History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 406
PRINCIPAL EVENTS 0F 1780, part three.
Murphy, who was 12 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 featured, 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 himself a kind and indulgent husband, an obliging neighbor and worthy citizen. He returned to Schoharie soon after the enemy desolated Vrooman's Land.
He had been back but a short time before it became apparent that what bad, at an earlier day, seemed only a partiality on his part, and a juvenile preference on hers-won, 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 interview, which sometimes happened when duty called him from the Middle to the Upper fort, it was, of necessity, brief and unsatisfactory. Every effort was made by the parents to prevent those interviews, and Margaret was prohibited from leaving her father's house, alone, on any account. Indeed, she was not allowed to go out of the picketed inclosure to milk, unless a vigilant cousin, or some member of the family attended her-while Murphy was forbidden to enter the house under any pretext. The couple were plighted, but a serious obstacle interposed between them and Hymen's altar. The law then required the publishing of the banns for several Sabbaths in a religions meeting. Those marriage proposals were usually read by a clergyman, but as the Schoharie flocks were left to the mercy of the wolves, that of Murphy 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 confine Margaret in a small room of the house, and she was so closely 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 safety, 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 befall her "if she proved faithful to him." She assigned as a reason why she escaped injury or captivity in the war, the protection invoked at that time. As everything was in a state of preparation for consummating their happiness, 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 sometime before reached the ears of Margaret's parents, that she had engaged to marry Murphy; which report, in answer to their interrogatories, she denied, hoping by white lies to lull their suspicions. Still their vigilance was not relaxed, and it was with no little difficulty Maria found an opportunity at this time to inform Margaret, that her lover had the necessary certificate of publication, and would meet her that evening near the river, with a horse, and convey her to the Middle fort. The answer to Murphy's last message was brief and artless. "Tell him," said Margaret, " I will 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 forever, 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 he 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 anything but a bridal dress, she went at the evening hour for milking, to perform that duty, accompanied as usual by a neighboring female cousin on the same errand. The task accomplished, the girls separated, 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 arriving 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," accompanied by three of his trusty comrades, well armed, left the Middle fort, crossed the river and proceeded 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, proceeded 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 meeting him, she supposed some military duly had called him away, and believing her intention to leave home had already been discovered, by finding the cow in the yard and the pail near, she resolved 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 8 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 apprehension of the parents for her safety. Scouts were daily returning 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 surprised 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 daughter was rendered evident. Margaret's father, accompanied by Joachim Pollock, a soldier in the Upper fort, proceeded without delay to the Middle fort, the former often calling in Low Dutch to his Mar-chrache, to which call the Onistagrawa feebly echoed, " 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 excitement, for his journey to the fort, and the danger of having a bullet sent through his head. He returned home, as we must suppose, little suspecting what the second act was 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, etc.; until she was so clad as to make a very respectable appearance. Early in the day succeeding 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 matrimony " had been legally read, still it was feared the father might lake effectual means in the cities of Albany and Schenectada to prevent the marriage of his daughter : and in anticipation of such an event, Major 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 complete 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 successful, thus far, not only in the art of war, but of love. The couple were united, if I am rightly informed, by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who preached in Princetown several years, and subsequently in Harpersfield. On the following day the party returned to Schoharie, where the successful groom was loudly cheered by his compatriots in arms. During the absence of the wedding party, the officers of the garrison, assisted by the young ladies in the vicinity, made preparations for their reception in a becoming manner, at the house of Peter Becker, who then lived where Ralph Manning since resided-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 hall, 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 company 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 evening, and was indeed a pretty bride. She, however, had previously been allowed to go into company but little, and her 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, echoing among the surrounding mountains-a most unwelcome sound at the moment, but its import too well understood to be disregarded ; and the party repaired to the fort to finish the festival.
Now for a Reconciliation.-When Margaret's parents learned that she was married-that she was in truth the wife of Murphy -they were highly offended, and resolved never again to admit 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 cure of wounded pride. The mother, who felt the absence of an only child, who had been her constant companion, the most sensibly, was the first to yield to the dictates of nature ; and Maria, who had acted as a stair-case between the lovers, was now employed 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 admitting her husband with her. "Never," said the daughter, -with spirit, " as much as I love home and my parents, will I enter 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 sat 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 Mrs. Frederick Mattire. 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 acknowledgement. Repeated messages were sent to Margaret, offering full pardon on her part for the past, urging her to visit the parental 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 Pennsylvania, which report caused the parents of Margaret much anxiety. A new mediator, in the person of Cornelius Feeck, a relative of the young bride, was now deputed to wait upon the latter. Among other fine sayings of his, which were uttered to induce 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 thy 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 dressed !" 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, gentle reader, was neither too large nor too small), that she expected soon to remove to another State, the anxiety of the parents became exceedingly irksome. The fear of losing their daughter forever, wrought a wonderful change in the feelings of the parents, 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 offenses, promising to bury in oblivion all former animosities-receive them home with a festival such as the Germans and Dutch were proverbially 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 30 officers and soldiers, and a party of citizens-the whole attended 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 he old man's hand a gripe he long remembered, replied in his usually loud voice-"She is no longer your's, Master 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 abundantly served to the guests, whose hearts-if I dare tell it in temperance times-" were made glad with good wine." This reconciliation 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 Dr. Valentine Lawyer, who married a granddaughter, still lives on a part of the patrimonial farm.-- Mrs. Angelica Vrooman, Mrs. Van Slyck, Mrs. Frederick Mattice, Maria Teabout, and others.
The Ranger Service.-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, there as elsewhere, " Rangers," 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 fife, they suffered almost incredible hardships. The music of those scouts, was that produced by a conchshell, 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 hazardous and perplexing, still they saw some happy hours. Among the soldiers at the Middle fort were two tiddlers, who often played for their comrades to dance, which the latter could find female partners. On a certain occasion, the officers of the Middle fort, resolved to have a dance. The soldiers concluded to have one on the same night, and spared no pains or expense to rival the officers. They sent to Albany for 10 gallons of wine among other "necessaries," and succeeded in getting the ladies all away from their epaulelted superiors, so as entirely to prevent the latter from dancing. My informant said that his dance cost him 30 dollars, and he supposed it cost several others, quite as much.--Elerson.
