length of his ramrod. 

The following anecdote was told the author by Jacob Van Al- 
styne, who was at the taking of Burgoyne. He was then adju- 
tant of a regiment of Rensselaer county militia, under Col. Ste- 
phen J. Schuyler, Lieut. Col. Henry K. Van Rensselaer, and act- 
ed in the two-fold capacity of adjutant and quarter-master. Col. 
Schuyler was a brother of Gen. Philip Schuyler, and having the 
oldest commission among the colonels on that station, he acted as 
brigadier general in the latter part of the campaign. A German, 
named John Tillman, a portly gentleman who resided at Albany 
after the war, acted as German interpreter for Gen. Gates, and 
was requested by the latter to select a proper person to go into 
the British camp as a s^py ; the object of whose mission was, to 
circulate letters among the Hessian soldiers, to induce them to de- 
sert, and to bring on an engagement in such a manner as Gates 
desired. TilJman selected Christopher Fisher,* a private in Col. 
Schuyler's regiment — a shrewd fellow and always ready with an 
answer to any question that might be asked him. Fisher, being 
well acquainted vnih. my informant, visited him to ask his advice 
in the hazardous undertaking, naming the reward offered. The 
Jatter told him what the consequence would be if he was detect- 
ed, but declined giving counsel. " Well," said Fisher, " if you 
will not advise me how to proceed, then I must act on my own 

effected his escape when the party were all asleep. He -went a short dis- 
tance and secreted himself in a hollow log. As soon ?.s his absence was dis- 
covered, several of the enemy pursued him; and he in his concealment 
heard them pass and repass, hallooing to each other. After their return 
he directed his course to the Mohawk, and at the end of eight or nine days 
journey through the forest, in which time he suffered much from hunger 
and exposure, he reached the bank of West Canada creek, and discovered 
an Indian and squaw upon its opposite shore. He called to them to come to 
him, but they did not move until he held up a piece of money. The Indian 
then sent the squaw in a canoe after him. He obtained food from them, who 
proved to be of a friendly tribe, and in a few days more reached home in safety; 
but it was a long lime before his comrades in the perilous enterprize all re- 
turned. 

• Fisher was a native of Schoharie county, of German origin, and had re- 
moved to Rensselaer county just before the war. 



258 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

judgment :" so saying, he took his leave of Van Alstyne, who 
thought but httle more of the matter until after the battle, which 
occured October 7th. While in his tent after that engagement, 
Fisher entered and showed him a purse of gold and his discharge 
from the service. Van Alstyne then desired to know how he had 
proceeded. Fisher stated that on the day appointed, he ap- 
proached the enemy's picket with a sheep upon his back, which 
had been killed for the occasion. He was hailed by the guard, 
who demanded of him his residence and the object of his visit. 
Fisher replied, that he lived a few miles back in the country — 
" that the d — d Yankees had destroyed all his property but one 
sheep, which he had killed, and was then taking to his friends.''^ 
On hearing this reply, the sentinel treated him kindly, and deliv- 
ered him over to an officer with a favorable report. In the Bri- 
tish camp, he was asked by a superior officer, what proof he could 
give that he was not deceiving. Said Fisher, "the rebels are 
preparing to give you battle, and if you will go with me, I will 
convince you of its truth." The officer followed Fisher to a cer- 
tain place, from which was visible a wood. Here had been sta- 
tioned, agreeable to the order of Gates, a body of Morgan's rifle 
corps, who were to exhibit themselves in a stealthy manner. The 
rifle-men wore frocks and were easily distinguished. " There — 
there" — says Fisher, "dont you see them devils of Morgan's 
dodging about among the trees ?" And sure enough, as fast as 
the spy directed his vision, the British officer could see the moving 
frocks of the American rifle-men. When urged to enlist into the 
British service, Fisher pretended an aversion to war, pleading also 
the necessity of returning home to protect his family against the 
rebels. He was allowed to leave the camp when he chose, and 
embraced the opportunity while the armies were engaged. He 
was, however, admitted into communion as a genuine royalist, 
and being allowed to mingle for several hours with those who 
spoke German, he discharged the duties of his perilous mission 
to the satisfaction of Gen. Gales. A party of British troops were 
sent to dislodge the rifle-men pointed out by Fisher — a general 
engagement followed, and the result is known to every American 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 259 

reader. Burgoyne capitulated soon after. The spy executed 
faithfully the principal object of his hazardous enterprise, and 
many of those Hessian soldiers deserted the British service in that 
campaign, and either entered the American service, or became 
good citizens of New York. Mr. Van Alstyne died in May, 1844, 
aged nearly 95 years. 

Gen. Fraser, a distinguished officer in the British army, was 
looked upon by some of the Americans as a more dangerous lead- 
er to oppose than Bnrgoyne himself. Several published accoimts 
state that such was the opinion of Col. Morgan. During the en- 
gagement of October 7th, it fell to the fortune of Morgan's rifle 
corps to meet in battle the troops under Fraser. Morgan select- 
ed a few of his best marksmen, who were placed in a favorable 
position, and instructed to make Fraser their especial mark. 
Timothy Murphy, who afterwards went to Schoharie, was one of 
the riflemen selected to execute this unholy design. The party 
thus stationed had each a chance to fire, and some of them more 
than once, before a favorable opportunity presented for Murphy ; 
but when it did, the effect was soon manifest. The gallant gene- 
ral was riding upon a gallop when he received the fatal ball, and 
after a few bounds of his charger, fell, mortally wounded. The 
fact that Murphy shot Gen. Fraser, was communicated to the 
writer by a son of the former. 

A letter dated Amherst, Mass., Oct. 7, 1835, and first published 
in the Saratoga Sentinel, introduces a new competitor for the 
honor, if such it was considered, of having slain Gen. Fraser. 
The letter is from the pen of E. Mattoon, Esq., being a reply to 
an interrogatory letter of a preceding date, from Philip Schuyler, 
Esq., a son of the late Gen. Schuyler. Mr. Mattoon expresses 
his belief, in the letter, that Gen. Fraser was killed by an old 
man with a long hunting gun, and not by one of Morgan's men. 
There can be no doubt but that the old gentleman to whom he 
alludes, shot an officer, but that he killed Gen. Fraser I cannot 
believe, since not only Murphy was positive he fell before his 
rifle, but several authors have stated that Fraser told his friends 
after he fell, that he saw the man who shot him, and that he was 



260 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

a rifleman posted in a tree. The remains of Gen. Fraser were 
taken to England after the war. 

After Gen. Burgoyne had resolved on retreating from Saratoga 
to Canada, Gen. Nixon, of the First Massachusetts brigade, suc- 
ceeded in gaining Fort Edward in his rear ; and the first intima- 
tion the retreating hero, who was to march through the colonies 
with three British regiments, had that his retreat was cut off, was 
from hearing the evening gun fired at that fortress. As its thun- 
der came booming along the valley of the Hudson, borne upon 
the evening breeze, it sounded in his unwilling ears the knell of 
his military glory. — Capt. Ehen Williams. 

David Elerson, who was a private in Capt. Long's company 
of Morgan's rifle corps, and compatriot of Timothy Murphy in 
many hazardouus enterprises, related the following anecdote to 
the author in 1837. Morgan's riflemen had acquired much cele- 
brity as marksmen while under Gen. Gates. When in the vici- 
nity of Albany, on their return from the northern army, a gentle- 
man near whose residence they halted, expressed a wish to witness 
their skill. The captain signified his willingness to gratify his 
curiosity, and a piece of paper was fastened upon a small poplar 
tree. Elerson handed his rifle, one of the best in the company, 
to John Garsaway, who, informant said, took a surer aim than 
himself. The rifle was leveled 100 yards distant from the mark 
and fired. The leaden messenger passed through the paper and 
the tree — splitting the latter several inches, and ruining it. Said 
the gentleman, looking at his crippled tree, which had almost 
been converted into a weeping willow (it will be remembered 
that fashion then made the poplar a very desirable shade tree) 
" I do not wonder the Indians are afraid of Morgan's riflemen, if 
that is the way they shoot." He then treated the company to 
liquor, as was the custom of the times — expressed his satisfaction 
at their skill, as he again cast his eye upon his blasted poplar, 
and the troops resumed their march. 

Maj. Stephen Watts, the brother-in-law of Sir John Johnson, 
was left mortally wounded on the Oriskany battle-ground -, and 
as an American soldier named Martin G. Van Alstyne was passing 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 261 

him, he was addressed by the dying royalist, who begged of him 
to be borne to a stream of water at a little distance off; saying 
that he could not survive his wounds, but that the crystal ele- 
ment would afford him a little comfort in his dying moments. 
He was carried to the place indicated, and presented Van Alstyne 
with his watch as a reward for his services. Watts survived his 
wounds but a few hours. The watch Van Alstyne would never 
part with in his lifetime, although offered several times more than 
its real value by a friend of the Watts family, who were very de- 
sirous of obtaining a keepsake of their deceased kinsman. — Joshua 
Reed. 

Col. Hendrick Frey, (a colonel of colonial troops under Sir 
William Johnson in the French war,) a wealthy royalist who re- 
sided during the revolution in a large stone house* one mile above 
the present village of Canajoharie, was at home, as he feigned 
neutrality, and on the day after the Oriskany battle a party of 
hostile Indians levied a tax on his hospitality. As they assembled 
around a table to eat, a sister of Frey who was waiting upon 
them, discovered on the person of one, the shirt of Maj. John 
Frey, their patriotic brother — one sleeve of which had been per- 
forated by a bullet and left very bloody. Her worst fears were 
aroused, and nearly letting fall something she held, she ran to 
her brother Hendrick, placed her hands on his shoulders and ex- 
claimed in a tone of i^al sorrow " Brother John is dead !" as- 
signing as her reason for such belief the sight of the bloody trophy 
before them. The colonel who could speak the Indian dialect well, 
desired his sister not to show any emotion before the Indians; 
and endeavored to quiet her fears by remarking that probably the 
shirt had belonged to some one else. The agitated maiden could 
not be persuaded into such a consoling belief, as the garment had 
been the workmanship of her own hands ; and her mental agony 
seemed almost insufferable. 

In a short time the Indians left the house, and proceeded down 
the river, followed at a little distance by Col. Frey, who was de- 

•This house took fire in the night, from a deposit of ashes, and burned 
dcrvn about the year 1832. 

18 



262 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

sirous of knowing the fate of his brother. Near the mouth of the 
Canajoharie creek he overtook them, and inquired of the possessor 
where he got the shirt which covered his brawny frame. He re- 
plied that he had wounded an officer the day before in the Oris- 
kany contest, in an arm which he had exposed from behind a 
tree, had made him his prisoner, and after taking from him such 
portion of his clothing as he desired, had sold him to a British 
officer who would probably take him to Canada. Frey hastened 
home and communicated to his sister what he had learned, which 
tended somewhat to calm her agitated mind, for to know that he 
still lived, although a wounded prisoner, was some consolation. 
Maj. Frey was taken to Canada, suffering much on the way, and 
while there confined ; a durance which lasted nearly two years. — 
/. Reed. 

The timely sortie of the brave Willet on the camp of the be- 
siegers at Fort Schuyler, caused their comrades engaged in the 
crimsoned fields of Oriskany, to withdraw and leave the militia of 
the Mohawk valley victors of the field. The Indians, who were 
among the last to leave, had mostly disappeared, and the firing 
had nearly ceased, when Capt. John James Davis remarked to 
Isaac Covenhoven, a soldier who stood behind a tree near to the 
one which concealed himself — " I believe the red devils have 
pretty much all left us !" " 1 don't know," said C. " there may 
be some of them lurking about yet." The words were scarcely 
utterered when Capt. D., who was a brave and meritorious officer, 
fell mortally wounded ; a bullet from the rifle of an Indian having 
passed through his lungs. — Isaac Covenhoven. 

Capt. Jacob Gardinier, of the Tryon county militia, was distin- 
guished for his daring bravery and personal acts in this terrible 
conflict. Some account of this officer's exploits in that battle are 
very properly related in the Life of Brant. The Rev. Daniel 
Gros, in his work on " Moral Philosophy," to which I have allud- 
ed, in some of his remarks on civil liberty, while speaking of the 
moral obligations of free citizens to act in defence of their country, 
referring to that battle, thus observes : " Let it stand recorded 
among other patriotic deeds of that little army of militia, that a 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 263 

Jacob Gardinier, with a few of his men, vanquished a whole pla- 
toon, killing the captain thereof, after he had held him for a long 
time by his collar as a shield against the balls and bayonets of the 
whole platoon. This brave militia captain is still alive, and was 
cured of thirteen wounds." After being literally riddled by bul- 
lets and bayonets, Capt. Gardinier crept into a cavity at the roots 
of a fallen tree, and continued the fight. He had with him a 
German lad, as a waiter, who then became very useful, bringing 
to his master, guns of the fallen, loading such as were not loaded, 
&c. He was so wounded that he could neither stand or load his 
own gun, and yet from his place of temporary safety, he did no 
little execution. Observing an Indian stealthily dodging from 
tree to tree to get a shot at an American officer, upon whom he 
had brought his rifle several times with partial aim, Capt. G. shot 
him, and sent his High Dutch hoy, as he called him, to get his 
gun. The lad returned with a report that the Indian was 
not dead, hut was kicJcivg. He had fallen across a log with his 
feet up, and was probably in the death struggle. After a few 
minutes, the boy was again sent, and soon returned with all the 
Indian possessed save his dead carcase. 

Capt. Gardinier, who was a blacksmith before the war, and re- 
sided near the river opposite Caughnawaga, had in his employ a 
man named Henry Thompson, a native of New Jei-sey. He was 
a tall, lank looking fellow, as odd as he was ungainly. He was 
in the Oriskany battle as a private under his employer, and after 
the conflict had lasted some time, and groans and death were ren- 
dered familiar, he approached the captain and told him he was 
hungry. ^'Fight away !" said the intrepid officer. "/ canl wUh- 
out eating,^' said Thompson. ^^Thengo and get ymi a piece," was 
the reply. He did so — sat down in the midst of the battle, on 
the body of a dead soldier, and ate heartily, while the bullets 
were cutting the air around his head like hail-stones. Having fi- 
nished his repast, he arose and fought with renewed energy, ap- 
pearing in the thickest of the fight. Such an evidence of cool 
bravery, to gratify hunger, I beheve was never excelled, if before 
equalled. 



264 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Samuel Gardinier, a brother of Jacob, was also in the post of 
danger at Oriskany. He had two balls shot into his body just 
above the groin. They were fired from opposite direictions almost 
at the same instant ; and so near did they lodge that when an in- 
cision was made to one, the other was visible, and both were ta- 
ken out together. He recovered and lived several years after the 
war was over. The bullets were evidently fired from fowling 
guns, and are treasured as sacred relics by his descendants. — An- 
ecdotes Jrom Rynier, a son of Samuel Gardinier. 

Valentine Fralick, of Stone Arabia, was a militiaman at Oris- 
kany. In the heat of battle, a little aside from the main array, 
William Merckley, a neighbor of Fralick, fell near the latter, 
by the shot of an Indian, mortally wounded. The former kindly 
offered to assist his wounded friend, but the assistance was de- 
clined. " Take care of yourself and leave me to my fate,' ^ was 
the wounded man's reply. Fralick, seeing several Indians ap- 
proaching, instantly sought shelter under a fallen tree, and while 
thus concealed, they passed and repassed over the tree, in search 
of, but without finding him. When the immediate danger was 
over, he returned to the body of his comrade, who had been toma- 
hawked and scalped, and giving it a temporary burial, he sought 
the American camp. — John, a son of Valentine Fralick, 

During one of the earliest invasions of the Saratoga county set- 
tlements by the enemy, (probably in 1777,) the following singular 
incident occurred. A party of Canadian Indians arrived just at 
night at the house of Angus McDermott, a Scotchman, who had 
but recently arrived in the country. The soldiers were helping 
themselves to whatever the house afforded to eat and drink, when 
all at once the floor gave way, and they were precipitated into the 
cellar. No one was seriously injured, and the jollification was 
continued there. The Indians kept the family within doors, so 
that their arrival should be unknown in the neighborhood, and 
scattering about the settlement early in the morning, they com- 
menced their diabolical deeds of destruction and death. — Angus 
McKinlay. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



265 



It has been said of the brave Gen, Herkimer — who was hurried 
into the Oriskany conflict through the rashness of his young offi- 
cers, several of whom called him a tory for his prudence, and soon 
after lost their own lives — that after he was wounded, and no 
longer able to remain upon his horse, his saddle was placed 
against a tree, upon which he sat down, and from whence he 
continued to issue his orders. While thus seated, he took from 
his pocket a tinder-box, and with his pocket-knife and a flint 
arrow-head, which he carried for the purpose, he lit his pipe and 
smoked it with as much apparent satisfaction as he would have 
done in his own house. Gen. Herkimer was taken to his resi- 
dence — a large gambrel-roofed brick building, still standing a lit- 
tle distance from the canal, two miles east of Little Falls, where 
he lived several days. 




GEN. HERKLMER'S HOUSE, DANUBE. 

After the battle of Oriskany, a song, commemorative of the 
event was composed, and for a long time sung in the Mohawk 
valley, of which the following is a stanza : 

" Brave Herkimer, our General, 's dead, 
And Col. Cox is slain; 
And many more, and valiant men, 
We ne'er shall see again." 

In June, 1777, Congress resolved to establish a corps of inva- 
lids, consisting of 8 companies, each to have 1 captain, 2 lieuten- 



266 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ants, 2 ensigns, 5 sergeants, 6 corporals, 2 drums, 2 fifes, and 100 
men, to be employed in garrison duty. A company of this kind 
was formed in Schoharie in the fall of 1777, or early in 1778, of 
which Tunis Vrooman, who had served in the French war, was 
appointed captain, Peter Snyder and Martinus Vrooman lieuten- 
ants, and John L. Lawyer its ensign. This company, which was 
mostly in the vicinity of the Upper Fort, w^as called in Schoharie, 
the " Associate Exempts.''^ 

In the fall of 1777, Congress adopted thirteen articles of con- 
federation ; Maryland was the last state to adopt them. In No- 
vember, Forts Mifflin and Mercer, which prevented the passage of 
British shipping to Philadelphia, w^ere taken by the enemy, after 
a severe loss on their part, and a most gallant defence of them by 
Colonels Greene, Smith, and Simms, and Maj. Thayer, and the 
enemy entered that city in triumph, where they wintered. About 
the same time Washington went into winter quarters at Valley 
Forge, Pa., fifteen miles northwest of Philadelphia, where his ar- 
my erected temporary huts, but their sufferings were most acute 
from a want of nearly all the munitions of war. The winter 
was a very severe one, and the American soldier might daily he 
traced hy his own blood ! Nothing but an unconquerable love of 
Liberty, deep rooted and steadfast, could have induced men to con- 
tinue in the American service. — Allan, and Tallmadge's Journal. 

The following anecdote will not only show the true piety of 
Gen. "Washington, but the power on which he relied for the final 
success of his suffering country. While the American army was 
in camp at Valley Forge Isaac Potts, a respectable Quaker, who 
had often seen Washington going to, or returning from a grove at 
a little distance from his own dwelling early in the morning, 
had the curiosity to learn the object of those visits. En- 
tering the thicket one morning very early, he secreted himself; 
soon after which the American commander advanced to a retired 
spot near him, and upon his knees offered a fervent prayer to the 
God of battles for the triumph of patriotic principles. Soon af- 
ter, Potts returned home : his wife observing his thoughtful coun- 
tenance, thus said to him — " Isaac, something moves thee I per- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 267 

ceive." " Yea, Sarah !" he replied, " I never believed until this 
morning that a soldier could be a Christian.'^ He then related 
what he had witnessed and remarked, " that such prayers as 
George, the Virginian offered, must prevail ; and that England 
never could subdue her colonies." — Capt. Ebcn Williams. 

In the course of this year, (1777) Gov. Tryon became almost 
a savage — sending out parties to burn buildings and wantonly de- 
stroy the property of many inoffensive colonists. When remon- 
strated with by Gen. Parsons, he declared that had he more au- 
thority, he would burn every committee- man's house within his 
reach, and expressed a willingness to give twenty silver dollars 
for every acting committee-man who should be delivered to the 
King's troops. — ^llan. 

The preceding paragraph will show the reader the reason why 
the county called Tryon, was afterwards given the name of the 
immortal Montgomery, in whose veins coursed the very best of 
Americanised Irish blood. 

The year 3777 was one of alternate hopes and fears to the 
American people. They had witnessed with gratitude the success 
of their arms in northern New York — while several forts along 
the Hudson had been captured by the enemy, and the battles of 
Brandywine and Germantown had been followed by disaster. In 
April of this year, it should not be forgotten, a new impulse was 
given the cause, by the opportune arrival, wdth several of his 
countrymen, of the hrave^ noble hearted, generous Lafayette : who 
not only bared his own breast to the storm in its fury, but who, 
with a magnanimity that put sinister nature to the blush, threw 
into the exhausted treasxiry of the nation, his ample fortune — bury- 
ing beneath it the scabbard of his sword. Let that patriot who 
glories in being an American, love and venerate the virtues of 
Lafayette as did Washington ; and let him remember, too, that 
this country should ever be a home for the oppressed of every 
land, for good men of other lands aided in establishing its free- 
dom. With many other gallant foreigners, a DeKalb and Pulaski 
mingled their life-blood with that of a Warren, a Woodhull, a 
Montgomery, a Herkimer and Mercer, to water the shriveled roots 



268 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of the tree of liberty — while a Lafayette, a Kosciusko and a Stew- 
hen, prompted to deeds of noble daring, aided more fortunately in 
sustaining the American flag. 

It was during the year 1777, that an attempt was made by foul 
intrigue, to supplant Gen. Washington and promote Gen. Gates 
to the chief command. Several officers of rank favored the 
Gates' party, among whom were Generals Mifflin and Conway — 
the latter an Irishman — and several members of Congress. Anony- 
mous letters, reflecting on the character and military skill of 
Washington, were put in circulation. Mr. Laurens, president of 
Congress, and Patrick Henry, one of its master spirits, communi- 
cated to Washington the character of his foes and the nature of 
their design. Happily for the country, the machinations of this 
unholy ambition recoiled upon the heads of its instigators. Con- 
way found it necessary to resign his commission. This subject 
matter afterwards originated a duel between Conway and Gen. 
Cadwallader. After the duel, the former, thinking himself mor- 
tally wounded, expressed to Gen. W^ashington by letter, his deep 
regret for the part he had acted in the Gates transaction, adding 
his own testimony to the many virtues of the Commander-in- 
chief — Bancroft''s Waslmigton and Wirt^s Henry. 

The following romantic incident is copied from the journal of 
Col. Tallmadge. In December, 1777, when the British army was 
at Philadelphia and the Americans under Washington were at 
"Valley Forge, Major Tallmadge was stationed between the armies 
with a detachment of cavalry, for the purpose of observation, and 
to circumscribe the range of British foraging parties. The duty 
was an arduous one, the horses being seldom unsaddled, or the 
squad remaining all night in the same position, from fear of a 
visit from the enemy, which on one occasion they received with 
the loss of several men. While on this duty, says the journal : 

" Beings advised that a countrT/ girl had gone into Philadelphia 
with eggs, instructed to obtain some information respecting the 
enemy, I moved my detachment to Germantown, where they halt- 
ed, while with a small party I advanced several miles towards the 
British lines, and dismounted at a small tavern called the Rising 
Sun, in full view of their out posts. Very soon I saw a young fe- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 269 

male comings out from the city, who also came to the same inn. 
After we had made ourselves known to each other, and while she 
was communicating some intelligence to me, I was informed that 
the British light horse were advancing. Stepping to the door, I 
saw them at full speed chasing in my patroles, one of whom they 
took. I immediately mounted, when I found the young damsel 
close by my side, entreating that I would proteA her. Having not 
a moment to reflect, I desired her to mount behind me, and in this 
way I brought her off' more than three miles, up to Germantown, 
where she dismounted. During the Avhole ride, although there 
was considerable firing of pistols, and not a little wheeling and 
charging, she remained unmoved, and never once complained of 
fear after she mounted my horse. I was delighted with the trans- 
action, and received many compliments from those who became 
acquainted with the adventure." [The journal does not say at 
whose instigation this heroine had visited Philadelphia, but Gen. 
Washington was doubtless her employer.] 

Three forts were erected in the Schoharie valley, the central 
being the first one built. It was known during the Revo- 
lution as the Middle Fort, and stood on the farm now owned 
by Ralph Manning, about half a mile east of north from the 
Middleburgh bridge. It was constructed in the fall of 1777, by 
the citizens and soldiers — the former drawing together suitable 
timber, and the latter, with their aid, giving it a proper place. 
The two story stone dwelling, owned and occupied by John Beck- 
er — the kitchen part of which is still standing — was inclosed 
within the pickets of the fort. 

The Upper Fort, situated five miles west of south from the 
middle fort, was commenced in the fall of 1777 and completed 
the summer following. The one story frame dwelling of John 
Feeck was there inclosed within the pickets. This fort stood not 
far distant from the present site of Murphy's mill, in the upper 
end of Vrooman's land. 

The Lower Fort, situated six miles north of the middle fort, was 
begun and completed about the same time as was the upper fort. 
The stone church, still standing one mile north of the Court House, 
was there inclosed within the pickets. The two latter forts were 
built as was the former, by the joint labor of citizens and soldiers. 
The middle fort was known as head quarters during the war, 
where usually resided the principal commandant of all three, and 



270 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

at which place, the business involving the welfare of the settle- 
ment, was generally transacted. 




ANCIENT DUTCH CHURCH, SCHOHARIE, AS SEEN IN 1817. 

The Lower Fort consisted of an inclosure by strong pickets of 
about half an acre of ground, embracing the stone church, (a 
view of which is here given,) with block-houses in the south-west 
and north-east corners mounting small cannon. Along the west 
side of the inclosure, small huts were erected of rough boards for 
the summer residence of the inhabitants in that part of the valley; 
with a board roof sloping from near the top of the pickets to- 
ward the centre of the yard. Each family which claimed the 
protection of the small garrison at this place, had such a rude 
dwelling, in which w^ere deposited their most valuable effects. 
Near the north-east corner, or in that part of the inclosure toward 
the burying-ground, was a temporary tavern kept by Snyder, a 
former inn-keeper of that vicinity. The Middle Fort was an in- 
closure of an area of ground rather larger than that picketed in 
at the lower fort, with block-houses in the north-east and south 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 271 

west corners, where cannon were mountet]. The principal en- 
trance was on the south side, and on each side of the gate were 
arranged the soldiers' barracks. The pickets, as at the fort be- 
low, were about a foot through, and rose some ten feet from the 
ground ; with loop holes, from which to fire on invaders. A 
brass nine pound cannon was mounted on the south-west block- 
house, and an iron one at the diagonal corner, each of which, as 
the block-houses projected, commanded two sides of the inclosure; 
while along the eastern and western sides were arranged huts for 
citizens, similar to those at the lower fort. The Upper Fort stood 
on the west side of the river, and as at those on its opposite side, 
a fair plot of ground was inclosed. One side of this inclosure 
was picketed in, while on its other sides a breast-work was thrown 
up of timbers and earth, some eight or ten feet high, and suffi- 
ciently thick to admit of drawing a wagon upon its top, with 
short pickets set in the outside timbers of the breast-work. A 
ditch surrounded the part thus constructed. Military barracks and 
small log huts were erected within the inclosure, to accommodate 
the soldiers and citizens. Block-houses and sentry-boxes were 
built in the north-west and south-east corners, each mounting a 
small cannon to guard its sides. From its construction, this fort- 
ress, probably, better merited the name of fort than either of the 
others ; although some have stated that a moat partially surround- 
ed the middle fort. 



( 272 ) 



CHAPTER IX. 



Much that transpired in the American revolution of the most 
thrilling interest, not only in Schoharie but in all the frontier set- 
tlements, is now lost forever, to the American reader. To adopt 
the language of a beautiful writer — " Many prudent counsels con- 
ceived in perplexing times — many heart-stirring words uttered 
when liberty was treason — many brave and heroic deeds, per- 
formed when the halter and not the laurel was the promised 
meed of patriotic daring, are already lost and forgotten in the 
graves of their authors." 

The capture of Burgoyne and his army not only inspired Ame- 
ricans with confidence of their final triumph, but the truly phi- 
lanthropic all over the civilized world hailed the event as ominous 
of good. Fortune is a fickle goddess. Let success attend the 
ambitious adventurer, and a sycophantic world is ready to rend 
the air with shouts of praise, and strew his path with flowery gar- 
lands ; but if misfortune attend him, his imagined friends are 
changed to foes. It is probable that few leaders under similar 
circumstances could have done more for his royal master than 
had poor Burgoyne ; and yet on his return to England, he was 
treated with contempt by the parasites of royalty. 

Early in 1778, mortified at the result of her Canadian expe- 
ditions, England sought a reconciliation with the states. Lord 
Chatham, known at an earlier period in the House of Commons 
as the talented Pitt, the champion of civil liberty, attended on one 
occasion in the House of Lords during the session of that year. 
He was desirous of a compromise, but opposed to acknowledging 



inSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 273 

our independence. While laboring to show how the difliculties 
could be settled, his emotions overcame him and he sunk nerveless 
into the arms of his friends. He was carried home — survived his 
last effort to speak but a few weeks, and his grave oratory was 
hushed forever. The love of country rose paramount in the last 
effort of this truly great man. Parliament passed an act that ses- 
sion declaring that they would not in future again tax the colo- 
nies, and commissioners were sent to treat with the state authori- 
ties. The terms proposed by the mother country were rejected. 
An attempt was then made to bribe some of the influential Ame- 
rican statesmen, but the proposition met with deserved scorn. 

Early this season the French nation, which had looked with 
jealousy upon England after the loss of the Canadas, concluded a 
treaty of commerce and alliance with the American commissioners. 
It was signed on the 6th of February. The acknowledgment of 
the independence of the United States by France, had a very be- 
neficial tendency. It was greeted every where as the passport 
to independence, consequently every demonstration of joy was 
manifested. The treaties were read by the chaplains at the head 
of each brigade — published in the colonial papers, and made 
known from the sacred desk by ministers of the gospel, from 
Maine to Georgia. Many who were before wavering in their 
course, when they saw a powerful nation becoming their ally, 
manifested a willingness to exert themselves in their country's 
cause. 

The rich Jlats along the Cobelskill at the out-break of hostili- 
ties, contained some 20 families in the distance of three miles, be- 
lieved to have been all whigs. They organized a company of 
militia for their own defence, of which Christian Brown (a brother 
of the late Judge Brown) was captain, and Jacob Borst, lieute- 
nant : but had erected no fortifications. The first appearance of 
tlie enemy in the Schoharie settlements in 1778, was at Co- 
belskill. The events which transpired there, were communicated 
to the author by JVicholas and George Warner brothers, Laurence 
Lawyer, and Judge Brown. The three former were in the battle 
fought in that town. In the latter part of May several straggUng 



274 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Indians were seen in the vicinity of that settlement, and Capt. 
Brown, anticipating a hostile movement of the enemy, thought it 
prudent to send to the fort at Middleburgh for assistance. The 
lower fort was not quite completed at that time. Captain Pa- 
trick was dispatched with a small company of volunteers, and ar- 
rived at the residence of Capt. Brown on the 26th of May, where 
they remained until the 28th, when they moved up to the dwel- 
ling of Lawrence Lawyer. Scouts were kept out constantly, but 
nothing worthy of notice transpired until that day, when Lieut. 
Borst, his brother Joseph, and one of the Freemires were on a 
scout some miles up the creek. The latter was several hundred 
yards from his companions, seated upon a pile of drift-wood, fish- 
ing, when two Schoharie Indians, Ones-Yaap and Han-Yerry (the 
latter a chief) with a savage yell, intended to intimidate, sprang 
up the bank of the creek from a place of concealment and ap- 
proached them. After a friendly salutation, they began to re- 
prove the brothers, for being in the woods, to shoot Indians who 
did them no harm. Joseph replied to the speaker, that they in- 
tended no harm to those who were friendly. Han-Yerry ap- 
proached him, seized his gun in a playful manner, threw open the 
pan, and gave the gun a sudden jerk to spill out the priming, ex- 
claiming as he did so, Yo yenery hatste ! signifying — It is good if 
this be gone ! Borst, seeing the object of the Indian was to disarm 
him, instantly dropped his own gun and seized that of his adver- 
sary, and wrenching the flint from the lock, he replied in the In- 
dian dialect, Yo yenery sagat ! It is good if this is served so ! 
The Indian then dropped his gun and clinched Borst, but the 
latter, giving a loud whoop closed manfully with his antagonist 
and soon brought him upon his knees. While they were strug- 
gling for mastery, the other Indian approached the lieutenant and 
bade him surrender himself his prisoner : but instead of doing so, 
he stepped back and sent a bullet through his body. Han-Yerry 
succeeded in freeing himself from the grasp of his adversary, and 
seeing his comrade upon the ground, instantly fled leaving his 
gun. The lieutenant ran and caught up the gun of his brother 
and snapped it at the fleeing Indian, but as it was not primed the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 275 

latter escaped. On the same day, George Warner and John Fes- 
ter returned from Cherry-Valley, where they had been the day 
before to carry a letter — doubtless to apprize that settlement of 
the proximity of the enemy. 

The day after the Borsts had the rencounter with the Indian 
scout, the Cobelskill battle was fought ; which occurred on Sa- 
turday the first day of June.* On the morning of that day Cap- 
tain Miller, who was sent from the Schoharie fort with part of a 
company to reconnoitre, arrived at Lawyer's. Several of his 
men, one of whom was named Humphrey, volunteered to remain 
with Patrick, and he returned to the fort, before the enemy in 
force were discovered. The regulars under Capt. P. numbered 
between 30 and 40 ; and the militia volunteers under Capt. 
Brown were 15. After Capt. Miller left Lawyer's, the troops 
under Patrick marched up the creek to the residence of George 
Warner, who was one of the Schoharie committee, and father of 
the namesake before mentioned. Warner's was the southernmost 
house in the settlement, and stood on a knoll at Cobelskill Centre. 
An orchard at this time covers the site. 

The troops had been at Warner's but a short time, when 15 or 
20 Indians discovered themselves a little distance above the house, 
and the whole force was marched in pursuit of them. Brown 
was opposed to the pursuit, and told Patrick he feared they would 
be ambuscaded. The latter ridiculed the idea, and was disposed 
to assign another motive than that of caution to the militia cap- 

• Several writers who have published some notice of this battle, have given 
it an erroneous date. Brown, in his pamphlet history, says it transpired " on 
the first day of June or July, in the year 1776," but at a personal interview 
he said that date was wrong, and that it took place on Saturday be/ore Pink- 
iter, the year after Burgoyne's capture. Campbell, in the Annals of Tryon 
County, dates it in May, 1779. Stone has entered it in two places in the Life 
of Brant, supposing from Brown's account and one he found among the pa- 
pers of Col. Gansevoort, as they differed in dates and material facts, that he 
was recording two transactions. The last notice he accredits to a letter from 
Col. Varick to Col. Gansevoort, dated Schenectada, June 3. 177S, which let- 
ter stated that this invasion of the enemy took place on the preceding Satur- 
day. This last date corresponds with the one given the author by the three 
living witnesses named, who slated that it took place on Saturday preceding 
PiDkster — Whitsunday, which came that year on the 2d day of June, 



276 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

tain who, stung by the imputation, then yielded to the wishes of 
Patrick, notwithstanding the misgiving of his own better judg- 
ment. The enemy, who kept up a running fight, had not been 
pursued a mile, before it was evident their numbers were increas- 
ing. A halt was then made by the Americans near the present 
residence of Lambert Lawyer, with the militia on the right to- 
wards the creek, and a sharp engagement followed. Both parties 
fought in the Indian style, under the cover of trees. It soon be- 
came manifest from the firing, that the number of the enemy wais 
very great. After several of his men had fallen around him, 
Capt. Patrick received a shot which broke his thigh. Two of his 
brave soldiers, in an attempt to bear him from the field, were sur- 
rounded by a party of the enemy, and shared his unhappy fate. 
A lieutenant under Capt. Patrick is said to have been spared, by 
giving a masonic sign to Brant. "When Capt. Patrick fell. Brown 
ordered a retreat, which was most timely, for had it been delayed 
but a few minutes until the enemy could have extended his flanks, 
so as to surround the little band of patriots, few if any would 
have survived that day. The families in the settlement, hearing 
the firing, very properly sought safety in the depths of the forest, 
or by a rapid flight to Schoharie, ten miles distant. On arriving 
at the house from which they had been so artfully drawn into an 
ambush designedly laid, three of Patrick's men and two of Brown's 
took refuge within it. which providentially favored the escape of 
their fugitive friends. Being fired on from the house, the Indians 
halted to dislodge its inmates, by which the rest of the party 
gained time sufficient to make good their retreat. The house was 
set on fire, and three of its inmates were buried in its ruins. The 
continental soldiers, in attempting to make their escape from the 
burning building, were slain. One was evidently shot, but the 
other was supposed to have been taken alive and tortured to death- 
The party who first visited the scene of blood after the battle, 
found this soldier not far from where the house had stood, with 
his body cut open and his intestines fastened round a tree several 
feet distant. In one hand was a roll of continental bills, placed 
there by the enemy in derision of our country's almost valueless 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 277 

"promises to pay.'* It was subsequently known, that the enemy 
fired at least Jijly balls into one window of this house, at its in- 
mates. 

The names of the men under Capt. Brown in this engagement 
were, Lieut. Jacob Borst, Nicholas Warner, George Warner, jr., 
George Freemire, John Shafer and Lawrence Lawyer, who es- 
caped uninjured, 6 ; John Zeh, Martinus and John Fester, Jacob 
and John Freemire and Jacob Shafer, killed, 6 ; Peter and Henry 
Shafer and Leonard King, wounded, ^. The whole number killed 
in the engagement, including Capt. Patrick and his men, was 
about 22 : five or six of his men were also wounded and two were 
made prisoners. More than half the Americans engaged were 
either killed or wounded. The enemy, as was afterwards ascer- 
tained, consisting of Indians (mostly Senecas, Schoharies and 
Oquagos, instead of Onondagas as stated by some writers) and to- 
ries, numbered over three hundred and fifty, and were commanded 
by Joseph Brant. Service, a noted lory, who lived near the Char- 
lotte river, and the Schoharie chief, Seth's-Henry, acted a con- 
spicuous part in the engagement. The loss the enemy sustained 
was never exactly known, but was supposed to equal, if it did not 
exceed that of the Americans. A mulatto, who was with the 
enemy at this time and returned after the war, stated that twenty- 
five of their number, mostly Indians, were buried in a mud-hole 
near David Zeh's. He also stated, that seven of the enemy who 
were wounded in the battle, died on their way to Canada. Georo-e 
Warner's was the first house burnt in the Schoharie settlements 
in the revolution. The enemy, after the engagement, plundered 
and burnt all the dwellings in Cobelskill as far down as the 
churches, except an old log house, formerly occupied by George 
Warner, which stood near the present residence of his son David. 
This house was left, as was afterwards supposed, with a belief 
that its owner might return and occupy it, after losing his framed 
dwelling, which would afford an opportunity to capture a com- 
mittee-man. The dwellings burnt at this time were those of 
George Warner and his son Nicholas, George Fester, Adam Sha- 
fer, William Snyder, John Freemire, Lawrence Lawyer, John 
19 



278 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Zeh, John Bouck and John Shell ; (the latter owned by Law- 
rence Lawyer,) in all, ten^ with the barns and other out-houses ; 
making, as stated in the record of the Lutheran Church at Scho- 
harie, " twenty buildings burned." 

The two militia-men who took shelter in the house of Warner, 
were Martinus Fester and John Freemire. The remains of Fester 
fell into a tub of soap in the cellar, and were known by his to- 
bacco-box ; and those of Freemire were identified by his knee- 
buckles and gun-barrel. Jacob Shafer was wounded in one leg 
early in the action, and was carried by his neighbor, George War- 
ner, jr., to a place of temporary safety, who agreed to get a horse 
and take him to the fort. As the battle terminated unfavorably, 
he was left to his fate — was discovered next morning by the ene- 
my and killed. The remains of John Fester were not discovered, 
until a piece of wheat was harvested, into which he had fallen. 
Jonas Belknap, one of Patrick's men, received a ball in his right 
hip and was borne out of the battle by Lawrence Lawyer, as the 
latter assured the author. The following additional facts respect- 
ing this soldier, who died a few years since at Gorham, Ontario 
county, were told the author by Ezekiel Howe, a nephew of said 
Belknap. After having been " carried one side," to use the words 
of Lawyer, Belknap discovered a hollow log into which he crept 
The next day he backed out of his resting place cold and stiff, and 
while seated upon a fence, reflecting on the events of the last 
twenty-four hours, he discovered two Indians laden with plunder 
approaching him, having two dogs. Unobserved by them, he let 
himself fall into a bunch of briers. The Indians halted near him, 
and their dogs placed their paws on the fence and growled. He 
supposed himself discovered, but soon one of them took out a 
bottle, from which both drank, and he had the satisfaction of see- 
ing them resume their march, without noticing the irritation of 
their canine friends. Casting his eyes along the beautiful valley 
and surveying the ruins of the preceding day, he discovered the 
old house of Warner, on the west side of the creek, still standing, 
to which he made his way. We found it unoccupied, but victuals 
were, on a table, and after eating, he, laid down, faint and sad, up- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 279 

on a bed which the house also afforded. In the afternoon, two 
men came and conveyed him to the Schoharie fort, where his 
wound was properly drest and he recovered. 

Henry Shafer, mentioned as being wounded in this engagement, 
received a ball in his thigh which brought him to the ground. 
The bone was not fractured, but the limb was benumbed. He 
regained his feet but fell the instant his weight came upon the 
wounded limb. Disencumbering himself of his gun and powder- 
horn, after several unsuccessful attempts to run, action returned to 
the limb and he fled. He directed his steps toward Schoharie, 
and on the way fell in with Peter Snyder, his brother-in-law. 
They traveled nearly to Punchkill together, when Shafer, too 
weak to proceed, concealed himself and requested his comrade to 
inform his friends at the fort where he might be found, desiring 
them to come after him. His fellow-traveler went to the fort, 
but instead of doing the errand as desired by his wounded rela- 
tive, he reported him dead. Shafer tarried beneath a shelving 
rock until Monday morning, when, by great exertion, he arrived 
at the house of a friend in Kneiskern's dorf. As he was much 
exhausted, he was very prudently fed gruel until he revived, when 
he was taken to the fort and cured of his wound. — From Peter, 
son of Henry Shafer."^ 

The night after the Cobelskill battle it rained, and a dreary 
one it must have been to the surviving citizens of the Cobel- 
skill valley, many of whom were in the forest to which they had 
fled from their burning dwellings, exposed to the mercy of wild 
beasts — foes less to be dreaded than those left behind. The wife 
of Lawrence Lawyer, with several other persons, was in the 
woods three days, and finally came out near the mouth of the Co- 

• Mr. Shafer lived to become a very useful citizen. He was for many years 
a justice of the peace — frequently represented Cobelskill in the board of su- 
pervisors — for several years was a member of ihe state legislature — and was 
for a great length of time a judge of Common Pleas ; which several stations, 
considering his early opportunities, he discharged with credit to himself and 
fidelity to the public. He was remarkably punctual in the performance oJ 
his olficial duties. He died on the 15th of April, I8J3, in the eighty-second 
fear of his age. 



280 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

belskill. Scouts were sent out to reconnoitre and look after the 
wounded, and absent members of families, but it was several days 
before the dead were buried. Some day in the course of the 
week following the engagement. Col. Vrooman with part of the 
Schoharie troops, and Col. Yates with a detachment of Schenec- 
tada militia, went to perform the last sad duties to those martyrs 
to the cause of liberty. As the weather had been wet and cool, 
the bodies were found to have suffered but little change. A pit 
was dug near where George Warner's house had stood, into 
which several boards were laid : the charred remains of the three 
soldiers taken from the cellar, and the mutilated remains of those 
near, were then buried within it. Pits were also dug so as to re- 
quire as little moving of the bodies as possible, in which Captain 
Patrick and the other soldiers were deposited. None can realize 
at a period of nearly seventy years after it transpired, the solem- 
nities of that burial. Several of the deceased left wives and chil- 
dren to mourn their untimely fate ; while all left friends who had 
centered on them hopes of future usefulness and aggrandizement. 
This blow was a most severe one for the little settlement of Co- 
belskill. Peaceful be your rest brave warrior ! for 

" When ye sank on your bed of death, 
No gentle form hung over you ; 
No fond eye caught your parting breath, 
Or shrunk in anguish from the view ! 
But o'er you, in that hour of fate, 
Bent the dark" Indian's " vengeful form ; 
And the stern glance of ruthless hate 
Gleamed dreadful, 'mid the hurrying storm. 
No mourning dirge did o'er you swell, 
Nor winding sheet your limbs inclosed j 
For you was tolled no passing bell ; 
No tomb was raised where you reposed, 
"Vour bed of death — the battle ground, 
'Twas there they heaped your funeral mound, 
' * And all unhallowed was your grave, 

Save by the ashes of the brave.'^ — Lines on Waterloo. 

On the knoll where stood the house of George Warner, which 
was burnt in the Revolution, as before stated, the patriotic citizens 
of Cobelskill celebrated the anniversary of our national indepe»- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 281 

dencej on the 4th day of July, 1837. An appropriate oration 
was delivered on the occasion by Demosthenes Lawyer, Esq. 

How proper, after so long a time, to assemble on that day, on 
ground consecrated by patriot's blood, and water it with the tear 
of gratitude. 

A few days previous to the irruption of the enemy into Cobels- 
kill, they were in the vicinity of Cherry Valley. Brant had his 
destructives there with the intention of laying waste that place. 
He secreted them on Lady hill,* about a mile east of the fort, to 
await a favorable opportunity to strike the fatal blow, and slayor 
capture some of its influential citizens. A company of boys 
happened to be training, for boys then caught the martial spirit, 
as Brant, like the eagle from its eyrj-, was looking down from his 
hiding place upon the devoted hamlet. Mistaking these miniature 
soldiers for armed men, he deferred the attack for a more favora- 
ble opportunity. After killing Lieut. Wormwood, a promising 
young officer from Palatine, who had left the fort but a few min- 
utes before on horseback, and taking Peter Sitz, his comrade, pri- 
soner,! Brant directed his steps to Cobelskill. 

On the 4th day of July, 1778, the beautiful valley of Wyoming 
in Pennsylvania, fell a prey to the savage cupidity of the British, 
Tory and Indian forces under Col. John Butler ; and its inhabit- 
ants were either killed, carried into captivity, or escaped by a 
most appalling flight. The poem entitled " Gertrude of Wyo- 
ming," from the pen of the English poet Campbell — founded up- 
on the tragedies of that massacre — is doubtless familiar to most of 
my readers. Many of the most unfeeling and inhuman acts of 
cruelty committed on the fleeing inhabitants and soldiers of this 
ill-fated place, were committed by tories. On this occasion, a to- 
ry found a brother secreted, who had been an American militia- 
man, but had fled, abandoning his gun. On recognizing his 
brother, the tory said to him, " So it is you, is it .?" The unarmed 

• This hill was embraced in a patent owned by a rich lady in England, from 
which circumstance it was formerly called Lady Ji'dL— Moses Nelson. 

t For the death of Lt. Wormwood and capture of Sitz, see Jnnals of Tryon 
County. 