Invasion of Ballston.-On the night of October 16, 1780,* the enemy, about 200 strong, under Major John Monroe, consisting of British regulars, tories, and Indians entered the Ballston settlement. Most of the early settlers of Saratoga county were from New England, and were good livers. An invasion had been anticipated, and 200 Schenectada 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 militia, thinking the troops sent to aid them were not sufficiently courageous, erected a small defence on Pearson's Hill, afterwards called Court House Hill, nearly two miles in advance of the stockade
This Invasion, in my Schoharie County, etc., was erroneously placed In 1779.
named, 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 dispersed, the enemy broke into the settlement. They made their first appearance at Gordon's Mills, situated on a stream called the Mourning kill, entering the public road at the foot of the hill noticed. Col. James Gordon, who commanded the Ballston militia, and Captain 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 Captain 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 Colonel Gordon), who, with his family, fled into the fields, and escaped. The Balls also communicated intelligence of the enemy's proximity to the Schenectada troops at the fort.
At Gordon's Mills, Isaac Stowe, his miller, was captured on the arrival of Monroe's party, and, for some reason, soon after liberated. Feeling himself obliged to Col. Gordon, he thought it his duty to inform him of his danger, and afford him a chance of escape. Crossing a field with that laudable intent, he met an Indian, who, seeing a fugitive, as he supposed, attempting to escape, thrust a spotoon through his body, and instantly killed him. One version of this story is, that Stowe was returning from the house of Gordon, and was killed in the manner indicated, by foes just leaving his own dwelling: but Col. Gordon was already a prisoner-the story as given by the Mitchell brothers, was doubtless the true one.
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 proceeded 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 invaders. In a memorandum made of the event after his capture, by Colonel (subsequently Gen.) Gordon, is the following mention, kindly furnished the writer, by his friend, Hon. Geo. G. Scott, of Ballston: " After crossing the Kayderosseros, the party halted, and Captain (also known as Major) Munro, desired Capt. John, of the Indians, to choose what prisoners he thought proper out of those who were taken, except me. He, accordingly, chose Capt. Benedict and his three sons." Who, no doubt, pursued a different route to Canada than that taken by the party having Col. Gordon. This Indian, Capt. John, is the one mentioned on page 118 of my " Trappers of New York" as having lost an ear-jewel at the hands of Maj. Nicholas Stoner, oat De "Fonclaire's tavern, subsequent to the war; which house stood upon the site of the nice dwelling erected by the late Francis Burdick, M. D.
The troops assembled in the neighborhood were on their trail by daylight on Monday morning, and followed some distance ; but meeting a liberated captive, who bore a message from Col. Gordon advising the Americans to abandon the pursuit, it was given over. Why the message was sent, I am not informed, but presume lie either thought the enemy too strong to warrant it, or the prisoners in danger of assassination if a hasty retreat was necessary. 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, 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 Passamaquoddy Bay, in Maine, where they found friends. Before reaching a dwelling the party wore all in a starving condition, and Col. Gordon gave 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 anything 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, however, 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 incredible hardships, all readied their homes in Ballston to the great joy of their friends.-Charles and Hugh, sons of Major Mitchell.
In addition to the above particulars of the Ballston invasion, I learn from a statement published in October, 1880, in the Ballston Democrat, over the signature of " Antiquary," that with Col. Gordon were captured John Parlow and three slaves ; "H. S. Marcy now owns the-Gordon place. Thomas Burnham was captured on the present Hicks place ; Capt. Elisha Benedict and three sons-Caleb, Elias and Felix-and a slave on the now Reasnor place ; John Davis, living opposite ; Edward A. Watrous, on Court House hill ; Paul Pierson and two sons, near the present Harlow residence; John Higby and son Lewis, on the now Pierson Raymond place ; George Kennedy, where Henry Britt now lives ; Jabez Patchin, on the present Hiram Wood place ; Josiah Hollister, Ebenezer Sprague and his sons, John and Elijah, on the Thompson homestead ; Thomas Kennedy ; Enoch Wood and Fillmore, his hired man, near Nathaniel Mann's present residence ; and Palmatier (probably the one hunting with Shew), living north of the Kayderosseras ; George Scott, living on the hill northeast of now Wm. Long's residence (grandfather of Hon. Geo. G. Scott, of Ballston), disturbed by the invaders, opened his door, musket in hand, and was instantly tomahawked and left for dead, but finally recovered : Lieut. Frazer, a former neighbor, prevented his being scalped. His house was plundered, but not burned. Jonathan Filer, who lived near the now Hawkins place, escaped with his family to the woods. His house was set on fire, and " Granqy Leake," mother-in-law of Filer, put out the fire and saved the house. The prisoner Fillmore, near the Kayderosseras, escaped the enemy and returned in safety ; and at the end of a day's journey, Paul Pierson and his son John, with Ebenezer Sprague and George Kennedy, were, from some motive, allowed to return home.
The Enemy again at Ballston.-In the fall of 1780, a small party of the enemy, a dozen or more in number, entered the Ballston settlement, under the direction of Joseph Bettys, a subaltern officer in the British service, 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 afterwards entered the British service, proving to his former neighbors a source of frequent terror.
Maj. Andrew Mitchell, of Ballston, having visited Schenectada on business, there learned, possibly through the Oneida runners, that a small detachment, mostly Tories, had left Canada, the destination of which was unknown. In the afternoon, Mitchell set out for home on horseback, accompanied by one Armstrong, a neighbor. After proceeding several miles, and arriving 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, be 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 satisfactorily ascertained that the man who fired on the Major, was his old neighbor Miller; who had accompanied Bettys in his expedition, 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 surprised and captured Aaron Banta, and his sons, Henry and Christian, Ensign Epenctus 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. Gordon, who was taken before, is already known to the reader.- Charles and Hugh, sons of Maj. Mitchell.
Sir John Johnson -Ravages the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys.-A scout, consisting of Timothy Murphy, Bartholomew C. Vrooman, 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, however, 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 500 British, Royalist, and German troops, and pursued the road opened the year before by Gen. Sullivan, most of the way from the Genesee valley to the Susquehanna- where he was joined by a large body of Indians and Tories there assembled under Capt. Brant-making his effective force as estimated at the several forts, 1,000 men. There is a tradition, 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 beautiful valleys of the Schoharie and Mohawk rivers, when the crops of the husbandman were secured and could be burned, and, if possible, 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 18th, and encamped just above Ottegns-berg, * a romantic mountain on the west side of the river, near the upper end of Vrooman's Land.
Judge Brown assured the author, that two days before the arrival 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 anticipation of such an event. Bellinger was detained in the city from some cause, but arrived in safety at the Lower fort on the evening of the 16th inst.
Col. Johnson intended to resume his march sufficiently early on the morning of the 17th, + to pass the Upper fort, situated about three miles from the 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, passing 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 sentinel, who discharged his musket. The troops were instantly called out, and the alarm gun thrice fired. Capts. Jacob Hager and Joseph Harper, both men of acknowledged courage, with two companies of troops, numbering, it is believed, less than 100 men, were in this fort at the time. The command of the garrison devolved on Capt.
* 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, Wockholter-berg; and signified the Berry mountain-so called from the usual 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.
+ Col. Stone, in the " Life of Brant," 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 invasion. Col. Stone blended part of the invasion in August, with that in October, and incorporated several errors in the narrative.
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 to capture an Indian who lagged behind his fellows. 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 bullets 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 Maj. Woolsey, a Continental officer, unfitted for the important duties of the station he held, who is said to have been a broken officer before going to Schoharie.* Col. Vrooman was fortunately in the fort, as were Lieut.-Col. Zielie and Maj. Thomas Ecker, officers belonging to his regiment. Capts. 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 200 Continental troops, or nine months men, as then called, and between 100 and 200 militia. Once during the night preceding the invasion, the sentinels gave a partial alarm, caused by the approach of a hostile scout.
Scenes at the Middle Fort.-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-friction matches had not then been invented-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 incendiary torch, which was accordingly done to the buildings of Frederick Mattice, situated on the east side of the river in Clauverwy (where Edward
* When Maj. Woolsey, who was remarkably spry, first went to Schoharie, and was seen to leap fences, and give other evidences of agility, he was taken to be very smart, and was, of course, much respected, until found wanting in courage. He was the first man who wore a garment, since called a roundabout, in the Schoharie valley, considered at the time a novelty.- -Mrs. Angelica Vrooman.
Pindar formerly resided), 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 Middle 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 300. 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, by pretending royalty or neutrality.
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 day-light, and 19 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 Susannah 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. Martinus Zielie, Sergeant Lloyd, Murphy, Elerson, Hoever, Vrooman, Richard Hanson, Peter Van Slyck, Wilbur, Joachim Folluck, Adam Shell, Tufts, and Leek, proceeded from the fort in the direction of the present village of Middleburgh, and fell in with the enemy's advance not far from the site of the Brick church. Murphy was on the extreme right toward the river. Ecker's men now fired upon the enemy from behind a board fence, and some of them several times. From his position, Murphy discovered that the enemy was extending his right to cut off their retreat to the fort, and communicated the fact to Maj. Ecker, who instantly ordered a retreat. 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. Hundreds of balls were fired within gun-shot at the volunteers, and several boards in the fence, from which Murphy fled, were literally riddled with bullets, and yet not one of the party was wounded. 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.
Church, by Whom Burned.-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 former 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 Loucks.
This church, a wooden structure, was built after the model of the ancient Dutch church in Albany, with a steeple rising from the centre. It was well finished within, and painted white out-side.-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 the 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 residence of the late Peter 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 exchanged 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 leveled at him, and instantly fled to the fort. He supposed that 700 fired at him in this flight, yet lie 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 husband run. Col. Vrooman, also, as Elerson was informed, watched his flight with intense anxiety. A shot sent among the British troops from the brass cannon, while they were firing on Elerson, caused some confusion among Johnson'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. Lansing and his men entered.
Col. Johnson had with him a small mortar, and a field-piece- the latter a brass six-pounder. The carriage for the cannon was carried in parts, and screwed together. They were made ready to fire, at the stand lie had chosen in Decker's orchard, and a cannonading and bombardment commenced, while a constant firing was kept up with small arms, but at too great a distance to take effect. Three shells were well thrown from this position, by the enemy, at the fort, and many cannon-shot were fired, but with less precision, most of them passing 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 some time, was so frightened that she 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 exploded 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 on 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
* It is stated In the Life of Brant, that a woman brought several buckets of water from 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 story has no foundation in truth. The well was within the pickets, and afforded an abundant supply of water, as I have been assured by nearly a dozen credible witnesses, who were in the Middle fort at the time alluded to.
chanced to be in the room, almost to death. The explosion completely filled 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 the atmosphere. When asked what had happened, he replied in Low Dutch (as kindly rendered by a Dutch friend, at my elbow), "Ik donk de duyvel is op de soldier, de veri vliegen so rondt dat ik niet zien con."-I think the devil is in the chamber, 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 an emergency.
After the firing had been continued for some time by the enemy, 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 officer in a green uniform, and on his left by a fifer, playing Yankee-doodle. When the flag was discovered approaching, Maj. Woolsey gave orders to have it admitted, but not another officer in the fort, to their credit be it said, was in favor of its admission ; and Murphy and Elerson, who conjectured what their fate might be, 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. 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.
Cowardice of Maj. Woolsey.-When Murphy fired on the flag, Maj. Woolsey was not present, having visited his quarters to prepare himself to enforce submission to his commands ; for soon after, he returned pistol in hand, and demanded who had
* 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 often heard his father say. He had such a gun, while at Schoharie, but it was so 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 warrant its insertions.
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 tiring on both sides had ceased, with the exception stated, and was not resumed until after Col. Johnson, from his great desire to get a flag into the fort, dispatched it by the same party a third time. It is possible that from his position he had, with a spy-glass, observed the movement of Maj. 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 effect, " 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 savoring too much of satire, he left their presence and sought safety 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
* 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 duties to their men.
fort?" He replied, half dead through fear: " Col. Vrooman, the men will not obey me, and I give up the command 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 exclamation : "Send that back to them !" With perfect indifference the coward replied : " That I think would be s- 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 lo his men, exclaiming as he gave them the necessary article, "Fire away my brave lads, we have plenty of ammunition." The troops were gratified to learn that 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 intervals from the fort, as the supply of powder would not warrant its constant use. Destructionists were to be seen at this period of the siege, scattered over the flats in almost every direction. The garrison was too weak to make a bold sortie, but many small parties 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 Cooper, of Albany, received a wound in one leg, and was instantly borne off by two of his comrades to the fort; but while proceeding thither, he received a ball through his body, of which his carriers were unconscious. As they entered the fort, Susanna Vrooman enquired where Cooper was wounded? The reply was, " in the leg." She remarked that he bled from the body, and on laying 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 entrance in an exposed situation, and Samuel Reynolds, as he entered, said to her : " Susanna, 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. Jeremiah Louche was slightly wounded in the head, while on duty at the palisades ; and the Ranger, Tufts, was wounded in the arm while entering the fort. Those with the two mortally wounded, it is believed, were all that were injured belonging to the Middle fort. The wounded were properly attended by Dr. John King, the settled physician at that place, who acted as surgeon during the war.