282 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

man approached his kinsman, fell upon his knees and besought 
him to spare his life ; promising, if he would, to live with him 
and become his servant. " ^11 this is mighty Jine,^^ replied the 
human fiend, " but you are a d — d rebel /" At the close of this 
sentence, he leveled his gun and sent the death-telling ball through 
his body. — Chapman's History of Wyoming. 

About the first of September of this year, the enemy destroyed 
several of the western settlements on the south side of the Mo- 
hawk. In a letter written at one of the frontier posts, by CoL 
Klock to Gov. Clinton, and sent by " Col. Fisher and Zep. 
Batchellor, Esq.," probably in September (it being without date,) 
he thus observes — 

" I beg leave to represent to your Excellency the most deplora- 
ble situation of this countr}^ The enemy have from time to time 
desolated and destroyed the settlements of Springfield, Andreas- 
Town, and the German-Flats; by which at least o7ie hu7idred and 
fifty families are reduced to misery and distress. People who were 
in flourishing circumstances are thus, by one wanton act, brought 
to poverty. 

" Nothwithstanding I have repeatedly wrote our situation down 
and asked relief, we have obtained none except Alden's regiment, 
which is stationed at Cherry- Valley, where they remain in garri- 
son. Woful experience teaches us that the troops in Cherry-Val- 
ley are by no means a defence for any other part of the country. 
[After speaking of the ungovernable spirit that influenced the con- 
duct of some of the settlers, the desertion of a part of the militia 
to the enemy, and the necessitj' of immediate succor, he adds] — 
From the information we are able to collect from prisoners and 
otherwise, we learn that the enemy when at the German-Flats 
were 500 or upwards strong, commanded by Capt. Caldwell — that 
they intended soon to make another incursion, and that a reinforce- 
ment of 5 or 600 was on its march to join the enemy." 

During the invasions above noticed, nearly 1000 horses, cattle, 
sheep and swine were killed or driven away. The settlers at the 
German-Flats, by receiving timely notice of danger, with one 
single exception, fled into the neighboring forts and escaped the 
tomahawk. The loss of so many dwellings, with most of their 
furniture, and barns well filled with the recompense of the hus- 
bandman's toils, must have been a most serious one to this district 

Capt. Walter Butler was a son of Col. John Butler, a justice of 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 283 

the king's court for Tryon county, who resided, at the commence- 
ment of the war, about a mile from the ancient village of Caugh- 
nawaga. He went with the royalists who left the county in 1775, 
to Canada. In the summer of 1778, he returned to the Mohawk 
valley — was arrested, and confined in the Albany jail. Under 
the pretence of ill health he was removed to a private dwelling, 
from which, aided by treachery, he escaped. Burning with re- 
venge for his imprisonment, on his arrival in Canada he obteimed 
command of a part of his father's regiment of tories called But- 
ler^ s Rangers ; and with them directed his steps towards the fron- 
tier settlements of New York. On his way he met Brant return- 
ing to Canada from his Mohawk river expedition, who reluctantly 
joined him in his enterprise. Their united forces were 500 In- 
dians, and 200 tories, worse than Indians. On the morning ot 
Nov. 11th, they surprised Cherry-Valley, killing 32 of the in- 
habitants and 16 continental soldiers, among whom was Col. Al- 
den, the imprudent commander of the garrison, who is said to 
have been a man of intemperate habits. Nearly all the dwelUngs 
and barns in the settlement — just filled with an abmidant harvest, 
were burned, and — 

House-less were those who from the wood returned, 

The fate of relatives to mourn ; 
While other friends to living death, they learned, 

By human fiends, were captive borne. 

The enemy, making between 30 and 40 prisoners at Cherry- 
Valley, passed down the Susquehanna to its junction with the 
Tioga — up the latter to near its source, thence along the Seneca 
lake to the Indian castle at Kanadaseago, near the present village 
of Geneva ; where a division of the prisoners took place. The 
day after the massacre, 200 militia arrived at Cherry-Valley, and 
buried the dead.* The sufferings of the prisoners on their way to 
Canada, must have been very severe : many of them were women 
and children, illy fitted to endure the fatigues of a journey of three 
or four hundred miles, at that inclement season. 

• For a more minute account of the destruction of this place, see Campbell'i 
Annals of Tryon County. 



284 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

The following anecdote was related by Joseph Brant after the 
Revolution, to John Fonda while at his house near Caughnawa- 
ga. Brant, on being censured by Fonda for his cruelties at 
Cherry-Valley at the time of its desolation, said the atrocities 
were mostly chargeable to Walter Butler. He then stated that 
among the captives made by him at that place, was a man named 
Vrooman, with whom he had had a previous acquaintance. He 
concluded to give Vrooman his liberty, and after they had pro- 
ceeded several miles on their journey, he sent him back about two 
mUes, (done, to procure some birch bark for him ; expecting of 
course to see no more of him. After several hours Vrooman 
came hurrying back with the bark, which the chieftain no more 
wanted than he did a pair of goggles. Brant said, he sent his 
prisoner back on purpose to afford him an opportunity to make 
his escape, but that he was so big a fool he did not know it ; and 
that consequently he was compelled to take him along to Cana- 
da. — Mrs. Evert Yates, a daughter of John, Fonda. 

The English government on being officially informed of the 
treaty of alliance between France and the United States, declar- 
ed war against the former ; and thought it prudent to concentrate 
its forces. On the 18th of June, the British troops under Sir 
Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia, and set out for New York. 
Gen. Washington hung upon his rear, watching a favorable op- 
portunity to give him battle. On the 28th of that month, the 
battle of Monmouth was fought. Both armies were flattered 
during the day by alternate success, and encamped in the evening 
on the battle ground. W^ashington slept in his cloak after the 
fatigues of that day, in the camp of his brave men. In the night, 
Clinton silently withdrew, thus conceding the victory of the pre- 
ceding day to the spangled banner. The loss of the Americans 
in this engagement was from two to three hundred in killed and 
wounded ; and that of the enemy about one thousand, nearly half 
of whom were killed. The day on which this action was fought 
was extremely hot, and the suffering of both armies was very 
great for the want of proper drink. Says the Journal of Col. 
Tallmadge, " Many died on both sides from excessive heat and 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 285 

fatigue, the day being oppressively warm, and the troops drink- 
ing too freely of cold water." Ja7nes Williamson, a soldier who 
assisted in burying the dead after the battle, assured the writer 
that he saw around a spring in a grove not far from the battle- 
field, the dead bodies of twelve soldiers, sujtposed to have been vic- 
tims of cold water. 

American historians have recorded few instances of female pa- 
triotism and bravery, which rival the following : In the battle 
of Monmouth a gunner was killed, and a call was made for an- 
other, when the wife of the fallen soldier, who had followed his 
fortune to the camp, advanced and took hi» station ; expressing 
her willingness to discharge the duty of her deceased husband, 
and thus revenge his death. The gun was well managed and 
did good execution, as I have been informed by an eye witness. 
After the engagement. Gen. Washington was so much pleased 
with the gallant conduct of this heroine, that he gave her a 
lieutenant's commission. She was afterwards called Captain 
Molly. — Capt. Eben Williams. 

A short time after the battle of Monmouth, Lieut. Col. Wm. 
Butler, with the 4th Pennsylvania regiment, and three companies 
of rijle men from Morgan's corps under Maj. Posey, commanded 
by Captains Long, Pear and Simpson, was ordered to Albany, 
and from thence to Schoharie. While there he commanded the 
Middle Fort. The command of the Schoharie forts devoled on 
Col. Peter Vrooman during the war, when no continental officer 
of equal rank was there. 

Among the rifle men who went to Schoharie at this time, were 
some most daring spirits — men whose names should live forever 
on her fairy mountains and in her green valleys. We do not be- 
lieve it necessary, although it is a fact too generally conceded, 
that glittering epaulets are indispensable in forming a hero. Of 
the brave soldiers sent to aid the Schoharie settlers in their de- 
fence, and guard from savage cruelties the unprotected mother 
and helpless orphan, whose names I would gladly chronicle 
could I collect them, were Lieut. Thomas Boyd, (whose tragic 



286 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

end will be shown hereafter,) Timothy Murphy, David Elerson,* 

William Leek,t William Lloyd, a sergeant, John Wilber,| 

Tufts, Joseph Evans, Philip Hoever,§ Elijah Hendricks, John 
Garsaway, a very large man, and Derrick Haggidorn. Nor 
should we forget to name several of the native citizens who 
encountered many dangers in the discharge of their duty ; of the 
latter were Jacob and Cornelius Van Dyck, Jacob Enders, Bar- 
tholomew C. Vrooman, Peter Van Slyck, Nicholas Sloughter, 
Yockam Folluck, Joackam Van Valkenberg,|| Jacob Becker, and 
Thomas Eckerson. There were no doubt others equally merito- 
rious, whose deeds are unknown to the writer. 

The following facts, relating to the attempted arrest and death 
of Christopher Service, a tory of no little notoriety, living on the 
Charlotte river, were communicated by Judge Eager, Mrs. Van 
Slyck, and David Elerson. 

The people of Schoharie had long suspected Service — who re- 
mained with his family entirely exposed to the enemy — of clan- 
destinely affording them assistance. Captain Jacob Hager, who 
was in command of the Upper Fort, in the summer of 1778, sent 
Abraham Becker, Peter Swart, (not the one already introduced,) 
and Frederick Shafer, on a secret scout into the neighborhood of 
Service, to ascertain if there were any Indians in that vicinity, 
and to keep an eye of espionage on the tory. They arrived in 
sight of his dwelling after sundown, and concealed themselves in 
the woods, intending to remain over night. After dark the mus- 
quitoes began to be very troublesome, but the party did not dare 

• He was married in Schoharie during the war, and became a permanent 
resident of tlie county. He Was a ranger for several years, and, as he stal- 
ed to the writer, an extra price was set on his own and Murphy's scalps by 
the enemy. He was 95 years old at our interview, at which time he wa» 
boarding with Dr. Origin Alien, near the Baptist church in Broome, of which 
the old hero was a member. 

t Went west after the war, and died in Cayuga county. 

X Was from Reddington, Pa. He was a carpenter by trade, married a 
Miss Mattice and settled on Charlotte river. 

§ Remained in Schoharie county after the war. 

li Killed in battle near Lake Utsayuntho, in 1781. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 287 

to make a fire to keep them ofT. Becker told his companions he 
was well acquainted with Service, having lived near him for some 
time ; said he would go and reconnoitre, and if there were none 
of the enemy abroad, he would inform them, in which case all agreed 
to go to the house and tarry over night. Becker, after a short 
absence, returned with the assurance that the " coast was clear," 
and that he had made arrangements for their accommodation; 
whereupon all three went to the dwelling. As they approached 
the door, the light was extinguished, but Becker went in, followed 
by his friends. They advanced to the centre of the room, at which 
time one of the family re-lit the candle, the light of which show- 
ed Swart and Shafer their real situation. Along the wall, upon 
one side of the room, were arranged a party of armed savages, 
who instantly sprang upon, and bound them. The two pri- 
soners were kept there until morning, when they were hurried off 
to Canada. Becker, who had not been bound, was suffered, after 
giving the Indians his gun and ammunition, to depart for home. 
He returned to the fort, and reported that the scout, near Charlotte 
river, had fallen in with a party of Indians in ambush, from whom 
they attempted to escape by flight ; that he was in advance of his 
comrades, who were both captured ; that he came near being over- 
taken, when he threw away his gun and equipage, and thus re- 
lieved, made his escape. Shafer, who remained in a Canadian 
prison until the war was closed, returned to Schoharie and made 
known the above facts. Swart never returned to Schoharie. He 
was taken by distant Indians, as his friends afterwards learned, be- 
yond Detroit, where he took a squaw and adopted the Indian life. 
From the commencement of the border difficulties, Service had 
greatly aided the enemies of his country, by sheltering and victual- 
ing them, in numerous instances. He was comparatively 
wealthy, for the times, owning a well-stocked farm and a grist- 
mill. When the tories and Indians from Canada were on their 
way to destroy the settlements, they always found a home at his 
house, from whence, after recruiting, they sallied forth on their 
missions of death. Several attempts were made to take him be- 
fore the Schoharie committee, previous to his joining Brant in his 
expedition against Cobelskill. 



288 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Soon after the return of Becker with his hypocritical narrative, 
Col. Butler sent Capt. Long with some twenty volunteers in the 
direction of Charlotte river to reconnoitre, and if possible discov- 
er some traces of the enemy. One object of the expedition was, 
to arrest Service and take him to the Schoharie forts, or to slay 
him in case of resistance. Arriving near the head waters of the 
Schoharie, Capt. Long unexpectedly took a prisoner. On his per- 
son he found a letter directed to Service, and on opening it, learned 
that Smith, its author, a tory captain who had enlisted a company 
of royalists on the Hudson near Catskill, was then on his way to 
the house of Service, who was desired in the letter to have every 
thing in readiness to supply the wants of his men on their arrival 
Learning from their prisoner the route by which Smith would ap- 
proach, the Americans at once resolved to intercept him. Some 
fifteen or twenty miles distant from the Upper fort, while proceed- 
ing cautiously along the east side of the river. Smith and his fol- 
lowers were discovered on the opposite bank. Capt. Long halted 
his men, and proposed to get a shot at Smith. It was thought by 
some of the party an act of folly to fire at so great a distance, but 
the captain, accompanied by Elerson, advanced and laid down be- 
hind a fallen log. Some noise was made by this movement, and 
the tory chief stepped into an open piece of ground a little dis- 
tance from his men to learn the cause of alarm, and thus fairly 
exposed his person. At this moment the rifles were leveled. 
Capt. Long was to fire, and in case he missed his victim, Elerson 
was to make a shot. At the crack of the first rifle, the spirit of Smith 
left its clay tenement to join kindred spirits ; but where — God on- 
ly knows. The scout then advanced and poured in a volley of 
balls, wounding several, and dispersing all of the tories. Thus 
unexpectedly did justice overtake this company of men, whose 
zeal should have led them to serve their country instead of her 
foes. 

Capt. Long and his companions then directed their steps to the 
dwelling of Service. On arriving near, proper caution was taken 
to prevent his escape, and Murphy and Elerson^were deputed to 
arrest him. They found the tory back of his house, making a 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 289 

harrow. On the approach of the two friends, Mrs. Service, sus- 
pecting the object of their visit, came out ami stood near them, 
when they informed her husband the nature of their visit. Ser- 
vice called them d — d rebels, and retreating a few steps, he seized 
an axe and aimed a blow at the head of Murphy. But the man 
who could guard against surprise from the wily Indian, w^as not 
to fall thus ignobly. Elerson, who stood a few feet from his com- 
panion, as he assured the author, told Murphy to shoot the d — d 
rascal. The wife of Service, seeing the determined look of Mur- 
phy, caught hold of his arm and besought him not to fire. He 
gently pushed her aside, and patting her on the shoulder said, 
" Mother, he never will sleep imth you again." In another in- 
stant, the unerring bullet from his rifle had penetrated the tory's 
heart. Capt. Long and his men now advanced to the house, in 
which was found forty loaves of fresh bread, proving that some 
notice had already reached there, of Smith's intended visit. Many 
have supposed that injustice was done to Service. The author 
has taken considerable pains to inform himself on this point, and 
finds proof most satisfactory to his own mind, that from his ability 
and willingness to supply the wants of the enemy and his retired 
residence, he was a very dangerous man to the cause of liberty. 
An old tory, who returned after the war, and died a few years 
ago in the town of Mohawk, was accustomed, when intoxicated, 
to " hurrah for king George." At such times he often told about 
being in person at the house of Service, who, as he said, " lived 
and died a tory, as he meant to." Had not Service made an at- 
tempt on the life of Murphy, he would probably have been con- 
fined until the war closed, and then liberated, as was the case 
with several wealthy royalists. The property of Service was 
confiscated in the war. Not many years ago, a son of his suc- 
ceeded in recovering the confiscated property of his father, and 
thus came into the undivided possession of an estate amounting to 
eight or ten thousand dollars. The fortune thus obtained, how- 
ever, was soon dissipated. 

In the latter part of August, 1778, the Lower Fort, but recent- 
ly completed, was commanded by Lieut. Col. John II. Beeckman. 



290 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 

Early in October, Col. Butler proceeded from Schoharie "with 
the troops under his command, to Unadilla and Oquago, Indian 
towns on the Susquehanna, which they eflectually destroyed, 
with large quantities of provisions. 

The troops under Col. Butler, in this excursion, among whom 
were several volunteers from the Schoharie militia, suffered in- 
credible hardships. *' They were obliged to carry their provi- 
sions on their backs; and, thus loaded, frequently to ford creeks 
and rivers. After the toils of hard marches, they were obliged 
to camp down during wet and chilly nights without covering, or 
even the means of keeping their arms dry." — Dr. Ramsay, After 
an absence of sixteen days, they were greeted with a hearty wel- 
come at the forts in Schoharie. 

A regiment of New York state troops, mider Col. Duboise, went 
into winter quarters at Schoharie, in the fall of 1778. Adjt. 
Dodge, Maj. Rosencrans, Capt. Stewart, and Ensign Johnson, of 
Duboise's regiment, were quartered in the kitchen of Chairman 
Ball's dwelling.— Pe^er Bdl. 

On the 6th of August of this year, M. Gerard was publicly re- 
ceived by the United States government as minister of the king of 
France On the 14th of September following, Dr. Franklin was 
appointed minister to France, the first American minister delegated 
to a foreign court. 

" The alliance of France gave birth to expectations which 
events did not fulfil ; yet the presence of her fleets on the coast 
deranged the plans of the enemy, and induced them to relinquish 
a part of their conquests." — Hale. 

The reward paid by English agents for the scalps of the Ame- 
ricans, eight dollars each, excited the avarice of both Indians and 
tories ; and many innocent women and children were slain not 
only in this, but in the several years of the war, to gratify the 
cupidity of a merciless and unfeeling enemy. 

Late in the fall, the army under Washington erected huts near 
Middlebrook, in New Jersey, and went into winter quarters. In 
December of this year, Mr. Laurens resigned his office as presi- 
dent of Congress, and John Jay was chosen in his place. 



( 291 ) 



CHAPTER X. 



t 



Early in the spring of 1779. two men named Cowley and 
Sawyer, were captured near Harpersfield, by four Schoharie In- 
dians ; Han-Yerry, who escaped from the Borsts the day before 
the Cobelskill engagement, Seth's-Henry, Adam, a sister's son, 
and Nicholas, also a relative. One of the captives, was a na- 
tive of the Emerald Isle; and the other of the green hills of 
Scotland. They were among the number of refugees from Har- 
persfield, who sought safety in Schoharie at the beginning of 
difficulties. 

The prisoners could not speak Dutch, which those Indians un- 
derstood nearly as well as their own dialect ,• and the latter could 
understand but little, if any, of the conversation of those Anglo- 
Americans. When surprised, they intimated by signs as well 
as they could, that they were friends of the king ; and not only 
evinced a willingness to proceed with their captors, but a desire 
to do so. An axe belonging to one of them was taken along as 
a prize. The prisoners set off with such apparent willingness on 
their long journey to Canada, that the Indians did not think it 
necessary to bind them. They were compelled to act, however, 
as " hewers of wood and drawers of water," for their red masters. 

They had been captives eleven days, without a favorable op- 
portunity to mature a plan for their escape, which they had all 
along premeditated. On arriving at a deserted hut near Tioga 
Point, the captives were sent to cut wood a few rods distant. 
On such occasions, one cut and the other carried it where it was 
to be consumed. While Cowley was chopping, and Sawyer 
waiting for an armful, the latter took from his pocket a news- 
paper, and pretended to read its contents to his fellow ; instead 
of doing which, however, he proposed a plan for regaining their 



'^ 



292 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

liberty. After carrying wood enough to the hut to keep fire 
over night, and partaking of a scanty supper, they laid down 
in their usual manner to rest, a prisoner between two Indians. 

The friends kept awake, and after they were satisfied their 
foes were all sound asleep, they arose agreeable to concert, and 
secured their weapons, shaking the priming from the guns. 
Sawyer with the tomahawk of Han-Yerry — who was thought 
the most desperate of the four — took his station beside its owner ; 
while Cowley with the axe, placed himself beside another sleep- 
ing Indian. The fire afforded sufficient light for the captives to 
make sure of their victims. At a given signal the blows fell 
fatal upon two ; the tomahawk sank deep into the brain of its 
owner, giving a sound, to use the words of an informant,* like 
a blow upon a pumpkin. Unfortunately, Sawyer drew the handle 
from his weapon in attempting to free it from the skull of the 
savage, and the remainder of the tragic act devolved upon his 
companion. The first one struck by Cowley was killed, but the 
blows which sent two to their final reckoning, awoke their fel- 
lows, who instantly sprang upon their feet. As Seth's-Henry 
rose from the ground, he received a blow which he partially 
warded off by raising his right arm ; but his shoulder was laid 
open and he fell back stunned. The fourth, as he was about to 
escape, received a heavy blow in his back from the axe. He 
was pursued out of the hut — fled into a swamp near, where he 
died. The liberated prisoners returned into the hut, and were 
resolving on what course to pursue, when Seth's-Henry, who had 
recovered and feigned himself dead for some time, to embrace 
a favorable opportunity, sprang upon his feet — dashed through 
the fire — caught up his rifle, leveled and snapped it at one of his 
foes — ran out of the hut and disappeared. 

The two friends then primed the remaining guns, and kept a 
vigilant watch until daylight, to guard against surprise. They 
set out in the morning to return, but dared not pursue the route 

♦ Lawrence Mattice. The adventures of Cowley and Sawyer were princi- 
C'.pally derived from Mr. Mattice and Henry Hager, who learned the partico- 
lari from the captives themselves. 



m 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 293 

they came, very properly supposing there were more of the enemy 
not far distant, to whom the surviving Indian would communi- 
cate the fate of his comrades. They recrossed a river in the 
morning in a bark canoe, which they had used the preceding 
afternoon, and then directed their course for the frontier settle- 
ments. The first night after taking the responsibility, Cowley 
was light headed for hours, and his companion was fearful his 
raving would betray them ; but when daylight returned, reason 
again claimed its tenement. As they had anticipated, a party of 
Indians thirsting for their blood, were in hot pursuit of them. 
From a hill they once descried ten or a dozen in a valley below. 
They remained concealed beneath a shelving rock one night and 
two days, while the enemy were abroad, and when there, a dog 
belonging to the latter, came up to them. As the animal ap- 
proached, they supposed their hours were numbered ; but after 
smelling them for some time, it went away without barking. 
On the third night after their escape, they saw fires lit by the 
enemy, literally all around them. They suffered much from ex- 
posure to the weather, and still more from hunger. They ex- 
pected to be pursued in the direction they had been captured, and 
very properly followed a zig-zag course ; arriving in safety after 
much suffering, at a frontier settlement in Pennsylvania, where 
they found friends. When fairly recruited they directed their 
steps to Schoharie, and were there welcomed as though they 
had risen from the dead, among which latter number, many had 
supposed them. 

Sawyer is said to have died many years after, in Williamstown, 
Mass.; and Cowley in Albany. At the time Cowley and Saw- 
yer returned from their captivity, the upper Schoharie fort was 
commanded by Maj. Posey, a large, fine looking officer, who, as 
an old lady of Schoharie county once declared to the author, was 
tlie handsomest man she ever saw. 

Friendly Indians were sometimes in the habit of taking up a 

winter's residence in the vicinity of American frontier posts. In 

the spring of this year several Indians, who pretended friendship, 

left the Johnstown fort, where they had for some time been a tax 

20 



294 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

on the charity of its officers ; but they had gone but a few miles 
north of the garrison when they halted and murdered an old gen- 
tleman named Durham and his wife, whose scalps they could sell 
in an English market. — James Williamson. 

The manuscript furnished the author by Judge Hager, states 
that in the year 1779, probably in the spring, a rumor reached 
the Schoharie forts that Capt. Brant, on the evening of a certain 
day, would arrive at some place on the Delaware river with a 
band of hostile followers. Col. Vrooman thereupon dispatched 
Capt. Jacob Hager with a company of about fifty men to that 
neighborhood. Hager arrived with his troops after a rapid march, 
at the place where it was said Brant was to pass — thirty or forty 
miles distant from Schoharie; and concealed them amidst some fall- 
en timber beside the road. This station was taken in the afternoon 
of the day on which Brant was expected to arrive, and continued 
to be occupied by the Americans until the following day between 
ten and eleven o'clock, when, no new evidence of Brant's visit 
being discovered, Capt. Hager returned home — thinking it possi- 
ble that Brant was pursuing a different route to the Schoharie 
settlements. 

Capt. Hager afterwards learned from a loyalist, in whose neigh- 
borhood he had been concealed, that he had not been gone an 
hour when the enemy about one hundred and fifty strong — In- 
dians and tories, arrived and passed the fallow where he had been 
secreted. On being informed that a company of Americans had 
so recently left the neighborhood, prepartions were made to pur- 
sue them. When about to move forward, Brant enquired of a 
tory named Sherman, what officer commanded the Americans, 
and on being informed that it was Capt. Hager, whose courage 
from a French war acquaintance was undoubted, he consulted his 
chiefs and the pursuit was abandoned. 

Brant, on learning that Schoharie was well defended, seems to 
have given up the idea of surprising that settlement, and directed 
his steps to more vulnerable points of attack. Several settlements 
were entered simultaneously by the enemy along the Mohawk 
river early in the season — directed no doubt by this distinguished 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 295 

chief. Apprised of Sullivan's intended march to the Indian coun- 
try, he hurried back to prepare for his reception. 

A party of Indians under the celebrated chief Complanter, ap- 
peared in the vicinity of Fort-Plain at this time, and after burning 
a small church not far from the fort, among other depredations, 
captured John Abeel an old inhabitant. They had traveled but 
a few miles before they discovered that he could talk their own 
language nearly as well as themselves. This discovery soon led 
to another of a more singular character, but truly fortunate for 
the captive, for on enquiring his name, Cornplanter knew at once 
he stood before his own father. Abeel had been a trader among 
the Indians some twenty-five years before in Western New York, 
and in one of his visits became enamored with a pretty squaw. 
The graceful warrior " John," called among his race Complanter, 
now before him, was the fruit of this libidinous, wayward affection. 
The chief had learned the history of his parentage from his mother, 
who called him by the christian name of her lover. A pleasing 
recognition followed, the father was instantly set at liberty, and 
conducted in safety to his own home. — P. J. Wagner, Esq. 

Cornplanter visited his relatives at Fort-Plain, who were among 
the most repectable citizens in the Mohawk valley, several times 
after the war ; and was treated with the civihties his dignified and 
manly bearing merited. 

The repeated assaults along the whole frontier of New York 
and Pennsylvania during the preceding year by the enemy, arrest- 
ed the attention of Congress, which resolved to send an army into 
the Indian country in the summer of 1779, and retaliate their at- 
trocities by a destruction of their settlements. Accordingly, an ar- 
my was assembled under Gen. Sullivan, at Tioga Point, at which 
place he was met by Gen. James Clinton, who marched from Ca- 
najoharie, on the Mohawk, with a division of the army. As a 
preliminary movement to the invasion of the Indian country by 
Gen. Sullivan, Col. Van Schaick went from Fort Schuyler, under 
the instructions of Gen. James Clinton, with detachments of his 
own and Col. Gansevoort's regiment, and destroyed the possessions 
of the Onondasras. 



296 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

While Gen. Clinton was waiting at Canajoharie for his troops 
and supplies to assemble, and also for the construction of bateaus, 
two tories were there hung, and a deserter shot. The following 
letter from Gen. Clinton to his wife, dated July 6th, 1779, briefly 
narrates the death of the two former : 

" I have nothing further to acquaint you of, except that we ap- 
prehended a certain Lieut. Henry Hare, and a Sergeant Newbury, 
both of Col. Butler's regiment, who confessed that they left the 
Seneca country with sixty-three Indians, and two white men, who 
divided themselves into three parties — one party was to attack 
Schoharie, another party Cherry-Valley and the Mohawk river, 
and the other party to skulk about Fort Schuyler and the upper part 
of the Mohawk river, to take prisoners or scalps. I had them triep 
by a general court martial for spies, who sentenced them both to 
be hanged, which was done according!}^ at Canajoharie, to the sa- 
tisfaction of all the inhabitants of that place who were friends to 
their country, as they were known to be very active in almost all 
the murders that were committed on these frontiers. They were 
inhabitants of Tryon county, had each a wife and several children, 
who came to see them and beg their lives." 

The name of Hare was one of respectability in the Mohawk 
valley, before the revolution. Members of the Hare family were 
engaged for years in sundry speculations with Maj. Jelles Fonda, 
who, as already observed, carried on an extensive trade with the 
Indians and fur traders at the western military posts ; his own re- 
sidence being at Cavghnawaga* Henry Hare resided before the 
war in the present town of Florida, a few miles from Fort Hunter. 
At the time he left the valley with the royalist party to go to Ca- 
nada, his family remained, as did that of William Newbury, who 

• AH the territory on the north side of the Mohawk, from The Nose to 
Tribe's Hill, a distance of nearly ten miles, was called Cavghnawaga — an In- 
dian name, which signified Slone in the water. Some writers have given as 
its signification, " The coffin-shaped stone in the water." Tradition has 
handed down from a family which early settled on the bank of the river near 
this stone, the interpretation first given. This Indian name, we must suppose, 
originated long before this state was settled by the whites : of course the abo- 
rigines could have known nothing about coffins — they had no tools by uhich 
they could possibly make them. When the revolution began, Maj. Fonda was 
erecting buildings for the prosecution of business, six miles westward of his 
Caughnawaga residence, on a farm since known as the Schenck place. At a 
later day he built the dwelling now owned by C. McVean, Esq., so pleasant- 
ly situated on the hill in Fonda, where he died June 23d, 1791, aged 64 years. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 297 

lived about 3 miles from Hare, toward the present village of Glen. 
If Hare had rendered himself obnoxious to the whigs of Tryon 
county, Newbury had doubly so, by his inhuman cruelties at the 
massacre of Cherry-Valley, some of which, on his trial, were pro- 
ven against him. Hare and Newbury visited their friends, and 
were secreted for several days at their own dwellings. The form- 
er had left home before daylight to return to Canada, and was to 
call for his comrade on his route. Maj. Newkirk, who resided but 
a short distance from Hare, met a tory neighbor on the afternoon 
of the day on which Hare left home, who either wished to be con- 
sidered one of the knowing ones, or lull the suspicions resting upon 
himself, who communicated to him the fact that Hare had been 
home — and supposing him then out of danger, he added, " per- 
haps he is about home yet." He also informed him that Newbu- 
ry had been seen. Hare brought home for his wife several arti- 
cles of clothing, such as British calicoes, dress-shawls, Indian mo- 
casons, &c., and on the very day he set out to return to Canada, 
she was so imprudent as to put them on and go visiting — the sight 
of which corroborated the story told Newkirk. The Major noti- 
fied Capt. Snooks, who collected a few armed whigs, and in the 
evening secreted himself with them near the residence of Hare, 
if possible, to give some further account of him. Providence 
seems to have favored the design, for the latter, on going to New- 
bury's, had sprained an ankle. Not being willing to undertakes© 
long a journey with a lame foot, and little suspecting that a friend 
had revealed his visit, he concluded to return to his dwelling. 
While limping along through his own orchard, Francis Putman, 
one of Snook's party, then but 15 of 16 years old, stepped from 
behind an apple tree, presented his musket to his breast, and or- 
dered him to stand. At a given signal, the rest of the party came 
up, and he was secured. They learned from the prisoner that 
Newbury had not yet set out for Canada, and a party under Lieut. 
Newkirk went the same night and arrested him. They were ena- 
bled to find his house in the woods by following a tame deer which 
fled to it. The prisoners were next day taken to Canajoharie, 
where they were tried by court martial, found guilty, and exccut- 



298 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ed as pre^aously shown. The execution took place near the pre- 
sent village of Canajoharie.* The influence exerted by the friends 
of Hare to save him would have been successful, had he declared 
that he visited the valley solely to see his family. He may have 
thought they dared not hang him ; certain it is, that when he was 
interrogated as to the object of his visit, he unhesitatingly said that 
he not only came here to see his family, but also came in the ca- 
pacity of a spy. A deserter, named Titus was shot at Canajoha- 
rie about the time the spies were hung, as I have been informed 
by an eye witness to all three executions. — James Williamson. 

Deserters were shot for the first, second, or third offence, as cir- 
cumstances warranted. Newbury and Titus were buried near 
the place of execution, and the bones of one of them were 
thrown out at the time of constructing the Erie Canal, by 
workmen who were getting earth for its embankment. f The bo- 
dy of Hare was given to his relatives for interment. Previous to 
burial the coffin was placed in a cellar-kitchen, before a window, 
in which position a snake crawled over it. This circumstance 
gave rise to much speculation among the superstitious, who said 
"tY was the Devil after his spirit." 

The troops under Gen. Clinton opened a road from Canajoha- 
rie through the town of Springfield, to the head of Otsego lake, 
where they launched their fleet of bateaus and floated down its 
placid waters nine miles to its outlet — now the location of the ro- 
mantic and tastefully built village of Cooperstown. This passage 
down the lake was made on a lovely summer's day, and the sur- 
rounding hills being covered with living green, every dash of the 
oar throwing up the clear, sparkling water, a thousand delighted 
warblers greeting them from the shores as the response of the 
martial music from the boats — the whole being so entirely novel — 
the effect must have been truly enchanting and picturesque. On 
arriving at the foot of the lake, the troops landed and remained 
several weeks, until it was sufficiently raised by a dam constructed 
at the outlet, to float the boats. When a sufficient head of water 

*John S. Quackenboss and Mrs. E. Gardinier. 

^Daniel Spencer, a worthy pensioner, now living at Canajoharie. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 299 

was thus obtained — the boats having been properly arranged along 
the outlet and filled with the troops, stores and cannon — the dam 
was torn away, and the numerous fleet of small fry, (two hun- 
dred and eight boats) floated off in fine style, and passed down the 
tributary into the winding Susquehanna. (This is an aboriginal 
word, said to signify, the crooked river.) It is said that prepara- 
tory to opening the outlet of the lake, a dam made by the saga- 
cious beavers on one of the larger inlets, which flooded considera- 
ble ground, was ordered to be destroyed to obtain the water. It 
was partially so served, but the night following it was, by the in- 
dustrious animals, again repaired. A more effectual destruction 
followed, and a guard of men was stationed all night, to prevent 
its being again built by its lawful owners. 

While the army were quartered at ihe outlet of Otsego lake, 
two men were tried for desertion, and both were sentenced to be 
shot. The youngest of the two, whose name was Snyder, was 
pardoned by Gen. Clinton. The other man was a foreigner, who 
had previously deserted from the British, and having now desert- 
ed from the American flag, and persuaded Snyder to desert, Clin- 
ton said of him — " He is good for neither king or country, let 
him be shot." The order was executed on the west side of the 
outlet, not far distant from the lake. Not a house had then been 
erected where Cooperstown now stands. — Williamson. 

The company to which Williamson belonged, was attached in 
Sullivan's campaign to the second New York regiment, command- 
ed by Col. Rigne, a French officer. He was a large, well made, 
jovial fellow, of whom Mr. Williamson related the following an- 
ecdote. Among the men who aided in our glorious struggle for 
independence, was a regiment of blacks, who generally proved to 
be good, faithful soldiers. That they might readily be distin- 
guished, they wore wool hats with the brim and lower half of the 
crown colored black — the remainder being left drab or the native 
color. While waiting for Otsego lake to rise, the troops were 
drilled every day. As Col. Rigne was thus engaged with his 
own and parts of several other regiments, among whom were one 
or two companies of black soldiers, one of the latter men, from 



300 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

inattention, failed to execute a command in proper time. " Hal- 
loo !" said the colonel, " you plack son of a b h wid a wite 

face ! — why you no mind you beezness ?" This hasty exclama- 
tion in broken English so pleased the troops, that a general burst 
of laughter followed. Seeing the men mirthful at his expense, he 
good humoredly gave the command to order arms. " JYow/' said 
he, ^' laugh your felly full all !" and joining in it himself, hill 
and dale sent back their boisterous merriment. 

In the summer of 1779, Col. Win. Butler received timely or- 
ders to move from Schoharie and join the forces under General 
CHnton at Canajoharie. Among Col. Butler's men, who had ren- 
dered good services in Schoharie during their sojourn, were Lieut. 
Thomas Boyd,* Timothy Murphy and David Elerson. Murphy 
was a native of Pennsylvania, of Irish parentage, and Elerson a 
Virginian, of Scotch descent. 

While Col. Butler was in Springfield, in the month of June, as- 
sisting to open a wagon road for the transportation of the boats, 
David Elerson obtained permission of his captain to proceed about 

• Lieut. Boyd was a native of Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. He 
was about the usual height, and vi'as a stout built, fine looking young man ; 
being very sociable and agreeable in his manners, which had gained him many 
friends in Schoharie. While there, he paid his addresses to Miss Cornelia, a 
daughter of Bartholomew Becker, who gave birth to a daughter after his 
death, of which he was the reputed father. This child, named Catharine, 
grew up a very respectable woman, and afterwards became the wife of Mar- 
tinus Vrooman. While the troops under Col. Butler were preparing to leave 
Schoharie, Miss Becker, in a state of mind bordering onphrensy, approached 
her lover, caught hold of his arm, and in tears besought him by the most 
earnest entreaties, to marry her before he left Schoharie. He endeavored to 
put her off with future promises, and to free himself from her grasp. She 
told him " if he went off without marrying her, she hoped he would be cut to 
■pieces by the Indians '." In the midst of this unpleasant scene. Col. Butler 
rode up and reprimanded Boyd for his delay, as the troops were ready to 
march — and the latter, mortified at being seen by his commander, thus im- 
portuned by a girl, drew his sword and threatened to stab her if she did not in- 
stantly leave him. She did leave him, and anticipating future shame, called 
down the vengeance of heaven upon him. Her imprecation was answered, 
as will hereafter be seen, to the fullest extent : a fearful warning to those 
who trifle with woman's affection. Such was the last interview of Lieut. 
Boyd with the girl he had engaged to marry. — Josias E. Vrooman, who wit 
nessed the parting scene. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 301 

a mile from the camp to a deserted house, and gather some mus- 
tard for greens. While thus engaged early in the day, he heard 
a rustling in some rank weeds near, and on looking in that direc- 
tion, discovered to his surprise, nearly a dozen Indians cautiously 
advancing to capture him. He sprang and seized his rifle, which 
stood against the house, at which instant several tomahawks were 
hurled at him, one of them nearly severing a finger from his left 
hand. He dropped his haversack of greens and fled. In starting 
from the house, his foes ran so as to cut otT his flight to his 
friends. He had to pass over a small clearing between the house 
and the woods, and on arriving at the farther edge of the former, 
he found his progress obstructed by fallen trees. He plunged in 
among them, when his pursuers, fearing he might escape, dis- 
charged their rifles at him. The volley rattled the old timber 
harmlessly about his head. Driven from the direction of the 
American camp, he fled, not knowing whither. Afl;er running 
for several hours, and when he began to think he had eluded the 
vigilance of his pursuers, an Indian appeared before him. As he 
raised his rifle the savage sprang behind a tree. At that instant, 
a ball fired from an opposite direction entered his body just above 
the hip — making a bad flesh wound. He then changed his di- 
rection, and renewed his flight. Descending a steep hill into a 
valley, through which coursed a small stream of water, he reached 
the level ground much exhausted ; but the moment his feet struck 
the cool water his strength revived, and scooping some up in his 
hand, which he drank, so invigorated him, that he gained the 
summit of the opposite hill with comparative ease. He had pro- 
ceeded but a little way further, however, when he found himself 
again growing faint ; and stepped behind a fallen tree just as an 
Indian appeared in pursuit. Not doubting but his hours were 
numbered, he resolved not to die unrevenged, and instantly raised 
his rifle to shoot him. Too weak and excited to hold his gun, he 
sat down upon the ground, rested it upon his knees, fired, and the 
Indian fell. He had barely time to reload his faithful piece, be- 
fore several other foes came in sight. His first thought was to 
bring down another, but as they gathered around their fallen 



302 mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

chief, and began their death yell, the hope of escape again re- 
vived. While they were lingering around their comrade, Elerson 
darted off into the forest. He followed the windings of a creek 
for some distance, and finding in a thicket of hemlocks a large 
hollow tree, crawled into it, and heard no more of the Indians. It 
was near night, and being greatly exhausted, he soon fell into a 
sound sleep. On the following morning he backed out, found it 
rained, was lost, and again entered his gloomy shelter. As it 
continued to rain, he tarried in the log three nights and two days, 
without food or having his wounds dressed. He then crept from 
his concealment, cold, stiff and hungry, unable at first to stand 
upright. He was enabled, by the sun's welcome rays to direct 
his course, and came out at a place in Cobelskill, known 
in former days as Brown's Mills, distant about three miles from 
where he had been concealed, and at least 25 from the place 
where he had first been surprised. Capt. Christian Brown, the 
owner of the mills, was acquainted with Elerson, treated him 
kindly, and sent him to the Middle Fort, ten miles distant, where 
his wounds were properly dressed, and he recovered. The writer 
saw, at his interview with this old soldier in 1837, when he ob- 
tained these facts, the scars from the wounds above noticed, and 
also other similar marks of honor. 

Captain Brown, (a brother of Judge Brown,) is the officer 
mentioned as having been engaged under Captain Patrick the 
summer before, in the Cobelskill battle. His mills — a grist-mill 
and saw-mill, were among the first erected in that part of Scho- 
harie county, and were not burned during the war, because a 
tory named Sommer, who owned lands not far distant, expected 
if Brown's place was confiscated to the British government, to 
obtain it. To gratify him the buildings were spared. Brown's 
home, a small one story dwelling, now covered with moss, is still 
standing. At the time the lower part of Cobelskill was burnt, 
a party of Indians plundered it. Captain Brown, learning that 
the enemy were in his vicinity, hurried his family into the woods, 
and then returned to secure some of his effects. While thus 
engaged, he saw from a window a party of Indians approaching, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 303 

and as he could not leave the house so as to avoid being seen by 
them, he secreted himself in some part of it. The enemy enter- 
ed and supposing it entirely deserted, plundered and left it, after 
which Capt. Brown sought his family, and with them fled to a 
place of greater safety. — James Becker. At the house of Capt. 
Brown, (said George Warner,) during the absence of the former, 
and in the time of the Revolution, a wedding was consummated. 
The groom and bride were Brown's hured man and servant girl. 
The Cobelskill soldiers were invited guests, and of course attend- 
ed — for who does not attend a wedding when they can ? After 
the lovers were united, the party as abundantly served with 
good pork and sour-crout ; and being the best the bride could 
provide, they were received with as much gratification as would 
have been the rich dainties of a modern festival of the same cha- 
racter. The parties were poor, and the friends knew it, and 
made themselves merry. The wedding was in truth a good one, 
for certainly " All 's well that ends well.'' 

Brown's mills were situated on a road now leading from 
Barnerville to the village of Cobelskill, about two miles from the 
latter place. They were erected on a stream of water a few rods 
from a deep pool, whence it issued. It was unknown for many 
years where the water came from, until a saw-mill was erected 
at Abraham Kneiskern's in Carhsle, on a stream of water, which, 
near the mill, sank into the earth and disappeared. After this 
mill began to operate, saw-dust made its appearance in the pool 
near Brown's mills, three miles distant. This mill-stream runs 
into the Cobelskill at Barnerville. Several mill-streams in Car- 
lisle and Sharon, sink into the earth, and re-appear at considerable 
distances from the place of entrance. 

While Gen. Sullivan, with his army, was at Tioga Point, he 
was much annoyed by small parties of Indians, who crept up in 
the long grass on the opposite side of the river, and fired upon 
his men, killing or wounding them in repeated instances ; and 
he devised a plan to intercept them : the execution of which was 
committed to Lieut. Moses Van Campen. The following is Van 



304 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Campen's own account of his manner of proceeding, as publish- 
ed in a small volume entitled, Sullivan's Campaign. 

" Major Adam Hoops — 

" An aid-de-camp to Gen. Sullivan, presented to me my 
instructions, with a sheet of white paper folded up, a leaden 
weight within, and a twine-cord about twenty feet long fastened 
to it. I was to get as near the enemy's camp as was prudent, and 
to select one of the shady oaks, conceal my men in the bush, and 
place my sentinel in the top of the oak, with the paper and twine- 
cord — to give the signal if he discovered a party of Indians — to 
sink the paper down the tree as many feet as they were in num- 
bers — if passing to the right or left to give the signal accordingly. 
" It Avas one of the warm days in the latter part of August, I 
marched as near to the enemy's camp as I was directed. I se- 
lected my tree — my sentinel ascended twenty or twenty-five feet, 
and my men were concealed. We laid in watch about an hour. 
Every eye was fixed on the sentinel. At length the paper drop- 
ped down about four feet. I spoke to my men, saying, 'My good 
fellows, we shall soon have sport.' The paper continued to drop 
to ten feet. I observed again, ' We shall have somethimg more 
to do.' The paper continued to drop to fifteen feet. 'Now, my 
good fellows, we shall have enough to do — fifteen to twenty of 
us. Let every shot make their number less." Behold ! the fel- 
low had fallen asleep — let the twine-cord slip through his fingers — 
lost his balance — and came down like a shot head foremost. He 
Avas much bruised by the fall. I make my report to the general, 
&c., &c. 

Gen. Clinton joined Gen. Sullivan at Tioga, August 22d, and 
four days after, the army, then five thousand strong, moved for- 
ward. All the Indian huts discovered on the route from Tioga 
westward, with the fields of growing corn, beans, &c., were de- 
stroyed by the American troops. At Newtown, now Elmira, the 
enemy under Cols. Butler and Johnson, and the chieftain Brant, 
collected a force, threw up a breastwork, and prepared to dispute 
the further progress of the invaders of their soil. On the 29th of 
August the troops under Sullivan reached the fortifications of the 
enemy, and a spirited action followed. The enemy evinced great 
bravery, but being overpowered by numbers, they abandoned their 
works with considerable loss. 

Gen. Sullivan had a morning and evening gun fired daily while 
proceeding to and from the Indian country, for which he has been 
much censured by some chroniclers. His object in doing it was. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 305 

to notify the numerous scouting parties which were daily kept 
out, of his position. 