Nicholas Sloughter, who acquired the reputation of a good soldier, 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 Benjamin Butts. He was a New England man, who had been made prisoner sometime before, and while in Canada, had enlisted into the British service as a Ranger, to embrace an opportunity to desert. He returned home soon after.-Mrs. Van Slyck.
During the siege of the Middle fort, a scout under Lieut. Martinus Zielie, captured a Canadian Indian while stealing a horse owned by Harmanus Bouck. Lewis Denny, a French Indian, nearly white (mentioned as having scalped a squaw and afterwards married her), joined the Americans in the Revolution, and remained at Middleburgh. Being in the fort when Lieut. Zielie returned with Ins 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 interpreter.- 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 party 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 approaching the stacks at the barn near the fort, at whom he fired. 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 fire-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, Angellica 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.
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 five families each. Samuel Van Vechten, of Albany, was press-master, and Douw Fonda, forester, all of whom, it is believed, were in the Middle fort when besieged by the troops under Johnson. The commissary was a little " 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 females, 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 the vicinity, when he moved down the valley about three 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 Loucks and others.
As may be supposed, the most intense anxiety was felt at the Upper, while the firing continued at the Middle fort ; and soon after it began, Capt. Hager gave orders that in case the enemy appeared 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 inspired by fear, stepped up to the commandant 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 man, 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 Joseph 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 welkin rang with "huzzas for the American flag."-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. Where 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 purposely burned. What induced Sir John to abandon further attempts 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 conscious 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 arrival of Sir John Johnson in its vicinity, Capt. Stubrach with his company of militia, a part of the associate exempts under Captain Peter Snyder (who succeeded Capt. Vrooman at his death), and a body of Norman's kill militia ; making his effective force, from 150 to 200 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 the table. The women 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 Bellinger'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 a ball striking the fence by Cadugney's side, threw a splinter into his arm. He called to his companions that he was wounded ; and near the former residence of Peter Richtmyer, Van Dyck drew out the splinter, telling him he was not much hurt; 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 conceal himself in a hollow stump-near which they passed without discovering him.-Jacob Van Dyck.
A Pie Costs a Life.-When the firing ceased in the Middle fort for the flag to advance, the inmates of the fort below were apprehensive it had been taken, and Maj. Becker despatched another scout, consisting of George Snyder, Jacob Enders, John Van Wart and John Hutt, to ascertain whether the fort had been captured. The second scout met the first near where Storm Becker formerly resided, and joined it in flight. They were hotly pursued, and were obliged to scatter. Enders and
* He was a major of the militia after the war. He married Angelica, daughter of Col. Peter Vrooman. (Sorry, there doesn't seem to be any asterisk on this page to match up with the footnote! ajberry)
Snyder were together, and as the enemy were leveling a volley of balls at them, they sprang behind a rock, against which several of the leaden messengers spent their force. Enders, who was as fleet as an antelope, often took trees to favor the flight of his less speedy companions, which always treed the enemy. Van Dyck struck off into the woods east of the residence of Jacob H. 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-meeting hat before he left the fort), had observed on his way up, several 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 to stop ; but disregarding the caution of his companions, as the enemy were not then in sight, he halted. While he was eating, Westhoft, a German 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.-Jacob Van Dyck.
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.-Anna Eve, widow of Jacob J. Lawyer.*
John Ingold, who dwelt where his son and namesake resided in 1845, was in the fort that day with all his family except Anthony Witner, his stepfather. As a hostile invasion was expected,
* 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 Bergh. She had two children, a son and daughter. The latter became the wife of Gov. Bouck.
John Ingold, Jr., then a lad 14 years old, went the evening 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. 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 bar-rack filled 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 former stood west of the building and the wind blew a gale from the northeast, the fire was fortunately not communicated to it. A fence on fire and slowly burning to the windward, which would have carried the flame to the barn, was extinguished after the enemy left. The dwelling of Hendrick Shafer was not burned, that of Tunis Shafer, which stood where David Shafer formerly lived, was burned with its outbuildings ; and that of Lawyer, below Ingolds, shared the same fate the night following.- John Ingold, Mattice Ball and others.
The firing at Middleburgh was heard in Cobelskill, 10 miles distant, and Lawrence Lawyer and Henry Shafer proceeded towards Schoharie, to learn the cause. Arriving on the hills near, they caught a view of the general conflagration ; and they unexpectedly fell in with a party of Indians, but escaped their notice by the timely movement of several cattle in the woods close by, which diverted the enemy from their concealment. The two friends remained secreted until the Indians retired, when they hastened back to Cobelskill, to warn the citizens of danger.-Lawrence Lawyer.
Johnson's troops had been so long in the valley, that ample time was gained to get everything in readiness at the Lower fort, for its defense. 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 liberally replenished, was kept beneath the pulpit in the church, and was 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., 15 or 20 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, pitch-forks, poles, etc.,* to repel an attack.-Maj. Peter Vrooman, Col. Dietz, of beaver Dam ; Jacob Becker, Judge Brown and others.
Scenes at the Lower fort.-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 palisades (the one formerly owned by John Lawyer), charged with grape and cannister shot. Col. Johnson raised a spyglass as the swivel was drawn out, and suddenly lowering 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 Dietz.
Jacob Van Dyck, Nicholas Warner, Jacob Becker, Jacob Enders, John Ingold, Sr., and John Kneiskern, were among the men stationed with Lawyer in the church tower. When Capt. Stubrach and others were firing the " grasshopper," Peter, a brother of Ensign Lawyer, who had command of the men on the church tower, was seen to approach 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
*Judge Brown, who was accounted a genuine whig, was suspected, though unjustly, of disaffection on the day Schoharie was burned. 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 defense; and had intended to volunteer his services in case of a hostile attack. His wife was determined to go to Livingston's manor, where she had relatives; and to set out that day. She went out and seated herself in a wagon, outside the pickets; 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 "If 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 wishes--entered the wagon and drove off. The smoke of burning buildings was then visible up the valley. This is another specimen of female influence.
Until the invaders were out of sight. The conduct of the Ensign subjected him to some censure at the time-indeed, 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 immediately took charge of the men, who rendered good services by their skill as marksmen.-Becker, Van Dyck and Warner.
The enemy, when fired upon, filed off, the regulars, under Johnson, 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 Foxescreek, below 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 Indians crossed Foxescreek in a body, but a few stragglers lingered to burn buildings. The wood-work of Tunis Swart's tavern, the former residence of Lodowick Fries, was burned. The parsonage was not consumed. A house now standing on a knoll some thirty rods southeast of the church, was occupied, in 1780, by the widow of Domine Schuyler, and one of her sons. It was erected one and a half stories, with gambrel roof, but was altered to its present form after the war. About the time Swart's 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 was standing until about the year 1860. 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.-Nicholas Warner and Jacob Becker.
I have said Col. Johnson halted after crossing Foxescreek. Preparations were now made to give the Americans a passing salute-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 ease with which the gun was carried and the manner of its transportation, 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. Three shots were fired from this position. The first ball struck the wall and was broken in pieces, the second lodged in a rafter, and the third was planted in the purlin-plate, and the hole it made is still visible. Each ball caused the building to tremble like a leaf in the wind.*-Jacob Enders, Jacob Seeker and Josias Clark.
While the enemy were discharging their cannon, rum, sweetened with gun-powder, was carried round in an 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 conflict. 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 too hot to be retained. By moving part of the paling, a rifle was brought to bear on the 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 outbuildings of Jacob Snyder, and those of some other citizens along Foxescreek, came into the river road a few rods northwest 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 blockhouse in,
* About the year 1830, a new covering was put upon the church by Mr. Clark, who stated 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 1937. It weighs a little over six pounds. It is now in the State Cabinet.
the northeast corner of the inclosure, caused him to move down the valley. A dwelling and grist-mill standing near the fort were set on fire, but extinguished after the enemy left. The barn and other 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 down the valley.
Loss of a Goose.-At an interview with Jacob Enders, 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 fired, 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 pursuing until he was exposed to the fire of others of the enemy, Enders gave over the chase. On arriving where he had left the pack and goose, he found that John Rickard, a fellow soldier, who had 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 eight pairs of new mocasins.
On the day Schoharie was burned, three soldiers, Abraham Bergh, Jacob Kneiskern, and one Grenadier, with several other persons, were returning to the Lower fort with three head of fat cattle for that garrison ; and on arriving near the former 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 movements of the enemy. They observed a small party of Indians approach Mercley's place, on the Ferry road. The trio succeeded 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 buck-shot. The American's then made good their retreat, and reached the fort in safety.-David, a son of Abr. Bergh.
An old gentleman named Houck resided where Geo. Taylor lived in 1846. He tried to save his house by acting the Samaritan. He met the Indians at his door, set food before them and went down cellar to pray, but his devotions were brief, for on hearing the glass and dishes-rattle above, he fled from an outside cellar-door and escaped ; but his dwelling soon became an ash-heap.-Peter I. Enders.
Having executed his mission in the Schoharie so far as he found it practicable. Sir John Johnson encamped for the night near Harman Sidney's, since the residence of John C. VanVechten, 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, in a little vlaie in Charleston, three or four miles from Sloansville, and directed his course to Fort Hunter. One of the shells was recovered some weeks after in mud knee deep ; and on being broken open it was found to contain dry powder, which was divided among the victors.-Col. Deitz, William Seeker and Jacob Enders.
About the year 1857, Wm. C, Brown plowed up some half a dozen of those shells, three of which were in the writer's cabinet when sold to the State.
After Sir John Johnson passed the Lower fort, George Meriness was despatched to Albany by Maj. Becker, with intelligence of his invasion, and success in Schoharie.-William Snyder.
A Scene of Desolation.-That beautiful valley, on the evening after the invasion, presented a most gloomy picture. Ruin and desolation followed in the train of the foe, and many a man who had risen in the morning 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, where so many heaps of smouldering ruins. His cattle, horses and swine, which had grazed " upon a thousand hills," either lay dead in the adjoining fields, or had been taken by the ravagers ; while some of his fences had been burned and others demolished. Thus was revenged 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 Schoharie valley; the dwellings were mostly good framed buildings, well finished and painted. But here and there a building, from some cause, escaped the devouring element, to render the general ruin the more obvious. The dwelling of Peter Rickard was set on fire, and after the enemy had left it, an old negro, 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 neighbors 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 families residing on the uplands, east of the Court House, remained at home undisturbed by the enemy.-Eleanor, widow of Nicholas Feeck.
Henry Haines, Jr., of New Dorlach, who was with the enemy in the Schoharie valley, on the evening after its conflagration, arrived 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 Ender's goose.-Peggy Ingold, corroborated.
The Trail of the Enemy.-On the morning of October 18th, Col. Vrooman, collecting what troops could be spared from the three forts, pursued the retreating foe. He hung upon his rear all the way to the Mohawk valley, and by a timely movement circumscribed his burning footsteps.-John Becker, Nicholas Warner, and David Zeh.
The fire and smoke of the burnings in the lower part of Schoharie, 15 or 20 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 Cornelius Putman, who lived on the paternal farm in 1845.
On the following morning, Victor, a son of Cornelius Putman, and William, 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 captive. The timely return of his companion, however, who borrowed a horse 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 surprise and capture.
A scout of three soldiers sent from Fort Hunter on foot with the same object, met the enemy on the Indian road from that place to Schoharie, when Kezault, one of the three under the covert of a tree fired on his foes, but was instantly pursued, overtaken and killed. His comrades fleeing in an opposite direction far out of their way, finally escaped.-Mrs. Magdalena Martin Becker.
Capture of William Newkirk.-On the second night of his captivity, while marching between two of the enemy in the woods north of Herkimer, he stepped one side in the darkness and remained standing until his foes has all passed on; when he took the back track and supposed by day-light, he was 15 miles from where he left the enemy. He crossed the river at Fort Plain, and in due time reached his home in safety, to the surprise and joy of his friends.- Rynier Gardinier.