Several pleasing incidents owed their origin to the signal guns. 
In one instance a large party of Indians were in ambush to sur- 
prise an advanced guard M'hen the signal gun was fired from ele- 
vated ground not far distant. The Indians — who ever dread the 
sound of cannon, supposing the gun fired at them, scampered off 
like frightened sheep. Upon the firing of a signal gun after the 
battle of Newtown, a white woman came into the American camp. 
Knowing Col. John Butler, whom she supposed could give her 
some account of her red husband, she enquired for Col. Butler, 
and was immediately introduced to Col. William Butler. On 
coming into his presence and finding him a stranger — the truth 
flashed upon her mind — she was in the American camp, and in 
the presence of those who would protect her. She stated that 
she was a native of Danbury, Connecticut ; had been married 
several years, and was living at Wyoming the year before, when 
that delightful country was devastated by the enemy — at which 
time she was made a prisoner. Her husband had been killed 
among the numerous victims of savage cruelty. She further 
stated that at the time she was captured she had three children — 
two small boys and an infant child at the breast. The boys were 
given to different Indians, and the brains of the infant were dash- 
ed out against a tree j after which she was compelled to live with 
an Indian as his wife. When she thus providentially entered the 
American camp, she had an infant child — the fruit of her late un- 
happy connection. This child died not long after, and it was 
suspected that an American soldier, from sympathy to the woman, 
had given it poison. As the Indian country had been invaded, 
this woman had been obliged to follow the fortunes of her master, 
and having been separated from him by the discomfiture of the 
enemy, Sullivan's cannon, which she supposed fired in the British 
camp, directed her course. On the return of the army, she went 
back to her friends in Connecticut. — James Williamson. 

After the battle of Newtown, Gen. Sullivan sent back to Tioga 
much of his heavy baggage, and pushed forward in pursuit of the 



306 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

enemy — fully executing in the destruction of the settlements the 
orders of the Commander-in-chief. The country of the Cayugas 
and Senecas, where the Indians had many flourishing settlements 
and several well built villages of good painted frame-houses, were 
entirely destroyed — together with the fields of growing corn and 
beans. Fruit trees, of which the Indians had an abundance, laden 
with green apples, peaches, and pears, were cut down. Ears of 
corn were found in that country full eighteen inches long, showing 
the exceeding fertility of the soil. It seems indeed lamentable that 
stern necessity should require the destruction oi fruit trees, the 
growth of many years — but when we consider that they afforded 
the enemy an important item of his annual food, we must admit 
that the measure as one of retaliation, was justifiable. 

At the Indian village of Kanadaseago, situated a little distance 
west of Geneva, a white male child was found by the American 
army. It was not more than three or four years old, and when 
discovered, was naked, with a string of beads about its neck. 
This child, which had been abandoned by the enemy in their pre- 
cipitate flight, was supposed to have been among the captives 
made the year before, on the frontiers of New York or Pennsylva- 
nia. He was found before the door of a hut playing with small 
sticks, and when accosted could only say, sago — how do, and a few 
other Indian words ; having been captured too young to give the 
least clue to his paternity. — James Williamson. 

In addition to the above, I learn from the son of Capt. Machin, 
respecting this probable orphan child, that it found in that officer, 
(an engineer in the army,) a god-father, and was christened 
Thomas Machin — that it was nearly famished when found, and 
could not have been kept alive, had not the Americans providen- 
tially taken a fresh-milk cow which had strayed from the enemy — 
that the milk of this cow, which was driven with the army on the 
return march for that purpose, afforded its noumishment — that the 
lUtle unknown was taken in the fall to the house of Maj. Logan at 
New Windsor, where it took the small-pox in the hard winter 
following and died, without any information ever being disclosed 
as to its birth-place or parentage. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 307 

Major Paar coinmamled the rifle corps which accompanied Sul- 
livan in his expedition. When the army, which had met with 
little opposition from the enemy after the battle of Newtown, ar- 
rived at the inlet of Conesus Lake, a scout was sent out early in 
the evening, under Lieut. Thomas Boyd,* one of which was 
Timothy Murphy. Says Major Hoops, in a letter I find in Sulli- 
varCs Campaign — 

" I was in the General's tent when he gave his instructions to 
Lieut. Boyd, wliich were very particular — verbal, of course. The 
country before us was unknown. We had heard of an Indian 
Castle on the river Genesee, which, by our reckoning, might be a 
few miles ahead of us. The term Castle was taken from Chateau 
— the French- having long before magnified Indian villages into 
Chateaux, afterwards rendered literally into English. There were 
the Oneida Castle, perhaps at or near to Utica, — the Seneca Cas- 
tle, near to the present village of Geneva, as well as some others. 
The Castle Lieut. Boyd was detached to discover, consisted, pro- 
bably, of a few Indian huts, near Williamsburgh, a few miles 
above the present village of Geneseo. 

" The evening before Lieut. Boyd was detached by Gen. Sulli- 
van from the inlet of the Kanaghsas Lake, a log bridge was begun 
and finished in the night, or early in the next morning, over the 
inlet. Boyd, not having returned by daylight, the General was 
very uneasy ; particularly from finding that, to the six riflemen he 
meant Boyd's party should consist of, twenty-two musketmen had 
been added." 

The bridge alluded to was constructed by a strong covering 
party, sent in advance of the main army to open a road through 
a marshy piece of ground, and erect the bridge. The object of 
the scout was, to reconnoitre the ground near the Genesee river, 
at a place now called Williamsburgh, at a distance from the camp 
of nearly seven miles. The party were guided by Han Yerry — 
John George — a faithful Oneida warrior. 

In a skirmish which took place the afternoon previous to the 
surprise and massacre of Boyd's command, between Sullivan's 
advance guard and the enemy, the latter captured two friendly 
Oneidas, who had, from the beginning of the war, rendered the 
Americans constant service, and one of whom was then acting as 

•Some published account has erroneously stated the given name of this man 
to have been William. 



308 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Gen. Sullivan's principal guide. This Indian had an older broth- 
er engaged with the enemy, who, as they met, is said (in Stone's 
Brant) to have addressed him as follows : 

" Brother ! You have merited death. The hatchet or the war- 
club shall finish your career. When I begged of you to follow me 
in the fortunes of war, you Avere deaf to my entreaties. 

"Brother! You have merited death, and shall have your deserts. 
When the rebels raised their hatchets to fight against their good 
master, you sharpened your knife, you brightened your rifle, and 
led on our foes to the fields of our fathers. 

" Brother ! You have merited death, and shall die by our hands. 
When those rebels had driven us from the fields of our fathers to 
seek out new houses, it was you who could dare to step forth as 
their pilot, and conduct them even to the doors of our wigwams, 
to butcher our children and put us to death. No crime can be 
greater. But though you have merited death, and shall die on 
this spot, my hands shall not be stained with the blood of a bro- 
ther. Who will striheV^ 

In an instant the tomahawk of Little Beard was twirled wilh 
lightning rapidity over his head, and in another the brave Oneida, 
the friend of America and of humanity, lay dead at the feet of the 
infuriated chief. 

When we contrast the conduct of this Indian, who declared 
that his hands should not be stained with the blood of a brother; 
with that of the fratricide, who sought out his brother among the 
fleeing inhabitants of Wyoming, and shot him while in the act of 
begging for his life ; with that of William Newbury, at the mas- 
sacre of Cherry-Valley, who, finding a little girl by the name of 
Mitchell among the fallen, in whom the spark of life was re- 
viving, with the blow of his hatchet, in the presence of her con- 
cealed father, laid her dead at his feet ; with that of a tory named 
Beacraft, who was with the desolaters of Vrooman's Land ; and 
other instances of no less savage spirit — we shall find that of the 
unlettered Indian to rise in the scale of our just estimation, as that 
of his more savage allies, sinks them to abhorrence and contempt. 

One mile and a half from Sullivan's camp, the Indian path di- 
vided, one branch leading to Canasaraga, in the direction of Wil- 
liamsburg, and the other to Beard's Town. Boyd advanced cau- 
tiously and took the Canasaraga path. On arriving at the latter 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 309 

place, he found it deserted, although the fires of the enemy were 
still burning. As the night was far advanced, he encamped near 
the village, intending to seek out on the morrow, (he location of 
the enemy. This was a most hazardous enterprise. Twenty- 
eight men, seven miles from their camp — a dense forest interven- 
ing — and a thousand foes besetting their path to cut off their re- 
treat. But danger was what the parly courted. Before day 
break, ]3oyd dispatched two of his men to Sullivan's camp — in- 
tending to push forward still farther into the wilderness — but as 
they never reached it, it is quite probable they were intercepted by 
the enemy and slain. — 5^. Treat's Oration, in Sullivan's Campaign. 
Before they were put to death, the enemy no doubt learned from 
them the exact situation of Boyd's command. Just after day- 
light, Lieut. B., accompanied by Murphy cautiously crept from his 
place of concealment. Near the village of Canasaraga, they dis- 
covered two Indians coming out of a hut, fired at them, and a 
ball from Murphy's rifle sealed the fate of one. The other in- 
stantly fled. Murphy, as was his usual custom when he killed an 
Indian, took off his scalp, and as he had on a good pair of moca- 
sons, he transferred them to his own feet. After the escape of the 
Indian fired upon by Boyd, he rightly supposed his visit w^ould 
soon be made known, and he resolved to return immediately to 
the American camp. Boyd was advised by Han-Yerry to pursue 
a different route back, which commendable advice he did not 
choose to follow. — James Williamson. 

About the time Murphy shot the Indian in the morning, an in- 
cident of interest occurred near the main army, which is thus re- 
lated by J\Iaj. Hoops. 

" Early in the morning, Mr. Lodge, the surveyor, proceeded to 
chain from the west side of the inlet, Avhere there was a picquet 
posted, and ascended a little way from the foot of the hill, outside 
ihe sentinels, in advance from the picquet, and was noting his 
work, when he was fired on by a single Indian who had crept up 
near him. Leaving his Jacob-staff standing, he made the best of 
his way toward a sentinel — the Indian almost at his heels, toma- 
hawk in hand. It is probable the Indian had not seen the senti- 
nel till he raised his piece and (when Mr. Lodge had passed him) 
fired, bringing him down, perhaps not mortally wounded. The 
21 



3 1 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

whole picquet immediately advanced, strongly supported ; and as- 
cending the hill, found a line of packs." 

Lieut. Boyd and his followers pursued their back track with 
the most zealous caution, with Han-Yerry in front and Murphy in 
the rear, to guard against surprise. It is not improbable that the 
two messengers sent forward by Boyd a few hours before, had 
fallen into the hands of the enemy contiguous to the American 
camp, and that they had left their packs to intercept the returning 
scout, which were found soon after Mr. Lodge was fired upon. 
Not the rustling of a leaf or spear of grass escaped the observa- 
tion of the returning scout. Nearly two-thirds of the distance 
was overcome — less than two miles intervened between them and 
the camp — and the party were beginning to breathe freely, when 
they were surprised by 500 Indians under Brant, and 500 Royal- 
ists under Butler. The enemy w^ere secreted in a ravine through 
which they rightly conjectured Boyd would approach. — Statement 
of John Salmo7i, in Sullivan's Campaign. What could 28 men 
do, when opposed by 1000, or nearly forty to one. Discovering 
the enemy to be concealed in great numbers, Boyd resolved on at- 
tempting his escape by cutting through his thickly opposing ranks. 
In the first onset, not one of his men fell, although their fire told 
fearfully upon the enemy. A second and third attempt was made, 
and seventeen of the Americans had fallen. — Salmon. At the 
third onset of the brave scout, the ranks of the enemy were 
broken, and Murphy, tumbling a huge warrior in the dust who ob- 
structed his passage — even to the merriment of his dusky com- 
panions — led his thus liberated comrades. — Treafs Oration. 
Boyd, supposing if any one escaped with life it would be Mur- 
phy, determined to follow him, but not being as fast a runner, he 
was soon taken, and with him one of his men named Parker. 
Murphy, as he found the path unobstructed, exclaimed of himself, 
in hearing of the enemy, " Clean Tim. hy G — d .'" shaking his 
fist at the same time at his pursuers. — Treats Oration. After 
Murphy had been pursued for some time, he observed that he had 
distanced all his blood-thirsty followers except two, a tall and a 
short Indian. Several times as they neared him, Murphy would 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 311 

raise his rifle, which was unloaded, and they would fall back. He 
found as he ran, that his mocasons began to prove too tight, ow- 
ing to the swelling of his feet.* He opened a pocket knife, and 
while running (at the hazard of cutting his shins) he slit the tops 
of bis mocasons, which afforded relief. Shortly after, he entered 
a piece of swale, and his feet becoming entangled in long grass 
and rank weeds, he fell. The place proved a favorable one for 
concealment, and he did not immediately rise. As his pursuers 
broke over a knoll so as to gain a view of the grass plot, not dis- 
covering him, although he did them, they altered their course. 
Murphy then loaded his rifle, and cautiously proceeded on his way 
to the camp. He knew from the beginning of the melee, should 
he be taken prisoner, what his fate would be, having the scalp of 
an Indian in his pocket, and his mocasons on his feet. Shortly af- 
ter Murphy again set forward, he discovered himself to be head- 
ed by an Indian in the woods : which discovery was mutual and 
both took trees. After dogging each other for some tinje. Mur- 
phy' drew his ramrod, placed his hat upon it and gently moved it 
aside the tree ; when the Indian, supposing it contained a head, 
fired a ball through it. The hat was thereupon dropped, and run- 
ning up to scalp his man, the Indian received the bullet of Mur- 
phy's rifle through his breast ; exclaiming, as he fell backwards, 
"0-u-ahr 

Murphy, Garret Putman of Fort Hunter (afterwards a captain,) 
and a French Canadian, were all of Lieut. Boyd's command who 
regained the American camp. The two latter secreted them- 
selves early in their flight under a fallen tree, around which was 
growing a quantity of thrifty nettles, and escaped observation ; 
although several Indians passed over the log in pursuit of Mur- 
phy. John Putman, a cousin of Garret, also from the vicinity 
of Fort Hunter, was killed in Groveland. At his burial it was 
supposed he had been shot in the act of firing, as a ball and 

• It has been stated, and is now believed by many, that Murphy skinned 
the feet of this Indian and put the green hides on. It was not so ; and had 
he been disposed to have done it, which I cannot possibly admit, he could not 
have hid time on that mornin". 



312 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

several buck-shot had entered the right arm-pit, without injuring 
the arm. — Peter, a brother of John Putman, corroborated by James 
Williamson. 

A soldier named Benjamin Custom, who joined Gen, Sullivan 
with the troops from Schoharie, attempted to follow Murphy, 
but was overtaken and slain in Groveland. — Geo. Richtmyer. 
When Murphy reached the camp, and told the sad fate of his 
companions. Gen. Sullivan declared it was good enough for them, 
as they had disobeyed his orders ; possibly in advancing farther 
than he intended they should. — /. Williamson. 

When Boyd found himself a prisoner, he obtained an inter- 
view with Brant, who was a freemason. After the magic signs 
of a brotherhood were exchanged, the dusky warrior assured the 
captain he should not be injured. Soon after their capture, Boyd 
and Parker were hurried off to the vicinity of Beard's Town, now 
in the town of Leicester, ten or fifteen miles distant from the bat- 
tle-field. Brant was called off on some enterprise not long af- 
ter, and the prisoners were kept in charge of one of the Butl<?irs, 
probably Weaker, the destroyer of Cherry- Valley ; who began to 
interrogate them about the future instructions of Gen. Sullivan, 
threatening them, if true and ready answers were not given, with 
savage tortures. Boyd, believing the assurance of Brant ample 
for his safety, too high minded to betray his country on the ap- 
pearance of danger, refused, us did Parker, to answer Butler's 
questions ; and the latter, executing his threat, gave them over 
to a party of Seneca Indians. Little Beard and his warriors, 
seized the helpless victims, and having stripped, bound them to 
trees. They then practised their favorite pastime for such occa- 
sions, of throwing their hatchets into (he tree just over ihe heads 
of their victiins. Becoming wearied of this amusement, a single 
blow severed Parker's head fiom his body. The attenlicn of the 
tormentors being undivided, they began to tax their innenuity 
for tortures to inflict on his surviving comrade. Making an in- 
cission into the abdomen, they fastened his intestines to a tree, 
and compelled him to move round it, until they were thus all drawn 
out. He was again pinioned to a tree, his mouth enlarged — his 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 313 

nails dug out — his tongue cut out — his ears cut off — his nose cut 
oft' and thrust into his mouth — his eyes dug out, and when sinking 
in death, he was also decapitated, and his disfigured head raised 
upon a sharpened pole. To those Indian cruelties we must sup- 
pose Butler was not only a witness, but that they were rendered 
the more inhuman, in the hope of gratifying his revengeful dis- 
position. Thus fell the brave Lieutenant Thomas Boyd, at the 
age of twenty-two years. 

On the arrival of Murphy, Gen. Sullivan ordered Gen. Hand 
forward to relieve Boyd and party. At the spot where the en- 
gagement had taken place, he discovered several Indian blankets, 
and an Indian's corpse, which had been accidently left among 
the fallen Americans ; but returned to the main army, ignorant 
of the fate of Boyd. — Oration of Treat. 

Poor Han-Yerry, who had performed prodigies of valor in the 
conflict of Oriskany, and who had rendered the American cause 
much real service, fell literally hacked in pieces. The army, as 
it moved on towards the Genesee river, buried the bodies of those 
who fell in the present town of Groveland. On the following 
day, Generals Clinton and Hand, with about two thousand troops, 
were sent across the Genesee river to Beard's Town, to destroy 
the dwellings, crops, &c. of the Senecas. — Treat's Oration and 
Letter of Van Campen. 

Mr. Sanborn, a soldier who was on the extreme right wing of 
Clinton's army, discovered the headless bodies of Boyd and Par- 
ker. The rifle company of Captain Simpson, of which Boyd had 
been lieutenant, performed the melancholy duty of burying the 
mutilated remains of their comrades, which was done under a wild 
plum tree, and near a stream of water. — James Williamson. 

Beard's Town, one of the largest Indian villages in the Gene- 
see valley, was effectually destroyed, as were several other Indian 
towns on the west side of the Genesee, by the troops under Gen. 
Clinton, together with every growing substance found, that the 
enemy would eat. While this destruction was in progress, offi- 
cers Poor and Maxwell proceeded along the east side of the river 
and destroyed the villages of Canaivagus and Big Tree. Three 



^J,4 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

days being thus occupied in this vicinity, in the work of devasta- 
tion, Sullivan commenced his return march to Tioga Point. As 
the American troops approached the western Indian villages, the 
women and children fled from them to Niagara, while the Indians 
and their tory allies prowled about the forest, watching the move- 
ments of their foes, and seeking a favorable opportunity to strike 
an effective blow. During the winter following, the Indians be- 
came a tax upon the British government, and as the weather was 
intensely cold, and they were fed on salt provisions, to which they 
were unaccustomed, they died in fearful numbers by the scurvy. — 
Treat's Oration. 

It is gratifying to know, that justice has now been done to the 
memory of Boyd and his companions. In the autumn of 1841, 
sixty-two years after their massacre, their remains were taken up, 
through the commendable zeal of the citizens of Rochester, re- 
moved to that city and deposited at Mount-Hope cemetery. On 
the delivery, by the citizens of Livingston county, of the bones 
of Boyd and Parker, which were found near the junction of two 
creeks, hereafter to be known as Boyd's creek and Parker'' s creek, 
and those of that unfortunate lieutenant's command who fell in 
Groveland, to the receiving committee of Monroe county, an 
appropriate oration was delivered at Geneseo, by S. Treat, Esq. 
of that place, to an audience, estimated dX jive thousand persons. 
"When the procession arrived at Mount-Hope, near Rochester, and 
had deposited the sarcophagus and urn in their final resting place, 
a patriotic address was delivered by his Excellency William H. 
Seward. Several old soldiers took part in the ceremonies, among 
whom were Maj. Moses Van Campen, who had, in early life, been 
a near neighbor of Boyd, and Mr. Sanborn, who discovered the 
remains of Boyd and Parker the day after they were killed. The 
proceedings were highly creditable to the enterprise and patriotism 
of Monroe and Livingston counties, and will forever be hailed as 
a bright page in the history of Western New York. The place 
of their burial at Mount-Hope, is set apart not only to receive the 
remains of those brave men, but of any other soldiers of the revo- 
lution that may desire a burial there. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 315 

To a State Convention, called to devise measures ^'•for appre- 
ciating the currency, restraining extortion, regulating prices, and 
other similar purposes," Frederick Fisher, John Frey, Christopher 
W. Fox, Crowneage Kincade, John Petrie, and Werner Deygert 
were elected by the people of the Mohawk valley, as certified to 
by Jacob G. Klock, chairman of Tryon county committee. Da- 
ta!, Committee Chamber, August 16, 1779. 

In October of this year, the enemy, about two hundred strong, 
under Major Monroe, consisting of British regulars, tories, and In- 
dians, entered the Ballston settlement. Most of the early settlers 
of Saratoga county were from New England, and were good li- 
vers. An invasion had been anticipated, and two hundred Schen- 
ectada militia were sent to aid in protecting the settlement. A 
church, called afterwards the red meeting-house, was being erected 
at the time, and opposite and near it, a dwelling owned by a Mr. 
Weed was inclosed in pickets, at which place the Schenectada 
troops were stationed. About the same time, the Ballston mili- 
tia, thinking the troops sent to aid them were not sufficiently cou- 
rageous, erected a small defence on Pearson's Hill, afterwards 
called Court House Hill, nearly two miles in advance of the stock- 
ade named, and where the invaders were expected to enter. The 
little fortress on the hill was guarded for several nights, but as the 
enemy did not appear, it was abandoned. 

The second night (Sunday night) after the Ballston troops dis- 
persed, the enemy broke into the settlement. They made their 
first appearance at Gordon's Mills, situated on a stream called the 
Morning kill, entering the pubUc road at the foot of the hill no- 
ticed. Col. James Gordon, who commanded the Ballston militia, 
and Capt. Collins, an active partizan officer, living near him, were 
both surprised at their dwellings, and borne into captivity, with 
nearly thirty of their neighbors. On the arrival of the enemy at 
the house of Capt. Collins, Mann Collins, his son, escaped from 
it, and gave the alarm to John and Stephen Ball, his brothers-in- 
law. The latter mounted a horse, and rode to the house of Maj. 
Andrew Mitchell, (Major under Col. Gordon,) who, with his fa- 
mily, fled into the lields, and escaped. The Balls also comrauni- 



3 16 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

cated intelligence of the enemy's proximity to the Schenectada 
troops at the Fort. 

At Gordon's Mills, one Stowe, his miller, was captured on the 
arrival of Monroe's party, and, for some reason, soon after libera- 
ted. Feeling himself obligated to Col. Gordon, he thought it his 
duty to inform him of his danger, and afford him a chance of es- 
cape. Crossing a field with that laudable intent, he met an In- 
dian, who, seeing a fugitive, as he supposed, attempting to escape, 
thrust a spontoon through his body, and instantly killed him. 

Great numbers of cattle and hogs were driven away at this 
time, or killed, several dwellings and out-buildings burned, and 
the whole settlement greatly alarmed by the invaders, who pro- 
ceeded directly back to Canada by the eastern route. Among the 
dwellings burned were those of one Waters, one Pearson, several 
Spragues, and several Patchins. Two dwellings, a little north of 
the present residence of Judge Thompson, owned at the time by 
Kennedys, escaped the torch, as they had a friend among the in- 
vaders. 

The troops assembled in the neighborhood were on their trail 
by dayhght on Monday morning, and followed some distance ; but 
meeting a liberated captive, who bore a message from Col. Gor- 
don advising the Americans to abandon the pursuit, it was given 
over. Why the message was sent, I am not informed, but pre- 
sume he either thought the enemy too strong to warrant it, or the 
prisoners in danger of assassination if a hasty retreat was neces- 
sary. Col. Gordon was an Irishman by birth, and a firm patriot. 
He was confined in a Canadian prison for several years, and was 
one of a party of six or eight prisoners, who effected their escape 
in the latter part of the war, and after much suffering succeeded 
in reaching home. Henry and Christian Banta, Epenetus White, 
an ensign of militia, and several others, neighbors of Col. G., and 
captured subsequently, also escaped with him. Procuring a boat, 
the fugitives crossed the St. Lawrence, and from its southern shore 
directed their steps through the forest, coming out at Passama- 
quoddy Bay, in Maine, where they found friends. Before reach- 
ing a dwelUng the party were all in a starving condition, and Col. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 317 

Gordon pave out, and was left, at his request, by his friends, who 
proceeded to a settlement, obtained assistance, returned, and bore 
him in a state of entire helplessness to a place of safety, where 
he recovered. 

While the party were journeying, they agreed that if either of 
them obtained any thing to eat, he should be permitted to enjoy or 
distribute it as he chose. In the forest, to which the trapper had 
not been a stranger, one of the number found a steel-trap, in which 
an otter had been caught, and suffered to remain. It was mostly 
in a state of decomposition. The leg in the trap was whole, how- 
ever, and a sight of that, Col. Gordon afterwards assured his 
friends, looked more inviting to him than the most savory dish he 
had ever beheld ; but pinching hunger did not compel a violation 
of their agreement — his mouth watered in vain, and the finder ate 
his dainty morsel undisturbed. When the fugitives arrived at a 
house, and asked for bread, the woman told them she had not seen 
a morsel in three years. After crossing the St. Lawrence, two 
Indians accompanied them as guides, but under some pretext left, 
and finally abandoned them. The party, after suffering almost in- 
credible hardships, all reached their homes in Ballston to the great 
joy of their friends. — Charles and Hugh, sons of Major Mitchell. 

In the fall of 1779, several stockades in the vicinity of the Mo- 
hawk river were under the command of Col. Fr. Fisher, as ap- 
pears by a journal of that officer's military correspondence, placed 
in the hands of the author by his son Maj. Daniel Visscher. Col. 
Fisher established his head quarters at Fort Paris. The following 
facts are gleaned from the memoranda. His first patrol for the 
several garrisons was " Washington," and countersign " Sulli- 
van." Subject to his direction were the troops stationed at the 
Johnstown Fort, Fort Plank, and the block-houses at Sacandaga, 
and Reme Snyder's bush. The last named was a little distance 
northeast of Little Falls. 

About the 10th of November, as reported to Gen. Ten Broek, 
then commanding at Albany, Col. Fisher mentions the burning of 
a dwelling in the back part of Mayfield. The owner, Harmanus 
Flanke, suspected of disaffection to the American cause, was then 



318 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

living in Johnstown. The house was supposed to have been de- 
stroyed by some one from the block-house at Sacandaga. The 
roof of another house, the owner of which was of similar politics, 
was torn off, such was the spirit of party animosity. 

In a letter to Maj. Taylor, then commanding the Johnstown 
Fort, dated November 27, Col. Fisher states that he is under the 
necessity of convening a court martial on the following day, and 
that he, the Major, should attend, bringing with him another offi- 
cer, also to act as a member. The same letter states that an ac- 
cident happened at that fort the same morning, by which two 
men were wounded — one mortally. The nature of the accident 
is perhaps explained in a letter from Col. Fisher to Gen. Ten 
Broek, dated the 28th instant. In it he states, that during his ab- 
sence to visit Fort Plank, a detachment of men from. Col. Stephen 
J. Schuyler's regiment mutinied, and expressing a determination 
to leave the fort, charged their pieces with ball, in presence of 
the officers. They were at first persuaded to unsling their packs 
and remain until Col. Fisher returned, but seeing Captain Jelles 
Fonda, (known afterwards as Major Fonda,) then in temporary 
command of the garrison, writing to Col. F., the mutineers again 
mounted packs, and knocking down the sentmels in their way, be- 
gan to desert in earnest. Capt. Fonda ordered them to stand, but 
not heeding his command they continued their ffight, when he or- 
dered the troops of the Fort to fire upon them : the order was 
obeyed, and Jacob Valentine, one of the number, fell mortally 
wounded, and expired the next morning. The letter does not so 
state, but I have been advised that the deserters considered their 
term of enlistment at an end. The court martial, I suppose, con- 
vened to try Capt. Fonda, as I have been credibly informed that 
he was thus tried for a similar offence, and honorably acquitted. 

Early in December, as the season was so far advanced that an 
enemy was unlooked for, and provisions were becoming scarce, it 
was resolved, at a meeting of Colonels Fisher, J. Klock, and Lt 
Col. B. Wagner, with the sanction of Gen. Ten Broek, to dismiss 
the three months militia from further service ; and some of the gar- 
risons were for a time broken up. 



. AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 319 

The early and energetic measures adopted in 1779, against the 
enemy, prevented the sallies of the latter upon most of the fron- 
tiers of New York, and that year was one in which the pioneers 
sulTered comparatively but little, from the tomahawk and scalping 
knife. 

At this period of the contest the states were beginning to gain 
favor in Europe. Early in 1779, the king of Naples opened his 
ports to the striped bunting of the United States ; and in the 
course of the season Spain declared war against England. John 
Jay was appointed by Congress, of which he was then a member, 
a minister to the court oi Spain. 

Although no great enterprises were achieved to the United 
States during this season, if we except the destruction of the In- 
dian possessions in western New York ; still many events oc- 
curred in the length and breadth of the land, to raise and depress 
the hopes of the Americans. The south became the theatre of 
some of the most important events. An attempt was made by 
the American troops under Gen. Lincoln, and the French under 
the Count d'Estaing, to take Savannah; and notwithstanding the 
allied forces displayed great bravery, they were repulsed with a 
loss of 1000 men. Several good officers were killed in this un- 
fortunate attack, among whom was the noble and generous Pole, 
Count Pulaski, then a brigadier-general. 

Although several brilliant exploits were performed at the south 
by the American troops, still the year closed without any event 
transpiring to greatly accelerate the close of the contest. In the 
course of the season. Gen. Tryon and Gen. Garth wantonly de- 
stroyed much property along the coast of Connecticut. After 
sacking New Haven, they laid Fairfield and Norwalk in ashes, 
committing numerous outrages upon the helpless citizens. As 
the militia turned out promptly on those occasions, the British 
sought safety on shipboard. While the enemy were thus en- 
gaged in Connecticut, Gen. Wayne most gallantly stormed the 
fortress of Stony Point in the Highlands of the Hudson. 

It was also in the autumn of this season that Com. John Paul 
Jones, a meritorious and distino-uished naval officer in the Ameri- 



320 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 

can service, alarmed several towns in Scotland, and in an en- 
gagement off that coast, took the British frigate Serapis, after one 
of the most bloody battles ever fought upon the ocean. Both 
ships were repeatedly on fire, and when the enemy struck his co- 
lors, the wounded could scarcely be removed to the conquered 
vessel, which was also much crippled, before the Bon Homme 
Richard, Jones's ship, went down. 

At the close of the season, part of the northern army went into 
winter quarters under Gen. Washington a second time at Morris- 
town, New Jersey, and the remainder in the vicinity of "West 
Point. Owing to the almost valueless currency of the country, 
which would not buy provisions, a want of proper management 
in the commissary department, a lack of suitable clothing, and the 
extreme severity of the winter, the American troops suffered in- 
credible hardships. But this suffering was endured, for their be- 
loved commander suffered with them, and the object for which 
the soldier had taken up arms, had not yet been accomplished. 



( 321 ) 



CHAPTER XL 



If the Indians had been severly chastised in New York in 1779, 
and had been obhged to seek out new habitations for their fami- 
lies, and consequently were not very troublesome that season ; 
they were early treading the war path the succeeding year, to 
revenge the lasting injuries done them. 

The following incident transpired in the spring of 1780, in the 
Mohawk valley. The facts were related to the author by John 
S. Quackenboss, and Isaac Covenhoven, the latter one of the ac- 
tors : 

George Cuck, a tory who had become somewhat notorious 
from his having been engaged with the enemy at Oriskany, 
Cherry-Valley, and elsewhere, entered the valley of the Mohawk 
late in the fall of 1779, with the view of obtaining the scalps of 
Capt. Jacob Gardiner, and his Lieut. Abraham D. Quackenboss, 
(father of John S,,) for which the enemy had offered a large 
bounty. Cuck was seen several times in the fall, and on one oc- 
casion, while sitting upon a rail fence, was fired upon by Abra- 
ham Covenhoven, a former whig neighbor. The ball entered the 
rail upon which he sat, and he escaped. As nothing more was 
seen of him after that event, it was generally supposed he had 
returned to Canada. At this period, a tory by the name of John 
Van Zuyler. resided in a small dwelling which stood in a then 
retired spot, a few rods south of the present residence of Maj. 
James Winne, in the town of Glen. Van Zuyler had three 
daughters, and although he lived some distance from neighbors, 
and a dense forest intervened between his rei>idence and the river 
settlements, several miles distant, the young whigs would occa- 
sionally visit his girls. Tory girls, I must presume, sometimes 
made agreeable sparks^ or sparkers, especially in sugar time. 



322 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

James Cromwell, a young man who lived near the Mohawk, 
went out one pleasant summer evening in the month of March, 
to see one of Van Zuyler's daughters. Most of the settlers then 
made maple sugar, and Cromwell found his fair Dulcinea, boiling 
sap in the sugar bush. While they were sparking it, the term for 
courting in the country, the girl, perhaps thinking her name 
would soon be Mrs. Cromwell, became very confiding and com- 
municative. She told her beau that the tory Cuck, was at their 
house. Cromwell at first appeared incredulous — " he is surely 
there," said she, " and when any one visits the house, Ae is secret- 
ed under the floor. ^^ The report of his having been seen in the 
fall instantly recurred to his mind, and from the earnestness of the 
girl, he beUeved her story. Perhaps Cromwell was aware that 
the girl when with him was inclined to be whiggish — be that as 
it may, he resolved instantly to set about ascertaining the truth 
or falsehood of the information. In a very short time he com- 
plained of being made suddenly ill, from eating too much sugar. 
The girl whose sympathy was aroused, thinking from his motions 
that he was badly griped, finally consented to let him go home 
and sugar off alone. Away went Cromwell pressing his hands 
upon his bowels, and groaning fearfully until he was out of sight 
and hearing of his paramour, when the pains left him. Taking 
a direct course through the woods, he reached the dwelling of 
Capt. Jacob Gardinier, some four miles below his own, and with- 
in the present village of Fultonville, about 12 o'clock at night, 
and calling him up, told him what he had heard. Capt. Gardin- 
ier sent immediatly to his Lieut. Quackenboss, to select a dozen 
stout hearted men and meet them as soon as possible at his house. 
The lieutenant enquired what business was on hand — the mes- 
senger replied — " Capt. Gardinier said I should tell you that there 
was a black bear to be caught.'' In a short time the requisite 
number of whigs had assembled, and the captain, taking his 
heutenant aside, told him the duty he had to perform. He de- 
clined going himself on account of ill health, and entrusted the 
enterprise to his lieutenant. He directed him to proceed with 
the utmost caution, as the foe was no doubt armed, and as his 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 323 

name was a terror in the valley, to kill him at all hazards. The 
party well armed, set off on the mission. 

The snow yet on the ground was crusted so hard, that it bore 
them, and having the advantage of a bright moon-light night, 
they marched rapidly forward. Halting a quarter of a mile from 
Van Zuyler's house, the lieutenant struck up a fire, and as his 
men gathered round an ignited stump, he addressed them near- 
ly as follows : " My brave lads ! It is said the villian Cuck, 
is in yonder house, secreted beneath the floor. The object of our 
visit is to destroy him. He is a bold and desperate fellow — 
doubtless well armed, and in all probability some of us must fall 
by his hand. Those of you, therefore, who decline engaging in 
so dangerous an undertaking, are now at liberty to return home." 
" We are ready to follow where you dare to lead !" was the re- 
sponse of one and all. It is yet too early, said the heutenant, 
and while they were waiting for the return of day, the plan of 
attack was agreed upon. At the stump w^as assembled Lieut. 
Quackenboss, Isaac and Abraham Covenhoven, twin brothers, 
John Ogden, Jacob Collier, Abraham J., and Peter J. Quacken- 
boss, Martin Gardinier, James Cromwell, Gilbert Van Alstyne, 
Nicholas, son of Capt. Gardinier, a sergeant, Henry Thompson, 
and Nicholas Quackenboss, also a sergeant. It was agreed that 
the party should separate and approach the house in different 
directions, so as not to excite suspicion. The appearance of a 
light in the dwelling was the signal for moving forward, and se- 
lecting Ogden, Collier, and Abraham J. Quackenboss to follow 
him, the lieutenant led directly to the house. As they approach- 
ed it, a large watch dog met them with his yelping, which caus- 
ed the opening of a little wooden slide over a loophole for ob- 
servation, by a member of the family ; but seeing only four per- 
sons, the inmates supposed they were sugar-makers. On reach- 
ing the door and finding it fastened, the soldiers instantly forced 
it — the family, as may be supposed, were thrown into confusion 
by the unexpected entrance of armed men. " What do you want 
here ?" demanded Van Zuyler. " The tory George Cuck !" was 
the lieutenant's reply. Van Zuyler declared that the object of 



324 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

their search was not in his house. The three daughters had al- 
ready gone to the sugar-works, and their father expressed to 
Lieut. Quackenboss, his wish to go there too. He was permitted 
to go, but thinking it possible that Cuck might also have gone 
there, several men then approaching the house, were ordered to 
keep an eye on his movement. Abraham Covenhoven was one 
of the second party who entered the house. There was a dark 
stairway which led to an upper room, in which it was thought 
the object of their search might be secreted. Covenhoven was 
in the act of ascending the stairs with his gun aimed upward, 
and ready to fire, as Abraham J. Quackenboss, drew a large chest 
from the wall on one side of the room, disclosing the object of 
their search. Discharging a pistol at Nicholas Gardinier, the 
tory sprang out before Quackenboss, who was so surprised that 
he stood like a statue, exclaiming, "dunderf dunder ! dunder!" 
The wary lieutenant was on his guard, and as Cuck leaped upon 
the floor from a little cellar hole, made on purpose for his secre- 
tion, he sent a bullet through his head, carrying with it the eye 
opposite. He fell upon one knee, when the lieutenant ordered 
the two comrades beside him to fire. Ogden did so, sending a 
bullet through his breast, and as he sank to the floor, Collier, 
placing the muzzle of his gun near his head, blew out his brains. 
Thus ended the life of a man, who, in an evil hour, had resolved 
to imbrue his hands in the blood of his former neighbors and coun- 
trymen. 

When the first gun was fired, Covenhoven said the report was 
so loud and unexpected that he supposed it fired by Cuck him- 
self, and came near falling down stairs. Had the party not divi- 
ded into several squads, the peep from the slide window would 
have betrayed the object of their visit, and more than one would 
doubtless have fallen before the villain had been slain, for he had 
two loaded guns in the house, and a brace of well charged pistols, 
only one of which he had taken into his kennel. They also found 
belonging to him, a complete Indian's dress, and two small bags 
of parched corn and maple sugar, pounded fine and mixed to- 
gether, an Indian dish, called by the Dutch quitcheraw — intended 
as food for a long journey. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 325 

After his death, it was ascertained that Cuck had entered the 
valley late in the fall — that he had been concealed at the house 
of this kindred spirit, who pretended neutrality in the contest, 
whose retired situation favored the plans of his guest, and was 
watching a favorable opportunity to secure the scalps mentioned, 
and return to Canada. The making of maple sugar he had sup- 
posed would favor his intentions, as an enemy was unlooked for 
so early in the season, and the ptrsons whose scalps he sought, 
would probably expose themselves in the woods. He had intend- 
ed, if possible, to secure both scalps in one day, and by a hasty 
flight, pursue the nearest route to Canada. As the time of sugar- 
making had arrived, it is probable his enterprise was on the eve of 
being consummated ; but the goddess of liberty, spread her wings 
in his path, and defeated his hellish intentions. 

Van Zuyler was made a prisoner by the party, and lodged in 
the jail at Johnstown ; from whence he was removed not long af- 
ter to Albany. When they were returning home with Van Zuy- 
ler in custody, as they approached the sugar bush of Evert Van 
Epps, near the present village of Fultonville, one of them, put- 
ting on the Indian dress of Cuck, (which, with the guns and pis- 
tols were taken home as trophies,) approached the sugar makers 
as an enemy, which occasioned a precipitate retreat. The fugi- 
tives were called back by others of the party, when a rope being 
provided, their prisoner was drawn up to the limb of a tree sev- 
eral times by the neck ; but as he had been guilty of no known 
crime, except that of harboring Cuck, although suspected of burn- 
ing Covenhoven's barn in the fall, his life was spared and he was 
disposed of as before stated. Cuck was a native of Tryon 
county, and was born not many miles from where he died. 

On the 2d day of April, 1780, a scout of fourteen individuals, 
commanded by Lieut. Alexander Harper, (not Col. John Harper 
as stated by some writers,) were sent from the Schoharie forts by 
Col. Vrooman into the vicinity of Harpersfield, to keep an eye on 
the conduct of certain suspected persons living near the head wa- 
ters of the Delaware, and if possible to make a quantity of ma- 
ple sugar. The party were surprised after being there a few days, 
22 



326 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

by a body of Indians and tories under Joseph Brant, and hurried 
off to Canada. The scout consisted of Lt. Harper, Freegift Pat- 
chin,* Isaac Patchin his brother, Ezra Thorp, Lt. Henry Thorp, 
Thomas Henry, afterwards major, and his brother James Henry, 
CorneUus Teabout, one Stevens and five others. About the time 
they arrived at their place of destination, a heavy snow fell, and 
not anticipating the approach of a foe, they began their sugar 
manufacture. The preceding winter has justly been designated in 
the annals of mercury as the cold winter, and the spring was ve- 
ry backward. They were busily engaged in sugar making — 
which can only be done while the weather thaws in the day time 
and freezes in the night — from the time of their arrival until the 
7th, when they were surprised by forty-three Indians and seven 
tories. 

So unlooked for was the approach of an enemy, and so com- 
plete was their surprise, that the Americans did not fire a gun. 
Two of them were shot down, and eleven more, who were in the 
sugar hush, surrendered themselves prisoners. Poor Stevens, who 
was on that day sick in bed, and unable to proceed with the pri- 
soners, was killed and scalped in cold blood. Brant, on recognis- 
ing Harper, approached him. " Harper .'" said he, " lam sorry 
to find you here!" " Why?" — asked the latter. " Because" re- 
plied he, " / must kill you, although we were once school mates!" 
The ostensible object of Brant's mission had been, to lay waste 
the Schoharie settlements. Confronting Harper, with his eyes 
keenly fixed upon him, he enquired — " Are there any troops at 
Schoharie ?" Harper's anxiety for the settlers prompted the ready 
answer — " Yes, three hundred continental troops froin the castioard, 
arrived at the forts hut three days since." The intelligence — false, 
although the occasion justified it — was unwelcome to the great 
chief, whose countenance indicated disappointment. The eleven 
prisoners were then pinioned, and secured in a hog-pen. Several 
tories were stationed to guard them during the night, among 

• Mr. Patchin was a fifer during the war, and a general of milit'a after its 
close. He wos a very worthy man, and once represented his county in the 
Legislatare. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 327 

whom was one Bcacraft, a notorious villain, as his after conduct 
will show. 

The Indians built a large fire near, and were in consultation for 
a long time, about what disposition should be made with the pri- 
soners. Harper could understand much of their dialect, and ov- 
erheard several of the Indians and tories urging the death of the 
prisoners, as they did not consider the enterprise sufficiently ac- 
complished. The opinion of Brant, which was that the party re- 
turn immediately to Niagara, finally prevailed. Often during the 
night, while an awful suspense was hanging over the fate of the 
prisoners, would Bcacraft comfort them with this and similar salu- 
tations — " You d — d rebels! youHl all he in hell before moming.^^ 

Lieut. Harper discovered, while the enemy were consulting the 
preceding evening, that his word was doubted by many of the par- 
ty, and early in the morning he was ordered before an Indian 
council consisting of Brant and five other chiefs. He was told 
that his story about the arrival of troops at Schoharie was unbe- 
Ueved. The question as to its truih was again asked, while the 
auditors — tomahawk in hand — awaited the answer. Harper, 
whose countenance indicated scorn at having his word thus doubt- 
ed, replied that what he had before told them was true, and that 
if they any longer doubted it, they should go there, and have their 
doubts removed. Not a muscle of the brave man's countenance 
indicated fear or prevarication, and full credit was then given to 
the statement. Fortunate would it be if every falsehood was as 
productive of good, for that alone prevented the destroyers from 
entering the Schoharie valley, when it was feebly garrisoned, and 
where they intended to strike the first effectual blow in revenge of 
the injuries done them the year before, by the armies under Van 
Schaick and Sullivan. 

The rest of the prisoners were now let out of the pig-stye, when 
Brant told them in English that the intended destination of the 
party was Schoharie, which he had been informed was but feebly 
garrisoned — that his followers were much disappointed at being 
obliged thus to return— that it had been with difficulty he and his 
chiefs had restrained the desire of their comrades to kill the pri- 



328 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

soners and proceed to the Schoharie valley — that if they would 
accompany him to Niagara, they should be treated as prisoners 
of war, and fare as did their captors. The latter expressed a wil- 
lingness to proceed. They were compelled to carry the heavy 
packs of the Indians, filled with plunder taken at the destruction 
of Harpersfield but a few days before, and all set forward for Ca- 
nada. They were still bound, and as the snow was several feet 
deep, they at first found it very difficult to keep up with the In- 
dians, who were provided with show- shoes. Some ten or fifteen 
miles from the place of capture, the party halted at a grist-mill, 
upon the Delaware river, owned by a tory. This royalist told 
Brant he might better have taken rfiore scalps and less prisoners ; 
and his daughters, sensitive creatures, even urged the more gene- 
rous chieftain to kill his prisoners then, lest they might return at 
some future day and injure their family. The enemy obtained of 
this tory about three bushels of shelled corn, which was also put 
upon the backs of the prisoners, and they resumed their march. 
They had proceeded but a few miles down the river, when they 
met Samuel Clockstone, a tory well known to Brant and most of 
the prisoners. When Brant made known to him the intended ex- 
pedition, and its termination from what Lieut Harper had told 
him, Clockstone replied — " depend upon it, there are no troops at 
Schoharie — I have heard of none." With uplifted tomahawk 
Brant approached Harper, who was confronted by Clockstone. 
" Why have you lied to me ?" — asked the Indian, with passion de- 
picted in every feature and gesture. Harper, apprised of what 
the tory had said, in his reply, thus addressed the latter. "I 
have been to the forts but four days since, the troops had then ar- 
rived, and if Capt. Brant disbelieves me, he does so at his peiil.'' 
Noble, generous hearted fellow, thas to peril his own life to save 
the lives of others. He had alone visited the forts after the party 
were at the sugar-bush, which Clockstone happened to know, and 
the latter admitted that possibly troops had arrived. Brant was 
now satisfied that his prisoner had not deceived him, and the 
march was resumed. 