Scenes Enacted Near Fort Hunter.-Cornelius Putman removed his family into the woods, and secreted a part of his most valuable effects before the enemy appeared in sight. His neighbors, Cornelius and John Newkirk, brothers, who lived on the east side of the creek, also secreted a part of their property, and their families escaped, except three or four slaves, who had lingered too long at the house, and were captured. The enemy did not fire any buildings in the valley, until they had been there-sometime. 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 of 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 little building detached from the dwelling, where they made a fire, boiled and divided them. He saw them rob his beehives, and feast upon the dainty product. Soon after this a signal was given for applying the incendiary torch, and one of the party, in Putrnan's presence, after swinging a tire-brand over his head until it blazed, applied it to the well-tilled 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 fired at the given signal, and soon shared the same fate.-Peter Putman, Abram V., son of Victor Putman, and John, son of Marcus Hand.
Brant's Humanity.-The following incident was mentioned by Stone in his Life of Brant, on the authority of Gen. Morgan Lewis, as having taken place in his presence at Fort Hunter, on the arrival there of Gen. Van Rensselaer, on the morning after the enemy had passed that post and were ascending the valley. A young Indian bearing a small child entered the fort, with a letter from Brant, addressed " To the commander of the rebel army," reading in substance, as follows :
"SIR-I send you by one of my warriors a child captured yesterday, that you may know that whatever others may do, I do not war against women and children. I am sorry to say that some engaged with me in the service, are more savage than the Indians are." A woman present just bemoaning her sad condition, not knowing the fate of her husband and other members of the family, who had fortunately gained the fort herself, soon clasped to her bosom the child the Indian had brought, with the gratitude of a mother's warm heart. The family of Putnam 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, several hundred of the Indians and tories riding Schoharie horses. The 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 conflagration, 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 concealment afterward.-Peter Putman.
The citizens of Cadaughrila 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 present residence of Bo yd Hudson, distant half a mile or more. At the latter place there resided a German named Schremling, who, although a tory, chanced to be outside his house, and, being unknown, was killed and scalped. The women and children of the families of Schremling, Andrew Young, and Peter Martin (then a merchant at Quebec) were captured by the enemy, who proceeded directly up the Mohawk, except a body of them which crossed the Mohawk to plunder and ravage the district destroyed at Johnson's spring invasion, the citizens having again erected temporary dwellings. Soon after this invasion a small block-house was erected on the premises of Cornelius Putman which was under the management of Capt. Tremper of Fort. Hnnter.-Peter Putman, and Mrs. Becker, a daughter of Peter Martin.
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 seven children, five sons and two daughters, after seeing their house burnt and all their property destroyed, were put into the wagon with some of their neighbors, several scullions and a quantity of baggage ; among which were a few pans of honey from Putman's. Three of the Martin children were in the wagon : sons Barney and Jeremiah, and daughter Magdalena. The party proceeded up the valley as far as the Lasher place (below the Nose and known 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 similar visitations. The road was so bad at that time, that the enemy found it very difficult to get along with the wagon, and finally abandoned it half a mile east of Fultonville. It was unloaded, filled with rails from an adjoining fence, and set on fire ; the iron-work: was afterwards recovered. Jeremiah Martin, then only a few years old, was eating honey in the wagon unconscious of danger, and on leaving it, was literally covered with the nectar from head to foot. The prisoners, around whom was placed a guard of British soldiers to prevent the Canadian Indians from murdering them, suffered from the cold that night, and the following morning Johnson, learning that troops were on their way from Albany and Schenectada to attack him, gave Mrs. Martin and her children (except Barney, then 14, who was taken to Canada and kept to the end of the war) permission to return. They were, however, plundered of some of their clothing. After abandoning the wagon, little Magdalena Martin was permitted to ride on the horse before Walter Butler, who allowed her to put her cold hands into his fur-lined pockets, for which her little heart was very grateful. She was a bright and interesting child of ten summers, and seeing her thus cared for, one of his fellow officers asked Maj. Butler what he was going to do with that pretty girl. "Make a wife of her," was his ready reply. He was killed at West Canada creek next season. The little girl, in time, became the wife of Matthias Becker, and raised 10 children. She died at the house of her son-in-law, Wm. A. Haslet, of Fort Plain, March 17, 1862, in her 93d year.-Jeremiah Martin and sister, Mrs. Magdalena Becker.
Enemy Encamp.-On the evening of the 18th, Gen. Robert Van Rensselaer of
Claverack, with a body of the Claverack, Albany and Schenectada militia, and
about 200 Oneida Indians under Col. John Harper, in pursuit of the enemy,
encamped, on a hill near the Stanton place, in the present town of Florida,
perhaps 15 miles east of Johnson's encampment.- John Ostrom, who was
a soldier present.* Learning at this place that Fort Paris, in Stone Arabia,
about 20 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 his 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 very brave man, left his little fortress and led his men to attack the foe. Said George Sander, who died at Palatine Bridge about 1857, who was a boy present and saw him start, Col. Brown paraded his men, mounted upon a small black horse, and thus led them from Fort Paris, and tradition says he was on horse-back when he fell. After marching some distance from the fort, 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 possibly the bearer had acted the traitor, and borne it directly to the enemy, as the greater part of his forces united soon after the firing began between Brown and the advance.- Jacob Becker.
Battle of Stone Arabia.-Gen. Van Rensselaer, 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
*Col. Stone erroneously states the place of Van Rensselaer's encampment, on the night in question, to have been at Van Epps's, now Fultonvllle.
arrived before day-light, he was joined by the Schoharie militia. 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, 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 at length fell, and his blood, with that of more, than 30 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 than were the Americans, and 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.
Further Progress of the Enemy in Palatine.-The following particulars, in addition to those above, were obtained in November, 1843, from Maj. Joseph Spraker, of Palatine. Col. Brown left Fort Paris, on the morning of his death, with a body of levies and militia ; 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 two 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 remonstrated 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 heart, as I learned from Jacob I. Ecker. The enemy pressed on so 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 toward the Mohawk, and others north into the forest. Two of them took refuge in the dwelling of the late Judge Jacob Ecker, in the hope of defending themselves, but the house was surrounded 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.
Here is an incident of the conflict: After Col. Brown fell, the Americans retreated. While the armies were engaged, Samuel Wool worth-one of Brown's men-unconsciously got several charges in his gun, not heeding the increasing length of the ramrod-supposing his gun discharged, as the priming burned. Retreating, he was pursued by three Indians, on whom he fired, when he became aware of the nature of the charge, as he was sprawling on the ground, his gun lying several feet from him. As he regained his piece, he saw one of the enemy supported by his fellows, evidently in a dying condition. He was again pursued by other foes who tired on him, whose fire he returned, having reloaded without halting. After hard running he eluded his foe and reached Fort Paris. After the enemy had left, a visit to the field of carnage disclosed to Woolworth a dead Indian across a log, near where he fired on his first pursuers ; one of whom had no doubt received the contents of his over-loaded gun. Woolworth died at Fort Ann, N. Y., in 1811.-David Woolworth, of Hamilton county, a son of Samuel I. Woolworth.
John Zielie, a captain of militia, had charge of Fort Keyser on that day. George Spraker, father of informant, and John Waffle, elderly men ; Joseph and Conrad Spraker, brothers; William Waffle,Warner Dygert, and possibly one or two other young men, were all who were ready to aid Capt. Z. in the defense 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 at the port holes, each with his gun and a hat full of cartridges by his side, but restrained their firing from motives of policy. Within hearing of this stockade, the enemy sounded a bugle to collect his forces, while several tin horns were also heard blown with the same intent. Informant had two older brothers under Col. Brown, who effected their escape after he fell.
The Body of Col. Brown, How Cared For.-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 remains of the 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-the Spraker brothers, Waffle and Dygert-took the body of their fallen chief, and bore it in their arms to Fort Keyser. The remains of most of the soldiers who fell in this battle were 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 stature, with dark eyes and a fine military countenance ; he usually 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 survived for me to converse with, were enthusiastic in his praise.
Just Tribute to a Brave Man.-Col. Brown was a native of Massachusetts, and was born October 19th, 1744. On the 19th day of October, 1836, 56 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 expense of Henry Brown, Esq., of Berkshire, Massachusetts, a son of the warrior, who died not very long after that event. The following is the monumental inscription :
" In memory
of Col. John Brown,
who was killed in battle on the 19th day of October, 1780,
at Palatine, in the county of Montgomery,
After the ceremony of raising the monument, a sermon was preached by the Rev. Abraham Van Horne, of Caughnawaga, and a very patriotic address was delivered by Gerret L. Roof,* Esq., of Canajoharie. The following are extracts from that address, and remarks made by him at the grave.
"I now see before me a little remnant of those intrepid spirits who fought in the memorable engagement of Oct. 19, 1780. Fifty-six years ago this day, led on by your gallant commander, you battled with greatly superior numbers, consisting of British regulars, loyalists, and savages. Venerable Patriots ! we bid you welcome here this day. In the name of our country we thank you for the important services you rendered her in the dark hours of her tribulation. Be assured they will be held in grateful remembrance, while the Mohawk shall continue to wind its course through yonder rich and fertile valley. They will be the theme of praise long after the marble erected this day, to the memory of your brave commander, shall have crumbled to dust. Fifty-six years ago this day these hills resounded with the din of arms and the roar of musketry. Look yonder! The field ! The field is before us-the field on which the heroic Brown poured out his life-blood in the defense of his country. You fought by his side. You saw him as he fell, covered with wounds, and with his face to the foe. You bore his bleeding and lifeless body from the battlefield. With gentle hands and sorrowing hearts you committed his remains to the earth and
' Carved not
a line and raised not a stone,
But left him alone in his glory.'
" Col. Brown fell in battle on the 19th day of October, 1780 ; the very day he reached the age of 36, so that the anniversary of his birth was also the day of his death. But though he fell
* Mr. Roof, who was a son of Martin Roof, of Canajoharie, and grandson of Johannes Roof, a pioneer settler of Fort Stanwix, now Rome; chose on setting out in life, the legal profession in which he made his mark; being at about the period of his introduction here, district attorney of Montgomery county; but under the impulse of doing a better service for humanity, he left his law office and entered the ministry; rendering in that the labor of a useful life. The degree of D. D. has been conferred upon Mr. Roof by Union College, and he is now a resident of Troy, N. Y.
thus early in life, and before he had attained the measure of his fame, yet his deeds of bravery and patriotism will not be forgotten 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."
Here is also a patriotic poem written by Mr. Roof about the time Brown's monument was erected, which was intended farther to commemorate the merits of that illustrious hero, and well deserves a place in this connection. It has, too, been set to music.
THE ICY SEAL OF DEATH."
(AIR.-" O bid me not that strain to sing ".)
1. " He
sleeps ! The Icy seal of death
Is set upon his brow; ,
The cannon's roar he heeds no more-
He rests in silence now.
The trumpet's clangor's heard afar,
And standards proudly wave,
But he who brav'd the battle's shock
Now slumbers in the grave,
Now slumbers in the grove.
2. " He
sleeps! The noble warrior sleeps,
Upon the battle plain ;
Nor e'er will he, to victory.
His comrades lead again.
His country called him to command,-
He spurned the tyrant's sway:
The God of Battles nerved his arm,
And glory led the way,
And glory led the way.
3. " With
patriot band he left his home,
To strike for Liberty:
And marched to brave the battle's wave,
Determined to be free !
His country now his fate deplores,
His gallant comrades weep:
He cannot hear
the loud laments-
He sleeps a dreamless sleep,
He sleeps a dreamless sleep.
warrior ! Thou hast gained a wreath
Of never-dying fame :
And hallow'd be thy memory,
And honored be thy name.
Thy spirit, Warrior, is with God
In mansions of the blest!
The clash of arms and war's alarms
No more disturb thy rest,
No more disturb thy rest."
From this Dimension let us follow the Enemy's War-path.- 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 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 upon the ruins of his former one.-Rynier Gardinier.
0n the morning of the day on which the Stone Arabia battle was fought, Fred. H. Dockstader, who lived on the "Sand Flats," in the present town of Mohawk, having seen the fires along the river, concealed his family and personal effects in the woods, and then approached the Mohawk valley to get a view of passing events ; thinking the enemy would confine their movements 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 walked boldly 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 protest against their taking it. This party of the enemy burned the house of F. H. Dockatader'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 had mounted with a bundle of plunder in one hand and his rifle in the other, seemingly delighted with his new master ; 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 sullenly gained his feet-picked up his portable wealth, and moved off amid the merry jeers of his companions.-Henry F., son of Fred. H. Dockstader.