In the vicinity of Harpersfield the Indians made prisoners an 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 329 

aged man named Brown, and two little boys — his grand-sons. 
On the day after the party met Clockstone, as the traveling was 
very bad, Brown, having also a heavy pack to carry, found himself 
unable to keep up with the company, and begged permission of his 
captors to return ; telling them that he was too old to take any 
part in the war, and could not injure the king's cause. On his 
making this request, the party halted and the old gentleman's 
pack was taken from him. Knowing the Indian character, he read 
his fate in the expressive gestures of his silent masters, and told 
his grand-sons, in a low voice, that they would never see him 
again, for the Indians were going to kill him. He took an affect- 
ing leave of the boys and was then compelled to fall in the rear, 
where he was left in the charge of an Indian, whose face, painted 
black, denoted him as being the executioner for the party. In a 
short time this Indian overtook his comrades with the hairless 
scalp of the murdered prisoner, hanging at the end of his gun. 

The party proceeded down the Delaware river to the Cook- 
house flats, from whence they directed their course to Oquago. 
Constructing rafts, they floated down the Susquehanna to the 
mouth of the Chemung. The prisoners were unbound when on 
the raft, but rebound on leaving it. 

The Indians, capable of enduring more fatigue than their pri- 
soners on a scanty supply of food — being provided with snow-shoes, 
and having little baggage to carry, would probably have wearied 
out most of their prisoners, whose bodies, like that of poor Brown, 
would have been left to feast wild beasts, and their bones, like 
his, to bleach upon the mountains, had not Brant providentially 
fallen ill of fever and ague, which compelled the party for a time 
to lay by every other day on his account. They had been jour- 
neying about a fortnight, and were approaching a warmer lati- 
tude, when a rattle-snake, which had left its den in a warm spot, 
was killed, and a soup made of it, a free use of t\-hich effected a 
cure for the invalid. 

The corn obtained near the head of the Delaware, was equally 
distributed among the whole party, by an allowance of about two 
handfuls a day, which was counted out by the berry to deal jus- 



330 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

tice. This is a noble trait of the Indian character. He never 
grudgingly gives a scanty allowance to his prisoner, and satiates 
his own appetite, but shares equally his last morsel with him. 
The corn was boiled in small kettles carried by the Indians pre- 
paratory to eating. 

While in the vicinity of Tioga-Point, the prisoners came near 
being sacrificed, to gratify the savage disposition to revenge, even 
on the innocent, an injury done to a friend. While the Indians 
■were on their way down the Chemung, Brant detached ten of his 
warriors, mostly Senecas, to a place called Minisink,* an old 
frontier settlement on the borders of New York and Pennsyl- 
Tania, in the hope of making prisoners and plunder. They ar- 
rived in due time at the place of destination, and succeeded in ob- 
taining several scalps and five prisoners, three men and two small 
children. The following particulars of their capture and escape, 
I find in a note subjoined to Treafs Oration, delivered at Geneseo 
in 3841, on exhuming the remains of Lieut. Boyd and his com- 
mand. 

" The father of Major Van Campen was thrust through with a 
spear ; and whilst the red warrior was, with his foot on the breast 
of his victim, endeavoring to extricate his spear, another savage 
had dashed out the brains of Moses Van Campen's brother with a 
tomahawk, and was aiming a blow at Moses' head. He seized the 
Indian's arm, and arrested the descending blow. Whilst thus en- 
gaged, his father's murderer thrust his spear at his side. But he 
avoided the Aveapon, being onl)' slightly wounded. At this mo- 
ment the chief interfered, and his life was spared. 

" After several days' march, the party of Senecas above men- 
tioned, arrived near Tioga point, with Lieut, (now Major) Van 
Campen ; a Dutchman b}' the name of Pence ; Pike, a robust 
Yankee; and two small children. During the day, these prison- 
ers marched with the party, bearing the baggage ; and at the eve-- 
ning halt, were made to carry the wood for the fires. 

" Van Campen had, for some time, urged upon the two men, 
prisoners with him, to make an attempt to escape during the night, 
by tomahawking the Indians whilst sleeping. He depicted to 
them the horrors of a long captivity, and of the agonizing tortures 
to which they would probably be subjected. His companions, 
however, were at first alarmed at the danger of a contest with ten 
warriors. During the afternoon preceding the eventful night of 

• This word signifies, as I have been told, " The water is gone.". 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 331 

their delivery, he succeeded in persuading them to join him in the 
meditated blow, before they crossed the river and their retreat was 
thereby cut ofT. He advised tlicni to remove the Indians' rifles ; and 
with the head of the tomahawks, dash out their brains ; for if the 
edf^es of the weapon were used, th« time required to extricate the 
hatchet after each blow, would prove a dangerous delay. He was 
over-ruled by his comrades ; and after some discussion among 
them, that plan was adopted, which was finally acted upon. 

" At evening, the savages, according to their custom, lighted 
their fires, and bound the arms of the captives behind their backs. 
They then cut two forked stakes for each side of the fire, and 
placed between them (resting on the forks) two poles, against which 
they could lean their rifles. During the evening meal, one of the 
savages, after sharpening a stick on which to roast his meat, laid 
down his knife in tlie grass, near the feet of Van Campen, who 
saw it, and so turned his feet as to cover it, hoping the Indian 
would forget it before going to rest. After the meal was finished, 
the ten Indians having first examined their prisoners to ascertain if 
they were fast bound, lay down to sleep. Five were on each side 
of the fire — their heads under the poles, and his rifle standing at 
the head of each, ready to be grasped at the instant. 

"About midniglit. Van Campen sat up and looked around, to 
learn if all were asleep. Their loud snoring told him the hour to 
strike had arrived. He then, with his feet drew the knife within 
reach of his pinioned hands. Rising cautiously, he roused his 
companions. Pence cut the bands from Van Campen's arms, and 
the latter then cut loose his two comrades. There had been a 
slight fall of snow, which had frozen among the leaves, and ren- 
dered every footstep fearfully audible. But they succeeded in re- 
moving all the rifles to a tree at a short distance from the fire, 
without awaking one of the warriors. During the afternoon, sev- 
eral of the rifles had been discharged in killing a deer, and, through 
forget fulness, left unloaded. The plan proposed was, that Pence, 
who was an excellent marksman, should lie down on the left of 
one row of Indians, with three rifles ; and, at the given signal, fire. 
They supposed the same ball would pass through at least two sav- 
ages. In the mean time. Van Campen should tomahawk three of 
those on the other side and Pike, two. Then there would be but 
three Indians remaining, and each of the captives was to fasten on 
his foe — Van Campen and Pike with their tomahawks, and Pence 
with one of the undischarged rifles. Fortunately, for their safety, 
Pence had taken the two unloaded rifles. 

" All things being ready, Van Campen's tomahawk dashed out 
the brains of one of the Indians at a single blow ; but Pence's ri- 
fle snapped without discharging. At the noise, one of the two as- 
signed to Pike's charge, with a sudden " ugh .'" extended his hand 
for his rifle. Pike's heart failing him at this awful crisis : he 
crouched to the ground and stirred not. But Van Campen saw the 
Indian starting to his feet ; and, as quick as thought, drove the 



332 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

tomahawk through his head. Just as the fifth blow of Van Camp- 
en had despatched the last savage on his side of the fire, Pence 
tried the third rifle, and the ball passed through the heads of four. 
The fifth on that side, John Mohawk, bounded to his feet, and 
rushed towards the rifles. Van Campen darted between him and 
the tree, and Mohawk turned in flight. Van Campen pursued him, 
and drove the tomahawk through his shoulder. Mohawk imme- 
diately grappled his adversary ; and, in the struggle, both fell — 
Van Campen undermost. Each knew his life depended on the 
firmness of his grasp ; and they clung to each other with unre- 
laxed nerve, and writhed to break free. Van Campen lay under 
the wounded shoulder, and was almost suffocated with the Indian's 
blood which streamed over his face. He eagerly stretched his 
hand around Mohawk's body to reach the knife of the latter ; for 
the tomahawk had fallen from his hand in the struggle. But as 
they fell, the Indian's belt had been twisted around lais body, and 
the knife was beyond his reach. At length they break away, and 
both spring to their feet. MohaAvk's arms had been round Van 
Campen's neck, and the arm of the latter over the back of the 
former. As they gained their feet. Van Campen seized the toma- 
hawk and pursued the again retreating Indian. His first impulse 
was to hurl the hatchet at his foe ; but he saw at once the impru- 
dence of the course. If it missed its object, it would be turned in 
a moment against his OAvn life ; and he therefore gave over the 
pursuit, and one alone of the ten Senecas escaped. 

" On returning to his comrades, he found Pike on his knees beg- 
ging for his life, and Pence standing over him with loaded rifle, 
ready to fire. Pence answered V. C.'s inquir}' into his conduct, by 
saying, " De tarn Yankee bee's a cowart, and I musht kill um." 
With difficulty Van Campen prevailed upon the Dutchman to spare 
the frightened and dastardly Pike. They then scalped their victims ; 
and, taking their rifles, set forAvard with the two boys, on their return 
home, which they reached in safety. Among the scalps which 
were strung to the belt of one of the warriors, were those of Van 
Campen's father and brother." 

Mohawk, the sachem who had escaped from Van Campen, was 
occupying a little hut near Tioga Point, where the Minisink party 
were to await Brant's arrival, endeavoring to cure his wound, 
when he returned with his prisoners. As the party under Brant 
drew near that place, the war whoop was sounded, and was soon 
answered by a pitiful howl — the death yell of the lone Indian. 
The party halted in mute astonishment, when the Indian, with the 
nine pairs of mocasons, taken from the feet of his dead comrades, 
came forward and related the adventures of himself and friends, 
and the terrible disaster that had overtaken them. Instantly, the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 333 

whole band under Brant seemed transformed to so many devils in- 
carnate, gathering round their prisoners with frantic gestures, and 
cutting the air with their weapons of death. At this critical mo- 
ment, when the fate of the prisoners seemed inevitable from the 
known rule of Indian warfare, Mohawk threw himself into the 
midst of the circle, and made a signal for silence. This Indian 
knew most of the prisoners, having lived about Schoharie before 
the war. He told his attentive auditors, that the prisoners were 
not the men who had killed his friends, and that to take the lives 
of innocent men to revenge the guilt of others, could not be right : 
he therefore desired them to spare their lives. The storm of pas- 
sion which seemed ready but a moment before to overwhelm the 
prisoners, now yielded to the influence of reason, and the toma- 
hawks of the savages were returned to their girdles. 

The company again moved forward, the prisoners grateful to 
the Almighty for their deliverance from such obvious perils. On 
arriving near Newtown, the whole party, Indians as well as 
prisoners, were on the point of starvation, when an unusual 
number of wolf-tracks arrested their attention. They led to the 
half-devoured carcase of a dead horse, supposed to have been a 
pack horse, left by accident the fall before by the army under 
Gen. Sullivan. The under side of the animal, frozen, and buried 
in snow, was found in a good state of preservation. It was in- 
stantly cut up, and equally distributed, even to the fleshless bones, 
among the whole party. Fires were built — the meat cooked — 
and the nearly famished travelers feasted upon the remains of this 
horse, with far more satisfaction than would the epicure upon 
his most dainty meats. 

In the present county of Steuben, the prisoners saw the 
" Painted Post," which had been erected by the Indians, to com- 
memorate some signal battle fought upon the spot. Leaving the 
route of Sullivan on the Chemung, they proceeded farther north. 
On their journey, the tories, Beacraft,* and Barney Cane, boast- 

• Priest states, that Beacraft boasted at this time of killing a Vrooman 
boy in Schoharie. He had no lack of evil deeds at that period, but that 
writer must have misunderstood Gen. Patchin in that part of the narrative. 



334 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ed of the acts of cruelty each had then perpetrated during the 
war. The party descended to the Genesee river nearly famished, 
and there met a company of Indians that had arrived to make 
preparations to plant corn. The latter had brought with them 
from Niagara, a fine looking horse, which Brant instantly order- 
ed killed, and distributed to his again starving men and prisoners. 
No part of the animal, not even the intestines were suffered to 
be lost. They roasted the meat, using white ashes as a substi- 
tute for salt. They also found upon the Genesee flats, small 
ground nuts, which they roasted and ate with their horse flesh. 

From this place, Brant sent forward a runner to Niagara, a 
distance of eighty miles, to announce the result of his expedition, 
the number of prisoners, and their character. Brant was in pos- 
session of a secret which he kept in his own breast, that doubt- 
less operated as an incentive for him to save the life of Lieut. 
Harper and his men. Among the prisoners taken at the massa- 
cre of Cherry-Valley, in the fall of 1778, was Miss Jane Moore, 
whose mother was a sister of Harper. Not long after her arrival 
at Niagara, she was courted, and became the wife of Capt. 
Powel, a British officer of merit.* 

Beacraft did kill a boy named Vrooman in Schoharie in the manner there de- 
scribed, but it was not until the 9th day of the following August, as will be 
shown. He also boasted of the act after it was committed. He was a no- 
torious villain, and partial justice was awarded him subsequently. 

• " In person, Brant was about the middling size, of a square, stout build, 
fitted rather for enduring hardships than for quick movements. His complex- 
ion was lighter than that of most of the Indians, which resulted, perhaps, 
from his less exposed manner of living. This circumstance, probably, gave 
rise to a statement, which has been often repeated, that he was of mixed 
origin. [The old people in the Mohawk valley to whom he was known, 
generally agree in maintaining that he was not a full blooded Indian, but 
was part white.] He was married in the winter of 1779, to a daughter of 
Col. Croghan, by an Indian woman. The circumstances of this marriage are 
somewhat singular. He was present at the wedding of Miss Moore from 
Cherry-Valley, who had been carried away a prisoner, and who married an 
officer of the garrison at Fort Niagara. 

" Brant had lived with his wife for some time previous, according to the 
Indian custom, without marriage; but now insisted that the marriage cere- 
mony should be performed. This was accordingly done by Col. Butler, who 
was still considered a magistrate. After the war he removed with his na- 



AND BOBDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 335 

Brant suggested to his runner to the fort, that Capt. Powel 
should send the warriors from both Indian camps contiguous, 
down the hike to the Nine Mile Landing — there to await his 
arrival with the prisoners. Having obtained permission from 
Col. Butler to do so, Powel gave the Indians a quantity of rum 
to aid, as they supposed, in their celebration, and away they 
went. The danger Brant justly apprehended, was, from the im- 
possibility of restraining the violent acts of many of the Indians, 
while the prisoners were running the gantlet, knowing that re- 
lations of the Minisink party would be present burning with re- 
venge, and all were smarting under the chastisement they had 
received the preceding year. He knew that no act, however 
atrocious, would be considered by many of his warriors, too se- 
vere to inflict at this time on the prisoners. That Harper was a 
relative of Mrs. Powel, Brant concealed from every individual of 
his party. 

Four days after the messenger had been sent forward, they ar- 
rived near Niagara, when the tories began to tantalize the prison- 
ers, by telling them that in all probability few of them would sur- 
vive running the gantlet. On arriving at the first encampment 
the prisoners were as happily disappointed to find that the lines 
through which they were to pass were composed of old women 
and children, who would not be likely to inflict much injury, as 
were the tories to find the revengeful warriors all absent. Most 
of the prisoners escaped with little injury, except Freegift Patch- 
in. He was approached by an old squaw, who, as she exclaim- 

lion to Canada. There he was employed in transacting important business 
for his tribe. He went out to England after the war, and was honorably 
received there." — Memoirs of Dr. Whcelock — see N. Y. Hist. Coll. 

Joseph Brant died on the 24ih November, 1807, at his residence near the 
head of Lake Ontario, in tlie 65th year of his age. Not long before that 
event, the British government refused, for the first time, to confirm a sale of 
lands made by that chief, which mortified him very much. The sale was 
afterwards confirmed, at which he was so n\uch elated, that he got into a 
frolick, that is said to have laid the foundation for his sickness, and re- 
sulted in his death. The wife of Brant, who was very dignified in her ap- 
pearance, would not converse in English before strangers, notwithstanding 
she could speak it fluently. ' 



336 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ed "poor shild,^' gave him a terrible blow upon the head. As 
the prisoners drew near the second encampment, they were grati- 
fied to perceive that, through the policy of Capt. Powel, a regi- 
ment of British troops was thrown into parallel lines to protect 
them. When Patchin had arrived within a few rods of the gate- 
way, an Indian boy ran up and gave him a blow on the forehead 
with a hatchet, which had nearly proven fatal. A soldier stand- 
ing by, snatched the weapon from the hand of the young savage 
and threw it into the lake. The unexpected meeting of Harper 
with friends among the enemies of his country, was no doubt very 
gratifying. 

On arriving at the fort, the prisoners were brought before seve- 
ral British officers, among whom sat Col. John Butler as presiding 
officer. The colonel put several abusive questions to the pri- 
soners, and addressing Freegift Patchin, who stood nearest his 
seat, he asked him " if he did not think that by and by his In- 
dians would compel a general surrender of the Yankees?" Smart- 
ing under his wounds, he replied that " he did not wish to answer 
for fear of giving offence." The unfeeling officer insisted on an 
answer, and the young American, whose patriotic blood was ri- 
sing to fever heat, replied — " If I must answer you, it is to say, 
JVb — you might as well think to empty the adjoining lake of its 
waters with a bucket, as attempt to conquer the Yankees in that 
manner." Butler flew into a passion, called Patchin " a d — d 
rebel" for giving him such an insolent reply, and ordered him out 
of his sight. At this instant, a generous hearted British officer in- 
terfered. Said he to Col. B., "the lad is not to blame for an- 
swering your question, which you pressed to an answer : he has 
no doubt answered it candidly, according to his judgment." Ex- 
tending a glass of wine to Patchin, whose spirit he admired — 
" Here, my poor fellow," said he, " take this glass of wine and 
drink it." Such unexpected kindness received his grateful re- 
membrance. The examination of the prisoners having ended, 
Mrs. Nancy Bundy,* who was also a prisoner at the time, prepared 

•Tliis woman stated to Freegift Patchin, " that herself, her husband, and 
two children were captured at the massacre of Wyoming, and brought to the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 337 

as speedily as possible, a soup made of proper materials for them. 

The captors received as their reward for the delivery of the 
Schoh.uic party eight dollars per head. This it is believed was 
the stii)ulatc(l reward for American scalps or prisoners, to be paid 
for by Col. John Butler,* the British agent for that business, dur- 
ing the war : but it was often the case that the delivery of a com- 
mittee-man's scalp or his person, or that of an officer or noted sol- 
dier, entitled the possessor to a larger sum. From Niagara, the 
prisoners, except Harper, were sent from post to post, and finally 
lodged in prison at Chamblee. Here they remained in irons nearly 
two years, suffering most acutely for the necessaries of life. Free. 
Patchin was reduced to such a state, as to be unable to rise from 
the floor without the aid of one of the Thorps. 

Doctor Pendergrass, a physician who had the care of the prison- 
ers, totally neglected to require into their real condition, the con- 
sequence was that some of them became objects of loathing, even 
to themselves. Of the latter number was Free. Patchin. A wor- 
thy physician at length succeeded Pendergrass in his station, and 
the sufferings of the prisoners was at once mitigated. On his first 
visit to the prisoners confined in the room with the Palchins, 
Steele, the commanding officer of the fort, accompanied him. 
The doctor proceeded to examine the prisoners singly. Ashamed 

Genesee country. There she had been parted from her husband, the Indians 
carrying him she knew not where. She had not been long in the possession 
of the tribe with whom she had been left, when the Indian who had taken 
her prisoner was desirous of making her his wife ; but she repulsed him, say- 
ing, very imprudently, she had one husband, and it would be unlawful to have 
more than one. This seemed to satisfy him, and she saw him no more for a 
long time. After a while he came again, and renewed his suit, alleging that 
now there was no objection to her marrying him, as her husband was dead, 
' for,' said he, ' I found where he was, and have killed him.' She then told 
him, if he had killed her husband he might kill her also, for she would not 
marry a murderer. When he saw that his person was hateful to her, he tied 
her, took her to Niagara, and sold her for eight dollars. The fate of her chil- 
dren she did not know. — Priest." 

• This man, who died some years after the war near Niagara, partially re- 
ceived punishment in this life for his cruellies in the Revolution, for he was 
tix weeks djin^ — or rather continued to breathe in the most acute suffering for 
that length of ti ne, every hour of which it was thought would prove his last. 
A fact communicated by a friend who was in Niagara at the lime. 



338 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of being seen, Free. Patchin was occupying the darkest corner of 
the room, and had thrown an old blanket around him, to hide his 
naked limbs. The doctor at length approached him. " Well, 
my lad," he asked, " what is the matter with you ?" " Nothing, 
sir," was the reply. " Then get upon your feet," added the doc- 
tor. " I cannot do it," replied Patchin. The former then thrust the 
end of his cane under the blanket and removed it, discovering his 
pitiful condition. The doctor possessed a humane heart, and his sym- 
pathy for the prisoner was instantly aroused. Turning to Steele, 
with a look that denoted surprise and anger, he demanded to 
know why this prisoner had been so cruelly neglected, ordering 
his shackles instantly removed. The language and treatment of 
this medical officer was so unexpected, and so diiferent from what 
he had previously experienced, that Patchin could not refrain 
from weeping like a child. With proper treatment his health 
was soon improved. 

From Chamblee the prisoners were taken to Rebel Island 
where they remained until peace was proclaimed. From that 
place they were sent to Quebec, via Montreal, and put on board 
of a cartel ship bound for Boston : where they arrived after many 
perils at sea. They then directed their course to Albany, and 
from thence to Schoharie, where they arrived nearly three years 
after their capture. Gen. Patchin was married after the war, and 
settled in Blenheim, Schoharie county, where he resided until the 
close of his life. His widow assured the writer, that Mr. Patchin's 
constitution received a shock while a prisoner, from which he 
never entirely recovered. 

A large body of the enemy having been seen in the latter part 
of March, in the vicinity of Putman's creek, as stated in a letter 
from Col. Van Schaick, of Albany, to Col. Fisher, the former re- 
commended sending a reasonable force to the Sacandaga block- 
house. Col. Fisher accordingly despatched to that post one-third ' 
of his regiment, and ordered Lieut. Col. Veedcr to repair thither, 
and take the command. The remainder of the regiment was or- 
dered out, and stationed at Fort Johnson and other commanding 
points near the Mohawk, until the 1st of April, and then dispers- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 339 

ed. The enemy, however, had lingered about the settlements, as 
the following letter will show : 

CaiigJinarcaga, 3<f April, 17S0. 

" Sir — On Tuesday nif^ht last, the block-house [at Sacandaga] 
was attacked by a scouting- party of Indians, to the number of se- 
ven, as near as could be ascertained, [proved to be five] and en- 
deavored to set it on fire in two different places, which they would 
have effected had it not been for the activity of one brave man who 
lived there, named Solomon Woodworth, who, although alone, sal- 
lied out and extinguished the fire. Whilst he was doing it, five 
shots were fired at him, one of w'hich only touched him. On his 
return into the house he fired at them, one of whom he wounded 
in the thigh, on which the rest fled and took the wounded Indian 
with them. The reason of the block-house being without men at 
that time, was through the neglect of one of the militia officers, 
which I have taken notice of already in a particular manner. I 
immediately sent out a party after them, wdio returned without 
success for the want of snow shoes. Seven volunteers [six, as sta- 
ted in a subsequent letter] turned out on last Thursday, and came 
up with them on Saturday about 12 o'clock, when five of the In- 
dians fired upon my men, and the whole missed, upon which the 
brave volunteers run up and fired upon them with buck-shot and 
wounded every one of them, took, and killed the whole, and brought 
in all their packs and guns without ever receiving the least hurt. 
This intelligence I just received from Col. Veeder, by express from 
the block-house, M'here he commands sixty men. 

" You'll please order up some rum and ammunition for the use 
of my regiment of militia, being very necessary as the men are 
daily scouting. Your commands at any time shall be punctually 
obeyed, by 

" Your most humble servant, 

"FREDERICK FISHER, Colonel. 

" Col. Goshen Van Schaick — sent by express." 

In a letter from Col. Fisher to Col. Van Schaick, dated April 
13th, the names of the volunteers in the above enterprise are gi- 
ven, and are as follows : Solomon Woodworth, John Eiklcr, Pe- 
ter Pruyn, David Putman, Rulf Yores, and Joseph Mayall. The 
Indians were overtaken and killed about forty miles north of Sa- 
candaga. 

At this period of the war, Marcus Bellinger was supervisor, and 
William Dietz, a Justice of the Peace for Schoharie. Agreeable 
to an act of Congress, passed Feb. 12, 17S0, assessors were ap- 
pointed in the frontier districts to ascertain, as nearly as possible, 



340 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

how much grain each family might need for its consumption, that 
the remainder of the stock might be in readiness for their less pro- 
vident neighbors or the army. Bellinger gave written certificates 
to the requisite quantity for each family in his district, and Dietz 
gave written permits to such as had not a supply, to draw one. 

The following particulars were narrated to the author in 1841, 
by Moses JYelson, then a resident of Otsego county. He stated, 
that on the morning Cherry-Valley was destroyed, in the fall of 
1778, he, then in his 14th year, was at the fort ; that when the 
alarm was given of the enemy's approach, he ran home — some 
half a mile distant — and, with his mother, then a widow with 
whom he was living, fled to Lady hill, east of the village ; where 
they remained concealed until the enemy had left. Nelson had 
four half-brothers at the time, older than himself, who were all in 
the service of their country. In the month of March following, 
he enlisted in the bateau service, for a term of ten months, on 
the Hudson river, rendezvousing at Fishkill. After the time of 
his enlistment expired, he again returned to Cherry-Valley, and 
was living with his mother at that place, where a few daring 
spirits still continued their residence, when, on the 24th of April, 
1780, a party of seventy-nine hostile Indians and two tories, broke 
in upon the settlement. One of the latter, named Bowman, a 
former resident of the Mohawk valley, was the leader of the band. 
They had previously been to the vicinity of the Mohawk, where 
they had made several prisoners ; and passing along Bowman's 
creek — called at its outlet the Canajoharie creek — they captured 
several more, among whom were two persons named Young. 
This party killed eight individuals and took fourteen prisoners in 
this expedition, and among the former was the mother of my in- 
formant, whose bloody scalp he was compelled to see torn off^ 
and home off as a trophy. 

This band of furies consisted of warriors from various tribes ; 
and among the number were two Stockbridge Indians, one of 
whom claimed Nelson as his prisoner. The route pursued by the 
enemy, after completing the work of destruction at that doomed 
place, was down the Cherry- Valley creek : and from Otsego lake. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 341 

down the Susquehanna lo the Tioga, and thence westward via the 
Genesee flats to Niagara. 

The eneray while returning to Canada, separated into small 
parties, the better to procure the means of subsistence. The two 
Stockbritlge Indians with whom he journeyed, made a canoe from 
a bass-wood tree, in which, with their prisoner, they floated down 
the Susquehanna. At Indian villages, the party usually assem- 
bled. At two of those. Nelson had to run the gantlet, but he 
escaped with little injury. One of the prisoners, an aged man, 
who ran with a heavy pack on his back, was nearly killed. When 
Nelson was about to run, his master, who was called Capt. Da- 
vid, took off his pack to give him a fair chance for his Ufe ; and 
on one accasion placed himself at the entrance of a wigwam to 
which the prisonesrs were to flee, to witness the feat. Owing 
to his fleetness, he was not much injured. Said his master as he 
approached the goal, you did run well. Many of the party — and 
among the number was his master David, tarried nearly two 
weeks to plant corn, in the Genesee valley — at which time he 
was sent forward with David's brother to Niagara, where he ar- 
rived after a journey of eighteen days from his captivity. 

As one of the Stockbridge Indians was an excellent hunter, 
Nelson did not suffer for the want of provisions, such as they were. 
The party, on their start from Cherry- Valley, took along several 
hogs and sheep, which were killed and then roasted whole, after 
burning off the hair and wool. On his arrival at Niagara, Nel- 
son was told by his master that he was adopted as an Indian, and 
was at liberty to hunt, fish, or enlist into the British service. Not 
long after this he was sold into the forester service of the enemy, 
the duties of which were " to procure wood, water, &c., for the 
garrison, and do the boating ;" being attached to what was called 
the Indian department. He was sent on one occasion with a 
party to Buffalo. He was for a while, with several other captives 
whose situation was like his own, in the employ of Col. John 
Butler. More than a year of his captivity was spent in the vici- 
nity of Niagara. 

In the spring of 1782, when the enemy set about rebuilding 
23 



342 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Fort Oswego, three officers, Capt. Nellis, Lieut. James Hare, and 
Ensign Robert Nellis, a son of the captain, all of the forester ser- 
vice, had charge of the Indians there employed. Nelson and two 
other lads, also prisoners, accompanied this party, which was con- 
veyed in a sloop, as waiters. About one hundred persons were 
employed in rebuilding this fortress, which occupied most of the 
season. The winter following, Nelson remained at this fort, and 
was in it when Col. Willet advanced with a body of troops in Feb- 
ruary, 1783, with the intention of taking it by surprise. The en- 
terprise is said to have proved abortive in consequence of Col 
Willet's guide, who was an Oneida Indian, having lost his way 
in the night when within only a few miles of the fort. The men 
were illy provided for their return — certain victory having been 
anticipated, and their sufferings were, in consequence, very severe. 
This enterprise was undertaken, says Col. Stone, agreeably to the 
orders of Gen. Washington ; but it certainly added no laurels to 
the chaplet of the brave Willet. 

Col. Willett, possibly, may not have known that Fort Oswego 
had been so strongly fitted up the preceding year, and conse- 
quently the difficulties he had to encounter before its capture — 
be that as it may, the iprohahility is, that had the attack been made, 
the impossibility of scaling the walls, would have frustrated the 
design, with the loss of many brave men. The fort was surrounded 
by a deep moat, in the centre of which were planted heavy pick- 
ets. From the lower part of the walls projected downward and 
outward, another row of pickets. A draw-bridge enabled the in- 
mates to pass out and in, which was drawn up and secured to the 
wall every night, and the corners were built out so that mounted 
cannon commanded the trenches. Two of Willett's men, badly 
frozen, entered the fort in the morning, surrendering themselves 
prisoners, from whom the garrison learned the object of the en- 
terprise. The ladders prepared by Willett to scale the walls, 
were left on his return, and a party of British soldiers went and 
brought them in. The longest of them," said JYelson, " when pla- 
ced against the walls inside the pickets, reached only about two 
thirds of the way to the top." The post was strongly garrisoned, 



, AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 343 

and it was the opinion of Mr. N. that the accident or treachery 
which misled the troops, was most providential, tending to save 
Col. Willett from defeat, and most of his men from certain death. 

While Nelson was with the two Indians on his way from Cher- 
ry-Valley to Niagara, David, his owner, afterwards told him that 
the other Indian wanted to kill him. He said he replied to his 
brother — " You must first kill me, then you will have two scalps 
and be a big man." On their route to Canada, they passed the 
body of a white man, who had been killed by some other party. 

Peace was proclaimed in the spring of 1783, and Nelson, with 
many other prisoners — none however, who were taken when he 
was — returned home via Ticonderoga and Fort Edward. Previ- 
ous to his return he visited Montreal, where he was paid for labor 
done in the British service the year before. 

Several times in April, of this year, the Mohawk river settle- 
ments were alarmed by anticipated invasions, but those alarms died 
away and were not renewed until near the middle of May. The 
following correspondence addressed to " Col. Fisher, at Caughna- 
waga," gives the earliest rehable testimony of the enemy's ap- 
proach. 

" Fort Paris, May 15tk, 1780. 
" Sir — I have intelligence which I believe is ver^' certain, that 
the enemy are on their way, and will attack in four different places 
in this county within a few days. I hope you will exert yourself 
to discover them, and make every possible preparation to defeat 
their design. 

" It is expected that they will come by the way ofSacandaga. 
'' I am your hble servt. 

" JACOB KLOCK, Col/' 

Bearing the same date, Col. Fisher received an anonymous let- 
ter written at Caughnawaga, stating that an invasion of the ene- 
my under Sir John Johnson was hourly expected, adding as a cor- 
roborating circumstance, that a number of his near neighbors, five 
of whom were named, had gone away the night before to join the 
invaders. The writer added, that he had written some days pre- 
vious what he suspected, and that the enemy would be very strong. 

x\mong the Fisher papers on this subject I also find the following 



344 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Sckenectada, 17th May, 1780. 
*' Dear Sir — Just this moment returned from Albany, Col. Van 
Schaick has requested of me to write to you, requesting you to 
send me by the bearer, Sergt. Carkeright, an account of all the 
persons that have gone to the enemy from your county, with their 
names, which request I wish you to comply with ; also let me know 
if any thing of the alarm has turned up. 

" I am, dear sir, j^our friend, 

" H. GLEN." 

" Col. ViSGER." 

Nothing more was heard of the enemy until Sunday night the 
21st day of May, when Sir John Johnson, at the head of about 
five hundred troops, British, Indians and tories, entered the Johns- 
town settlements from the expected northern route. The objects 
of the invasion doubtless were, the recovery of property concealed 
on his leaving the country, the murder of certain whig partizans, 
the plunder of their dwellings, and the capture of several indi- 
viduals as prisoners : intending, by the execution of part of the 
enterprize, to terrify his former neighbors. 

About midnight the destructives arrived in the north east part of 
the town, from which several of the tories had disappeared the day 
before, to meet and conduct their kindred spirits to the dwellings of 
their patriotic neighbors : for when Johnson was censured for the 
murder of those men, he replied that " their tory neighbors and 
not himself were blameable for those acts." A party of the ene- 
my proceeded directly to the house of Lodowick Putman, an hon- 
est Dutchman, living two miles and a half from the court house. 
Putman had three sons and two daughters. On the night the en- 
emy broke into his house, two of his sons were fortunately gone 
sparking a few miles distant. Old Mr. Putman, who was a 
whig of the times, and his son Aaron who was at home, were taken 
from their beds, murdered, and scalped. "While the Indians were 
plundering the house and pulling down clothing from hocks along; 
the wall, Mrs. Putman snatched several articles of female apparel, 
such as gowns, petticoats, &c. from the hands of a large Indian, 
telling him that such and such things she must and would have 
for her daughter. The fierce looking savage, whom few women, 
of the present day would care to meet, much less to contend with. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 345 

offered some resistance to her gaining several garments, and they 
jerked each other about the room ; but seeing her determination to 
possess thera, he finally yielded to her entreaties and prowess, and 
with a sullen " t/mpA/" let go his hold. After the enemy had 
been gone sometime from the house, Mrs. Putman and her daugh- 
ter Hannah, afterwards the wife of Jacob Shew, Esq., leaving the 
mangled remains of their murdered friends, proceeded to the Johns- 
town fort, where they arrived about sun-rise. The jail was pa- 
lisaded, and, with several block-houses built within the inclosure, 
constituted the Johnstown fort. 

At this period, one of Putman's daughters was married to Ama- 
sa Stevens, also a whig, living in the neighborhood. While some 
of the enemy were at Putman's, another party approached the 
dwelling of Stevens, and forcing the doors and windows, entered 
it from different directions at the same instant. Poor Stevens 
was also dragged from his bed, and compelled to leave his house. 
Mrs. Stevens, in the act of leaving the bed, desired a stout savage, 
or a painted tory, as she afterwards supposed, not to allow the 
Indians to hurt her husband. He forced her back upon the bed 
with her terrified children, a boy, named after his grandfather, two 
and a half years old, and an infant daughter named Clarissa, tell- 
ing her she should not be hurt. A few rods from the house Ste- 
vens was murdered, scalped and hung upon the garden fence. Af- 
ter the enemy had left the dwelling, Mrs. Stevens looked out to 
see if she could discover any one about the premises. She had 
supposed her husband taken by them into captivity ; but seeing in 
the uncertain star-light the almost naked form of a man leaning 
upon the fence, she readily imagined it to be that of her husband. 
In a tremulous voice she several times called " Amasa! Amasa .'" 
but receiving no answer she ran to the fence. God only knows 
what her mental agony was, on arriving there and finding her hus- 
band stiffening in death. With almost supernatural strength she 
took down the body and bore it into the dwelling, (which, with 
Putman's, had been spared the incendiary torch from motives of 
policy,) and depositing it, sprinkled with the scalding tears of 
blighted affection, she snatched the two pledges of her early love 



346 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

and sought safety in flight to the fort ; where she found her sur- 
viving relatives. 

The amorous Putman brothers set out on their return home to- 
wards day-light, from what is now called Sammons' Hollow, and 
discovering the light of the burning buildings at Tribes' Hill, they 
hastily directed their steps to the fort, meeting at the gate-way 
their mourning relatives. 

Stevens had just finished planting when murdered, and the next 
week purposed to have journeyed eastward with his family. The 
Putmans were killed on the farm now owned and occupied by 
Col. Archibald Mclntyre. They were both buried in one grave 
in a single rough box ; and while their neighbors were perform- 
ing the act of burial, they were once alarmed by the supposed ap- 
proach of the enemy and left the grave, but soon returned and 
filled it. — Clarissa, relict of Joseph Leach, and daughter of Amasa 
Stevens. 

Dividing his forces, Col. Johnson sent part of them, mostly In- 
dians and tories, to Tribes' Hill ; under the direction, as believed, 
of Henry and William Bowen, two brothers who had formerly 
lived in that vicinity and removed with the Johnsons to Canada, 
These destructives were to fall upon the Mohawk river settlements 
at the Hill, and proceed up its flats, while Johnson led the remain- 
der in person by a western route to Caughnawaga, the appointed 
place for them to unite. The Bovvens led their followers through 
Albany Bush, a tory settlement in the eastern part of the town, 
where, of course, no one was molested, and directed their steps 
to the dwelling of Capt. Garret Putman, a noted whig. Putman, 
who had a son named Victor, also a whig, had been ordered to 
Fort Hunter but a few days before, and had removed his family 
thither ; renting his house to "William Gault, an old English gar- 
dener who had resided in Cherry-Valley before its destruction, and 
Thomas Plateau, also an Englishman. Without knowing that 
the Putman house had changed occupants, the enemy surrounded 
it, forced an entrance, and tomahawked and scalped its inmates. 
The house was then pillaged and set on fire, and its plunderers 
knew not until next day, that they had obtained the scalps of 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 347 

two tories. In the morning, Gault, who was near eighty years 
old, was discovered alive outside the dwelling, and was taken 
across the river to Fort Hunter, where his wounds were properly 
drest, but he soon after died. 

Among the early settlers in the Mohawk valley was Harman 
Visscher, who died before the Revolution, leaving an aged widow, 
three sons, Frederick a colonel* of militia, John a captain, and 
Harman; and two sisters, Margaret and Rebecca. Frederick 
the elder brother, who waS born on the 22d of February, 1741; 
was married and resided a little distance below the paternal 
dwelling, which stood nearly on the site of the present residence 
of the Hon. Jesse D. De Graff. The other Fisher brothers were 
unmarried, and, with their mother and sisters, lived at the home- 
stead. The Fisher family was one of much influence, and warm- 
ly advocated the popular cause. The following anecdote will 
show the position of ihe elder brother, at an early period of the 
contest. Soon after the difficulties commenced at Boston, a meet- 
ing of the citizens along the Mohawk valley was called at 
Tribes' Hill, on which occasion Col. John Butler was present, 
and harrangued the multitude on the duties of subjects to their 
sovereign, &c., and then proposed a test for his hearers, some 
three hundred in number. Having formed a line, he desired 
those who were willing to oppose the king, to remain standing, 
and those who favored royal pretensions to advance a few paces 
forward. The result was, Frederick Fisher stood alone, as the 
only avowed opposer of the British government. — David, his son. 

A few days before the invasion of Johnson, a bateau from 
Schenectada was seen opposite Col. Fisher's, taking in his most 
valuable effects; and his neighbors, living along the south side 
of the river, among whom was Nicholas Quackenboss, crossed 
over to learn the cause of his removal. On his arrival, the 
neighbor enquired of Col. Fisher if an enemy was expected, that 

• Some of the family write this name Visscher, and others Fisher. The 
original Dutch name was Visger. Harman Visscher's son Frederick, the 
colonel, wrote his name Fisher until just before his death, at which time he 
desired his children to spell the name as in the context. Fisher is the Eng. 
lish of Visscher. 



348 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

he was thus preparing to move his family and effects? The 
colonel replied that he knew of no hostile movement unknown to 
his neighbors. After a little conversation of the kind, and when 
about to recross the river, said Quackenboss, clenching his fist 
in a threatening manner and addressing him playfully in Low 
Dutch, " Ah, colonel ! if you know something of the enemy and 
don't let us know it, I hope you '11 be the first one scalped !" 
Having sent his family to Schenectada, Col. Fisher went to the 
homestead, thinking himself and brothers would be the better 
able to defend themselves, if attacked by an enemy. 

On Sunday evening, about eight o'clock. Captain Walter 
Vrooman, of Guilderland, arrived at the Fisher dwelling with a 
company of eighty men, on his way to the Johntown fort. He 
had intended to quarter his men over night at Fisher's, for their 
own comfort and the safety of the family ; but the colonel, ob- 
serving that himself and brothers could probably defend the house 
if attacked, forwarded the troops to Johntown, knowing that that 
place was feebly garrisoned. 

After the murder of Gault and Plateau, the enemy proceeded 
up the river to the dwelling of Capt. Henry Hansen, which stood 
where John Fisher now resides.* On reaching the dweUing of 
Hansen, who was an American captain, the enemy forced an en- 
trance — and taking him from his bed they murdered and scalped 
him. His sons, Victor and John L, then at home were captured. 
Margaret, a daughter, was hurried out of the house by an Indian, 
who told her it was on fire. She asked him to aid her in carry- 
ing out the bed on which she had been sleeping, and he did so. 
Depositing it in an old Indian hut near by, and learning that her 
mother was still in the burning building, finding access through 
the door too dangerous, she broke a window in her room and 

• Henry Hansen was a son of Nicholas Hansen, who with his brother 
Hendrick, took two patents, each for one thousand acres of land along the 
north side of the Mohawk, above Tribes' Hill. The patents were executed 
by Gov. Hunter, and dated July 12, 1713. The brothers settled on those 
lands soon after, and Henry Hansen was the first white child born on the 
north side of the Mohawk west of Fort Hunter, and east of the German 
settlements, many miles above. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 349 

called to her. As may be supposed, the old lady was greatly 
terrified and bewildered at first ; but recovering, she groped her 
way to the window, and was helped out by her daughter, who 
assisted her to the hut — from whence, after day light she was 
conveyed to a place of safety. The enemy made no female scalps 
or captives at this time, and offered indignities to but few of the 
sex. In the garret of Hansen's dwelling was a keg of powder, 
which exploded with terrific effect. 

Proceeding west along the river, the enemy next halted at the 
dwelling of Barney Hansen, which stood where Benj. R. Jenkins 
now lives. Hansen, who chanced to be from home, had a son 
about ten years of age, who was then going to school at Fort 
Hunter. On Saturday evening preceding the invasion, Peter, a 
son of Cornelius Putman, of Ca-daiigh-ri-ty,* about the same age 
as young Hansen, went home with the latter, crossing the river in 
a boat, to tarry with him over Sunday. The lads slept in a bunk, 
which, on retiring to rest on Sunday night, was drawn before the 
outside door ; and the first intimation the family had of the ene- 
my's proximity, was their heavy blows npon the door with an axe, 
just before daylight, sending the splinter's upon the boys' bed, cau- 
sing them to bury their heads beneath the bedding. An entrance 
was quickly forced, and the house plundered. The boys were led f 
out by two Indians, and claimed as prisoners, but owing to the ear- 
nest entreaties of Mrs. Hansen that they might be left, a British 
officer interfered, saying that they were too young to endure the 
journey : they were then liberated. This house was built and 
owned by Joseph Clement, atory, who was supposed to have been 
present; consequently, it was not burned. 

From the house of Barney Hansen, the enemy proceeded to that 
of Col. Fisher, where Adam Zielie now resides, and where, too, 
they were disappointed in not finding any of the family : plunder- 

•Ca-daugh-ri-ty, is an Indian word, and signifies The Steep Bank, back mall, 
or -perpendicular wall ! In the southeast part of Glen is a high bank on the 
Schoharie, a mile or two from its mouth or the ancient Fort Hunter, occasion- 
ed by an extensive slide at least one hundred years ago, the Indian name for 
which originated at the time. 



350 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ing and setting- it on fire, they hastened onward to the Fisher 
homestead, where they arrived just at daylight. Among the plun- 
der made at Hansen's, was the clothing of young Putman, and 
as the Indians threw away such articles as they considered useless, 
he followed them at a distance, recovering and putting on his ap- 
parel as fast as rejected. He obtained the last of it near the 
dwelling of Col. Fisher — entering which lie discovered it to be 
on fire. Looking for pails he found several which the enemy had 
broken, but a further search discovered a tub of sour milk : this 
he drew near the fire, and throwing it on the flames, with his 
hands extinguished them — not, however, until a large hole had 
been burned entirely through the floor. This house was consumed 
in October following. 

About twenty of the enemy first arrived at the old Fisher place, 
and attempted to force an entrance by cutting in the door, but be- 
ing fired upon from a window by the intrepid inmates, they re- 
treated round a corner of the house, where they were less exposed 
the main body of the enemy, nearly three hundred in number, ar- 
rived soon after and joined in the attack. The brothers defended 
the house for some length of time after the enemy gained entrance 
below, and a melee followed in the stairway, on their attempting 
to ascend. Several balls were fired up through the floor, — the 
lower room not being plastered over head, which the brothers 
avoided by standing over the large timbers which supported it. 
At this period the sisters escaped from the cellar-kitchen, and fled 
to the woods not far distant. They were met in their flight by a 
party of savages, who snatched from the head of one, a bonnet ; 
and from the bosom of the other a neckerchief — but were allowed 
to escape unhurt. Mrs. Fisher, about to follow her daughters 
from the house, was stricken down at the door by a blow on the 
head from the but of a musket, and left without being scalped. 

The brothers returned the fire of their assailants for a while 
with spirit, but getting out of ammunition their castle was no 
longer tenable ; and Harraan, jumping from a back window, at- 
tempted to escape by flight. In the act of leaping a garden fence, 
a few rods from the house, he was shot, and there killed and scalp- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 351 

ed. As the enemy ascended the stairs, Col. Fisher discharged a 
pistol he held in his hand, and calling for quarters, threw it behind 
him in token of submission. An Indian, running up, struck him 
a blow on the head with a tomahawk, which brought him to the 
floor. lie fell upon his face, and the Indian took two crown 
scalps from his head, which no doubt entitled him to a double re- 
ward, then giving him a gash in the back of the neck, he turned 
him and attempted to cut his throat, which was only prevented by 
his cravat, the knife penetrating just through the skin. His broth- 
er, Capt. Fisher, as the enemy ascended the stairs, retreated to one 
corner of the room, in which was a quantity of peas, that he might 
there repel his assailants. An Indian, seeing him armed with a 
sword, hurled a tomahawk at his head, which brought him down. 
He was then killed outright, scalped as he lay upon the grain, and 
there left. The house was plundered, and then set on fire, (as 
stated by Wm. Bowen, who returned after the war,) vnth a chemi- 
cal match, conveyed upon the roof by an arrow. 

Leaving the progress of the distructives for a time, let us follow 
the fortunes of Col. Fisher. After the enemy had left, his con- 
sciousness returned, and as soon as strength would allow, he as- 
certained that his brother John was dead. From a window he 
discovered that the house was on fire, which no doubt quickened 
his exertions. Descending, he found his mother near the door, faint 
from the blow dealt upon her head, and too weak to render him any 
assistance. With no little effort the colonel succeeded in remov- 
ing the body of his brother out of the house, and then assisted his 
mother, who was seated in a chair,* the bottom of which had al- 
ready caught fire, to a place of safety ; and having carried out a 
bed, he laid down upon it, at a little distance from the house, in a 
state of exhaustion. Tom, a black slave, belonging to Adam 
Zielie, was the first neighbor to arrive at Fisher's. He enquired 
of the colonel what he should do for him 1 Fisher could not speak, 
but signified by signs his desire for water. Tom ran down to the 

• This chair is preserved as a sacred relic by the De Graff family, at the 
Visscher house. 



352 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Da-de-nos-cu'ra* a brook running through a ravine a little distance 
east of the house, and filling his old hat, the only substitute for a 
vessel at hand, he soon returned with it; a drink of which restored 
the wounded patriot to consciousness and speech. His neighbor, 
Joseph Clement, arrived at Fisher's while the colonel lay upon the 
bed, and on being asked by Tom Zielie what they should do for him, 
unblushingly replied in Low Dutch, *' Laat de vervlukten rabble 
starven /" Let the cursed rebel die ! 

Tom, who possessed a feeling heart, was not to be suaded from 
his Samaritan kindness, by the icy coldness of his tory neighbor, 
and instantly set about relieving the suffering man's condition. 
Uriah Bowen arrived about the time Tom returned with the wa- 
ter, and assisted in removing the dead and wounded farther from 
the burning building. Col. Fisher directed Tom to harness a span 
of colts, then in a pasture near, (which, as the morning was very 
foggy, had escapped the notice of the enemy,) before a wagon, 
and take him to the river at David Putman's. The colts were 
soon harnessed, when the bodies of the murdered brothers, and those 
of Col. Fisher and his mother, were put into the wagon, (the two 
latter upon a bed,) and it moved forward. The noise of the wagon 
was heard by the girls, who came from their concealment to learn 
the fate of the family, and join the mournful groupe. When the 
wagon arrived near the bank of the river, several tories were pres- 
ent, who refused to assist in carrying the Fishers down the bank 
to a canoe, whereupon Tom took the colts by their heads, and led 
them down the bank ; and what was then considered remarkable, 
they went as steadily as old horses, although never before har- 
nessed. The family were taken into a boat and carried across the 
river to Ephraim Wemple's, where every attention was paid them. 
When a person is scalped, the skin falls upon the face so as to dis- 
figure the countenance ; but on its being drawn up on the crown 
of the head, the face resumes its natural look ; such was the case 
with Col. Fisher, as stated by an eye witness. 

• Da-de-nosca-ra or Dada-nus-ga-ra, " means literally, bearded trees, or 
tress with excrescences or tufts to them." (Gi7es F. Yates. Esq.) Lands ad- 
joining this stream were originally timbered with hemlock and black ash, 
which originated the significant name. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 353 

Seeing the necessity of his having proper medical attention, 
Col. Fisher's friends on the south side of the river, sent him for- 
ward in the canoe by trusty persons, to Schenectada, where he ar- 
rived just at dark the same day of his misfortune. There he re- 
ceived the medical attendance of Doctors Mead of that place, 
Stringer, of Albany, and two Surgeons, belonging to the U. S. 
army. His case was for some time a critical one, and he did not 
recover as was anticipated ; but on turning him over, the reason 
why he did not was obvious. The wound inflicted by the 
scalping knife in the back of the neck, had escaped the observa- 
tion of his attendants, and the flies getting into it, and depositing 
their larva, had rendered it an offensive sore, but on its being pro- 
perly dresesd, the patient recovered rapidly. At the time Col. Fisher 
received his wounds, Nicholas Quackenboss previously mentioned, 
happened to be at Albany, purchasing fish and other necessaries, 
and on learning that his neighbor was at Schenectada, called, on 
his way home, to see him. On enquiring of Fisher how he did, 
the latter, placing his hand on his wounded head, replied in Dutch, 
" Well, J^icholas, you've had your wish .'" The reader must not 
suppose, from what took place between Fisher and Quackenboss, 
at the two interviews named, that the former at the time of remov- 
ing his family, was in possession of any intelligence of the enemy 
unknown to his neighbors. It was then notorious in the valley 
that an invasion was to be apprehended. 

Several attempts were made to capture Col. Fisher during the 
war, which proved abortive. After he recovered, he gave the 
faithful negro* who had treated him so kindly when suffering un- 
der the wounds of the enemy, a valuable horse. Gov. George 
Clinton, as a partial reward lor his sufferings and losses in the 
war, appoinied Col. Fisher a brigadier general ; but refusing to 
equip himself, his commission, which was dated February 6, 
1787, was succeeded on the 7th of March following, by his ap- 

• Tom afterwards lived in Schoharie county, where he was much respect- 
ed for his industrious habits, and where at a good old age he died. After 
his removal to Schoharie, he usually paid Col. Fisher a visit every year, 
when he received substantial evidence of that patriot's gratitude. 



354 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

pointment of first judge of the Montgomery county common 
pleas. 

After the war was over, a party of Indians on their way to 
Albany halted a day or two at Caughnawaga, among whom was 
the one who had tomahawked and scalped Col. Fisher, in 1780, 
leaving him for dead. This Indian could not credit the fact of 
his being still alive, as he said he had himself cut his throat ; 
and was desirous of having occular demonstration of his exist- 
ence, and possibly would have been gratified by the family, but 
information having reached the ears of the colonel that his tor- 
mentor was in the valley, a spirit of revenge fired his breast, and 
himself and John Stoner, then living with him, who, in the mur- 
der of his father, had some reason for not kindly greeting those 
sons of the forest; having prepared several loaded guns, the 
friends of the family very properly warned the Indian and his fel- 
lows, not to pass the house within rifle shot distance ; which hint 
was duly taken, and serious consequences thus avoided. Judge 
Fisher — a living monument of savage warfare — was an active 
and useful citizen of the Mohawk valley for many years, and died 
of a complaint in the head — caused, as was supposed, by the loss 
of his scalp, on the 9th day of June, 1809. His widow, whose 
maiden name was Gazena De Graflf", died in 1815. 

Some years after the Revolution, Judge Fisher, or Visscher, as 
it is now written by several of the family, to whom the homestead 
reverted on the death of his brothers, erected a substantial brick 
dwelling over the ashes of his birth place, where he spent the 
evening of his days amid, the association* of youthful pleasure and 
manly suffering. This desirable farm residence, a view of which 
is shown in the plate opposite, is pleasantly situated on a rise of 
ground in the town of Mohawk, several miles east of Fonda, 
Montgomery county. It is given the Indian name of the adjoin- 
ing creek, in the hope of preserving that name. Between the 
house and the river, which it fronts, may be seen the Mohawk 
turnpike, and the track of the Utica and Schenectada railroad. 
The place is now owned and occupied by Mr. De Graff, who mar- 
ried a grand-daughter of its former patriotic proprietor. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 357 

From this digression, let us return to the war-path of the ene- 
my. They captured three negroes and a wench belonging to the 
Fisher family ; burnt Fisher's barn, and in it, as supposed, their 
own dead, killed by the brothers ; from whence they proceeded 
to the dwelling of Barney Wemple, a little farther up the river — 
which was rifled and burnt with the out-buildings attached. 
Wemple had sent a slave, before daylight, to catch horses, who, 
hearing the firing, and discovering the light of the burning build- 
ings down the valley, ran to the house and gave the appalling in- 
telligence that a sleepless foe was near. Thus alarmed, the fami- 
ly fled, almost naked, into a small swamp, just in time to escape 
the tomahawk. Wemple erected a dwelling on the site of his 
former one, soon after it was burnt, which shared a similar fate 
during Johnson's invasion of the valley the following October. 
In their course up the river, the enemy also burnt the out-build- 
ings of Peter Conyne, the dwelling of John Wemple, and possi- 
bly one or two others. Arriving at Caughnawaga, the destruc- 
tion of property was renewed. Douw Fonda, who removed from 
Schenectada and settled at that place, about the year 1751, (the 
same year in which Harman Fisher settled below,) was an aged 
widower, and resided, at the time of which I am writing, with a 
few domestics, in a large stone dwelling with wings, which stood 
on the flats between the present turnpike and the river, a few rods 
cast of the road now leading to the bridge. It had beeu the in- 
tention of the citizens to fortify this dwelling, and it was partially 
surrounded by strong pickets. Fonda's three sons, John,* Jelles, 
and Adam, also good whigs, were living in the neighborhood. 

• At the commencement of hostilities, he had some difficulty with Alexan- 
der White, sheriff of Tryon county, about their hogs and cattle breaking in 
apon each others premises, which resulted in a quarrel, in which White called 
Fonda a d — d rebel ; and the latter, provoked to anger, did not scruple to 
give his majesty's peace officer a severe caning: the result was, White took 
Fonda to the Johnstown jail. The citizens in a mob soon after proceeded to 
the jail and liberated Fonda, and attempted to secure the person of the sheriff, 
then at the village inn kept by Mattice. Armed with a double-barreled gun. 
White fired several limes on the assailants from an upper window, and then 
•ecreleJ himself in a chimney, where he remained while the patriot parly, 
who had forced an entrance, were in the house. Soon after, sheriff White, 



358 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Jelles Fonda* resided a short distance below the Caughnawaga 
church, owning a large dwelling and store, which stood where C. 
Hempsted now resides. At the time of this invasion, he was ab- 
sent on public business. About a week previous, he sent part of 
his family and effects in a bateau to Schenectada, to which place 
they were accompanied by the wife and children of John Fonda. 
The wife of Major Fonda and her son Douw, were at home, how- 
ever, on that morning. Hearing the firing at Fisher's, and dis- 
covering the light of the burning buildings below, Mrs. Fonda 
and her son fled to the river near, where there was a ferry. Re- 
maining in the ferry-boat, she sent Douw to get two horses, and 
being gone some time, her fears were excited lest he had been 
captured. As her apprehensions for her son's safety increased, 
she called him repeatedly by name. He returned with the horses 
and they began to cross the river, but had hardly reached its cen- 
tre, when several of the enemy, attracted to the spot by her voice, 
arrived on the bank they had left. A volley of balls passed over 
the boat without injuring its inmates, and leaving it upon the 
south shore, they mounted their horses, and directed their course 
towards Schenectada, where they safely arrived in due time. 

Adam Fonda, at the time of Johnson's invasion, resided near 
the Cayadutta creek, where Douw Fonda now does. Arriving at 
Adam Fonda's, the enemy made him a prisoner, and fired his 
dwelling. Margaret, (Peggy, as she was called,) the widow of 
Barney Wemple, lived near Fonda, and where Mina Wemplenow 

whose official authority was now at an end, was smuggled from Johnstown 
in a large chest by his political friends ; and his wife shortly after followed 
his fortunes to Canada. The dwelling vacated by White, was owned at his 
death by Sir Wm. Johnson, and stood on the present site of the Montgomery 
county court house in Fonda : this dwelling was occupied by John Fonda af- 
terwards. — Mrs. Evert Yates, daughter of John Fonda. 

• Mr. Fonda had seen service in the French war under Sir Wm. Johnson, 
had for many years been extensively engaged in merchandising, was a cap- 
tain and afterwards major of militia in the Kevolution ; and was much of that 
period in the commissary department. He was a man of wealth, influence 
and respectability, and at the beginning of colonial difficulties, had the most 
flattering inducements offered him to side with royalty, which he promptly 
rejected. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 359 

lives, at which place she then kept a public house. The enemy 
making her son, Mina, a prisoner, locked her up in her own 
dwelling and set it on fire. From an upper window, she made 
the valley echo to her cries of murder and help, which brought 
some one to her relief. Her voice arrested the attention of John 
Fonda, who sent one of his slaves round the knoll which former- 
ly stood west of the Fonda Hotel, to learn the cause of alarm j 
but hardly had the slave returned, before the enemy's advance 
from both parties was there also, making Fonda a prisoner, and 
burning his dwelling. 

The eastern party, on arriving at the dwelling of Maj. Fonda, 
plundered and set it on fire. There were then few goods in his 
store ; but his dwelling contained some rare furniture for that pe- 
riod, among which was a musical clock, that at certain hours per- 
formed three several tunes. The Indians would have saved this 
house for the great respect they had for its owner, but their more 
than savage allies, the tories, insisted on its destruction. As the 
devouring element was consuming the dwelling, the clock began 
to perform, and the Indians, in numbers, gathered round in mute 
astonishment, to listen to its melody. They supposed it the voice 
of a spirit, which they may have thought was pleased with them 
for the manner in which they were serving tyranny. Of the 
plunder made at this dwelling, w-as a large circular mirror, which 
a citizen in concealment saw, fu-st in the hands of a squaw, but 
it being a source of envy it soon passed into the hands of a stout 
Indian — not however without a severe struggle on her part. The 
Indians were extravagantly fond of mirrors, and it is not unhkely 
this costly one was broken in pieces and divided between them. 
Among the furniture destroyed in the house, was a marble table 
on which stood the statue of an Indian, whose head rested on a 
pivot, which, from the slightest motion was continually — 

" Niding, nodding, and nid, nid nodding." 

Neither the parsonage, which stood a little north of the present 
one, or the church at Caughnawaga, were harmed. Dr. Romeyn, 
then its pastor, was from home. Mrs, Romeyn, as she was flee- 
24 



360 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ing up the hill north of her house with her family, carrying two 
children, was seen by the Indians who laughed heartily at the 
ludicrous figure she presented, without offering to molest her, un- 
less possibly by an extra whoop. 

When the alarm first reached the family of Douw Fonda, Pene- 
lope Grant, a Scotch girl living with him, to whom the old gen- 
tleman was much attached, urged him to accompany her to the 
hill whither the Romeyn family were fleeing ; but the old patriot 
had become childish, and seizing his gun he exclaimed — " Pene- 
lope, do you stay here with me — / will fight for you to the last 
drop of blood /" Finding persuasion of no avail, she left him to 
his fate, which was indeed a lamentable one ; for soon the enemy 
arrived, and he was led out by a Mohawk Indian, known as One 
Armed Peter (he having lost an arm) toward the bank of the 
river, where he was tomahawked and scalped. As he was led 
from the house, he was observed by John Hansen, a prisoner, to 
have some kind of a book and a cane in his hand. His murderer 
had often partaken of his hospitality, having lived for many years 
in his neighborhood. When afterwards reproved for this murder, 
he replied that as it was the intention of the enemy to kill him, 
he thought he might as well get the bounty for his scalp as any 
one else ! Mr. Fonda had long been a warm personal friend of 
Sir William Johnson, and it is said that Sir John much regretted 
his death, and censured the murderer. This Indian, Peter, was 
the murderer of Capt. Hansen, on the same morning. With the 
plunder made at Douw Fonda's were four male slaves and one 
female, who were all taken to Canada. Several other slaves 
were of the plunder made in the neighborhood, and doubtless be- 
came incorporated with the Canada Indians.* 

An incident of no little interest is related by an eye witness 
from the hill, as having occurred in this vicinity on the morning 

• The preceding facts relating to this invasion vi^ere obtained from Daniel 
Visscher and John Fisher, sons of Col. Fr. Fisher ; Mrs. Margaret Putman, 
a sister of Col. Fisher; Angelica, daughter of Capt. Henry Hansen, and 
widow of John Fonda ; Catharine, daughter of John Fonda, late the wife of 
Evert Yates; Peter, a son of Cornelius Putman ; Volkert Voorhees ; Cornelius, 
on of Barney Wemple ; David, son of Adam Zielie ; and John S. Quackenbost. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 361 

of this invasion. A little distance in advance of the enemy, a man 
was seen in a wagon which contained several barrels, urging his 
liorses forward. Despairing of making his escape with the wa- 
gon, he abandoned it, and mounting one of his horses he drove to 
the river, into which they plunged and swam across with him in 
safety. On reaching the wagon, the barrels were soon found to 
contain rum, which had been destined to one of the frontier forts. 
Knocking in the head of a cask, the Indians were beginning to 
drink and gather round with shouts of merriment, when a British 
officer dressed in green came up, and with a tomahawk hacked 
the barrels in pieces, causing the liquor to run upon the ground, 
to the mortification of his tawny associates, who dispersed with 
evident displeasure. — Mrs. Penelope Forbes. Her maiden name 
was Grant. 

The enemy, led by Col. Johnson in person, on their way to 
Caughnawaga, plundered and burned the dwellings of James Da- 
vis, one Van Brochlin and Sampson Sammons. — Mrs. John Fon- 
da. Sammons with his sons, Jacob, Frederick and Thomas, were 
captured, but himself and youngest son, Thomas, were set at lib- 
erty : the other two were carried to Canada. For an account of 
their sufferings, see Life of Brant. 

Cornelius Smith, who lived two miles west of Major Fonda, on 
the morning of Johnson's invasion, was going to mill,* and called 
just after daylight at Johannes Veeder's. The latter was then at 
Schenectada, but his son, Simon, (afterwards a judge of Mont- 
gomery county,) who resided with him, was at home, and had 
arisen. On his way to Veeder's, Smith had discovered the smoke 
of the Sammons dwelling, but being unable to account for it, 
continued his journey, and was captured just below. Mr. Veeder, 
who had accompanied Smith toward the road from hearing the dis- 
charge of musketry down the valley, soon after his neighbor was 
out of sight, beheld to his surprise a party of Indians approach- 
ing him from that direction ; upon which he ran to his house, 

• A small grist mill, -which stood near the present site of the district school 
bouse in Fonda. This mill was inclosed by palisades in the latter part of 
the war, to serve the purposes of a fort. 



362 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

(which stood a little distance above the present village of Fonda, 
where a namesake now resides,) pursued by them. He alarmed 
his family, which consisted of Gilbert Van Deusen, Henry Vroo- 
man, a lame man, and James Terwilleger, a German ; and seve- 
ral women and slaves. The three men snatched each .a gun and 
fled from a back door, Vrooman with his boots in his hand; and 
as Veeder, minus a hat, was following them with a gun in each 
hand, the enemy opened the front door. They leveled their guns 
but did not fire, supposing, possibly, that he would be intimidated 
and surrender himself a prisoner. As Veeder left the house, the 
women fled down cellar for safety. The fugitives had to pass a 
board fence a few rods from the house, and as Veeder was leaping 
it, several of the enemy fired on him, three of their balls passing 
through the board beneath him. One of his comrades drew up 
to return the fire, but Veeder, fearing it might endanger the safe- 
ty of the women, would not permit him to. The house was then 
plundered, and after removing the women from the cellar, an act, 
I suppose, of an Indian acquaintance, the house was fired, and 
with it several out buildings. The dwellings of Abraham Veeder, 
Col. Volkert Veeder, that of Smith already named, and those of 
two of the Vroomans, situated above, also shared a similar fate, 
and became a heap of ruins. — Volkert, a son of Simon Veeder. 

At this period, George Eacker resided where Jacob F. Dock- 
stader now does, just below the Nose. Having discovered the 
fire of the burning buildings down the valley, he sent his family 
into the woods on the adjoining mountain, but remained himself 
to secure some of his effects. While thus busily engaged, several 
of the enemy arrived and made him prisoner. As they began to 
plunder his house, they sent him into the cellar to procure them 
food. On entering it, he discovered an outside door ajar ; passing 
which, he fled for the woods. As they thought his stay protract- 
ed, the Indians entered the cellar, and had the mortification to see 
their late prisoner climbing the hill, beyond the reach of their 
guns. Finding his family, he led them to a place of greater se- 
curity in the forest, where they remained until the present danger 
was past, and their buildings reduced to ashes. — David Eacker, 
first judge of Montgomery county at his death. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 363 

The enemy proceeded at this time as far west as the Nose, de- 
stroying; a new dwelling-, ashery, &c., just then erected by Major 
Jelles Fonda. — Mrs. John Fonda. 

When Sir John Johnson removed from Johnstown to Canada, 
a faithful slave owned by him, buried, after he had left, his most 
valuable papers and a large quantity of silver coin, in an iron 
chest, in the garden, at Johnson Hall. Among the confiscated 
property of Sir John sold at auction, was this very slave. He 
was bought by Col. Volkert Veeder, and no persuasion could in- 
duce him to reveal any secrets of his former master. This slave 
was recovered by Johnsin on the morning of his invasion ; and 
returning to the Hall with his first owner, he disinterred the iron 
chest, and the contents were obtained. Some of the papers, from 
having been several years in the ground, were almost destroyed. 
This slave, although well treated by Col. Veeder, was glad of an 
opportunity to join Col. Johnson, (who had made him a confidant,) 
and accompany him to Canada. — Mrs. Fonda. 

Several boys were captured along the river, who were liberat- 
ed at Johnson Hall, and returned home, among whom were James 
Romeyn, and Mina Weraple. The latter, hearing the proposi- 
tion made by Sir John, to allow the boys to return, who was 
rather larger than any of the others, stepped in among them say- 
ing, me too ! me too ! and was finally permitted to accompany 
them off; and returned to the ashes of her inn, to console his 
mother. Thomas Saramons, Abraham Veeder, and John Fonda, 
(and possibly some others) were also permitted, on certain condi- 
tions, to return home ; the latter, and his brother Adam, casting 
lots to see which should be retained a prisoner. The captives thus 
liberated, were given a jxiss, by Col. Johnson, lest they might 
meet some of the enemy, and be retaken. They had not proceeded 
far when Veeder, (who was a brother of Col. Volkert Veeder,) 
halted, to read his pass. " Well," said his companion, Fonda, in 
I>ow Dutch, " you may stop here to read your pass, if you choose, 
but I prefer reading mine when out of danger of them red devils 
of Sir John's."— Euer^ Yates. 

Colonels Harper and Volkert Veeder, collected, as speedily as 



364 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 

possible, the scattered militia of Tryon county, to pursue the inva- 
ders, but being too weak successfully to give them battle, they 
were permitted, almost unmolested, to escape with their booty to 
Canada. John J. Hanson, captured at Tribes' Hill, after journey- 
ing with the enemy two days, effected his escape, and arrived 
half-starved, at the dwelling of 3 German, living back of Stone 
Arabia, who supplied him with food, and he reached Fort Hunter 
in safety.— -Jtfrs. Evert Yates. 



( 365 ) 



CHAPTER XII. 



The following facts were obtained in 1837, from Henry Hynds, 
a son of William Hynds, who was one of the few whigs living in 
New Dorlach, in the Revolution. On the evening of July 4th, 
1780, a party of the enemy, consisting of seven Indians, a squaw, 
and one white man, Capt. Adam Crysler, arrived in the settle- 
ment and put up, as was afterwards learned, at the house of Mi- 
chael Merckley. The ostensible object of their visit was, to cap- 
ture Bastian France, as a son of the latter informed the author ; 
but as he chanced to be from home, at the suggestion of the 
Merckley family, they concluded to seize upon some other whigs 
in the vicinity. As there was but little intercourse among distant 
neighbors in that busy season of the year, and William Hynds was 
living in quite a retired place, it was suggested to Crysler, that if 
this family was carried into captivity, and the house not burned, 
they might be gone a week, and no one else know of their ab- 
sence. The suggestion was received with favor, and the next day, 
as the family of Hynds were at dinner, they were surprised, and 
taken prisoners. As the captors approached the dwelling, they 
fired a gun in at an open door, to imtimidate the family ; and en- 
tering secured Mr. Hynds, his wife, daughters Catharine, and Ma- 
ry, who were older than my informant, and four children, younger, 
Elizabeth, William, Lana, and an infant. The Indians then plun- 
dered the house of whatever they desired to take along. Henry 
was compelled to catch four horses belonging to his father, obedi- 
ence to which command several of the party stood with ready ri- 
fles to enforce, and prevent his escape. Upon the backs of three 
horses was placed the plunder made in the dwelling ; and upon 
the fourth, on a man's saddle, Mrs. Hynds, with several of her 
youngest children, was permitted to ride. The party moved for- 



380 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ward about 2 o'clock, and traveled that afternoon to Lake Utsay- 
antho, and encamped near the Champion place, seven miles dis- 
tant from the dwelling of Hynds. The second night they en- 
camped in an orchard near Collier's. Among the plunder taken 
from the dwelling of Hynds, was a quantity of ham and pork, 
which the Indians ate ; giving the prisoners flour, which they 
made into pudding. 

Mr. Hynds was bound nights, and a rope laid across his body, 
each end of which was tied to an Indian. The party were three 
weeks going to Niagara ; and killed on the route one deer, sev- 
eral muskrats, otters, &c., which served for food. In heu of salt, 
they used ashes, and the family continued well until they reached 
Niagara. The large children went barefooted nearly all the way 
to Canada. Soon after they started, the squaw took from Henry, 
his shoes, which, as she could not wear them, she threw away. 
While journeying, they built tires nights, around which they slept 
upon the ground. Soup was their usual supper. On passing 
Indian villages, the prisoners were much abused by squaws and 
children ; and on one occasion, Mr. Hynds was knocked down by 
a blow upon the head with an empty bottle. 

Soon after their arrival at Niagara, Mr. Hynds and all his fa- 
mily, except Henry, took the fever and ague, of which William, 
a promising lad, died. The prisoners were at Niagara when the 
troops under Sir John Johnson, destined to ravish the Schoharie 
and Mohawk valleys, set out on their journey. The tories from 
Schoharie and New Dorlach, who accompanied the army, often 
boasted to the prisoners, that Albany would soon be taken by the 
British, when themselves were to possess certain choice sections 
of the Schoharie flats. Mary, then fourteen or fifteen years of age, 
was separated from the rest of the family at Niagara, and taken to 
supply a vacancy in an Indian family, occasioned by the death of 
one of its members. Some time in the fall, the prisoners were re- 
moved to Buck's Island, where Elizabeth, the child next older 
than William, also died. From the Island, they were removed to 
Montreal, where Lana, the youngest child but one, died. Mrs. 
Hynds, whose constitution was undermined by the accumulating 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 367 

load of her mental and bodily sufferings, with her infant child 
soon after followed her other three children to the grave ; reduc- 
ing the family from nine to four. In the winter following his 
capture, Henry had a severe attack of fever and ague, and was 
removed from the guard-house to the hospital ; where he was 
properly treated and soon recovered. 

About two years and a half after their capture, Mr. Hynds, his 
son Henry, and daughter Catharine, with nearly three hundred 
other prisoners, returned home by the usual route down the Hud- 
son river. Mary was detained nearly three years longer in Ca- 
nada, but finally returned home. As was surmised, the whigs of 
New Dorlach knew nothing of the capture of Mr. Hynds and his 
family until they had been gone three or four days. 

The greater part of the month of July, 1780, Seth's Henry, 
and a few other Indians, were secreted about the Schoharie set- 
tlements, in the hope of killing or surprising some of the princi- 
pal settlers, as he stated after the war. 

One dark night, this Indian, says Josias E. Vrooman, visited the 
upper fort, in the hope of surprising a sentinel. He commenced 
climbing up at one of the sentry-boxes, with a spear in his hand, 
but before he was within reach of the sentinel, who chanced on 
that night to be Frederick Quant, the latter heard his approach, 
and gave the usual challenge. The Indian then dropped down 
upon the ground, and threw himself under one of the farm wag- 
gons which usually clustered around the outside of the pickets. A 
ball from the rifle of Quant, fired in the direction he ran, entered 
a waggon near his head, but the Indian made his escape. 

For the following particulars the author is indebted to the ma- 
nuscript of Judge Hager, to Col. J. W. Bouck, and the memory of 
Dick, a former slave belonging to the Bouck family. 

About the 25th of July, William Bouck, an elderly man, the 
one mentioned as the first white male child born in Schoharie, 
went from the upper fort to his dwelling, situated where Wilhel- 
mus Bouck now resides, (nearly two miles distant from said fort,) 
to secure his crops, taking with him a girl named Nancy Latti- 
more, a female slave, and her three children, two sons and a daugh- 



368 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

ter. As the family were making preparations in the evening to 
retire to rest, Seth's Henry and three other Indians entered the 
house and captured them, securing the little plunder it chanced to 
contain. The leader was disappomted in not finding either of Mr. 
Bouck's three sons at home. 

Dick Bouck, the youngest of the slaves, as the enemy entered 
the house, sprang behind a door which stood open, and escaped 
their notice. The other prisoners were taken out, and as they 
were about to start on their journey. Master Dick, afraid of being 
left alone in the dark, made some noise on purpose to attract their 
attention, and one of the Indians re-entered the house and " hus- 
tled him out." Speaking of his capture, Dick said, " 1 made a 
noise, like a tarn, fool, and de Ingens took me dar prisoner." The 
party then set forward, and the captor of Dick (then eight years 
old) took him upon his back, and carried him as far as the resi- 
dence of the late Gen. Patchin, a distance of seven or eight miles, 
where they encamped. The enemy expected to be pursued the 
following day, when it would undoubtedly become known that 
Mr. Bouck had been captured, and before daylight the march was 
resumed. After sunrise, Dick had to travel on foot with the other 
prisoners ; and on the following night encamped at Harpersfield. 
At this place lived a Scotch tory, named Hugh Rose, who made 
jonny-cake for the Indians, which the latter shared wdth their pri- 
soners. " Dis, said Dick, " was de fus food de gabe us fore we 
lef home." While on their way from the Patchin place to Har- 
persfield, the party, for obvious reasons, avoided the beaten road, 
but Dick, who said " de bushes hurt him pare feet," embraced re- 
peated opportunities to steal into it, and sometimes traveled seve- 
ral rods in it, before his violation of their commands was ob- 
served. He often was cunning enough to leave the road just in 
time to avoid detection, but repeatedly he was caught in "the for- 
bidden path," when he was put upon a new trail, with a threat or 
a slap. Rose furnished provisions for the enemy to subsist on a 
part of the way to Canada, and they left his house about 8 o'clock 
the next morning. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 369 

William Bouck, Jr. was out on a scout from the upper fort at the 
time his father's family was captured. The scout consisted ol 
Bouck, John Haggidorn, Bartholomew C. Vrooman, (the first hus- 
band of Mrs. Van Slyck before mentioned,) and Bartholomew 
Haggidorn. They were sent on the errand which had led so ma- 
ny scouts in that direction — to anticipate, if possible, any hostile 
movement of the enemy. The Indians, with their prisoners, had 
been gone but a very short time from the house of Rose, before 
the scout named entered it. They enquired of Rose if there were 
any Indians in that vicinity. " Yes," he replied, " the woods are 
full of them." They desired to know in what direction they were 
from his house, when, instead of sending them from, he directed 
them towards the enemy. The footsteps of the scout arrested the 
attention of the Indians, who halted, leveled their rifles, and wait- 
ed the approach of the former. The Indians were on a rise of 
ground, and as Bouck looked up he saw Nancy, waving her bon- 
net, with fear depicted in her countenance, which signal he right- 
ly conjectured was intended to warn him of danger, and direct his 
flight in another course. He instantly divined the reason of her 
being there, and apprising his comrades of their peril, he turned 
and fled in an opposite direction. At that instant the Indians 
fii'ed, and John Haggidorn was wounded in the hip, and a ball 
passed through the cravat of Bouck, which was tied around his 
neck. Haggidorn fell, but instantly sprang up and followed his 
companions. Had they known that there were but four of the 
enemy, they would no doubt have turned upon them and rescued 
the prisoners. The scout returned to the house of Rose, and as 
Haggidorn was too severely wounded to proceed, he was left by 
his friends, who assured the tory that if harm befel their wounded 
friend, or he was not well taken care of, his own life should be the 
forfeit. 

As was anticipated, Bouck was missing in the morning, and as 
soon as information of the fact reached the fort, Capt. Hager des- 
patched about twenty men, under the command of Lieutenants 
Ephraim Vrooman and Joseph Harper, in pursuit of the captors. 
They rightly conjectured the enemy would take the usual route to- 



370 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

wards Harpersfield, and after proceeding in uncertainty until they 
discovered the track of Dick in the path, which they at once sup- 
posed left the impression of his heel, they pushed forward rapidly. 
The scout had gone but a few miles towards the fort, when they 
fortuately fell in with the pursuing party, and instantly joined it. 
After arriving at the place where Haggidorn had been wounded, 
they soon struck upon the trail of the enemy, which ascended the 
high grounds near. The Indians had gone but a mile or two be- 
yond where the scout saw them, and halted to rest upon a narrow 
plain near the top of the mountain, where three of them remain- 
ed with the prisoners, while Seth's Henry ascended to the summit, 
which afforded a most extended prospect, to reconnoitre. The In- 
dians left with the prisoners, feeling themselves secure, had laid 
down their packs, and were in the act of mending their mocasons, 
as the Americans were cautiously winding their way up the ac- 
clivity. 

Seth's Henry, from his elevated position, completely overlooked 
his approaching foes, and feeling satisfied that they were now 
safe, he had just returned to his companions and told them they 
were out of danger from pursuit, as the Americans gained a view 
of them within rifle-shot distance. The lives of the prisoners 
being endangered, several of whom were nearest the Americans, 
prevented the instant discharge of a volley of balls, but as Leek 
had a fair aim upon an Indian, he snapped and his rifle unfortu- 
nately missed fire. Hearing the click of this lock, the Indians 
instantly sprang to their feet, seized their weapons, and leaving 
their prisoners and packs, giving a whoop and exclaiming Yan- 
kees, fled barefooted down the mountain in an opposite direction. 
The prisoners were then unbound, grateful for so unexpected a 
deliverance, and the party descended the hill, and proceeded to 
the dwelling of Rose. A kind of litter was there prepared, on 
which Haggidorn was carried by his friends to the fort, where, 
under proper treatment, he recovered. 

If Seth's Henry, was foiled in taking Mr. Bouck and his family 
to Canada, it did not discourage him from making other attempts 
to surprise some of the Schoharie citizens. Familiar as he was 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 371 

with every hill, dale, ravine, and cluster of shrubbery along the 
river, he was enabled often to approach the very dwelhngs of the 
settlers, without being observed. 

He told Mrs. Van Slyck, after the war, that en Tuesday, one 
week before the destruction of Vrooman's Land, and about a week 
after his capture of William Bouck, himself and two other In- 
diems, one of whom was called William, his sister's son, lay con- 
cealed near a spring, in an angle of a fence, by the thick shade of 
a sassafras tree, not far from her father's dwelling, when she with 
a pail went to the spring for water — that Wilham wanted to shoot 
her, but he would not let him. 

Mrs. Van Slyck stated, that on the day referred to, her father, 
Samuel Vrooman, was at work, with several others, in a field of 
grain not far from his house, where a small party of riflemen from 
the fort were in attendance to guard them ; and that she was at 
home alone to prepare their dinner. When she had it about 
ready, she went with a pail to the spring mentioned for water. 
As she approached it she saw the mocasoned track of an In- 
dian, which she at once recognized as such, but recently made 
in the soft earth near it. In an instant she was seized with the 
most lively apprehension ; and the first thought — as she felt her 
hair move on her head — was, that she would turn and run ; but 
this would betray to the enemy her knowledge of their supposed 
proximity ; whereas, if she did not pretend to notice the track, if 
her scalp was not what the foe sought, she would doubtless es- 
cape. She therefore walked boldly up to the spring, dipped her 
pail, with little caution about roiling the water, and walked back 
to the house. She expected, at every step, to hear the crack of 
a rifle discharged at herself, and passing several stumps on the 
way, this, and this, thought she, will shield me for the moment. 
On arriving at the house, she set down her pail, and ran to the 
field (leaving several gates open) to tell her friends what she had 
seen at the spring. The soldiers visited it and saw the Indian 
foot-marks, but the makers, observing their approach, had fled. 

Soth's Henry pretended, after the war, that nothing but his 
friendship for her saved informant's life at the spring, but the fear 



372 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

of pursuit from the riflemen near, was, perhaps, the real cause of 
her escape. William, who leveled his rifle at her, and was pre- 
vented firing by the caution of his leader, had, for many years, 
held a grudge against her. Being often at her father's house be- 
fore the war, she one day accused him of stealing geese eggs, 
which he resented, although perhaps guilty, drew his knife and 
struck a blow at her, the blade of which entered the right thigh, 
leaving an indellible evidence of his resentment. 

The same day that those Indians were concealed at Vrooman's 
spring, they were discovered elsewhere by some person in the 
settlement. Seth's Henry told Mrs. Van Slyck, that the night 
preceding his visit to the spring, he, with his companions, had 
entered the kitchen of Ephraim Vrooman's dwelling, and finding 
a kettle of supawn, made use of it for their suppers. Two Ger- 
mans lodged in the house that night ; a fact unknown to the In- 
dians, as was to the former the nocturnal visit of the latter. Af- 
ter procuring food at this house, they went to the barn of Samuel 
Vrooman, where they tarried over night. Thus were an armed 
and savage foe often prowling about the very dwellings of the 
frontier settlers of New York, without their knowledge. 

Seth's Henry, at his interview, also stated to Mrs. Van Slyck, 
that some time in the summer of 1780, seven Indians (of which 
number, was the Schoharie Indian, William,) went into the vici- 
nity of Catskill to capture prisoners. That they visited a small 
settlement where the whites were from home, and soon succeeded 
in capturing seven lusty negroes. The latter generally went so 
willingly into captivity that they were seldom bound in the day- 
time. After traveling some distance, the party halted upon the 
bank of a spring to rest : when the Indians, leaving their guns 
behind them, descended to drink. The favorable moment was 
seized by the prisoners to liberate themselves, and snatching up 
the guns, they fired upon their captors, four of whom were killed : 
the other three fled, and William was the only one who recovered 
his trusty riile. The negroes, with the six guns, returned home 
in due lime, without further molestation. 

Capt. Richtmyer, who resided near the Middle fort, was told 



ANT) BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 373 

by Joseph Ecker, (a tory who returned to Schoharie after the 
war,) that on a certain day, four tories, a Shafer, a Winne, a Mil- 
ler, and another person he would not name, (supposed by Captain 
R. to have been Ecker himself,) were secreted all day near his 
meadow, not far from the present site of the county poor house, 
in the hope of making him their prisoner. The grass was cut, 
and they expected the captain would be there to cure it, but for- 
tunately Col. Zielie ordered him to superintend the making of 
cartridges at the fort, and next day several soldiers were sent 
from the fort to guard the workmen. Thus was the design of the 
enemy frustrated. Four places of concealment were made and 
occupied by the tories near the field, by setting up green twigs, 
which were afterwards noticed by the citizens. — George, a son of 
Capt. Richtmyer. 

On the second and third days of August, 1780, the settlements 
in and around Canajoharie were laid waste by a body of Indians 
under Brant. Sixteen of the inhabitants were killed, between 
fifty and sixty made prisoners ; over one hundred buildings burnt, 
and a large amount of property destroyed. This happened at a 
time when theTryon county militia were mostly drawn off to Fort 
Schuyler. See letter of Col. Clyde to Gov. George Chnton, da- 
ted, " Canajoharie, August 6th, 1780 ;" first published in the An- 
nals of Tryon County. 

At this time a party of the enemy appeared in the vicinity of 
Fort Dayton. Two Indians had the temerity to approach a barn, 
in which two men were threshing, on whom they fired. The flail- 
stick in the hands of one was nearly severed by a bullet, but the 
young farmers escaped to the fort. It was well garrisoned, and 
a party of Americans being then mounted, pursued and killed 
both the Indians. The enemy succeeded, however, in capturing 
the wife of Jacob Shoemaker, and her son, a lad some ten years 
old, who were in a field picking green peas. On their arrival in 
Canada, Sir John Johnson, paid seven dollars to ransom the 
mother, who, leaving her son in captivity, arrived at Albany some 
time after, from whence she was carried to Schenectada in a 
wagon, by Isaac Covenhoven, and from thence she accompanied 



374 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

one Walradt, a former neighbor to Herkimer. — Isaac Covenhoven, 
who was at Fort Dayton during the invasion. 

It is probable the Schoharie settlers had been notified of the 
misfortunes of their friends in the Mohawk Valley, and were anx- 
ious to guard against surprise. The Schoharie forts were feebly 
garrisoned at the time, but small parties of soldiers were constantly 
engaged during the day, to guard the more exposed inhabitants 
while harvesting an unusual growth of wheat. 

Early on the morning of the 9th of the same month, a scout, 
consisting of Coonradt Winne, Leek, and Hoever, was sent by 
Capt. Hager, from the Upper fort to reconnoitre in the western 
part of the present town of Fulton. The scout was instructed to 
return immediately to the fort without firing, if they saw any of 
the enemy, and were not themselves discovered. In that part of 
Fulton, now called Byrnville, or Sap Bush Hollow, some five or 
six miles distant from the Upper fort ; the scout seated themselves 
upon a fallen tree, near the present residence of Edwin M. Dexter, 
to eat their breakfast ; and while eating, a white man, painted as 
an Indian, made his appearance within some fifty yards of them. 
Stooping down as nature prompted, he became so good a mark, 
that Leek, who was a dead shot, not seeing any one else, could 
not resist the temptation to fire, and levelling his rifle, the tory was 
instantly weltering in his gore. As surgical instruments were af- 
terwards found upon his person, he was supposed to have been a 
surgeon, in the employ of Brant. A sinall stream of water near, 
which took its name from the killing of this man, whose carcase 
rotted by it, has been called Dead Man's creek, ever since. 

Leek had not had time to reload his piece, before the enemy 
appeared in sight. The scout fled, hotly pursued by a party of In- 
dians, who passed their dying comrade without halting. Hoever 
had to drop his knapsack, containing some valuable articles, to 
outrun his pursuers, which he afterwards recovered, the enemy 
supposing it contained nothing more than a soldier's luncheon. 
They were so closely followed that they were separated. Leek fly- 
ing towards the fort, while Hoever and Winne were driven into 
the woods, in an opposite direction. The two latter afterwards 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 375 

saw, from a place of concealment near the Schoharie, in the pre- 
sent town of Blenheim, their foes pa«s up the river with their pri- 
soners and plunder. Leek reached the fort in safety, after a race 
of nine or ten miles, but not enough in advance of his pursuers, to 
have a seasonable alarm given to warn the citizens of impending 
(langer. The single discharge of a cannon was the usual signal ; 
if the discharge was repeated, it was considered hazardous to ap- 
proach the fort, while a third successive discharge served to as- 
sure the citizen that he could not possibly reach the fort, without 
encountering the enemy. 

The invaders, consisting of seventy-three Indians, almost naked, 
Ami Jive torics — Benjamin Beacraft, Frederick Sager, Walter Al- 
let, one Thompson, and a mulatto, commanded by Capt. Brant, 
approached Vroomah's Land in the vicinity of the Upper fort, 
about ten o'clock in the morning. They entered the valley on 
the west side of the river, above the Onistagrawa in three places; 
one party coming down from the mountain near the present resi- 
dence of Charles Watson : another near that of Jacob Haines, 
then the residence of Capt. Tunis Vrooraan ; and the third near the 
dwelling of Harraanus Vrooman, at that time the residence of Col. 
Peter Vrooman, who chanced to be with his family, in the Mid- 
dle fort. 

Capt. Hager, h?d gone on the morning of that day, to his farm, 
attended by a small guard, to draw in some hay nearly seven 
miles distant from the Upper fort, the command of which then de- 
volved on Tunis Vrooman, captain of the associate exempts. Al- 
though the citizens of Schoharie had huts at the several forts 
where they usually lodged nights, and where their clothing and 
most valuable cfiects were kept during the summer, the female 
part of many families were in the daily habit of visiting their 
dwellings to do certain kinds of work, while their husbands were 
engaged in securing their crops. On the morning of the day in 
question, Capt. Vrooman also returned home to secure wheat, ac- 
companied by his family, his wife to do her week's washing. 
The command of the garrison next belonged to Ephraim Vroo- 
man, a lieutenant under Capt. Hager, but as he went to his farm 
25 



376 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

soon after Capt. Vrooman left, it finally devolved on Lieut. "Wil- 
liam Harper, who had not a dozen men with him in the fort. The 
wife of Lieut. Vrooman also returned home to do her washing.* 

Capt. Vrooman, who had drawn one load of wheat to a bar- 
rack before breakfast, arose on that morning with a presentiment 
that some disastrous event was about to happen, which he could 
not drive from his mind ; and he expressed his forebodings at the 
breakfast-table. Four rifle-men called at his house in the morn- 
ing and took breakfast with him, but returned to the fort soon af- 
ter, to attend the roll-call. Capt. Vrooman's family consisted of 
himself, wife, four sons, John, Barney, Tunis and Peter, and two 
slaves, a male and female. After breakfast, Capt. Vrooman and 
his sons drew another load of wheat to the barrack : and while it 
was unloading, he stopped repeatedly to look out towards the sur- 
rounding hills. The grain had not all been pitched from the wag- 
on, before his worst fears were realized, and he beheld descend- 
ing upon the flats near, a party of hostile savages. He descend- 
ed from the barrack, not far from which he was tomahawked, 
scalped, and had his throat cut by a Schoharie Indian named John : 
who stood upon his shoulders while tearing off" his scalp. 

Many of the old Dutch dwellings in Schoharie (the outside 
doors of which were usually made in two parts, so that the lower 
half of the passage could be closed while the upper remained 
open,) had a kitchen detached from them : and such was that of 
Capt. Vrooman. His wife was washing in a narrow passage be- 
tween the buildings, where she was surprised and stricken down. 
After the first blow from a tomahawk, she remained standing, but 
a second blow laid her dead at the feet of an Indian, who also 
scalped her. The house was then plundered and set on fire, as 
was the barn, barracks of grain, hay, &c.; and the three oldest 
boys, with the blacks, made captives. Peter, who fled on the 
first alarm and concealed himself in some bushes, would probably 
have escaped the notice of the enemy, had not one of the blacks 

• Mrs. Vrooman said to her friends as she left the fort, "This is the last 
morning I intent to go to my house to work," Her worJs were truly pro- 
phelic — ySndrtw Louck$. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 377 

made known his place of concealment : he was then captured 
nnd taken along a short distance, but crying to return, he ran to 
a fence, to which he was pursued by the tory Beacraft, who caught 
him, and placing his legs between his own, lent him back and 
cut his throat ; after which, he scalped and hung him across the 
fence.* Vrooman's horses were unharnessed and given to the 
boys to hold, as were several more, while the Indians were plun- 
dering, killing cattle and other animals, and burning buildings. 
While the Indians were shooting hogs in the pen, a ball went 
through it and lodged in the calf of John's leg ; which instantly 
brought him to the ground : the horses then ran towards the river, 
and two of them were not recaptured. 

The party which entered the valley at the dwelling of Colonel 
Vrooman, were led by Brant in person, who hoped to surprise a 
rebel colonel ; but the services of that brave man were to be 
spared to his country. His family were also at the Middle fort.f 
From the dwelling of Col. Vrooman, which was a good brick 
tenement, and to which was applied the torch of destruction, 
Seth's ffcnry (with whom the reader has some acquaintance,) led 
several of the enemy to the dwelling of Lieut. Vrooman; which 
stood where Peter Knciskern now lives. His family consisted of 
himself, wife Christina, sons Bartholomew and Josias E., and 

• Of the murder of lliis Vrooman boy, Beacraft took occasion repeatedly 
to boast, in the presence of the prisoners, while on his way to Canada ; as 
also he did on several subsequent occasions : and yet he had the impudence 
10 return, after the war closed, to Schoharie. Ilis visit becoming known, a 
parly of about a dozen \vhip;s one evenincr surrounded the house he was in, 
near where the bridge in Blenhein now stands, and leading him from it into 
a grove near, they stripped and bound him to a sapling ; and then inflicted 
fijly lashes, witii hickory gads, upon Jiis bare back, telling him, at intervals 
of every len, for what particular offence they were given. He was then un- 
bound, and given his life on condition that he would instantly leave that val- 
ley, and never more pollute its soil with his presence. He expressed his 
gratitude that his life was spared, left the settlement and was never afterwards 
heard from by the citizens of Schoharie. — Captivity of Pat chin, corroborated. 

t From what has appeared in several publications, a belief has gone 
abroad that Col. Vrooman was a cowardly, weak man. The impression is 
very erroneous, he was far otherwise, as tLe author Las had i/u-ubitable ai.d 
repeated evidence. 



378 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

daughters Janctt (four years old,) and Christina, (an infant,) two 
Germans, Crcshibooin and Hodman, (captured at Burgoyne's sur- 
render,) and several slaves : the latter, however, were at work 
near the river and escaped. On hearing the alarm, Vrooman ran 
to his house, caught up his infant child and fled into the corn-field, 
between his dwelling and the Onislagrawa, followed by his wife 
leading her little daughter ; said to have had long and beautiful 
hair for a child. He seated himself against the trunk of a large 
apple tree, and his wife was concealed a few rods from him in 
the thrifty corn. The road is now laid between the orchard and 
mountain, but at the period of which I speak, it passed over the 
flats east of the dwelling. His family would, no doubt, have re- 
mained undiscovered, had Mrs. Vrooman continued silent ; but 
not knowing where her husband was, and becoming alarmed, she 
rose up and called to him in Low Dutch — " Ephraim, Ephraim, 
where are you : have you got the child ?" The words were 
scarcely uttered, when a bullet from the rifle of Seth's Henry 
pierced her body. When struggling upon the ground, he ad- 
dressed her in the Dutch tongue, as follows: "Now say — what 
these Indian dogs do here ?"* He then tomahawked and scalped 
her. 

While Seth's Henry was killing and scalping Mrs. Vrooman, 
the tory Beacraft killed her little daughter with a stone, and drew 
off her scalp : in the mean time a powerful Indian directed by her 
call to her husband's place of concealment, approached him and 
thrust a spear at his body, which he parried, and the infant in his 
arms smiled. Another pass was made, was parried, and the child 
again smiled. At tLe third blow of the spear, which was also 
warded o(f, the little innocent, then only five months old, laughed 
aloud at the supposed sport ; which awakened the sympathy of 

•This Indian had held a grudge against Mrs. Vrooman for many years. 
She was a Swart before marriage ; at which time, and just after the ceremo- 
ny was performed, she entered the kitchen of her father's dwelling, and see- 
ing sc\eral young Indians there, she imprudently asked a by slMnJer, in 
Dutch, what do these I'ldian do^s do here? He remembered the expression, 
and his resentment IcJ him directly to her residence, to revenge Ihe insull. — 
Mit. VanSlyck. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



379 



the savac^o, and he made Vrooman a prisoner. 
Germans named, were also captured. 



His sons and the 




THE OXISTAGRAWA AND SCENE BENEATH IT. 
Upon the top of this mountain (called by some Vrooman's Nose) which af- 
forded a fine prospect of the valley, the enemy were often secreted to watch 
for exposed citizens. 

John Vrooman, who dwelt where Bartholomew Vrooman now 
lives, was captured, as were his wife and children. His house 
was set on fire but put out. Adam A. Vrooman, who lived where 
Josias Vrooman now does, fled to the upper fort, three-fourths of 
a mile distant, after being twice fired upon by the enemy. He 
had a pistol, and when the Indians gained upon him he presented 
it and they would fall back, but renewed the chase when he set 
forward. He was pursued until protected by the fort. On his 
arrival he was asked how he had escaped : his answer was, " / 
pulled foot.'' From that day to his death he was called Ptdl 
Foot Vrooman. His wife was made a prisoner. 



380 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Simon Vrooman, who resided where Adam P. Vrooman now 
does, was taken prisoner, as were his wife and son Jacob, a boy 
three years old. John Daly, aged over sixty, Thomas Meriness, 
and James Turner, young men. Abbey Eliza Stowits, a girl of 
seventeen summers, the wife of Philip Hoever, the widow of Cor- 
nelius Vrooman, and several slaves not mentioned, were also cap- 
tured in Vrooman's Land, making the number of prisoners, in all, 
about thirty. The jive persons mentioned, were all that were 
killed at this time. Brant might easily have taken the Upper fort, 
had he known how feebly it was garrisoned. 

Abraham Vrooman, who happened to be in Vrooman's Land 
with his wagon, on which was a hay-rack, when the alarm was 
given, drove down through the valley and picked up several of 
the citizens. On arriving at the residence of Judge Swart, who 
hved in the lower end of the settlement, he reined up and called 
to Swarfs wife, then at an oven a little distance from the house — 
" Cornelia, jump into my wagon, the. Indians are vj)on us .'" She 
ran into the house, snatched up her infant child* from the cradle, 
returned, and with her husband bounded into the wagon, which 
started forward just before the enemy, tomahawk in hand, reached 
their dwelling. Vrooman had a powerful team, and did not stop 
to open the gates which then obstructed the highway, but drove 
directly against them, forcing them open. Passing under an ap- 
ple tree, the rack on his wagon struck a limb, which sent it back 
against his head, causing the blood to flow freely. He drove to 
the Middle fort, which was also feebly garrisoned. 

The destructives burnt at this place nine dwellings and the fur- 
niture they contained, with their barns and barracks, which were 
mostly filled with an abundant harvest. JS met y good horses were 
also driven, with their owners, into captivity. Large slices of meat 
were cut from the carcases of the cattle and hogs, strewed along 
the valley, and hung across the backs of some of the horses, to 
serve as provisions for the party on their way to Canada. Among 

•The child thus seasonably rescued, is now the wife of David Swart, of 
Shelby, Orleans counly, r\ew Yerk. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 391 

the plunder was a noble stud- horse, belonging to Judge Swart, 
and as the Indians were afraid of him, he was given young Tunis 
Vrooinan to ride, who rode him all the way to Canada. His 
having the care of this horse caused the enemy to treat him 
kindly : and he was not compelled to run the gantlet 

Before Seth's Henry left the settlement, he placed his war club, 
which he believed was known to some of the citizens, in a con- 
spicuous place and purposely left it. Notched upon it were the 
evidences, as traced by the Indians on similar weapons, of thirty' 
Jive scalps and forty prisoners. No very pleasing record, as we 
may suppose, for the people of Schoharie, who knew that several 
of their own valuable citizens helped to swell the startling, though 
no doubt authentic record of the deeds of this crafty warrior. 

On the arrival of Leek at the upper fort, after being so hotly 
pursued, John Hager, then at work on his father's place, hearing 
the alarm gun of the fort, mounted a hor«-e, and rode up and in- 
formed Capt. Hager that the buildings were on fire in the valley 
below. The hay on his wagon, which was unloading in the barn, 
was quickly thrown off, and the few inhabitants of that vicinity- 
were taken into it, driven into the woods, and concealed near Key- 
ser's kill. Henry Hager started with the wagon, when a favorite 
dog, that began to bark, was caught by him, and fearing it would 
betray the fugitives, he cut its throat with his pocket knife. Af- 
ter proceeding some distance from his house, having forgotten some 
article he intended to have taken with him, he returned and found 
it already occupied by the enemy, who made him their prisoner- 
He was nearly eighty years old ; and as he was known to the 
enemy to be a firm whig — his sons (one a captain) and several of 
his grandsons all being in the rebel army — he was treated with 
marked severity. 

The enemy, on leaving Vrooman's Land, proceeded with their 
booty and prisoners directly up the river. A grist-mill, owned by 
Adam Crysler, a tory captain, and standing on the Lower Brak- 
abeen creek, as called in old conveyances, which runs into the 
Schoharie near the residence of Benjamin Best, was sacked of the 
little floiu" it chanced to contain, and then set on fire — the tories, 



382 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

with the enemy, declaring that the whigs of Vrooman's Land should 
not be longer benefited by said mill. Several fragments of the 
mill-stone used in this mill, which was an Esopus conglomerate, 
have been recovered from the creek since 1841, and deposited in 
the cabinets of geologists. The Indians, on their arrival in that 
part of Brakabeen, burned all of Captain Hager's buildings, and 
Henry Hager's barn. Henry Mattice and Adam Brown, tories, 
accompanied the enemy from Brakabeen of their own accord. 

I have said that the famiUes of Capt. Hagcr and_^his father were 
concealed at Keyser's kill. The waggon which carried them from 
their homes was left in one place, the horses in another, and the 
women and children were sheltered beneath a rock in a ravine of 
the mountain stream before named. After the women and chil- 
dren were disposed of, Capt. Hager, taking with him his brother, 
Lawrence Bouck, Jacob Thomas, and several others who composed 
the guard mentioned, proceeded from Keyser's kill with due cau- 
tion, to ascertain if the Upper fort had been captured. It was 
nearly noon when Brant left the vicinity of that fort, and nearly 
night when its commandant and his men reached it. On the fol- 
lowing day the party concealed near Keyser's kill, were conveyed 
to the fort. 

The iOth day of August, 1780, was one of sadness and mourn- 
ing for the citizens of Vrooman's Land, some of whom had lost 
near relatives among the slain, and all, among the captives, either 
relatives or valued friends ; while the destruction of property to 
individuals was a loss, especially at that season of the year, when 
too late to grow sustenance for their families, to be most keenly 
felt and deplored. The burial of the dead took place the day af- 
ter their massacre, on the farm of John Feeck, near the fort. The 
bodies ot Capt. Vrooman, his wife and son, were deposited in one 
grave, and that of Mrs. Ephraim Vrooman and her daughter, in 
another. The remains of the former body presented a most hor- 
rid appearance. Left by her murderers between the burning build- 
ings, her flesh was partly consumed, exposing her entrails. 

When the dead body of Mrs. Ephraim Vrooman was first dis- 
covered in the corn-field, it was evident that she had partially re- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 383 

covered, and had vainly endeavored to staunch the flowing blood 
from the wound in her breast, first with her cap or some portion 
of her dress, and afterwards with earth, having dug quite a hole 
in the ground. This woman, as one of her sons assured the wri- 
ter, had had a presentiment for nearly three years that she was to 
be shot. She fancied she felt a cold substance like lead passing 
througii her body, from the back to the breast, and often the same 
sensation returned. She frequently expressed her fears in the fa- 
mily that she was to be shot, and singular as the coincidence may 
appear, when she was shot, the ball passed through her body 
where she had so long imagined it would. Nearly three years 
before her death, in the month of November, several of their ap- 
ple tiees were observed to be in blossom, which freak of nature 
the svpcrstUiovs also considered an unfavorable omen. After her 
death those circumstances were often discussed by her relatives. 

The destroyers of Vrooman's Land proceeded on the afternoon 
of the same day about fifteen miles, and encamped for the night. 
The scalps of the slain were stretched upon hoops, and dried in 
the presence of the relative prisoners, the oldest of whom were 
all bound nights. As the party were proceeding along the east 
shore of the Schoharie, in the afternoon of the first day, after 
journeying some six miles. Brant permitted the wife of John Vroo- 
man, with her own infant, and that taken with Ephraim Yroo- 
man, to return back to the settlement. The reader may desire to 
know the fate of this child, whose infant smiles had saved its 
father's life. Its mother being already dead, it was necessarily 
weaned, but at too tender an age, and three months after, it sick- 
ened and died. On the morning after the massacre, the line of 
march was again resumed, and when about half way from the 
Patchin place to Harpersfield, Brant yielded to the repeated im- 
portunities of several of his female captives, and perhaps the sea- 
sonable interference of several tory friends living near, and per- 
mittcil all of them, (except Mrs. Simon Vrooman,) with several 
male children — nearly one half the whole number of prisoners — 
to return to Schoharie. Brant led the liberated captives aside 
nearly half a mile to a place of concealment, where he required 



384 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

them to remain until night. The female prisoners, when captured, 
were plundered of their bonnets, neckerchiefs, beads, ear-rings, 
etc., which articles, of course, they did not recover. Word hav- 
ing been been sent to Schoharie that those prisoners had been li- 
berated, Maj. Thomas Ecker, Lieut. Harper, and Schoharie John, 
a friendly Indian, who lived at Middleburgh during the war, met 
them not far from where Mrs. Vrooman had been left the preced- 
ing afternoon, with several horses ; and placing three persons on 
a horse, they conveyed them to the Upper fort, where they arrived 
just at dusk. 

On the evening of the second day, the journeying party reach- 
ed the Susquehanna. The prisoners were obliged to travel on 
foot, with the exception of Mrs. Vrooman, and the lad, Tunis 
Vrooman. The provisions on the journey were fresh meat after 
the first day, as they obtained but little flour, which was boiled 
into a pudding the first night. The meat taken from Schoharie 
was soon fly-blown, but when roasted in the coals it was feasted 
upon by the hungry prisoners. They progressed slowly, because 
they were obliged to hunt deer, and catch fish for food on their 
way, generally having enough to eat, such as it was. Fish they 
usually roasted whole in the coals, ate the flesh, and then threw 
the off'al away. The parties that had been led by Brant and Qua- 
kock, a chief second in command, into Tryon county and the 
Schoharie settlements, assembled at Oquago, when several hun- 
dred of the enemy, with their prisoners, came together. 

The prisoners again separated at Oquago, and proceeded by 
different routes to Canada. Josias E. Vrooman, who was among 
the prisoners, claimed by Seneca warriors, went with a party up 
the Chemung. In the Genesee valley he saw a stake planted in 
the ground, some five or six feet high, which was painted red and 
sharpened at the top, on which was resting a fleshless skull. The 
Indians told the prisoners it was the skull of Lieut. Boyd, who 
was killed in that vicinity the year before, and each of them was 
compelled to hold it. Whether the skull shown the Vrooman's 
Land prisoners was that of Lieut. Boyd, or some other prisoner 
who had shared a similar fate, cannot now be known ; but as se- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 385 

veral teeth were found with Boyd's and Parker's bones, when re- 
moved, there can remain no doubt but that the head of Parker, 
which was identified by an old scar, was buried by his comrades. 
—C. Melcalf, Esq. 

While on their journey, Lieut. Vrooman was once led out be- 
tween two Indians — one armed with a tomahawk and the other a 
knife— to be murdered. Standing on a log which lay across a 
marsh or mire between the Indians, he addressed them in their 
own dialect, and finally made his peace with them for some tri- 
fling otfence, and his life was spared. The old patriot Hager was 
cruelly treated all the way, and was several times struck upon the 
head with the flat side of a tomahawk. 

I have said that John, a son of Capt. Vrooman, was wounded 
by the enemy while holding his father's horses. He was com- 
pelled to travel on foot, and as no attention had been paid to the 
wound, it was soon filled with maggots, becoming exceedingly 
painful. The Indians began to talk of killing him, if he failed 
to keep up with them. His namesake, who was his uncle, then 
assumed the care of him, and dressed his wound with tobacco 
leaves; when it gained a healthy appearance, and he was greatly 
relieved. While going through the Tonawanda swamp, the ball 
worked out and the wound soon after healed. 

On arriving in the Genesee valley, Mrs. Vrooman, then quite 
ill, was left there. Adam Vrooman, a brother of her's, from be- 
low the Ilelleberg, on hearing of her captivity, paid her ransom. 
Some of the prisoners were twenty-two days on their journey. 
On arriving at the Indian settlements, they were compelled to run 
die gantlet ; when some of them were seriously injured. A girl 
twelve or fourteen years old, who was among the prisoners made 
in the Mohawk valley, was nearly killed ; and Simon Vrooman 
and John Daly were so badly hurt, that they both died soon after 
arriving at their journey's end. Vrooman's widow afterwards 
married a man named Markell, in Canada, and remained there. 
Meriness was taken to Quebec, and while there, attempted, with 
several other prisoners to blow up the magazine. The design 
was discovered, and the conspirators were nearly whipped to 



386 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

death — two of them did die ; but ]\Ieriness finally recovered. Ne- 
gro captives were seldom bound while on their way to Canada, 
nor were they compelled to run the gantlet. They hardly ever 
returned to the States to remain, generally adopting the Indian's 
life. A negro belonging to Isaac Vrooman, usually called Tom 
Vrooman, who was taken to Canada at (his time, became a wait- 
er to Sir John Johnson, and in that capacity, passed through the 
Schoharie and Mohawk valleys in the following October. He 
was, however, captured by Joseph Naylor, an American soldier, 
near Fort Plain, and with him an elegant horse belonging to his 
new master, with saddle, holsters and valise. 

The greater part of the Schoharie prisoners were taken to Ni- 
agara, where they remained until November : when they proceed- 
ed in a vessel down Lake Ontario. A new ship, called the Sene- 
ca, left Niagara at the same time with the commandant of that 
garrison, and three hundred and sixty soldiers on board. Not 
long after they sailed, a terrible storm arose, and in the following 
night, the Seneca foundered and all on board were lost. The ves- 
sel contained a large quantity of provisions destined for Montreal, 
which were also lost. The prisoners were conveyed down the 
St. Lawrence in bateaus ; and some of them suffered much for 
the want of suitable clothing, being barefooted, although the 
ground was covered with snow where they encamped on shore 
over night. They arrived at Monti eal about the first of Decem- 
ber ; from which place, after a few weeks stay, they were re- 
moved nine miles farther, to an old French post, called South Ra- 
kela, where they were confined until the summer following, and 
then exchanged for other prisoners. While confined at the latter 
place, their provisions consisted, for the most part, of salt-beef — 
not always of the best kind — and oat-meal ; the latter being 
boiled into puddings and eaten with molasses. When an ex- 
change was efifected, most of the Schoharie prisoners, with others, 
were sent on board a vessel to the head of Lake Champlain, 
where they were landed, and from which place they returned 
home on foot, via. Saratoga. They arrived at Schoharie on the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 387 

30lli (lay of August, after an absence of little more than a year. 
Mr. Ilager was gone about eighteen months.* 

•The particulars relating to the destruction of Vroomnn's Land, and the 
captivity of the citizens, so minutely detailed, were obtained from Tunis, a 
son of Capt. Tunis Vrooman ; Josias E. and Bartholomew E., sons of Lieut. 
Ephraim Vrooman ; Maria, daughter of John Vrooman, and afterwards the 
toife of Frederick Matticc, who were captives at the time ; the manuscript of 
Henry Hnger ; Mrs. Susannah Van Slyck, daughter of Samuel Vrooman; An- 
gelica, daughter of Col. Peter Vrooman, afterwards the wife of Major Peter 
Vrooman : Lawrence Bouck and Lawrence Matlice. 



r^ ( 388 ) 



CHAPTER XIII. 



An affair of love : for Cupid was unchained even in perilous 
limes. Timothy Murphy, who so providentially escaped from the 
enemy in Sullivan's campaign, returned to Schoharie in the sum- 
mer of 1780. While on duty there in the fall and winter of 1778 
and spring of 1779, Murphy became acquainted with — yes^ ena- 
mored vyith — Miss Margaret, daughter of John Feeck, whose house 
was inclosed at the Upper fort. She was an only child, and at that 
period was cons'dered, in prospective wealth, the richest girl in 
the Schoharie settlements. 

Perhaps the reader would be gratified with a brief outline of 
the personal appearance of a young lady, whose artless smiles 
could, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, win the affections of a rough 
soldier, and cause him, at the earliest opportunity, to transfer the 
services he considered due his country, to the fertile valley in 
which she dwelt. The writer has conversed with not a few who 
were well acquainted with her, several of whom were numbered 
among her most intimate female friends, all of whom ascribe to 
her the character of a virtuous and amiable girl. 

At the period of which I am writing, she had just passed "sweet 
seventeen," and was entering her eighteenth year; a period in the 
life of woman peculiarly calculated to convey and receive tender 
impressions. She was. rather tall, and slim; possessing a genteel 
form, with a full bust ; and features, if not handsome, at least 
pretty and very insinuating. Her hair was a rich auburn ; her 
eyes a dark hazel, peering from beneath beautiful eye-lashes; her 
teeth clean and well set ; her nose — but alas ! that was large, and 
^ altogether too prominent a nasal organ to grace the visage of a 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 389 

perfect beauty. Her ruby lips and peach-colored checks, how- 
ever, contrasted charmingly with her clear white skin, besides, 
nature had given her, what all men like to sec, a neatly turned 
ankle. Miss Fecck's literary acquirements, we must conclude, 
were limited. She had not been sent to a fashionable boarding 
school, and instructed in the genteel and desirable arts, to the en- 
tire exclusion, indeed abhorrence, of a practical knowledge of 
domestic household duties, as is too often the case at the present 
day. She, however, possessed a good share of common sense, 
was not too vain to be instructed, and practically understood house- 
keeping. Uniting, as she did, a very amiable disposition with her 
other good qualities, it is not surprising that she won the soldier's 
affections, and proved to him an agreeable and happy companion. 

Murphy, who was twelve years the senior of Miss Feeck, was 
a stout, well made man, with rather a large body and small limbs, 
was not quite as tall as his lady-love, but was handsomely fea- 
tured, having jet black hair, black eyes, and a skin shaded in the 
same dye. He possessed great muscular power, was fleet on foot, 
and wary in the covert as an Indian. He indulged too much in 
profane levity — was passionate, and often rough-tongued ; but 
was warm-hearted and ardent in his attachment, and proved him- 
self a kind and indulgent husband, an obliging neighbor and wor- 
thy citizen. He returned to Schoharie soon after the enemy de- 
solated V'rooman's Land. 

He had been back but a short time before it became apparent 
that what had, at an earlier day, seemed only a partiality on his 
part, and a juvenile perfercnce on hers — \ron, perhaps, by his 
" deeds of noble daring" — was ripening into ardent, reciprocal 
love. But when did love's torrent ever flow smoothly on ? As 
soon as their mutual preference became known to the parents of 
Miss Feeck, every effort was made by them to prevent the young 
lovers from meeting ; and when they did chance to steal an inter- 
view, which sometimes happened when duty called him from the 
Middle to the Upper fort, it was, of necessity, brief and unsatisfac- 
tory. Every effort was made by the parents to prevent those in- 
ten-iews, and Margaret was prohibited from leaving her father's 



390 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

house, alone, on any account Indeed, she was not allowed to go 
out of the picketed inclosure to milk, unless a vio;ilant cousin, or 
some member of the family attended her — while Murphy was for- 
bidden to enter the house under any pretext. The couple were 
plighted, but a serious obstacle interposd between them and Hy- 
men's altar. The law then required the publishing of the banns 
for several Sabbaths in a religious meeting. Those marriage pro- 
posals were usually read by a clergyman, but as the Schoharie 
flocks were left to the mercy of the wolves, that of IMurphy and 
his affianced was publicly read for several successive Sabbaths by 
John Van Dyck, (a good old deacon, living in the vicinity,) at a 
conference meeting held at the Middle fort, a certificate of which 
ceremony was placed in the hands of the groom. 

Cupid is seldom wanting in stratagems, and agents to execute 
them. Although it had been contemplated by the parents to con- 
fine Margaret in a small room of the house, and she was so close- 
ly observed, still Murphy found repeated opportunities to nullify 
the paternal edict of non-intercourse, and communicate with his 
betrothed — not by letter, for he could not write — but through the 
agency of a trusty female named Maria Teabout, who was, as I 
have elsewhere stated, part native. Maria was the bearer of five 
or six verbal messages between the couple. As she was about to 
start on one of those errands, expressing some fear about her own 
safely. Murphy, whose character she almost venerated for the act, 
placed his hand upon her head, and repeating a few words — ^no 
doubt a lingo of his own, as he was at no loss for words — told 
her that no harm would ever befal her if she proved faithfid to 
him. She assigned as a reason why she escaped injury or capti- 
vity in the war, the protection invoked at that time. As eveiy 
thing was in a state of preparation for consummating their hap- 
piness, on a certain day about the 1st of October, 1780, Maria 
was sent with the final message from Murphy to his sweetheart — 
which was, in substance. Come, for all things are now ready. A 
report had some time before reached the ears of Margaret's pa- 
rents, that she had engaged to marry Murphy ; which report, in 
answer to Iheir interrogatories, she denied, hoping by white lies 



AND BOEDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 391 

to lull their suspicions. Still their vigilance was not relaxed, and 
it was with no little difTiculty Maria found an opportunity at this 
time to inform Margaret, that her lover had the necessary certifi- 
cate of publication, and would meet her that evening near the ri- 
ver, with a horse, and convey her to the Middle fort. The answer 
to Murphy's last message was brief and artless ; " Tell Aim," said 
Margaret, "/ vnll meet him near the river, at the time appointed." 
The day designated for a meeting with her lover, was one of 
no little anxiety to Margaret. The thought of leaving the home 
of her childhood against the wishes of her parents — possibly for- 
ever, and uniting her future destiny with that of a poor, though 
brave soldier, whose life was surrounded with constant danger, to 
say nothing of future prospects, was one of serious moment, as 
may be imagined, to a reflecting mind. But love will brave every 
danger, and encounter every hardship. In the course of the day 
she had matured her plan for eluding the vigilance of her parents, 
who little suspected her intended elopement; and with impatience 
she awaited the setting sun. Margaret dared not change an article 
of apparel, as that would excite suspicion, and in any thing but a 
bridal dress, she went at the evening hour for milking, to per- 
form that duty, accompanied as usual by a neighboring female 
cousin on the same errand. The task accomplished, the girls se- 
parated, her cousin to go to her own home at a little distance from 
the fort, and our heroine to the presence of her mother. On ar- 
riving with her pail of milk, some of which had been emptied 
upon the ground, she told her mother that one of the cows, it not 
being with the rest, had not been milked. — " Then," said her 
mother, " you must go after it, that cow must be milked." This 
was placing matters precisely as she desired, and taking another 
pail she left the house with a light heart — barefooted, the better 
to disguise her real object. Hanging her pail upon a stake at 
the cow-yard, she stole away unobserved in the direction of the 
river, and was soon concealed from observation by the darkness 
then fast obscuring the Onistagrawa. Murphy, " as the evening 
shades prevailed," accompaned by three of his trusty comrades 
well armed, left the Middle fort, crossed the river and proceeded 
26 



392 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

along its western bank to meet his intended. Having gone full 
two-thirds of the way to the Upper fort, and above where she was 
to await his arrival, without meeting her, he began to apprehend 
his plan had proven abortive, and that her parents — aware of her 
intention — had taken proper means to prevent her leaving home. 
Satisfied in his mind that such was the case, he began to retrace 
his steps, — gently calling her name as he with his friends pro- 
ceeded homeward. On arriving just below the present site of the 
Middleburgh bridge, great was his surprise to hear her sweet 
voice respond to his call from the opposite shore of the river. 
Fearing she might be followed, our heroine had not stopped where 
her lover had agreed to seek her, but went forward. Not meet- 
ing him, she supposed some military duty had called him away, 
and believing her intention to leave home had already been dis- 
covered, by finding the cow in the yard and the pail near, she re- 
solved to proceed alone to the Middle fort, and had actually forded 
the Schoharie, the water at the time being quite cold, before the 
voice of Murphy greeted her ear. On his crossing the river, she 
mounted the horse behind him, and they rode to the fort where 
they were heartily welcomed by its inmates, about eight o'clock 
in the evening. 

Some little time elapsed before the absence of Margaret was 
known at the paternal dwelling, which favored her flight ; but 
when the discovery was made, it aroused the most lively appre- 
hension of the parents, for her safety. Scouts were daily return- 
ing to the fort, with reports of either seeing parties of the enemy, 
or evidence of their recent proximity to the settlement; and the 
first supposition was, that one of those straggling parties had sur- 
prised and carried her into captivity. But on finding the empty 
milk-pail, and learning from Margaret's cousin that the cows had 
all been milked while she was present, and that Maria had been 
up that morning from the fort below — the elopement of the daugh- 
ter was rendered evident. Margaret's father, accompanied by 
Joachim FoUock, a soldier in the Upper fort, proceeded without 
delay to the Middle fort, the former often calling in Low Dutch 
to his Mar-chra-che, to which call the Onistagrawa feebly echoed, 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 393 

" Scratch-you." On approaching the fort late in the evening, 
they were challenged by a sentinel, and not being able to give 
the countersign, came near being fired upon. Mr. Feeck could 
not, by the most earnest entreaties, prevail upon his daughter to 
return home with him that night — still, to know that she was safe 
and unharmed, he felt amply compensated, after so great an ex- 
citement, for his journey to the fort, and the danger of having a 
bullet sent through his head. He returned home, as we must sup- 
pose, little suspecting what the second arfwas to be in the comedy, 
of which he was not even to be a spectator, much less an actor. 

As Margaret had left home in a sad plight to visit Hymen's 
altar, her young female friends at the fort lent her from their own 
wardrobes, for the occasion — one a gown, another a bonnet and 
neckerchief, a third hose, shoes, &c. ; until she was so clad as 
to make a very respectable appearance. Early in the day suc- 
ceeding the elopement — preliminaries having been arranged the 
evening before — Murphy and Miss Feeck, accompanied by Miss 
Margaret Crysler, William Bouck, an uncle of the latter, and 
Sergt. William Lloyd, a Virginian, set out in a wagon furnished 
by Garret Becker, for Schenectada. Although Murphy had the 
certificate of Mr. Van Dyck, a worthy old gentleman who was pretty 
well known abroad, that a notice of his intention " to commit ma- 
trimony" had been legally read, still it was feared the father 
might take effectual means in the cities of Albany and Schenec- 
tada to prevent the marriage of his daughter : and in anticipation of 
such an event, Maj. Woolsey, who then commanded the fort, gave 
Murphy a furlough to go to the head-quarters of the Commander- 
in-chief, if necessary, to have the marriage take place. 

The party went to Schenectada, where Murphy on his arrival 
purchased silk for a gown, and other articles necessary to com- 
plete the female attire of a bride, and the immediate requisition of 
several dress-makers of that ancient town hastily fitted them to 
the pretty form of our heroine ; soon after which she was united 
in wedlock to the heroic Murphy — who had discovered himself suc- 
cessful, thus far, not only in the art of war, but of love. The cou- 
ple were united, if I am rightly informed, by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, 



394 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

who preached in Princetown several years, and subsequently in 
Harpersfield. On the following day the party returned to Scho- 
harie, where the successful groom was loudly cheered by his com- 
patriots in arms. During the absence of the wedding party, the 
officers of the garrison, assisted by the young ladies in the vici- 
nity, made preparations for their reception in a becoming manner, 
at the house of Peter Becker, who then lived where Ralph Man- 
ning now resides — but a short distance from the Middle fort. A 
sumptuous feast was prepared for the numerous guests, which 
was followed in the evening by a ball, given in honor of the happy 
event. Nearly all the officers of the garrison were among the 
guests ; on which occasion the beauty and fashion then existing 
in that valley were brought together. After the delighted com- 
pany had partaken of a rich supper, the tables were removed and 
the guests began to dance. The young wife, from her modest 
and unsophisticated demeanor, as an old lady who was present 
assured the author, appeared to very good advantage in the eve- 
ning, and " was indeed a pretty hride.'" She, however, had pre- 
viously been allowed to go into company but little, and her know- 
ledge of dancing was limited — consequently at this ball, given in 
honor of her nuptials, she was led while performing her part of 
the dance. 

Only two or three figures were danced, when a scout returned 
to the fort and reported, that they had fallen in with a party of 
Indians not far distant, whereupon the linstock was applied to the 
alarm gun, and its thunder went booming along the valley, echo- 
ing and re-echoing among the surrounding mountains — a most 
unwelcome sound at the moment, but its import too well under- 
stood to be disregarded; and the party all repaired to the fort to 
finish the festival. 

JVbw) for a reconciliation. When Margaret's parents learned 
that she was married — that she was in truth the wife of Murphy — 
they were at first highly offended, and resolved never aga n to ad- 
mit her into their house. But time, which has healed worse 
wounds than theirs — which were occasioned more by the poverty 
of their son-in-law than by his demerits — began to work its own 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 395 

cure of wounded pride. The mother, who felt the absence of an 
only child, who had been her constant companion, the most sensi- 
bly, was the first to yield to the dictates of nature ; and Maria, 
who had acted as a stair-case between the lovers, was now em- 
ployed by Mrs. Feeck, to obtain for her an interview with her 
daughter. Margaret, if she had not dimpled cheeks, or a hand 
of French, and a foot of Chinese dimensions, had an affectionate 
and feeling heart, and longed to see her mother. The meeting, 
according to appointment, was held in a field not far from her 
father's dwelling : but as she dared not approach her mother, 
much less enter the picketed inclosure which surrounded their 
dwelling — fearful that an effort would be made to detain her — 
they conversed on a grass plot for some time, at a little distance 
apart. The parent was anxious to effect a reconciliation with 
Margaret and have her come home, but she could not think of ad- 
mitting her Irish husband with her. " Never," said the daughter 
with spirit, " as much as I love home and my parents, will I en- 
ter your house until my husband, who is quite as good as I am, 
enters it with me !" As Margaret was about to return to the 
fort below, her mother requested her to remain until she could go 
to the house and get her something to eat. She soon returned 
with a pie, which — as the daughter retreated on her approach — 
she set down on the ground, then retired a little distance, and had 
the satisfaction to see her darling — her only child — advance, take 
it up, and eat of it. This act was witnessed by J\Irs. Frederick 
Mattice. After eating part of the pie, she set out to go back, 
and the moistened eye of the mother followed, with womanly 
pride, the retreating footsteps of her daughter. 

The father had not been present at the interview mentioned, and 
his heart also yearned to embrace his daughter, although pride 
prevented its acknowledgment. Repeated messages were sent to 
Margaret, offering full pardon on her part for the past, urging her 
to visit the paternal dwelling : to all of which, her answers were 
similar to the one previously given her mother. After a little 
time, it was hinted that Murphy intended to take his wife to Penn- 
sylvania., which report caused the parents of Margaret much anx- 



396 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

iety. A new mediator, in the person of Cornelius Feeck, a re- 
lative of the young bride, was now deputed to wait upon the lat 
ter. Among other fine sayings of his, which were uttered to in- 
duce her to return home, he told her " how much her father thought 
of her." " Yes," she replied, with dignity and some warmth — 
conscious of the change in her personal appearance which the 
goodly apparel bought by her generous husband had wrought — 
" When at home, I had two or three striped linsey petticoats and 
a calico frock : now see how I am drest !" she added, at the 
same time flouncing the skirt of a rich silk gown — " This shows 
who cares most for me !" She also intimated the intention of 
soon accompanying her husband to Pennsylvania. 

On learning the result of their kinsman's interview with their 
daughter, who had heard from her own pretty mouth (which, gen- 
tle reader, was neither too large nor too small,) that she expected 
soon to remove to another state, the anxiety of the parents be- 
came exceedingly irksome. The fear of losing their daughter 
forever, wrought a wonderful change in the feelings of the pa- 
rents, and false pride now yielded at once to the Christian spirit 
of forgiveness and reconciliation; and the next message from 
them offered a full pardon to groom and bride for past offences, 
promising to bury in oblivion all former animosities — receive them 
home with a festival such as the Germans and Dutch were pro- 
verbially known to make at weddings in former days — and treat 
them as children deserved, having no bad habits, and no serious 
fault ; unless genuine love could be so called. The liberal terms 
proposed were accepted : a treaty of family alliance formed ; and 
at an appointed time, the happy couple, accompanied by about 
thirty ofUcers and soldiers, and a party of citizens — the whole at- 
tended by martial music — proceeded to the Upper fort. As the 
guests drew near the entrance, Mr. Feeck ran forward, threw 
open the gate, and extending to Murphy and his wife each a hand, 
welcomed them home. Said he, as he grasped the hand of the 
patriot soldier, " You have my daughter, but you shall not take 
her to Pennsylvania : I have enough to support us all." Murphy 
was a man of powerful lungs, and giving the old man's hand a 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 397 

gripe he long remembered, replied in his usually loud voice — "She 
is no longer your's, Masther Fake ; she is my wife. I did not 
marry her to get your property, as I can take care of her myself." 
As the party entered the house, the parents both wept for joy at 
the restoration of their child ; and the good things were abun- 
dantly served to the guests, whose hearts — if I dare tell it in tem- 
perance times — "were made glad with good wine." This recon- 
ciliation took place about a month after the marriage ; from which 
time, the couple made their home at Mr. Feeck's. On the death 
of her parents, Margaret inherited their valuable estate, and her 
sons still live on the patrimonial farm. — Mrs. Angelica Vrooman, 
Mrs. Van Sli/ck, Mrs. Frederick Mattice, Maria Teabout, and 
others. 

Most of the riflemen who continued in Schoharie during the 
war, and some of the more fearless citizens, enlisted to perform 
the duty of scouts, more or less of whom, were kept constantly out 
from the Schoharie forts, in the summer season. They were called 
Raiigers, a term very applicable. Their duties were at times of 
the most dangerous and fatiguing kind, and not unfrequently in 
the fall and spring of the year, when they had to encamp on the 
ground at night without a fire, they suffered almost incredible 
hardships. The music of those scouts, was that produced by 
a conch-shell, which was carried by the leader, and served to call 
the party together when they chanced to become separated in the 
woods. — David Elerson. 

If the duties of the Schoharie Rangers were peculiarly hazard- 
ous and perplexing, still they saw some happy hours. Among the 
soldiers at the Middle fort were two fiddlers, who often played for 
their comrades to dance, when the latter could find female part- 
ners. On a certain occasion, the officers at the Middle fort, re- 
solved to have a dance. The soldiers concluded to have one on 
the same night, and spared no pains or expense to rival the offi- 
cers. They sent to Albany for ten gallons of wine among other 
necessaries, and succeeded in getting the ladies all away from 
their epauletted superiors, so as entirely to prevent the latter from 
dancing. My informant said that this dance cost him thirty dol- 
l ars, and he supposed it cost several others quite as much. — Elerson 



398 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

In the fall of 1780, a small party of the enemy, a dozen or 
more in number, entered the Ballston settlement, under the di- 
rection of Joseph Bettys, a subaltern officer in the British ser- 
vice, known in border difficulties by the familiar name of Jo. 
Bettys. He resided in the Ballston settlement previous to the war, 
and when the contest began, took up arms for the states, but af- 
terwards entered the British service, proving to his former neigh- 
bors a source of frequent terror. 

Major Andrew Mitchell, of Ballston, having visited Schenec- 
tada on business, there learned, possibly through the Oneida run- 
ners, that a small detachment, mostly tories, had left Canada, 
the destination of which was unknown. In the afternoon, Mitch- 
ell set out for home on horseback, accompanied by one Arm- 
strong, a neighbor. After proceeding several miles, and arriv- 
ing on the north side of Allplass creek, the thought occurred to 
him, that possibly he might not be free from danger, as a liberal 
reward was paid for the persons or scalps of officers. He was 
riding through the woods at the time, and scarcely had the 
thought visited his mind, which caused him to quicken the speed 
of his horse, when he was hailed in a commanding voice to stop, 
by a man who sprang upon a fallen tree near the road. The 
Major put spurs to his gallant steed and was soon out of sight of 
the highwayman, who fired at him as he passed. Armstrong could 
not keep up with his companion, but as his person was not sought 
for, he escaped unmolested. 

Before the Revolution, Jo. Bettys and Jonathan Miller, another 
celebrated tory, dwelt, one on each side of Maj. Mitchell. After 
the transaction occurred which is noticed above, it was satisfac- 
torily ascertained that the man who fired on the major, was his 
old neighbor Miller ; who had accompanied Bettys in his expedi- 
tion, and then had at his beck some half a dozen genial spirits. 
The ground being sandy, the horse's hoofs made but little noise, 
and the militia officer was not observed until opposite the party, 
secreted on both sides of the road expressly to capture him. 

An enterprise of Bettys in the Ballston settlement, within a 
few days of the affair related, proved more successful. He sur- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 399 

prised and captured Aaron Banta, and his sons, Henry and Chris- 
tian, Ensign Epenetus White, and some half a dozen others. 
The elder Banta was left on parole, and the rest of the prisoners, 
who were among the best citizens in the vicinity, hurried off to 
Canada. The escape and return of part of them with Col. Gor- 
don, who was taken the year before, is already known to the 
reader. — Charles and Hugh, sons of Maj. Mitchell. 

A scout, consisting of Timothy Murphy, Bartholomew C. Vroo- 
raan, William Leek, and Robert Hutt, under the command of 
Sergeant Lloyd, left the Middle fort only a day or two after the 
celebration of Murphy's marriage, expecting to be gone eight or 
nine days. Their absence was protracted to the thirteenth day, 
when they were welcomed at the fort, on the evening preceding 
the invasion of Schoharie by Sir John Johnson. The scout 
while absent, visited Punchkill, Sharon, Cherry-Valley, Unadilla, 
Susquehanna, Delhi, Minisink, and Cairo ; seeing the tracks of 
Indians in several places, but none of their persons. They how- 
ever captured a tory prisoner at Prattsville, and brought him to 
the fort. The return of this scout was most opportune for the 
welfare of the garrison, as will soon appear. 

In the latter part of September, 1780, Sir John Johnson left 
Niagara with about five hundred British, Royalist, and German 
troops, and pursued the road opened the year before by Gen. Sul- 
Uvan, most .of the way from the Genesee valley to the Susque- 
hanna ; where he was joined by a large body of Indians and tories 
there assembled under Capt. Brandt ; making his effective force as 
estimated at the several forts, one thousand men. There is a tra- 
dition, that several hundred of the Indians who left Niagara with 
Brant, returned, owing to a quarrel. Johnson's object in making 
this long journey so late in the season, was to ravage the beauti- 
ful valleys of the Schoharie and Mohawk rivers, when the crops 
of the husbandman were secured and could be burned, and if pos- 
sible to capture and destroy the three Schoharie forts. 

From Charlotte river, the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, 
the enemy proceeded toward the Schoharie, and passing down 
Panther creek, arrived near its shore in the evening: of October 



400 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

16th, and encamped just above Ottegus-berg,* a romantic moun- 
tain on the west side of the river, near the upper end of Vroo- 
man's Land. 

Judge Brovm assured the author, that two days before the ar- 
rival of the enemy, he obtained a knowledge of their approach 
through a sister who was tory-fied, and communicated the fact to 
Col. Vrooman ; whereupon Marcus Bellinger, the supervisor, was 
sent to Albany to procure a wagon-load of ammunition, in antici- 
pation of such an event. Bellinger was detained in the city from 
some cause, but arrived in safety at the Lower fort, on the eve- 
ning of the 16th inst. 

Col. Johnson intended to resume his march sufficiently early on 
the morning of the 17th,f to pass the Upper fort, situated about 
three miles from his encampment, unobserved, and arriving at 
the Middle fort, just at daylight, surprise and capture it ; supposing, 
with very good reason, that the possession of it would soon cause the 
surrender of the other two more feebly garrisoned. The enemy, 
passmg along the bank of the river, crossed it nearly opposite, 
and not one third of a mile distant from the Upper fort. Owing 
to some unknown delay, the troops were not in motion as early as 
they had intended, and the rear of the army was yet upon the 
bank of the river, when Peter Feeck, who had started to go after 
cows just as day began to dawn, discovered it, and notified a sen- 
tinel, who discharged his musket. The troops were instantly 
called out, and the alarm gun thrice fired. Captains Jacob Ha- 

• This mountain was so called by the early German settlers, and signified 
the Panther-mountain, the creek taking its name from it near which it enters 
the Schoharie. A mountain situated on the opposite side of the river above 
Panther mountain, distant from the latter not more than a mile or two, was 
called by the early Germans, Wock-holter-berg ; and signified the Berry 
mountain — so called from the unusual quantity of juniper or other berries 
found upon it. The Schoharie by its serpentine course, flows at the base of 
both mountains, giving its banks a rugged appearance. 

t Col. Stone, in the " Life of Br ant, ^' erroneously dates this transaction on 
the 16th of October. Campbell, who wrote at an earlier period, has given its 
true date, and so far as it goes, a much more authentic account of the inva- 
sion. Col. Stone blended part of the invasion in August, with that in Octo- 
ber, and incorporated several popular errors in the narrative. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 401 

ger, and Joseph Harper, both men of acknowledged courage, with 
two companies of troops, numbering it is believed, less than one 
hundred men, were in this fort at the time. The command of the 
garrison devolved on Capt. Hager, the senior officer, who sent a 
party of volunteers to the river early in the morning, among 
whom were Henry Hager, his son, Lawrence Bouck, and Isaac 
Vrooman. They saw several of the enemy on the opposite shore, 
and crossed the river and captured an Indian who lagged behind 
his fellow. As they approached him he fired upon them, the 
ball striking the powder-horn of Vrooman. When they drew up 
to fire, he sprang behind a tree, which received three of the bul- 
lets discharged at him : he then fled, abandoning his horse, a poor 
black mare with a sore back, which, with a heavy pack on, was 
taken to the fort. 

The Middle fort, at this, time was under the command of Major 
Woolsey, a continental officer, unfitted for the important duties of 
the station he held, who is said to have been a broken officer be- 
fore going to Schoharie.* Col. Vrooman was fortunately in the 
fort, as were Lieut. Col. Zielie and Maj. Thomas Ecker, officers 
belonging to his regiment. Captains Lansing, Pool, Hall, Miller 
and Richtmyer, were in the fort on that day, several of whom 
were continental officers, and all, it is believed, were men of real 
courage. The fort was garrisoned by about two hundred conti- 
nental troops, or nine months' men, as then called, and between 
one and two hundred militia. Once during the night preceding 
the invasion, the sentinels gave a partial alarm, caused by the ap- 
proach of a hostile scout. 

Some of the citizens and soldiers were already up at the Middle 
fort, and hearing the alarm gun of the fort above, the drums were 
quickly beating to arms. Livingston, an officer of artillery, was 
looking for a match to respond to the evidence of danger, when 
Susannah Vrooman ran to the house and brought him a live coal, 

•When Major Woolsey, who was remarkably spry, first went to Schoharie, 
and was seen to leap fences, and give other evidences of agility, he was ta- 
ken to be very smart, and was, of course, much respected, until found want- 
ing in courage. He was the first man who M-ore a garment, since called a 
roundabout, in the Schoharie valley, considered at the time a novelty. — Mrs. 
.Angelica Vrooman. 



402 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

with which the gun was instantly fired. The voice of a brass nine 
pounder was thrice responded to from the Lower fort, and war's 
thunder rolled along the valley. The discharge of the alarm 
guns at the forts, became the signal for the foe to apply the in- 
cendiary torch, which was accordingly done to the buildings of 
Frederick Mattice, situated on the east side of the river in Clauver- 
wy, (where Edward Pindar now resides) and opposite that part of 
Vrooman's Land which was desolated the preceding August. The 
barn of Mattice was the first of the beacon lights seen at the Mid- 
dle fort that day, the number of which, from buildings, barracks 
of grain, and stacks of hay, viewed at that place, was estimated 
by an eye-witness, at three hundred. An invasion having been 
anticipated, the citizens lodged at the several garrisons, and the 
movement of the hostiles commencing thus early, no individuals 
were found in their dwellings except such as were either tinctured 
with royalty, or chose to brave the coming dangers to save their 
property. 

A strong northeast wind continued to blow throughout the day, 
and served to fan the flames of destruction. The weather was 
also exceedingly cold, and snow in squalls almost constantly filled 
the air. Maj. Ecker called for volunteers soon after daylight, and 
nineteen bold spirits left the fort with him to learn the cause of 
alarm, just as the fire of Mattice's buildings was discovered. As 
the wind then blew almost a gale, the soldiers left their hats, and 
substituted kerchiefs tied closely about their heads. The head of 
Timothy Murphy was adorned by the one that had concealed the 
pretty neck of his young bride, placed there by her own trembling 
hands; the head of Bartholomew C. Vrooman with that of Susan- 
nah Vrooman, his intended, (to whom he was married about two 
weeks afterwards,) and those of others by the shawls of friends or 
lovers. Maj, Ecker, among whose followers were Lieut. Martin- 
us Zielie, Sergeant Lloyd, Murphy, Elerson, Hoever, Vrooman, 
Richard Hanson, Peter Van Slyck, Wilbur, Joachim Folluck, Ad- 
am Shell, Tufts, and Leek, proceeded from the fort in the direction 
of the present village of Middleburgh, and fell in with the ene- 
my's advance not far from the site of the Brick church. Murphy 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 403 

was on the extreme right toward the river. Ecker's men now fired 
upon the encray from behind a board fence, and some of them se- 
veral times. From his position, Murphy discovered that the ene- 
my was extending his right to cut off their retreat to the fort, and 
communicated the fact to Maj. Ecker, who instantly ordered are- 
treat. Murphy, although he had the greatest distance to run, was 
the last man who left the ground, and remained at the fence until 
he obtained a fair extra shot, when he also fled to the fort. Hun- 
dreds of balls were fired within gun-shot at the volunteers, and 
several boards in the fence from which Murphy fled, were literal- 
ly riddled with bullets ; and yet not one of the party was wound- 
ed. Most of the volunteers were riflemen, and wore short linen 
frocks, through which several of the enemy's shot passed, as also 
they did through other parts of their dress, and one struck the 
powder-horn of Vrooman. 

Colonel Johnson had given orders to his troops to spare the 
churches in Schoharie, but the Dutch church, standing opposite 
the burying ground, and near the present residence of Dr. James 
Van Gaasbeck, in Middleburgh, was burned. It is said to have 
been set on fire by William Crysler, a tory, owing to a grudge 
he held against some of its members. — Andrew Louc/cs. This 
church was built after the model of the ancient Dutch church in 
Albany, with a steeple rising from the centre. It was well finish- 
ed within, and painted white outside. — Mrs. Van Slyck. 

Early on the morning of the 17th, Maj. Joseph Becker, then 
in command of the Lower fort, knowing the lack of powder at 
the Middle fort, sent two men, each with a bag containing the 
necessary article on his back to that garrison. Hearing the alarm 
guns of the Upper fort, and the response of the other two, they 
increased their speed, and fortunately arrived at their destination 
just as the enemy invested that post. Mattice Ball, one of the 
two, and from whose lips this fact was obtained, said they were 
detained there during the day. 

The enemy, crossing the flats obliquely, passed the fort near 
the hill east, and halted on a small eminence nearly north of it, 
in the orchard of Peter Becker, near the present residence of Peter 



404 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

I. Borst. At this time many of the Indians were scattered over the 
flats, engaged in the work of destruction. As the enemy were 
proceeding from the river toward the hill east of the fort ; Lansing, 
a captain of the Albany militia, followed by a party of volunteers, 
sallied in that direction and met the advance, with which he ex- 
changed several shots. Elerson, stated that at this time he was 
behind a board fence near the wood, beyond his comrades, when 
he observed an officer in a red coat advance from the British ranks, 
at whom he discharged his rifle. He saw the enemy's guns lev- 
eled at him, and instantly fled to the fort. He supposed that 
seven hundred fired at him in this flight, yet he escaped from them 
untouched. The fence from which he ran, like that which had 
concealed Murphy just before, was completely peppered with 
bullets. Capt. Miller, who commanded a company of Claverack 
militia, then in the fort, called to Elerson's wife, to see her hus- 
band run. Col. Vrooman, also, as Elerson was informed, watched 
his flight with intense anxiety. A shot sent among the Bri- 
tish troops from the brass-cannon, while they were firing on El- 
erson, caused some confusion among Jolmson's Greens. They 
were then passing the most exposed part of the fortress. There 
was a small gate on the east side, through which Capt. Lan- 
sing and his men entered. 

Col. Johnson had w^ith him a small mortar, and a field-piece — 
the latter a brass six-pounder. The carriage for the cannon was 
carried in parts, and required screwing together. They were made 
ready to fire, at the stand he had chosen in Becker's orchard, and 
a cannonading and bombardment commenced, while a constant 
firing was kept up with small arms, but generally at too great a 
distance for the latter to take effiect. Three shells were well 
thrown from this position by the enemy at the fort, and many can- 
non-shot were fired but with less precision, the most of them pass- 
ing entirely over the destined object. The first shell fired, sung in 
the air like a pigeon, and exploded directly over the house; and 
as its fragments fell upon the roof, Mrs. Richtmyer, an old lady, 
then in an upper room, who had been an invalid, and unable to 
rise alone from her bed for a long time, was so frightened that she 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 405 

sprang from it, and went below, surviving the effect but a short 
time. The second shell fell within the pickets near the well, and 
while the fuse was burning off and the ball dancing in a mud hole, 
every person exposed to its explosion had ample time to gain a 
respectful distance, and it scattered its fragments without injuring 
any one.* The third shell fell through the roof of the main 
building, and lodging on a pile of feather-beds in the chamber, 
which were deposited upon several chests of bedding, it exploded 
tearing the beds in pieces, doing little other mischief, except 
that of frightening Christian Rickard, an old bachelor, who 
chanced to be in the room, almost to death. The explosion com- 
pletely fdled the room with feathers, and groping his way down 
stairs, Rickard made his appearance below, where many of the 
women and children were, covered with feathers, and spitting 
down from his mouth, which sudden fear had caused him to open 
too widely for such an atmosphere. When asked what had hap- 
pened, he replied in Low Dutch, (as kindly rendered by a Dutch 
friend, at my elbow) " Ik donk de duyvel is op de solder, de verivUe- 
gen so rondt dot ik niet zien con.'' — I think the devil is in the cham- 
ber, for the feathers fly around so that I cannot see. The beds 
were set on fire but were easily extinguished, as water had been 
provided for such emergency. 

After the firing had been continued for some time by the ene- 
my, and several shells thrown, it suddenly ceased, and a white 
flag was seen to leave the British ranks and advance toward the 
fort. The flag-bearer was accompanied on his right by an ofiicer 
in a green uniform, and on his left by a fifer, playing Yankee- 
doodle. When the flag was discovered approaching, Maj. Wool- 
sey gave orders to have it admitted, but not another ofiicer m 
the fort, to their credit be it said, was in favor of its admission ; 
and Murphy and Elerson, who conjectured what their fate might 

•It is stated in the Life of Brant, that a woman brought several buckets of 
water /rom a well without the works exposed to the enemy's fire, for the thirsty 
soldiers; one of whom, when required, dared not perform the feat. This 
ttory has no foundation in truth. The well was within the pickets, and af- 
forded an abundant supply of water, as I have been assured by nearly a do- 
zea credible witnesses, who were in the Middle fort at the time alluded to. 



406 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

he, should the enemy learn the actual strength of the garrison, 
and succeed in its capture — determined, so the latter informed the 
author, that before the flag should enter the fort, one or the other 
of them should shoot Woolsey himself. On that day. Murphy 
used his double-barreled rifle,* and as the flag drew near he fired 
upon it — not with the intention of killing its bearer, or either of 
his companions, as is generally supposed, but to say, in effect, 
" approach any nearer and you are a dead man." The trio, with 
the flag halted, faced about and marched back to their former 
station. 

When Murphy fired on the flag, Maj. Woolsey was not present, 
having visited his quarters to prepare himself to enforce submis- 
sion to his commands ; for soon after, he returned pistol in hand, 
and demanded who had dared to disobey his orders ? "I fired 
on the flag," said Murphy. Maj. W. then threatened the brave 
soldier with instant death if he repeated the act ; and the latter, 
who believed the willingness of the commandant to admit the flag 
proceeded from cowardice alone, retorted with warmth — " Sooner 
than see that flag enter this fort, will I send a bullet through your 
heart." Seeing an evident disposition in all the officers present 
to sustain Murphy — for they had rallied round him to a man, (not 
from a desire to see just commands violated, but to defend the fort 
at all hazards,) the major walked towards the house. In this 
time, the flag attended as before, had again advanced, and Maj. 
W. had not proceeded two rods when Murphy again fired, and its 
bearer faced about and retired. 

During this parley the firing on both sides had ceased, with 
the exception stated, and was not resumed until after Col. John- 
son, from his great desire to get a flag into the fort, despatched it 
by the same party a third time. It is possible that from his posi- 
tion he had, with a spy-glass, observed the movement of Maj. 

• Much has been said about Murphy's double-barreled gun — and more 
than it merited: at least, so a son of Murphy assured the writer he had oftea 
heard his father say. He had scuh a gun, while at Schoharie, but it was bo 
heavy he seldom used it, except on garrison duty. An anecdote told by 
Campbell, of the use of this gun, I have not been able to authenticate so as to 
vrarrant its insertion. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 407 

Woolsey. They had not proceeded as far as at first, however, 
when a third bullet from Murphy's rifle passed over their heads, 
saying, in efl'ect, " thus far, but no farther ;" and they returned to 
the ranks. The firing was then renewed. 

Maj. Woolsey, after the spar with Murphy, entered the dwelling 
where the women and children were confined ; but their jeers sa- 
voring too much of satire, he left their presence and sought safely 
elsewhere. The cellar under the kitchen part of the dwelling 
was occupied as a magazine, and Col. Vrooman, to conceal the 
deficiency of powder, brought it himself when wanted. All the 
officers in the fort, except Woolsey, divested themselves of their 
hats early in the siege and substituted cravats : while several of 
them laid off their coats, and taking guns, all fought manfully.* 
As powder was needed Col. Vrooman laid down his gun and 
sword and went to get it. Near the cellar door he encountered 
Maj. Woolsey, who had just left the presence of the women, as 
may be supposed, not in very good humor. " Maj. Woolsey, is 
this your place," interrogated the brave colonel, " who are placed 
here to defend this fort ?" He replied, half dead through fear — 
" Col. Vrooman, the men will not obey me, and I give up the com- 
mand to you." At this moment a cannon shot struck the house 
and fell harmless at their feet. The colonel instantly caught it 
up, and playfully extended it to the major, with the simple excla- 
mation — " Send that back to them !" With perfect indifference 
the coward replied, " That I think would be s — n work." The 
fire of the Dutch colonel was instantly ignited at the indifference 
and filthy expression of the commandant, and speaking in his 
usually quick manner, he rejoined — " Maj. Woolsey, had I my 
sword I would run you through with it." The major, perhaps 
ashamed of his conduct, wheeled and walked off, and the colonel 
got his powder and returned to his men, exclaiming as he gave 
them the necessary article, " Fire away my brave lads, we have 
plenty of aramuniton." The troops were gratified to learn that 

• In the early part of the war the captains all carried guns, but at a later 
period they were prohibited from bearing them, from a complaint that while 
loading they neglected dtUies to their men. 

27 



408 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

the command of the fort was surrendered to him, and obeyed his 
orders with alacrity. More than once when he went for powder, 
as he afterwards confessed, did his hair rise on his head, not from 
fear of the enemy, but lest the small supply of ammunition should 
be completely exhausted, and the foe, becoming conscious of it, 
storm their works. — Mrs. Angelica Vrooman. 

The firing of shells was not renewed by the enemy, and the 
discharge of grape and round shot was only continued at inter- 
vals from the fort, as the supply of powder would not warrant its 
constant use. Destructionisls were to be seen at this period of 
the siege, scattered over the flats in almost every direction. The 
o-arrison was too weak to make a bold sortie, but many small par- 
ties were sent out during the day to harass the enemy, and save, 
if possible, a large barn belonging to John Becker, which stood 
almost in the direction of Col. Johnson's position : around which 
clustered numerous stacks of hay and grain. As several Indians 
were seen approaching the barn, a party from the fort went to 
meet them. Several shots were exchanged, and Sergeant Coop- 
er, of Albany, received a wound in one leg ; and was instantly 
borne off by two of his comrades to the fort : but while proceed- 
ing thither, he received a ball through his body, of which his car- 
riers were unconscious. As they entered the fort, Susannah Vroo- 
man enquired where Cooper was wounded 1 The reply Avas, " in 
the leg." She remarked that he bled from the body, and on lay- 
ing him down, it was ascertained that he had received a wound 
there, of which he soon after died. 

About this time, several volunteers entered the fort, who had 
been pursued by the enemy. Miss Vrooman stood near the en- 
trance in an exposed situation, and Samuel Reynolds, as he en- 
tered, said to her — " Susannah, get away from here or you will 
be shot !" The words were scarcely uttered before a ball entered 
his own head, of which wound he died nine days after. He was 
from New Jersey : was a likely soldier, and died lamented. Je- 
remiah Loucks was also wounded in one arm, and Tufts slightly 
in the head — the latter, while entering the fort — who, with the 
two mortally wounded, it is beUeved, were all that were injured 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 409 

belonging to the Middle fort. The wounded were properly at- 
tended by Doct. John King, the settled physician at that place, 
who acted as surgeon during the war. 

Nicholas Sloughtcr, who acquired the reputation of a good sol- 
dier, had a very sick child in the fort, and as he was leaving it, 
with a party of volunteers under Murphy, was told that his child 
appeared to be dying, and he had better remain. " I can do the 
child no good," was his reply ; " my duty is to protect the living 
as well as the dying" Before his return, he and Murphy took a 
prisoner, dressed in a green uniform ; who gave his name as Ben- 
jamin Butts. He was a New England man, who had been made 
prisoner some time before, and while in Canada, had enlisted into 
the British service as a ranger, to embrace an opportunity to de- 
sert. He returned home soon after. — Mis. Van Slyck. 

During the seige of the Middle fort, a scout under Lieut. Mar- 
tinus Zielie, captured a French Indian while stealing a horse 
owned by Harmanus Bouck. Lewis Denny, a French Indian, 
nearly white, (mentioned as having scalped a squaw and after- 
wards married her,) joined the Americans in the Revolution, and 
remained at Middleburgh. Being in the fort when Lieut. Zielie 
returned with his prisoner, the latter was so saucy, that Lewis, 
who could understand his insolent gibberish, instantly knocked 
him down. This prisoner is said to have been an Indian interpre- 
ter. — George Richtmyer. 

Elerson had command of a few rangers during the day ; one of 
whom, John Wilbur, fell in with a tory, catching a horse, near 
the present residence of Peter Swart, and asked him to what par- 
ty he belonged ? He replied, " the Indian party ;" and instantly 
received a bullet from Wilbur's rifle. He took off his scalp, and 
as he entered the fort with it in his hand, Maj. Woolsey told him 
he ought to have his own scalp taken off. This man and another, 
shot during the day, were supposed to be Indians at the time, but 
proved to be tories from the vicinity of Albany. — David Elerson, 
Mrs. Van Slyck and George Richtmyer. 

While Elerson was out with his party, he saw an Indian ap- 
proaching the stacks at the barn near the fort, at whom he fired. 



410 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

The warrior ran off towards the woods east of the barn. In the 
following spring, a dead Indian was discovered in that direction, 
by Bill, a slave owned by John Becker, while getting tire-wood. 
He was found sitting with his back against a tree, having his gun 
between his knees and resting in his arms. His eyes had been 
dug out, as supposed, by birds. This Indian was presumed to have 
been the one fired on by Elerson. — Elerson, Mrs. Van Slyck and 
Judge Hager. 

We have seen that Murphy did not spare his rifle balls when 
the Middle fort was invested. Needing an additional supply, An- 
gelica Vrooman, as she informed the author, took Murphy's bullet 
mould, lead, and an iron spoon, went to her father's tent, and 
there moulded a quantity of bullets for that fearless ranger, amidst 
the roar of cannon and musketry. 

Jacob Winne, of Albany, was commissary at the Schoharie 
forts; occupying a part of the Becker house, two rooms in which 
are said to have accommodated Jive families each. Samuel Van 
Vechten, of Albany, was press-master, and Douw Fonda, forest- 
er, all of whom, it is believed, were in the Middle fort when be- 
sieged by the troops under Johnson. The commissary was a lit- 
tle corned during the action, and finding Maj. Woolsey stowed 
away in one of the small family huts, bored him not a little. Not 
only the commissary, but many others, some of whom were fe- 
males, made themselves merry at the coward's expense, jeering 
and teasing him with perfect impunity. — Mrs. Van Slyck and 
Andrew Loucks. 

Col. Johnson remained with the regular troops near the Middle 
fort, until his destructives had effectually demolished every species 
of property they possibly could in that vicinity, when he moved 
down the valley about 3 o'clock, P. M. After the enemy were 
out of sight, Maj. Woolsey ordered several apple trees near to be 
cut down and brought around the fort, fearing the enemy might 
return and attempt to storm the works. He left Schoharie the 
next day, and was never seen again leaping fences on horseback, 
in that delightful valley. — Andrew LotLcks and others. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 411 

As may be supposed, the most intense anxiety was felt at the 
Upper, while the firing continued at the Middle fort ; and soon af- 
ter it began, Capt. Hager gave orders that in case the enemy ap- 
peared before that fort, the women and children should go into a 
long cellar under the Feeck house. While preparations were in 
progress to resist an attack should it be made, Mary Haggidorn, a 
buxom lass of goodly proportions, who partook of the spirit which 
animated her brothers, and who had heard the cellar order with 
other feelings than those irispired by fear, stepped up to the com- 
mandant and thus addressed him : " Captain, I shall not go into 
that cellar ! Should the enemy come I will take a spear, which 
I can use as well as any 7nan, and help defend the fort." Capt. 
Hager was gratified to find a soldier where he little expected one, 
and admiring her fearless spirit, he replied, " Then take a spear, 
Mary, and be ready at the pickets to repel an attack !" She did 
take a spear, nor was it discarded until the danger was past. As 
soon as the firing ceased the second time at the fort below, Capt. 
Hager dispatched Ensign Peter Swart, William Zimmer, and Jo- 
seph Evans to learn whether their worst fears were to be realized 
— whether the British cross had taken the place of Freedom's 
stars. On their return with the report that all was safe, the wel- 
kin rang with huzzas for the American JIag. — Manuscript of Judge 
Hager. 

What loss the besiegers sustained in their attack on the Middle 
fort is uncertain, but it is supposed to have been several times 
greater than that of the Americans. W'here had formerly stood 
the barn of Judge Borst, charred bones were found, supposed to 
have been those of several of their number which they had pur- 
posely burned. What induced Sir John to abandon further at- 
tempts to take the fort is uncertain, but it is conjectured that from 
the firing on the flag he was led to suppose the troops were con- 
scious of being able to defend it. The enemy succeeded, during 
the day, in burning part of the grain which had been stacked near 
the fort for safety. — Mrs. Van Slyck. 

Maj. Becker had at his command at the Lower fort, on the ar- 
rival of Sii- John Johnson in its vicinity, Capt. Stubrach with his 



412 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

company of militia, a part of the associate exempts under Captain 
Peter Snyder, (who succeeded Capt. Vrooraan at his death,) and 
a body of Norman's- kill militia ; making his effective force, from 
one hundred and fifty to two hundred men. — Peter Vrooman* 

Early in the morning, Jacob Van Dyck, Anthony Brontner and 
Barney Cadugney were dispatched by Maj. Becker to ascertain 
the cause of the firing at the forts above. Arriving at the house 
of Jacob J. Lawyer, they found his wife and a wench at home 
preparing to bake. At the house of Hendrick Shafer, the females 
were also at home, where they saw food upon a table. The wo- 
men of those families chose to brave the dangers of the day, to 
save their dwellings from the general conflagration, while the 
men were in the fort below. The scout proceeded as far as Bel- 
linger's, and saw the British troops about a mile distant. Near 
this place, they met the advance of the enemy, and were pursued 
by seven Indians led by Seth's Henry. They were fired upon, 
and the balls struck near them. A ball striking the fence by Ca- 
dugney's side, threw a splinter into his arm. He called to his 
companions that he was wounded ; and near the present residence 
of Peter Richtmyer, Van Dyck drew the splinter from his arm, 
telling him he w^as not hurt much : which he would hardly believe. 
Gaining upon the Indians, who had halted to reload their pieces, 
Cadugney took occasion, as the latter were out of sight, to con- 
ceal himself in a hollow stump — near which they passed without 
discovering him. 

When the firing ceased in the Middle fort for the flag to ad- 
vance, the inmates of the fort below were apprehensive it had 
been taken, and Major Becker dispatched another scout, consisting 
of George Snyder, Jacob Endcrs, John Van Wart and JohnHutt, 
to ascertain whether the fort had been captured. The second 
scout met the first near where Storm Becker resides, and joined it 
in flight. They were hotly pursued, and were obliged to scatter. 
Enders and Snyder were together, and as the enemy were level- 
ing a volley of balls at them, they sprang behind a rock, against 

• He was a major of militia after the war. He married Angelica, daugh- 
ter of Col. Peter Vrooman. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 413 

which several of the leaden messengers spent their force. End- 
ers, who was fleet as an antelope, often took trees to favor the 
flight of his less speedy companions, which always treed the ene- 
my. Van Dyck struck off into the woods east of the residence of 
Jacob II. Shafer, again struck the flats below, and regained the 
fort in safety. Enders and Snyder also arrived there before the 
enemy. Van Wart (who is said to have put on his go-to-meet- 
ing hat before he left the fort,) had observed on his way up, sev- 
eral apple-pies just taken from the oven at Lawyer's, and not 
having had any breakfast, declared his intention of having some 
of the pie on his return. He was warned not (o stop; but disre- 
garding the caution of his companions, as the enemy were not 
then in sight, he halted. While he was eating, Westhoft, a Ger- 
man school teacher, who had been teaching school the preceding 
summer in Ingold's barn near by, opened the door and exclaimed : 
" Here they come !" as a party of Indians arrived at the house. 
In the act of jumping from a back window, he was fired upon in 
front and rear, the enemy having already surrounded the house. 
He was instantly dispatched, and his body much mutilated. He 
was a Low Dutchman, born near Albany ; was a cooper by trade, 
and had resided nine years in the Ingold family, near where he 
was shot. 

As the Indians entered Lawyer's dwelling, one of them raised 
a tomahawk to strike the schoolmaster, but Mrs. Lawyer seized 
his arm and arrested the fatal blow. She pleaded for his life and 
it was spared, adding another evidence to the influence of woman. 
Brett, an old female slave, was considered a lawful prize, and was 
taken along a little distance, but was finally permitted to return. 
— Jlnna Eve, undo w of Jacob J. Lawyer* 

John Ingold, who dwelt where his son and namesake now re- 
sides, was in the fort that day with all his family except Anthony 
Witner, his step-father. As a hostile invasion w^as expected, the 

• Mrs. Lawyer stated to the writer, in 1835, that while her husband and a 
hired man were harvesting grain during the war, they were fired upon by the 
enemy, and the laborer killed ; the former fled across the river and escaped. 
Mrs. Lawyer was a daughter of Philip and Christina Berg. She had two 
children, a son and daughter. The latter is now the wife of Ex-Gov. Bouck 



414 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

present John Ingolcl, then a lad fourteen years old, went the eve- 
ning before with a wagon to take old Mr. Witner to the fort, 
but he declined going, and said he chose to stay and defend his 
house. He had given his grandson an old gun which was then 
at the fort ; this he requested to have sent to him in the morning. 
The Ingold dwelling was burned, and as a part of two skeletons 
were found in its ruins, it was conjectured that a plunderer had 
been killed by Mr. Witner, before his death. The remains of the 
latter were identified by his silver knee-buckles. A barrack fdled 
with peas, standing scarcely three yards distant from Ingold's 
barn, was set on fire and the enemy supposed from its proximity 
it would burn the latter ; but as the foimer stood west of the build- 
ing and the wind blew a gale from the northeast, the fire was for- 
tunately not communicated to it. A fence on fire and slowly burn- 
ing to the windward, which would have carried the flame to the 
barn, was extinguished after the enemy left. The dwelHng of 
Hendrick Shafer was not burned, that of Tunis Shafer, which stood 
where David Shafer lives, was burnt with its out buildings ; and 
that of Lawyer, below Ingold's, shared the same fate the night 
following. — John Ingold, Mattice Ball, and others. 

The firing at Middleburgh was heard in Cobelskill, ten miles 
distant, and Lawrence Lawyer and Henry Shafer proceeded to- 
wards Schoharie, to learn the cause. Arriving on the hills near, 
they caught a view of the general conflagration ; and they un- 
expectedly fell in with a party of Indians, but escaped their no- 
tice by the timely movement of several cattle in the woods close 
by, which directed the enemy from their concealment. The two 
friends remained secreted until the Indians had retired, when they 
hastened back to Cobelskill, to warn the citizens of their danger. — 
Laiorence Lawyer. 

Johnson's troops had been so long in the valley, that ample 
time was gained to get every thing in readiness at the Lower 
fort, for its defence. Several barrels of water were provided to 
extinguish the church, which contained the women and children, 
should it be set on fire. The magazine which was thus hbcrally 
replenished, was kept beneath the pulpit in the churchy and w as 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 415 

under the charge of Dr. George Werth, a physician, settled in 
the vicinity, who acted as surgeon. In the tower of the church 
were stationed, under Ensign Jacob Lawyer, jr., fifteen or twenty 
good marksmen, who could command considerable territory. 
Quite a number of fearless women at the Lower fort are said to 
have stood ready at the pickets, when the enemy appeared in 
sight, armed with spears, pitchforks, poles, &c.,* to repel an at- 
tack. — Maj. Peter Vrooman, Col. Vietz, of Beaver Dam, Jacob 
Becker, Judge Brown and others. 

The enemy approached the Lower fort in a body, about four 
o'clock P. M., and were saluted with a small mounted cannon 
without the pallisades, (the one formerly owned by John Law- 
yer,) charged with grape and cannister shot. Col. Johnson rais- 
ed a spy-glass as the swivel was drawn out, and suddenly lower- 
ing it, said to his men. It is only a grass-hopper, march on ! It 
was supposed to have done fearful execution, as many of the 
enemy fell, but to the surprise of the Americans, they arose and 
advanced ; having only fallen to let the shot pass over them. A 
grape shot entered the knapsack of a soldier, and lodged against 
a pair of shoes. He was more frightened than hurt, and carried 
the shot to Canada. The American soldiers were hardly able to 
obtain shoes, and this Canadian had an extra new pair, which 
saved his life. — Becker, Van Dyck, Vrooman and Dieiz. 

Jacob Van Dyck, Nicholas Warner, Jacob Becker, John Ingold, 
Sen., and John Kneiskern, were among the men stationed with 

•Judge Brown, who was accounted a genuine whig, was suspected, 
though unjustly I believe, of disaffection on the day Schoharie was burnt. 
He stated to the writer, that he was at the Lower fort on the morning of that 
day, and aided in the early preparations for its defence ; and had intended 
to volunteer his services in case of a hostile attack. His wife was deter- 
mined lo go to Livingston's manor, where she had relatives; and to set out 
that day. She went out and seated herself in the wagon, outside the pick- 
ets; and declared her intention to remain there and be shot rather than 
again enter the fort, where she had already been over two years. Brown 
probably knew, that " I/a woman will, she will," and he might '^depend on't;'' 
said he felt ashamed to be seen quarreling with his wife — reluctantly yielded 
to her wi>hes — entered the wagon and drove off. The smoke of burning 
buildings was then visible up the valley. This I consider another specimen 
of female injluence. 



416 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Lawyer in the church tower. When Capt. Stubrach and others 
were firing the " grass-hopper," Peter, a brother of Ensign Law- 
yer, who had command of the men on the church, was seen to ap- 
proach the fort from the direction of the river, in advance of the 
enemy. He proceeded to the tower, and held a secret conference 
with his brother, soon after which they both left the fort together, 
and did not return until the invaders were out of sight. The con- 
duct of the ensign subjected him to some censure at the time — in- 
deed, it needs an explanation at the present day. 

Hearing that his ensign had deserted his station, which was too 
commanding not to be properly occupied, Capt. Snyder immedi- 
ately took charge of the men, who rendered good services by their 
skill as marksmen. — Becker, Van Dyck, and Warner. 

The enemy, w^hen fired upon, filed off, the regulars, under John- 
son, to the west, and the Indians, under Brant, to the east. The 
former crossed the flats, between the fort and the river, and did not 
halt until after they had passed Foxes creek, helow the old saw- 
mill. They were several times fired upon from a block- house, 
upon that side, which mounted a six-pounder, charged with grape 
and canister, but with what effect is unknown. Most of the In- 
dians crossed Foxes creek in a body, but a few stragglers lingered 
to burn buildings. The wood-work of Tunis Swarfs tavern, the 
present residence of Lodowick Fries, was burned. The parson- 
age, which stood some tw^enty rods east of the present one, was 
not consumed. A house now standing on a knoll some thirty 
rods southeast of the church, was occupied in 1780 by the w' idow 
of Domine Schuyler, and one of her sons. It was erected one 
and a half stories, with a gambrel roof, but was altered to its pre- 
sent form after the war. About the time Swarfs dwelling was 
fired, an Indian was seen approaching this house with a fire-brand. 
Several rifles were instantly discharged at him from the tower, 
and he sprang behind the trunk of an apple-tree, which is still to 
be seen. Five balls struck the tree as he sprang behind it. No 
more was seen of the Indian, who abandoned the attempt to burn 
the house. — JYlcholas Wai-ner and Jacob Becker. This apple-tree 
has an antiquated look, stands alone, and I really hope that the 

'' Woodman" will " spare that tree !" 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 417 

I have said Col. Johnson halted after crossing Foxes creek. 
Preparations were now made to give the Americans a passing sa- 
lute — the gun carriage was screwed together, and the gun placed 
upon it. At this time it was supposed by the men in the tower, 
from the case with which the gun was carried and the manner of 
its transportation in a wagon, to be a " peeled log," placed with 
the design of frightening its inmates to surrender the fort. On 
applying the linstock it twice flashed, and the Americans were 
the more confirmed in their opinion that the foe was " playing 
possum" — but the third application of the match was followed 
by a peal of war's thunder, which sent a ball through one side of 
the roof of the church, and lodged it in a heavy rafter on the op- 
posite side. The shock jarred the whole building. A second 
discharge of the enemy's gun lodged a ball in the purhn-plate ; 
and the hole made by its entrance is visible at the present day. — 
Jacob Beefier, and Cyrus Clark, corroborated by others* 

While the enemy were discharging their cannon, rum sweeten- 
ed with gun-powder was carried round in a pail to the soldiers, 
by Mrs. Snyder, to divest them of fear. This was a common 
beverage in former times, when hostile armies were about to con- 
ilict. The liquor was thought to embolden, while the powder 
maddened the warrior. As she presented the glass to the soldiers 
at the pickets, the hands of some trembled so as scarcely to hold 
it. — Peter M. Snyder. 

While the enemy were firing on the church, an Indian crept 
behind an elm tree on the bank of the creek northwest of it, and 
lodged three rifle balls in the tower. They struck nearly in the 
same spot over head, but the first two were not buried sufficiently 
deep to remain, and fell upon the deck, one of which was taken 
up by John Kneiskern, but found it too hot to be retained. By re- 
moving part of the paling, a rifle was brought to bear on the 

• Not many years ago, a new covering was put upon the church by Mr. 
Clark, who stales that the cannon shot lodged in the western plate in 1780, 
was then taken out and presented to John Gebhard, Esq. of Schoharie ; and 
the one from the rafter to P. M. Snyder, in consequence of the intrepidity of 
Snyder's mother when the balls were lodged. This relic was presented the 
writer by Mr. Snyder in 1837. It weighs a little over six pounds. 



418 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

presumptuous foe. As he showed part of his face, to try a fourth 
shot, a marksman planted a bullet in the tree near his head, when 
he decamped in hot haste. — Jacob Becker, and Jacob Van Dyck. 

The enemy made but a short stay near the Lower fort. Brant, 
after burning the tavern and out building of Jacob Snyder, and 
those of some other citizens along Foxes creek, came into the 
river road a few rods north west of the Brick House of Capt. 
Mann. This house was two stories in the Revolution, but was 
razed a story some time after. Brant was joined on the rise of 
ground above Mann's, by the regulars under Johnson, who made 
a little show of giving another salute ; but a shower of rifle balls 
from the church tower, with several successive and well directed 
discharges of grape-shot, from the block-house in the north east 
corner of the inclosure, caused him to move down the valley. A 
dwelling and grist mill standing near the fort, (where those of 
Griggs nowr are,) were set on fire, but extmguished after the ene- 
my left. The barn and other out buildings were consumed. — P. 
M. Snyder, Maj. P. Vrooman and Jacob Becker. 

Whether the enemy sustained any loss in their attack on the 
Lower fort is unknown. If any had been killed, their bodies were 
no doubt consumed in some of the burning buildings in Kneiskern's 
dorf. 

At an interview with Jacob Enders, the soldier previously 
mentioned, he related the following incident. After the enemy 
began to move down the valley, he left the fort to hang upon 
his rear. Discovering an Indian, he followed him along the 
creek toward the river, until he got a shot at him. He had on a 
large pack, and over one shoulder hung a goose, he had recently 
killed. When Enders fucd, the Indian fell upon his knees, and 
dropped his pack and goose ; then springing upon his feet, he set 
off on a moderate trot toward the river. Enders pursued until 
the Indian turned and raised his rifle on him, when he halted to 
load, and the Indian without firing, again ran off. After pursu- 
ing until he was exposed to the fire of others of the enemy, En- 
ders gave over the chase. On arriving where he had left the pack 
and goose, he found that John Rickard, a fellow soldier, who had 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 419 

seen the spoils abandoned from his position in the block-house, 
had been there and taken them to the fort. Enders claimed them, 
but Rickard would not give them up, or any part of them. The 
pack contained eiglit pairs of new mocaso7is. 

On the day Schoharie was burned, three soldiers, Abraham 
Bergh, Jacob luieiskern, and one Grenadare, with several other 
persons, were returning to the Lower fort with three head of fat 
cattle for that garrison ; and on arriving near the present residence 
of Daniel Larkin, they discovered the advance of the enemy, and 
drove the cattle into the adjoining woods. The citizens made 
good their retreat, and the soldiers secreted themselves to watch 
the motions of the enemy. They observed a small party of In- 
dians approach Mercle's place, on the Ferry road. The trio suc- 
ceeded in getting within gun shot of the party, and as the latter 
were at a pump, fired upon them, killing one of their number with 
a buckshot. The Americans then made good their retreat, and 
reached the fort in safety. — David, a so7i ofAhr. Bergh. 

Having executed his mission in Schoharie so far as he found it 
practicable. Sir John Johnson encamped for the night near Harman 
Sidney's, the present residence of John C. Van Vechten, nearly six 
miles north of the Lower fort. A noble deer confined in a pen at 
Sidney's, which he was fatting with no little care for his own use, 
was killed and feasted on by the enemy. Some soldiers at work 
for its owner a few days before, wanted to kill the animal then, 
but he chose to reserve it for another occasion. In the morning. 
Col. Johnson sank his mortar and shells in a morass, and directed 
his course to Fort Hunter. One of the shells was recovered some 
weeks open in mud knee deep ; and on being broken open it was 
found to contain dry powder, which was divided among the vic- 
tors. — Col. Deitz, William Becker, and Jacob Enders. 

After Sir John Johnson passed the Lower fort, George Meri- 
ness was despatched to Albany by Maj. Becker, with intelligence 
of his invasion, and success in Schoharie. — William Snyder. 

That beautiful valley, on the evening after the invasion, pre- 
sented a most gloomy picture. Ruin and desolation followed in 
the train of the foe, and many a man who had risen in the morn- 



420 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, ETC. 

ing in comfortable, if not in affluent circumstances, found himself 
in the evening houseless, and almost ruined in property. His 
barns and barracks which the morning light had disclosed well 
filled with the rich reward of his season's labors, were so many- 
heaps of smouldering ruins. His cattle, horses and swine, which 
had grazed " upon a thousand hills," either lay dead in the ad- 
joining fields, or had been taken by the ravagers : while some of 
his fences had been burned and others demolished. Thus was re- 
vencred the destruction of the Indian possessions in the Chemung 
and Genesee valleys the year before by Gen. Sullivan ; which, 
had they a historian, would be found a no less gloomy picture. 
Scarcely a log house at that early day was to be seen in the Scho- 
harie valley : the dwellings were mostly good framed buildings, 
well finished and some of them painted. But here and there a 
building, from some cause, escaped the devouring element, to ren- 
der the general ruin the more obvious. The dwelling of Peter 
Rickard was set on fire, and after the enemy had left it, an old ne- 
gro, owned by John Lawyer, went to it from his concealment in 
the woods near, found a quantity of milk on the premises, and 
with that extinguished the flames. The house of one of his neigh- 
bors was also set on fire and put out. — Andrew Loucks. It is 
possible one or two other houses may have escaped the general 
conflagration under somewhat similar circumstances. Several fa- 
milies residing on the uplands, east of the Court House, remained 
at home undisturbed by the enemy. — Eleanor, widow of Kicholas 
Feeck. 

Henry Haines, jr., of New Dorlach, who was with the enemy 
in the Schoharie valley, on the evening after its conflagration, ar- 
rived at the Lower fort, and enquired for John Rickard, his half 
brother, who was a whig. Haines had burned his feet so badly 
in plundering a building on fire, that he could not travel ; and 
claimed the sympathy of his kinsman. Rickard pitied the wretch 
and concealed him in his hut for several days under lock and key, 
to keep him from the revenge of his injured fellow countrymen : 
allowing him, possibly, to pick the bones of Enders' goose. — 
Peggy Ingold, corroborated. 



( 421 ) 



CHAPTER XIV. 



On the morning of October 18th, Col. Vrooman, collecting 
what troops could be spared from the three forts, pursued the re- 
treating foe. He hung upon his rear all the way to the Mohawk 
valley, and by a timely movement circumscribed his burning foot- 
steps. — Jacob Becker, JVicholas Warner, and David Zeh. 

The fire and smoke of the burning buildings in the lower part 
of Schoharie, fifteen or tTventy miles distant, were distinctly seen 
at the residence of Cornelius Putman, on the Schoharie, about a 
mile from its junction with the Mohawk. — Peter, a son of Corne- 
lius PiUman, who lives on the "paternal farm. 

On the following morning, Victor, a son of Cornelius Putman, 
and Garret, a son of Cornelius Newkirk, proceeded on horseback 
from the vicinity of Fort Hunter in the direction of Schoharie, to 
discover the cause of the light seen the previous afternoon, and 
learn if a foe was approaching the Mohawk. They fell in with 
the enemy's advance on the Oak Ridge, a few miles from their 
last encampment, retreated, were hotly pursued, and Newkirk 
made ca[)tivc. The timely return of his companion, however, 
who borrowed ahorse of William Hall, a pioneer settler, (having 
been obliged to abandon his own,) enabled several families in the 
neighborhood to make good their escape, or guard against sur- 
prise and capture. 

At this period dwellings had been erected by Richard Hoff 
and Marcus Hand, on the west side of the Schoharie, some four 
miles from Fort Hunter, in the present town of Glen. Those 
houses were plundered and burnt by the Indians under Brant. 
The family of Hoff escaped captivity by flight, and Hand was in 
Florida at the time. 



■If 

422 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Cornelius Patman removed his family into the woods, and se- 
creted a part of his most valuable effects before the enemy ap- 
peared in sight. His neighbors, Cornelius and John Nev^^kirk, 
brothers, who lived on the cast side of the river, also secreted a 
part of their property, and their families escaped, except WilUam, 
a son of the latter, and three or four slaves, who had lingered a 
little too long at the house, and were captured. The enemy did 
not fire any buildings in the valley, until they had been there 
some time. Putman, after securing his effects, secreted himself, 
with a loaded gun, near his house, and saw the first Indian enter 
upon his premises. He went into the barn and brought out his 
arms full of tobacco (most of the farmers then raised a patch of 
the plant) which he laid down and began twisting into suitable 
hanks ; and as often as made, thrust into his blanket above the 
belt which encircled his waist. Putman several times drew up 
his gun to fire on the Indian, but when he reflected that he would 
doubtless be pursued, and his flight might lead not only to his own, 
but to the death of his family, and the destruction or plunder of 
his concealed property, he desisted from firing. From his retreat, 
however, he watched the motions of the enemy for hours. A 
party entered his house, and among the spoils brought from the 
cellar a keeler full of eggs, which they took to the kitchen, a lit- 
tle building detached from the dwelling, where they made a fire, 
boiled, and divided them. He saw them rob his bee-hives, and a 
part of the robbers sit down and feast upon the dainty product of 
the insect's labor. Soon after this a gun was fired, which was the 
signal for applying the incendiary torch, and one of the party, in 
Putman's presence, after swinging a fire-brand several times over 
his head until it blazed, applied it to the well-filled barns which 
were soon in flames. The house was set on fire, and several of the 
party fired their guns into a number of stacks and barracks of 
grain near, and all were soon reduced to a heap of ruins. The 
dwellings and out-buildings of the Newkirk's were also set on 
fire at the given signal, and soon shared the same fate. — Peter 
Putman^ AVm V., son of Victor Pidman, and John, son of Mar- 
CVS Hand. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 423 

The family of Putman had crossed the river, and with the 
Newkirk families was on its way to Fort Hunter, when the 
enemy in a body appeared in sight, at which time several hun- 
dred of the Indians and tories were seen riding Schoharie horses, 
'llie fugitives then concealed themselves in the woods, at which 
place the ashes blown from John Newkirk's barn and barracks, 
completely covered them. Putman, very fortunately, had a large 
stack of peas out of sight from his house, which escaped the con- 
ilagration, and enabled him, by an exchange of peas for rye, 
which he made at Claverack, to provide his family with bread the 
next season. On the west side of the river, a little distance above 
Putman, dwelt Harmanus and Peter H. Mabee, brothers. A short 
time previous to this invasion they had removed to Rotterdam. 
Many of their effects were left in their dwellings, which, with 
their well-filled barns and barracks, shared the same fate as those 
of their neighbors. One of the Mabees had seven large fat hogs, 
in a pen near the house, which were all killed by the enemy, and 
left in the pen. They were killed with a pitchfork taken from 
Putman's barn, being all stabbed with it between the eyes. 
Putman had several large hogs in a pen, which he let out before 
the enemy arrived. They were yet round the pen when the first 
Indian appeared, but had fortunately found a place of conceal- 
ment before the destructives were ready to slay them. — Peter Put- 
raan. 

The citizens of Cadaughrity built temporary huts next day, 
and erected log dwellings soon after, in which they passed the 
winter. Leaving the Schoharie valley the enemy entered that of 
the Mohawk. They avoided Fort Hunter, from which they were 
fired upon, approaching no nearer to it in a body, than the pre- 
sent residence of Richard Hudson, distant half a mile or more. 
At the latter place there resided a German named Schrembhng, 
who, although a tory, chanced to be outside of his house, and 
being unknown, was killed and scalped ; his family were how- 
ever left undisturbed. The enemy, after taking a few women and 
children prisoners, among whom were Mrs. Peter Martin, (whose 
husband was then a merchant in Quebec,) proceeded up the Mo- 
28 



424 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

hawk. Soon after the invasion of Johnson, a small block-house 
was erected on the land of Cornelius Putman, which was also un- 
der the management of Capt. Treraper. — Peter Putman. 

At Martin's, the Indians obtained a two horse iron-shod wagon, 
a vehicle rarely seen in those days, and a horse which, with a 
pack-horse, was harnessed before it. Mrs. Martin and her two 
boys, Barney and Jeremiah, after seeing their house burnt and 
all their property destroyed, were put into the wagon with se- 
veral scullions and a quantity of baggage ; among which were 
a few pans of honey from Putman's. The party proceeded up 
the valley as far as the present residence of George J. E. Lasher, 
(just below the Nose, and l^nown on the Erie canal as the Willow 
Basin,) where they encamped for the night ; plundering and 
burning all the whig dwellings which had escaped former visita- 
tions of a similar character. The road was so bad at that time, 
that the enemy found it very difficult to get along with the wa- 
gon, and finally abandoned it near the present village of Fulton- 
ville. It was unloaded, filled with rails from an adjoining fence, 
and set on fire ; the iron-work was afterwards recovered. Jere- 
miah Martin, then only four or five years old, was eating honey 
in the wagon unconscious of danger, and on leaving it, was li- 
terally covered with the vegetable nectar from head to foot 
The prisoners, around whom was placed a guard of British sol- 
diers to prevent the Canadian Indians from murdering them, suf- 
fered from the cold that night, and the following morning, John- 
son, learning that troops were on their way from Albany and 
Schenectada to attack him, gave Mrs. Martin and her children 
permission to return, which liberty was gratefully received ; they 
"Were, however, plundered of some of their clothing — Jeremiah 
Martin. 

On the evening of the I8th, Gen. Robert Van Rensselaer of 
Claverack, with a body of the Claverack, Albany and Schenec- 
tada militia, and about two hundred Oneida Indians under Col. 
John Harper, in pursuit of the enemy, encamped on the hill near 
the Stanton place, in the present town of Florida, perhaps fifteen 
miles east of Johnson's encampment. — John Ostr&m, who was a 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 425 

soldier present* Learning at this place that Fort Paris in Stone 
Arabia, about twenty miles north-west from the American camp, 
was to be attacked the following morning, Gen. Van Rensselaer 
sent a note to Col. John Brown, its gallant commander, to turn 
out and head the enemy at nine o'clock, and he would fall upon 
tiieir rear. Sir John passed along the foot of the mountain and 
crossed the river on the morning of the 19th, at Keator's rift, near 
Spraker's Basin, and leaving the river above the Nose, a large 
part of his forces marched towards Stone Arabia. Col. Brown, 
a braver man than whom bore not a commission in the continen- 
tal service, left his little fortress and led his men to attack the 
foe. After marching some distance from the fort, he thought it 
possible he might be killed or captured, and lest the letter of 
Gen. Van Rensselaer should fall into the hands of the enemy, he 
dispatched a messenger with it to the fort. As this letter could 
not afterwards be found at the fort, it was conjectured, that pos- 
sibly the bearer had acted the iraifor, and borne it directlv to the 
enemy, as the greater part of his forces united soon after the fir- 
ing began between Brown and the advance. — Jacob Becker. 

Gen. Van Rensselear, who had an effective force nearly double 
that of the enemy, put his army in motion at the moon's rising. 
Near Fort Hunter, where he arrived before day-light and was 
joined by the Schoharie militia : the wrong road was taken for 
some little distance, when Gen. V. R. uttered expressions his offi- 
cers thought unbecoming his station. The American commander 
arrived at Keator's rift soon after the enemy had passed it, but 
instead of crossing the river and seconding the movement of Col. 
Brown as he had agreed, and as a brave and prudent officer would 
have done, he remained upon the south side, where news was 
brought him by a fugitive from Brown's command, that the latter 
officer, with many of his men, was slain. Fort Paris was three 
miles north of the Mohawk, and yet Brown met the enemy nearly 
two-thirds of the way to the river, where the contest began. 
Overpowered by numbers he continued the conflict, slowly re- 

• Col. Stone erroneously slates the place of Van Rensselaer's encamp- 
ment, on the night in question, to have been at Van Epps's. 



426 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

treating, expecting every moment to hear the firing in the ene- 
my's rear — but in vain. And contesting the ground inch by inch 
for some distance, he at length fell a martyr to freedom, and his 
blood, with that of more than thirty of his brave followers dyed 
the fertile fields of Stone Arabia. What loss the enemy sustained 
in this engagement is unknown, but as they were better sheltered 
by fences and trees than were the Americans, and were enabled 
to outflank, and had nearly surrounded them when Brown fell, it 
is supposed their loss was not as great. — John Ostrom, and Jacob 
Becker. 

The following particulars, in addition to those above, were ob- 
tained in November, 1843, from Maj. Joseph Spraker, of Pala- 
tine. Col. Brown left Fort Paris (so called after Maj. Paris,) a 
httle distance north of where the Stone Arabia churches now 
stand, on the morning of his death, with a body of levies and mi- 
litia ; and as he passed Fort Keyser, a little stockade, at which a 
small stone dwelling was inclosed — perhaps a mile south of Fort 
Paris, and about tvfo miles distant from the river — he was joined 
by a few militiamen there assembled, making his effective force 
from 150 to 200 men. He met the enemy nearly half way from 
Fort Keyser to the river. They were discovered on the opposite 
side of a field which contained some under-brush, and which was 
partly skirted by a forest. As the Indians were observed behind 
a fence on the opposite side of the field, Capt. Casselman remon- 
strated with Brown against his leaving the covert of the fence ; 
but the hero, less prudent on this occasion than usual, ordered his 
men into the field, and they had hardly begun to cross it, before 
a deadly fire was opened upon them; which was returned with 
spirit but far less effect, owing to the more exposed condition of 
the Americans. Brown maintained his position for a time, but 
seeing the Indians gaining his flank, he ordered a retreat ; about 
which time, (nearly 10 o'clock, A. M.,) he received a musket 
ball through the breast. The enemy pressed on in such over- 
powering numbers, as to render it impossible for his men to bear 
off his body, and the brave colonel was left to his fate. 

At the fall of their commander, some of the Americans fled to- 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 427 

ward the Mohawk, and others north into the forest. Two of 
them took refuge in the dwelling of the late Judge Jacob Eacker, 
in the hope of defending themselves, but the house was surround- 
ed by a party of Indians, who set it on fire, and laughed at the 
shrieks of its inmates who perished in the flames. 

None of the citizens who were not in the battle, it is believed, 
were either killed or captured, they having gained one of the two 
forts, or sought safety in the woods. 

John Zielie, a captain of militia, had charge of Fort Keyser on 
that day. Geo. Spraker, father of informant, and John Waffle, 
elderly men, Joseph and Conrad Spraker, WilHara Waffle, War- 
ner Dygert, and possibly one or two other young men, were all 
who were ready to aid Capt. Z. in the defence of his little fortress, 
when the British regulars passed near it in column, soon after 
Brown's engagement. It might easily have fallen into their 
hands, had they known the number of its defenders. The few- 
men in it were, however, at the port holes, each with his gun and 
a hat full of cartridges by his side, although its commandant re- 
strained their firing from motives of policy. Informant had two 
older brothers under Col. Brown, who effected their escape after 
he fell. 

Soon after the enemy were out of sight, the four young men 
named, proceeded in the direction the firing had been heard, and 
leaping a fence into the fatal field, Joseph Spraker stood beside 
the mangled remains of the brave, ill-fated Brown. His scalp 
had been taken off so as completely to remove all the hair on his 
head : this was unusual, as only the crown scalp was commonly 
taken, but knowing his distinction and prowess, we may justly 
infer the red man's motive. He was stripped of every article of 
his clothing, except a ruffled shirt. The four young militiamen 
took the body of their fallen chief, and bore it in their arms to 
Fort Keyser. The remains of the soldiers who fell in this battle 
were all buried in one pit, and Col. Brown with them, but a day 
or two after it was opened and his remains removed to a place of 
interment near the churches. Col. Brown was of middling sta- 
ture, with, dark eyes and a fine military countenance: he usually 



428 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

■wore glasses. He was agreeable and urbane in his manners, but 
possessed a spirit when in danger, fearless as the dashing cataract. 
He fell deeply lamented by his numerous friends, and the few 
silver-haired heroes of his acquaintance who still survive, are en- 
thusiastic in his praise. 

Col. Brown was a native of Massachusetts, and was born Oct. 
19th, 1744. On the 19th day of Oct., \SZQ,jifty-six years after 
his death, arrangements having been made for the occasion, a 
monument was erected over his remains in the presence of a large 
assemblage of respectable citizens of the county, convened to 
honor the ashes of a hero. The monument was reared at the ex- 
pense of Henry Brown, Esq., of Berkshire, Mass., a son of the 
warrior, who, I regret to add, has since deceased. The following 
is the monumental inscription : 

" In Memory of Col. John Brown, 

who was killed in battle on the 19 day of October, 1780, 

at Palatine, in the county of Montgomery, 

JE. 36.'' 

After the ceremony of raising the monument, a sermon was 
preached by the Rev. Abraham Van Home, of Caughnawaga, 
and a very patriotic address delivered by G. L. Roof, Esq., of Ca- 
najoharie : portions of which I have been kindly furnished by the 
author. The following is an extract from that address : 

" Col. Brown foil in battle on the 19th day of October, 1780 ; 
the very day he reached the age of thirty-six, so that the anni- 
versary of his birth was also the day of his death. But though 
he fell thus early in life, ca\d before he had filled the measure of 
his fame, yet his deeds of bravery and patriotism will not be for- 
gotten by posterity ; and the name of Brown will, for ages to 
come, be held in grateful remembrance. His was that bravery, 
that quailed not before tyranny, and that feared not death. His 
was that patriotism that nerves the arm of the warrior battling for 
the liberties of his country, and leads him on to the performance 
of deeds of glory." 

The forces of Col. Johnson, a part of which had crossed the 
river near Caughnawaga, destroyed all the Whig property, not 
only on the south, but on the north side, from Fort Hunter to the 
Nose : and in several instances where dwellings had been burned 



XND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 429 

by the Indians under his command in May, and temporary ones 
rebuilt, they were also consumed. Of the latter number was that 
of Barney Wemple. After his dwelling was burnt in May, he 
went to Tribe's Hill, tore down a tory dwelling, and erected it up- 
on the ruins of his former one. — Rynier Gardinicr* After Brown 
fell, the enemy, scattered in small bodies, were to be seen in eve- 
ry ilirection plundering and burning the settlements in Stone Ara- 
bia. In the afternoon. Gen. Van Rensselaer, after being warmly 
censured for his delay by Col. Harper and several other officers, 
crossed the river at Fort Plain, and began the pursuit in earnest. 
The enemy were overtaken on the north side of the river above 
St. Johnsville, near a stockade and block-house at Klock's, just 
before night, and a smart brush took place between the British 
troops and the Americans under Col. Duboise ; in which, several 

* On the morning of the day on which the Stone Arabian battle was fought 
Fred. II. Dockstader, who lived on the "Sand Flats" in the present town of 
Mohawk, having seen the fires along the river, concealed his family and per- 
sonal effects in the woods, and then approached the Mohawk valley to gain 
a view of passing events ; thinking the enemy would confine their move- 
ments to the river settlements. As he was about to gain the desired position, 
he was surprised to see a party of Indians approaching him. He walk bold- 
ly up, and addressing them with confidence assured them he was their friend, 
and on his way to meet them. They proceeded with him to his house., and 
after laying him under contribution in the way of plunder, left him and his 
buildings unharmed. Before leaving, they took several of his horses, one of 
which was a favorite, although he dared not protes-t against their taking it. 
This party of the enemy burned the house of F. H. Dockstader's brother, 
within sight of his own, and left a war club in a conspicuous place ; as much 
as to say, we will kill the proprietor if we can catch him. 

A pleasing incident occurred at Dockstader's, illustrative of the red man's 
character. One of the Indians caught a colt that had never been rode, and 
with his belt and some cords made a kind of bridle which he put upon its 
head. The colt stood still until the Indian mounted with a bundle of plunder 
in one hand and his rifle in the other, seemingly delighted with his new mas- 
ter ; but as soon as he had made ready to set forward, and struck his heels 
against the animal, it dashed onward and reared several times, sending the 
Indian heels over head upon the ground in one direction, and his rifle and 
duds in another. Thus rid of his load, the colt stopped and looked back to 
witness the plight of the rider. The rest of the Indians laughed as though 
their sides would split, and Dockstader, who dared not laugh, expected to 
see the Indian rise and shoot the animal ; but instead of doing so, he sullen- 
ly gained his feet— picked up his portable wealth, and moved off amid the 
merry jeers of his companions. — Hennj F., son of Fred. H. Dockstader. 



430 fflSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

on each side "were killed or wounded. Johnson was compelled to 
retreat to a peninsula in the river, where he encamped with his 
men much wearied. His situation was such that he could have 
been taken with ease. Col. Duboise, with a body of levies, took 
a station above him to prevent his proceeding up the river ; Gen. 
Van Rensselaer, with the main army, below : while Col. Harper, 
with the Oneida Indians, gained a position on the south side of 
the river, nearly opposite. The general gave express orders that 
the attack should be renewed by the troops under his own imme- 
diate command, at the rising of the moon, some hour in the night. 
Instead, however, of encamping on the ground from which the 
enemy had been driven, as a brave officer would have done, he 
fell back down the river and encamped three miles distant. The 
troops under Duboise and Harper could hardly be restrained from 
commencing the attack long before the moon arose ; but when it 
did, they waited with almost breathless anxiety to hear the rattle 
of Van Rensselaer's musketry. The enemy, who encamped on 
lands owned by the late Judge Jacob G. Klock, spiked their can- 
non, w^hich was there abandoned ; and soon after the moon ap- 
peared, began to move forward to a fording place just above the 
residence of Nathan Christie, and not far from their encampment. 
Many were the denunciations made by the men under Duboise 
and Harper against Van Rensselaer, when they found he did not 
begin the attack, and had given strict orders that their command- 
ers should not. They openly stigmatised the general as a coward 
and traitor ; but when several hours had elapsed, and he had not 
yet made his appearance, a murmur of discontent pervaded all. 
Harper and Duboise were compelled to see the troops under John- 
son and Brant ford the river and pass off unmolested, or disobey 
the orders of their commander, when they could, xinaided, have 
given them most advantageous battle. Had those brave colonels, 
at the moment the enemy were in the river, taken the responsibili- 
ty of disobeying their commander as Murphy had done three days 
before, and commenced the attack in front and rear, the conse- 
quences must have been very fatal to the retreating army, and 
the death of Col. Brown and his men promptly revenged. — Jacob 
Becker, a Schoharie militiaman. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 431 

Garret Newkirk, the prisoner who was captured on his way to 
Schoharie, effected his escape the second night after, and returned 
home unmolested. As if to cap the climax of Gen. Van Rensse- 
laer's management, he had sent an express to Fort Schuyler ; from 
whence, Capt. Walter Vrooman* (the same mentioned as being at 
the Johnstown fort in May preceding,) was dispatched with a 
company of fifty men to Oneida lake, to destroy the enemy's con- 
cealed boats. Col. Johnson, informed of the movement, as sup- 
posed, through the treachery of one of Vrooman's men, surprised 
and captured the entire command. 

It was confidently asserted in the American army, that some 
relationship by marriage existed between Gen. Van Rensselaer 
and Sir John Johnson, which induced the former to favor the es- 
cape of the latter. — Becker and Ostrom. 

The Americans took two nine pounders from Schenectada, 
which were left at Fort Plain. So much dallying took place on 
the part of the commanding officer, that the enemy, although pur- 
sued some distance on the south side of the river, were not pre- 
vented from making their escape. At a small block-house and 

• Soon after Capt. Vrooman, who was a large muscular man, (as brave as 
strong,) was taken, an Indian, claiming liim as his prisoner, fastened to his 
shoulders a heavy pack, which he compelled him to carry. Those Indian 
packs were usually made of striped linsey petticoats, stolen from frontier set- 
tlers : such was the one, filled with plunder made in Stone Arabia, imposed 
on Capt. Vrooman. He had not borne it far, before he was observed by Col. 
Johnson, who enquired why he carried it? He replied that an Indian had 
placed it upon him. The colonel then drew his sword and severed its fasten- 
ings. In a short time, the owner of the pack, who was in the rear at the 
time it fell, came up, and in anger replaced it, with a threat of death if he 
did not continue to carry it. It had been restored but a little while, when Sir 
John again observed the American captain (who was a fine specimen of the 
early Dutch,) under the ungainly load, and once more cut its bands ; placing 
a guard around him to prevent his receiving any injury or insult from the red 
warrior. In a few minutes, the latter reappeared with uplifted tomahawk, 
threatening vengeance ; but finding his approach to the prisoner prevented by 
bristling bayonets, he sullenly fell back : he, however, continued to watch 
for a favorable opportunity all the way to Canada, to execute his threat. 
While crossing a rapid stream on a log shortly after, this Indian fell ofl" with 
his pack on, and would have been drowned, but for the timely aid of his com- 
rades. On arriving at Montreal, Capt. Vrooman was incarcerated in prison 
and did not see the sun again for two long years. — Volkerl Voorhees. 



432 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

stockade between Fort Plain and Fort Herkimer, called Fort 
Windecker, after a German, near whose house it was erected, 
(which house stood just above Grouse's Lock, on the Erie Canal,) 
seven men and a boy killed an Indian and took nine prisoners, 
several of whom, worn out with constant exertions, purposely 
surrendered. They stated that if the Americans had followed 
up their advantages, Johnson and most of his men must have 
been captured. Forty or fifty horses belonging to citizens of 
Schoharie were recovered, and either taken back by the sol- 
diers at this time, or reclaimed in the Mohawk valley the follow- 
ing winter, by some half a dozen men who went from Schoharie 
on purpose. — Jacob Becker and David Zeh. 

In the pursuit of Johnson from Schoharie, the militia being de- 
ficient in knapsacks, carried bread on poles. Holes being made 
in the loaves, a pole was passed through several, and borne be- 
tween two soldiers, who also added a loaf at each end. — Mattice 
Ball. 

In the summer of 1843, I obtained from John Ostrom, a wor- 
thy citizen of Glen, some additional particulars relating to this 
invasion. Mr. Ostrom was a militiaman under Gen. Van Rensse- 
laer, in the pursuit of Sir John Johnson. When the Americans 
arrived at the Nose, on the enemy's trail in the morning. Col. 
Brown was then engaged with the latter not two miles distant, 
and they heard the firing, but made no attempt to cross the 
river where the enemy had crossed. When the skirmish took 
place between Col. Duboise and Col. Johnson, the reason assigned 
by Gen. Van Rensselaer, for not following up the success gained, 
and leading his men to the attack, was, its being so near night. 
Henry Ostrom, a captain of militia, from the vicinity of Albany, and 
father of informant, to whose company the latter was attached ; 
surprised at the indifference of the general, asked him if he did not 
intend to prosecute the attack. He replied that it was so near 
night his men would not march. Capt. Ostrom, still remonstrat- 
ing with his commander, for what he considered a neglect of duty, 
finally received orders to lead his own men forward ; which he 
did with promptness, to the surprise of the general, who, having 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 433 

mistaken his mettle, countermanded the order after the company 
liad proceeded several rods. Why Van Rensselaer chose to fall 
back down the river three miles to encamp, remains among the 
mysteries of the past. 

Capt. Duncan, an officer under Sir John Johnson, in this inva- 
sion, returned after the war closed to the residence of his father, 
situated a few miles from Schenectada. His return having been 
kept private for a little time, he invited in several of his former ac- 
quaintances, some of whom he had opposed in arms, of which 
number was Capt. Ostrom. On this occasion he informed his 
guests, while speaking of Johnson's invasion now under considera- 
tion, that after the skirmish with Col. Duboise, the British officers 
held a consultation, at which it was agreed to surrender the whole 
army, worn out with fatigues as it was, prisoners of war ;. but 
that General Van Rensselaer did not give them a chance. Capt. 
Duncan finding himself kindly treated by his old neighbors, re- 
mained in the state. 

But to return to the Schoharie valley which we left in ruins. 
Fearing an invasion, considerable grain had been stacked in the 
woods and by-places remote from dwellings the preceding harvest, 
in the hope that if he did appear, possibly those stacks might es- 
cape the fire-brand. Andrew Loucks had two stacks thus con- 
cealed, as had also Chairman Ball, which were not burnt. 
Loucks had very fortunately let out his hogs to live on acorns, 
and they, too, were spared. Some individuals lost at this time 
from eight to ten horses, comparatively few of which were reco- 
vered. Mr. Ball lost nine. — Andrew Loucks and Peter Ball. 

On his return to the Middle fort. Col. Vrooman found himself 
once more its lawful commander, Maj. Woolsey having taken 
P^rench leave during his absence. Col. Vrooman was often from 
liome on public business during the winter months of the war ; 
and sometime after the destruction of Schoharie — being a mem- 
ber of the state legislature, he went to Poughkeepsie, where it 
was about to convene. Among other members. Col. Vrooman 
was an invited guest at an evening party. On his arrival at the 
place of mirth, almost the first person who caught his eye was 



434 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

Maj. Woolsey. He laid off his loose clothing, and very soon af- 
ter sought an interview with his military friend, but to his sur- 
prise, he found the latter had suddenly left the house ; nor did he 
reappear that night. Recollecting their last interview near the 
magazine, he possibly did not care about meeting the Dutch co- 
lonel. — Angelica Vrooman. 

Where now stands the dwelling, so long known as Sprakers 
Tavern on the Mohawk turnpike, stood a small house in the Revo- 
lution owned by one of the Tribes' Hill Bowens, and occupied by 
John Van Loan — whose politices were of a suspicious character. 
On a certain occasion, two tories, Albert Van De Warkcn, and a 
man named Frazee entered the settlement in the character o^ spies, 
and were traced to the dwelling of Van Loan ; where they were 
concealed in the daytime. A small party of patriots having as- 
sembled under C apt. John Zielie for the occasion, approached 
the house one evening to kill or capture the emissaries of the 
enemy ; and discovered them through a window at supper. Be- 
coming apprised by some means of the proximity of armed men, 
the spies found means to leave the house and flee to a barrack of 
hay, which stood between that and the hill. Around the bar- 
rack Capt. Zielie stationed his men to prevent the escape of the 
fugities, and await the return of day. As light began to dawn, 
the rascals sprang from their concealment and ran at the top of 
their speed. Frazee, in attempting to pass Adam Empie, a sol- 
dier present, was thrust through with a bayonet and killed; 
while his comrade, more fortunate, although a volley of bullets 
whistled around him, fled up the mountain and escaped. 

The tory dwelling above mentioned, was burnt by the enemy 
under Sir John Johnson, who crossed the river a few rods below 
it, on the morning Col. Brown fell ; from what motive is un- 
known. — Joseph Sprakcr. 

When the war of the Revolution commenced, three brothers, 
William, John, and Philip Crysler, who lived in new Dorlach ; 
with their brother Adam, who lived in Schoharie, took up arms 
with the foes of their country, and went to Canada in 1777. As 
it began to be doubted by many of the tories in 1780, whether 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 435 

Britain could subdue the states, Philip, whose family still lived in 
New Dorlach, and who desired to remove it to Canada, had a 
party assigned him near Harpersficld to aid in its removal. It 
is supposed they arrived near the settlement a day or two before 
the army reached Schoharie ; and were concealed until Seth's 
Henry and possibly some othei-s met them in an appointed place, 
and communicated intelligence of the proceedings in Schoharie, 
that the movement of Crysler's destructives should not precede the 
general irruption. However that may be, it is certain Seth's 
Henry, who was at the burning of Schoharie, was on the follow- 
ing day also of the hostile party in New Dorlach. 

The enemy, consisting of eighteen Indians and three tories, 
made their appearance just after noon at the dwelling of Michael 
Merckley,* where Hiram Sexton now resides. Merckley was at 
this time a widower. His family consisted of three daughters, 
three sons, and a lad named Fox. The daughters were all 
young women ; one was married to Christopher Merckley, and 
lived in Rhinebeck, a small settlement a few miles from New 
Dorlach — the other two were at home. The oldest son had gone 
to Canada three years before, the second was then at Schoharie, 
and the youngest, a lad about thirteen years old, and Fox, a boy 
near his age, were also at home. Frederick, a brother of Mi- 
chael Merckley, then resided less than a mile east of the latter. 
He had an only daughter named Catharine, who by repute was 
the fairest young lady in the Schoharie settlements. He also 
had several sons. Christian, (from whom some of these particu- 
lars were obtained) about seventeen years old, who was then at 
home; Martin, a younger brother, who had been sent to his 
uncle Martin's about noon of that day to borrow^ a currier's 
knife, and possibly one or two others. On arriving at Merckley's, 
the enemy captured his two daughters, the two boys, and their 
cousin Martin who chanced still to be there. 

About three-fourths of a mile west of Michael Merckley, then 
resided Bastian France, where his son Henry now resides, a lit- 
tle distance from the road, which ran much as it does at the pre- 

* This name was formerly writen Mercle, and pronounced Mericle. 



436 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

sent day. As the country was new, however, it was shaded 
more by trees, and not bounded by fences as at present. Mr. 
France had eight children. His two oldest sons, young men, had 
gone to Schoharie on the 17th, to learn how matters stood in 
that valley, and were in the Lower fort when the enemy passed 
it. Christopher, the oldest of those brothers, (who was the first 
white child born in the town of Seward,) and Miss Catharine 
Merckley, had plighted hymenial vows, and were to have heen 
married two weeks from the day of her death. Four other sons 
were at home — John, fourteen years old, Henry, thirteen, and two 
younger : and two daughters — Betsey, a young lady of seventeen, 
and a little girl perhaps ten years of age. At the road, near the 
residence of France, resided Henry Haines, a tory. West creek, 
a tributary of Cobelskill, passed near his house, and on this he 
had erected a small grist-mill — the first erected in the town of 
Seward. Philip Hoffman, an old gentleman, lived not far from 
Haines, where Klock now resides. 

Mr. Merckley, at whose house the Indians first appeared, had 
been to visit his married daughter at Rhinebeck settlement, as had 
also Catharine Merckley and Betsey France, all on horseback. 
Mr. Merckley returned home but a little in advance of the girls, 
and approaching his house he discovered the Indians about 
the door, but conscious of his kind feelings towards them, 
and zeal in the royal cause, while in the act of dismounting from 
his horse with perfect unconcern, he was shot down, killed, and 
scalped. It was at his house, it will be remembered, the party 
were harbored who captured his neighbor, William Hynds, and 
family, the preceding July. When the girls approached his mill, 
Haines came out, and addressing Catharine, enquired, " What is 
the news ?" The reply was, " Betsey will tell you ; I am in a 
great hurry to get home." Miss France had reined up just above 
the mill, to cross the creek, between the road and her father's 
dwelling, as her beautiful companion rode forward, evidently ex- 
cited from some cause, to meet her impending fate. Possibly she 
had heard the gun fired at her uncle, and anticipated danger. 
She had but little more than a mile to go after parting with her 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



437 



young friend. The road, by a bend from Haines' mill, swept 
along the verge of a rise of ground on the north side of West 
creek, leaving the flats southwest of the road. The ground is ele- 
vated in front of the Merckley place, and just beyond it the road 
turns off", nearly east, towards Hyndsville. Miss Merckley was ri- 




MURDER OF CATHARINE MERCKLEY. 
dmg a noble gray horse, and as she drew near her uncle's dwel- 
ling she saw the Indians and tories about the door, several of whom 
called on her to stop; but her eye, no doubt, caught a view of the 
mangled remains of her uncle, and instead of reining, she urged 
her horse up the acclivity at a quick gallop. At the instant she 
was opposite to him, Seth's Henry leveled his rifle and fired at her, 
and as she did not immediately fall, he snatched a rifle from the 
hands of another Indian and fired again. The horse, as though 
conscious of danger, and the value of his burden, increased his 
speed, but the fatal messenger had done its errand— the lovely vic- 
tim pitched forward and fell to the earth, writhing in the agonies 
of death. 



438 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

She was shot through the body evidently by the first bullet, as 
it had passed in at the right side. She survived but a few mi- 
nutes, and expired clasping her hands firmly upon the wound. 
The tragic death of this young lady, so justly celebrated for her 
personal charms, was witnessed from the house by her brother and 
cousins. Her murderer, as he tore off her bleeding scalp, struck 
with the beauty and regularity of her features, remarked — " She 
was too handsome a jJaleface to kill, and had I known the squmo 
had such long black hair, I would not have shot her." The horse 
ran home, after losing his rider, and the bloody saddle shadowed 
forth the tidings her friends might expect to hear, of their dear 
relative's fate. The family instantly fled, and secreted themselves 
in the woods, where they remained until the following day. 

Bastian France, who was then advanced in life, and quite in- 
firm, was in his chamber making shoes. Hearing the firing at 
Merckley's, he came down and told his family (his wife was then 
visiting at the house of Haines near by) he felt alarmed and tak- 
ing his gun, said he would go through the woods south of his 
house and learn the cause of disturbance. He had not gone half 
way to Merckley's, when he discovered several Indians proceeding 
directly to his own dwelling. Ivnowing he could not reach it be- 
fore they did, he resolved to proceed on foot, by a circuitous route, 
to the lower Schoharie fort for assistance, distant eighteen or twen- 
ty miles, and return as soon as possible. He arrived there late in 
the evening, greatly fatigued, and found that all the troops which 
could be spared were preparing to follow the enemy to the Mo- 
hawk. It was late the following day when he again arrived at 
his own dwelling. 

Two Indians reached the residence of France in advance of 
their fellows, at which time the children were standing on the 
stoop looking for the cause of alarm. As they approached the 
house, a large watch- dog ran out and attacked them, which one 
halted to shoot. The other approached the children and led out 
John and Henry, the two oldest boys at home, towards a pile of 
wood to be killed. As the Indian who had shot the dog came up, 
John was handed over to him by his captor to be murdered for the 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 439 

British value of his scalp. The Indian aimed a blow with his 
tomahawk at his head, which the latter warded off with his arm. 
As the second blow which brought him to the ground was raised, 
Henry saw the other children running off, and followed them. 
Seeing his captor start in pursuit, lest he should be shot down, he 
sprang round a corner of the house and stood si ill. The Indian 
turned the corner and took him, with the other children, back to 
the stoop. 

Without waiting to scalp the victim, the Indian who had felled 
John, left him and ran across the creek to the house of Hoffman, 
but the latter with his wife, having heard the gun which was fired 
at France's dog, took seasonable alarm, fled into the woods and 
escaped. As the children returned to the door M-ilh their captor, 
some half a dozen more of the enemy arrived ; and proceeding to 
the cellar, helped themselves to several pies, and such other food 
as it contained, which they took up stairs, placed on a table in 
the centre of a room and greedily devoured. Mrs. France hear- 
ing the noise, hastened home to protect her children or share their 
fate, just as the Indians were surrounding the table. When Henry 
was taken back, he went to his wounded brother, who could still 
sit up, and attempted to raise him on his feet; but he was unable 
to stand. Henry then told him to crawl under the oven where the 
dog usually had slept, but the hatchet had done its bidding, and 
he was too weak. When his mother arrived at the house and be- 
held the situation of her dying son, who was then past speech, her 
raaternnl sympathy was aroused. Her little daughter, cryino-, 
clung to her knees and besought her to save John from the cruel 
Indian<! ; and she in tears entreated them to carry him into the 
house, or spare him from further injury. This they refused to do, 
but promised not to harm her other children. 

While his captor was eating, Henry was compelled to stand 
near him, by whom he was closely eyed. Twice he walked to 
the door, and on turning round, observed the stealthy eye of the 
red man fixed upon him and he walked back ; he thus lulled the 
suspicion of his keeper, and the third time he reached the door, 
perceiving he was not watched, he sprang out of the house, ran 
29 



440 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

round it and fled towards the woods. When about twenty rods 
distant, he looked back and saw several Indians turn a corner of 
the house, and instantly falling to the ground he was gratified to 
observe, that as they scattered in pursuit, none started in the di- 
rection he had taken. From behind some old logs he watched 
their motions, and as soon as they had returned to the dwelling, 
he gained the adjoining woods in safety. 

A few minutes after Henry had eluded the vigilance of his new 
master, the Indian who had gone to Hoffman's returned, was quite 
angry because the former had escaped, and instantly dispatched 
and scalped John. Philip Crysler lived in the direction of Hoff- 
man, and when the murderer returned, the former, disguised as an 
Indian, came with him. He was not known to the family at the 
time, although they observed he had blue eyes, (the eyes and hair 
of a blooded Indian are almost invariably black,) but they after- 
wards learned from a sister of Crysler, that his wife, hearing the 
gun fired at the dog of France, told her husband to put on his In- 
dian dress, run over and save the France family by all means, as 
she was under such great obligations to them. They had almost 
wholly supported herself and family for three years. To the 
counsels of the blue-eyed Indian, as Crysler was called, the party 
reluctantly yielded ; and leaving the rest of the family and most 
of their effects undisturbed, soon after withdrew. The Indian who 
had been foiled by Henry, seemed most dissatisfied ; and snatch- 
ing a brand of fire he ran to the barn and thrust it into the hay. 
Another Indian drew it out and threw it away, but some coals 
must have remained, as the barn and its contents were soon after 
in flames. Two large barracks, each an hundred feet in circum- 
ference, standing near the barn, were also consumed. Two of the 
Indians at the house of France could speak Low Dutch ; Mrs. 
France begged of them to intercede for the lives of her oflfspring. 

The invaders went as far west as the dwelling of Haines, cap- 
luring several of his slaves. Haines went to Canada himself at a 
subsequent period. As soon as the Indians were out of sight, Mrs. 
France carried the body of her murdered son into the house, his 
warm blood trickling upon her feet ; and then, with Betsey and 
three younger children, concealed herself in the woods. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 441 

Henry France, after gaininj^ the forest back of his father's 
house, ran, by a circuitous route, towards the dwelling of William 
Spurnhuyer, who resided not far from Christian Merckley. In the 
mean time, the enemy, with their plunder, accompanied by the fa- 
mily of Cryslcr, after burning- the dwelling and barn of Michael 
Merckley, set forward on their journey. On arriving at the house 
of Spurnhuyer, who had gone with his family to a place of great- 
er security but a day or two before, they made a halt. Spurnhuy- 
er had left a young heifer near the dwelling, which was shot to 
serve the party for food. When the gun was fired at the amimal, 
young France was not in sight, though near, but was running di- 
rectly toward that place, and supposing it fired at himself, chang- 
ed his course, nor did he know at what the gun was discharged, 
until the return of Martin Merckley, some time after. Thus had 
this lad a third time escaped the tomahawk. He then went back 
and secreted himself, about sun-down, near the creek, a few rods 
from his father's dwelling. He had been but a short time in this 
place when Mrs. Haines, who was going past with a milk-pail, 
discovered him in the bushes, and told him where he could find his 
mother. Procuring blankets at the house the weeping group re- 
turned to sleep in the woods, fearing a visit from the bears and 
wolves less than they did that of the armed savage. The family 
lived in the woods until the third day following their disaster, when 
they went to Schoharie. 

Spurnhuyer's house, after being plundered, was set on fire, and, 
v^ith his barn consumed. The invaders had proceeded only a mile 
or two from the settlement, when the two boys cried to return. 
The executioner of the party halted with them, and soon after 
overtook his comrades with their bloody scalps. Berkley, a tory 
present, from the vicinity of Albany, told the Misses Merckley 
that their brother and young Fox would not have been killed had 
they not cried. Indians never fancy crying children. It was not 
known in New Dorlach that those boys were killed, until a year 
or two afterwards, when the fact was communicated by a letter 
from the Merckley girls to their friends. Persons who visited the 
spot near the mountain south of their father's, designated as the 



442 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

place where the boys were murdered, found bones scattered over 
the ground, wild beasts having no doubt eaten the flesh that once 
covered thein. The party journeyed directly to Canada by the 
usual southwestern route, and as the weather was then cold, the 
suffering of the prisoners was very severe. They were greatly 
straightened for food on the way, and putrid horse-flesh, fortunate- 
ly found in the path, was considered a luxury, and doubtless saved 
some of them from starving. Martin Merckley was compelled to 
run the gantlet, and was beaten and buffeted a great distance. Pri- 
soners captured in the spring or fall, when the Indians were con- 
gregated in villages, usually suffered more than those taken in 
midsummer. As the Merckley girls were then orphans, and their 
father's personal property all destroyed, they accepted offers of 
marriage, and both remained in Canada. 

On the day following their massacre, the remains of John 
France were buried by Henry Haines, Sen., and those of Mr. 
Merckley and his charming neice, by JNIr. Haines, Michael Fri- 
mire, and Christopher France, Miss M.'s intended husband. Sad, 
indeed, must have been the feelings of the young lover, while per- 
forming this most melancholy duty. Few were the witnesses pre- 
sent ; no funeral knell told the distant neighbor that death was 
abroad ; the ceremony was brief and informal. No long proces- 
sion followed those mangled corpses to measured steps, preceded 
by the man of God in sacerdotal robes ; yet one there was whose 
sorrowing came from the heart. A few rough boards were laid 
in the " narrow house" which had been hastily dug a little dis- 
tance east of where they had fallen, and blooming youth and 
parental age were placed side by side in it, and quicky buried. 
A few years ago their remains were taken up, placed in a cof- 
fin, and funeral services performed over them ; after which they 
were deposited in the family burying ground, on the Frederick 
Merckley place, where a marble slab may now be seen with the 
following inscription : 

'• In Memory of Catharine Marcley and Michael Marcley, 
who was [were] killed by the Indians, Oct. 18, 1780." 

Nothing on the stone indicates their ages or consanguinity : she 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 443 

was about 18 ; and her uncle, probably, 45 or 50 years old. Af- 
ter young France was engaged to Miss Merckley, he gave her, 
agreeable to custom, a pair of silver shoe-buckles. These Seth's 
Henry left upon her feet, and they were returned to the lover. 

It has been a mystery to many in Schoharie that Michael 
Merckley, who was the avowed friend of royalty, should thus 
have been killed, his property destroyed, and his family broken up. 
The following circumstance reveals the secret. A short time pre- 
vious to the Revolution, a daughter of Philip Crysler (then in her 
teens) was living in the family of one Barnhard, in the capacity 
of a hired girl. While there, a son of Michael Merckley several 
times visited her, about which time she became gravis. This fact 
coming to the knowledge of her parents, they desired her to fix 
paternity on young Merckley and compel a marriage. She was 
taken before Judge Brown, then a justice of the peace, who, hav- 
ing previously been apprized of all the circumstances in the case, 
told the girl the nature of an oath, the criminality of its being 
falsely rendered, and what the future consequences might be. He 
then administered the oath, and the honors of paternity were 
awarded Barnhard. This affair caused a lasting hatred between 
the two families ; and when Crysler obtained the direction of a 
party of Indians, there can remain little doubt but what some of 
them were found willing, in anticipation of plunder, to share his 
prejudices and gratify his savage propensities ; for such we must 
call the inclinations of those who joined the enemy, went to Ca- 
nada, and from choice came back repeatedly, to imbrue their 
hands in the blood of their former neighbors and relatives. 

Many of the settlers, tories as well as whigs, concealed their 
effects in the war ; and it is said that Philip Crysler had concealed 
part of his. As old Mr. Hoffman and his wife were inoffensive 
people, and did not meddle with politics, it was supposed from 
the attempt to kill them at the time of his removal, and of their 
massacre the next season, that it was in consequence of the fact, 
that a girl, who had once lived with Hoffman, had discovered and 
appropriated to her own use, some of the hidden property of 
Crysler. Trifling circumstances were construed into plausible pre- 



444 HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 

texts too often in the Revolution — as, in fact, they will be, from 
the nature of things, in all civil wars — for the perpetration of the 
most heinous and revolting cruelties. The reason is obvious: 
when all laws are disregarded and set at defiance, the baser pas- 
sions of the human breast triumph over virtue and social order; 
and crime — 

" Stalks abroad at noonday, 

Nor does she cease at midnight to destroy.*" 

Nothing of importance transpired in the Schoharie valley that 
year, after the invasion of Sir John Johnson. The loss at that 
time to the citizens seems almost incalculable. Of the cue hun- 
dred and thirty-four buildings, said by Judge Brown to have been 
burned in Schoharie county during the war, the greater part were 
consumed at this time. Among all the houses burnt in the coun- 
ty, I do not remember to have heard of a single log tenement : 
the citizens were comfortably situated in good framed dwellings, 
with large barns (which the Dutch are celebrated for erecting) 
abundantly filled. Schoharie had constantly supplied not only 
her own citizens and soldiers with wheat, but had furnished large 
quantities for the support of American troops at other stations : 
but now, by the most rigid economy, the remaining supply could 
hardly have been expected to subsist the citizens until new crops 
returned. Some families were compelled to take up temporary 
residences abroad, while others set about erecting such dwellings 
as their crippled means would allow. That the destruction of the 
Schoharie settlements that season was properly considered in oth- 
er colonies at the time, the following extract of a letter from Pre- 
sident Madison, dated at Philadelphia, Nov. 14, 1780, (which I 
find in the Albany Evening Journal of Nov. 30, 1841,) will clear- 
ly show. After alluding to the difliculty of procuring supplies of 
wheat and flour for the Army, he adds : 

" The inroads of the enemy on the frontiers of New York have 

• The occurrences which took place in New Dorlach were told the author 
in 1837, by Henry, son of Bastian France ; the wife of Tunis Vrooman, and 
daughter of Ernest Frctz ; Henry, a son of Wvi. Hynds, and Christian, a 
son of Fred. Merckley, corroborated by others. 



AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 445 

been most fatal to us in this respect. They have almost totally 
ruined that fine wheat country, which was able, and from the en- 
erj^y of their government, was likely to supply magazines of flour, 
both to the main army and the northwestern posts. The settle- 
ment of Sciioharie, which alone was able to furnish, according to 
a letter from (Jen. Washington, eighty thousand bushels of grain 
for public use, has been totally laid in ashes." 

Nor was the great loss of grain, dwellings, stock, &,c., the on- 
ly one to be deplored in Schoharie. The paper currency of the 
country, which had increased by the year 1780 to the enormous 
sum of 200,000,000 dollars, had become nearly worthless. Of 
this trash, some of the Schoharie farmers had large amounts; 
mostly taken in payment for the products of the soil, for quite or 
nearly its pretended value. Some who had been holding on to it 
in the hope that it would become more valuable, or because they 
found it difficult as a leech to shake off, had the mortification to 
learn, that from fftij to sixty dollars continental money would 
command in 17S0 but one single dollar in specie. An old soldier 
informed the author, that he once sent an eight dollar continental 
bill to buy a quart of cider, and received a two dollar bill, Rhode 
Island currency, in change. At a later period, an officer of his 
acquaintance once paid seventy dollars of continental money for a 
single mug of flip. At the close of the war, it could hardly 
have been considered of any value, except for cigar or lamp- 
lighters. 

To give the reader an idea of the currency of which I have so 
often spoken, I give the facsimile of a continental note, and the 
vignettes of others. In selecting mottos for vignettes, care was 
taken to get brief Latin sentences, which should be characteristic 
of the position of this country with England ; and would be most 
likely to stimulate patriotic sentiments and enlist the feelings 
of Americans in the popular cause. The significant devices on 
the bills generally proved an index to the sentiments prevailing at 
their date. The back of the notes contained the amount of the 
same, with the name and residence of the printers, and some sim- 
ple device, as that of a leaf, a vine, or an Indian bow. The lat- 
ter appears on the back of the note, from which the following cut 



446 



HISTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 



was engraved. Some of the continental notes contained water- 
marks, only to be seen by holding them up to the light. Many 
of the vignettes also contained a colored mark of some kind. 




mMnjMMBMMMmMM 



Sixtjj'3}ottars. ^o3^fC23 

^/us Bill enUttss 
^/& Bearer to receiVo 
Sixty Spanifh mill 
ed Dollars, or 
f/^ Value thereof in 
Gold or Silver, ac- 
cording to CL Refolu- 
tion fia^ei Cy (Soti- 
grcfd dtF^LCadeC[ifiiay 
Se/if. 26{f, J778. ^^LX J)OJiJi^giS. 





I 




The vignette of this bill 'is the emblem of a globe surrounded 
by the motto — " The Lord keigns, let the earth rejoice." A 
quotation from the Psalms of David, showing the confidence of 
the states in the God of battles. 



This device, a'circular chain, 
bearing on each link the name 
of a state, is an admirable em- 
blem of their union, and im- 
Hplies that while it remains un- 
broken, no foreign power can 
destroy its central government. 
This note, Tioo Thirds of a 
Do//ar, is dated Feb. 17, 1776, 
and in a device upon the back 
is the commendable caution, 
" Mind your hisiness." 




AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 



447 






This is the vignette of a Six Dollar 
JVote, dated Feb. 17, 1776. It repre- 
sents a beaver gnawing a tree. This 
sagacious animal constructs its dams 
and dwellings, by cutting down trees 
with its teeth : a slow but sure process. 
The motto over it is — " By peuseveu- 
ING." Saying in effect to the colonists : 
persist and your labors shall be crowned 
with success. 

This is the vignette of a Five Dollar 
JVote, of New York currency, dated 
March 5, 1776. It represents a candle- 
stick with thirteen burners, to denote the 
number of states. The motto signifies, 
" One fire and to the same purpose." 
Implying that the states were all alive to 
a sense of their just rights. 

Here is the vignette of a Five Dol- 
lar A^ote, dated May 9, 1776. It shows 
a thorn tree, with a hand grasping it. 
The motto says — "Sustain ok abstain." 
This device, at that period, represents 
the colonies assaying in effect to Great 
Britain, Pass laus to yroted, or none 
to affect vs. 




This device, a contest between an 
eagle and a stork, is from a Three Dol- 
lar J\ote, dated July 22, 1776. The 
stork represents the colonies struggling 
against the superior force of the moth- 
er country. The motto encourages by 
saving — " The result is uncertain." 



448 



mSTORY OF SCHOHARIE COUNTY, 




Here is the vignette of an Eight 
Dollar JTote, also dated July 22, 1776. 
It contains a harp, surrounded by the 
motto, " Large things are consonant 
WITH SMALL ONES." As the Strings of 
a harp must all be in tune to give 
music ; so the states, with diversified 
interests and opinions, must be guided 
by wisdom to unite and harmonize 
them for the general good. 

This device, on a Half Dollar JVote, da- 
ted Aug. 13, 1776, is a most interesting 
and significant one. It is that of a hand 
planting a young tree. Its motto — " Fob 
Posterity," shows the duty of practising 
disinterested benevolence ; in struggling to 
establish a government which will extend 
its greatest benefits to future generations. 



The vignette of this note for Four Dol- 
lars, dated Jan. 14, 1779, represents a 
swine encountering a spear ; and de- 
manding, as he received it, " Death, ob 
Life with Decency." 



This note for Eighty Dollars is also 
dated Jan. 14, 1779, and bears the device 
of a majestic oak tree. Around it are the 
words, " It shall Flourish through Ages 
OF Ages." Prophetic allusion is here 
made to the establishment and perpetuity 
of a republican government. Heaven 
grant the prediction may be fully verified, 
and that the worms of faction may ever die before reaching the 





AND BORDER WARS OF NEW YORK. 449 

roots of lihcr'tfs tree : planted by oppression and nourished by 
the best blood of the land. 

This little device, which appears on a note for 
One Shilting, New York currency, dated Aug. 
13, 1776, (on which are the words, " 'Tis death 
to counterfeit") is truly expressive. It repre- 
sents incense rising from an altar, and over it 
the motto — " Not without God." 

Many important events transpired in the United States, in 1780, 
to hearten or dispirit the American patriot. On the 13th day of 
May, Charleston, S. C, then in the command of Gen. Lincoln, 
fell into the hands of the British with nearly five thousand men, 
and four hundred cannon. In June 5000 men under Gen. Knip- 
hausen, entered New-Jersey, and committed many acts of violence. 
On the 10th day of July, Admiral M. deTernay sent by the French 
goverment, with seventeen armed vessels and several transports, 
arrived' at Newport, R. I., bringing six thousand French troops, 
under the Count de Rochambeau, to aid us in our struggle for 
freedom. The arrival of these allies was greeted by the citizens 
with every demonstration of joy. On the 16th of August, the 
American army under the command of Gen. Gates met the British 
at Camden, one hundred and twenty miles north-west of Charles- 
ton, S. C, under Lord Cornwallis ; at which meeting the laurels 
of Saratoga were transformed for the American commander, to 
drooping willows. Gates, with his militia, retreated before the 
successful British troops, while the brave Gen. De Kalb, second in 
command, with a body of Continental troops who shared his spirit, 
withstood the repeated assaults of the whole British army until he 
fell covered with wounds and glory. Congress resolved at the 
time to erect a monument to the memory of this noble German 
at Annapolis, which has not yet been done. 

In September, an attempt was made by Gen. Benedict Arnold 
to surrender the fortress of West Point by treachery, to Sir Henry 
Chnton, which transaction with its interesting details, will be 
found in another part of this work, under a sketch of the life of 
David Williams, one of the captorsofMaj. Andre. 



( 450 ) 



CHAPTER XV. 



The events of 1781, opened with an unpleasant occurrence. 
The sufferings of the soldiers had been very severe, added to which 
some had been detained in service beyond the term of their en- 
listment, while all were in arrears of pay for their services. In 
the evening of the first day of Jannary, the troops of the Penn- 
sylvania line stationed at Morristown, New Jersey, numbering 
1300, paraded under arms — determined to march to Philadelphia 
and demand from Congress immediate redress. Their officers 
endeavored by persuasion to lull their murmurs and disperse them 
to their quarters, but to no purpose — although one was