Johnson's Pursuers make no Haste.-After Col. Brown fell, the enemy, scattered in small bodies, were to be seen in every direction, plundering and burning the settlements in Stone Arabia, from which agreeable pastime, for them, they were finally called to join the forces of Sir John Johnson to the westward, by the blowing of several tin horns. Gen. Van Rensselaer kept upon the south side of the river, making no efforts to cross it at Keator's rift; at Spraker's, where the enemy had forded ; or at Brandywine rift, near Canajoharie, but finally brought up at Fort Plain, where he became the guest of Col. Willet at his dinner table. Several fugitives from Brown's command had conveyed intelligence of his fate to Gen. V. R., but without causing any movement toward crossing the river, until Col. Harper and other officers began severely to censure him for his neglect of duty. Orders were finally given to cross the river, which was accomplished, in the afternoon, at Ehle's rift, half a mile below Fort Plain bridge, where several wagons were used in the deepest water. Much delay attended the crossing, and the march was resumed late in the day.
The centenarian, Henry Smith, assured the writer that at the time of Johnson's invasion, his father and Klock's, with those of several other families, on the signal of alarm, took refuge at Fort Nellis, below St. Johnsville. Informant was sent back to his father's place, across the river (the present residence of Joseph Smith), to let their horses into the woods ; which duty he accomplished and got back to the stockade before the enemy arrived. They passed several fortified dwellings without demonstration, and were allowed to pass this rather than provoke an assault.
During some previous invasion, informant's father was going to drive away his cows early in the morning, when he saw an Indian, on his knees, trying to get a shot at him. He shot the Indian, ran up and dispatched him with a hatchet-cutting through a nice beaver hat, of which the rascal had become possessed he gave the Indian's gun to his son. Nellis had a Guinea negro, a stout fellow, who made a small hickory cannon that was sometimes allowed to be fired, but his master would not allow it to be fired at this time, from motives of policy. Armed with his gun, the lad, then 13 years old, wanted to fire on the passing foe, but was restrained from so doing. It is not known that any of the foemen remained on the south side of the river when Johnson's army crossed at Spraker's and the firing of signal guns gave the settlers a chance to gain a safe retreat: the Vandals plundering and burning their abandoned homes, through Palatine, without opposition.
A Battle at St. Johnsville.-Finding himself pursued, Col. Johnson halted his men a little below St. Johnsville and prepared to give his pursuers battle. "And," said Henry Smith, " on the lands of John Richard Failing, and near the former Edwin Snell place, a battle occurred. It could hardly be called a battle, for scarcely had it begun ere the end came." But with the few shots exchanged, several were killed and wounded on both sides. It grew dark so fast after the armies were in array, that both parties, from fear of shooting their own men were willing to adjourn for more light-at least such was a subsequent statement at Van Rensselaer's court martial. Sir John, 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 position above him to prevent his preceding 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 immediate command, at the rising of the moon, some hour in the night. Instead, however, of encamping an 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 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 cannon, which was there abandoned ; and soon after the moon appeared, 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 commanders should not. They openly stigmatized 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 Johnson and Brant ford the river and pass off unmolested, or disobey the orders of their commander, when they could, unaided, have given them most advantageous battle. Had those brave Colonels, at the moment the enemy were in the river, taken the responsibility of disobeying their commander as Murphy had done at Schoharie three days before, and commenced the attack in front and rear, the consequences must have been very fatal to the retreating army, and the death of Col. Brown and his men promptly avenged.-Jacob Becker, a Schoharie militiaman.
As if to cap the climax of Gen. Van Rensselaer's management, he had sent, an express to Fort Schuyler, from whence, Capt. Walter Vrooman * (the same mentioned as being at the
* Soon after Capt. Vrooman, who was a large muscular man (as brave as strong), was taken, an Indian, claiming him 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 settlers: 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 fastenings. 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 one more cut its bands; placing a guard around him to prevent his receiving any injury or insult from the read 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 off with his pack on and would have drowned, but for the timely aid of his comrades. On arriving at Montreal, Capt. Vrooman was incarcerated in prison and did not see the sun again for two long years. -Volkert Voorhees.
Johnstown fort in May preceding), was dispatched with a company of fifty men to Oneida, lake, to destroy the enemy's concealed boats. Col. Johnson, informed of the movement, as believed, through the treachery of one of Vrooman's men, surprised and captured the entire command.
A Reason Why.-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 escape of the latter.- Becker and John Ostrom.
The Americans took two 9 pounders from Schenectada which were left at Fort Plain. So much dallying took place on the part the commanding officer, that the enemy, although pursued some distance on the south side of the river, were not prevented from making their escape. At a block-house and stockade, called Fort Windecker, after a German, whose house was enclosed at Mindenville, 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. Fort or fifty horses belonging to citizens of Schoharie were recovered, and either taken back by the soldiers at this time, or reclaimed in the Mohawk valley the following 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 deficient in knapsacks, carried bread on poles. Holes being made in the loaves, a pole was passed through several, and borne between two soldiers, who also added a loaf at each end.- Mattice Ball.
In the summer of 1843, I obtained from John Ostrom, a worthy citizen of Glen, some additional particulars relating to this invasion. Mr. Ostrom was a militiaman under Gen. Van Rensselaer, 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 three miles distant, and they heard the firing, but made no attempt to cross the river where the enemy had cruised. 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 was, its being so near night. Henry Ostrom, a Captain of militia, from the vicinity of Albany, and father of the 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 remonstrating with him, 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 mistaken his mettle, countermanded the order after the company had proceeded several rods. Why Van Rensselaer chose to fall back down the river three miles to encamp, remains a mystery still. This incident goes to prove that it was not very dark when Gen. Van Rensselaer began his retrogade movement.
Capt. Duncan, an officer under Sir John Johnson, in this invasion, returned after the war close to the residence of his father, situated a few miles from Schenectada. His return taking been kept private for a little time, he invited in several of his former acquaintances, 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 consideration, 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 fatigue as it was, prisoners of war; but that Gen. Van Rensselaer did not give them a chance. Capt. Duncan finding himself kindly treated by his old neighbors, remained in the State.
How Fort Plain Took on a New Name.-I am aware that Gen. Van Rensselaer was court martialed for his apathy in this affair, and I suppose was honorably acquitted ; but it would be evident to anyone who talked with members of the pursuing army, that Colonels Harper and Duboise, as also other officers who denounced his action at the time in the valley, and were called as witnesses at his trial at Albany, were afraid to testify against a man of his wealth and influence ; hence a verdict of acquittal. They seemed to forget all they had said when in Tryon county. Dr. Hough published several years since, an account of this invasion of Sir John Johnson, and the court martial of Gen. Van Rensselaer, and therein disclosed the fact that the latter officer writing from Fort Plain-a name which had been established four years-dated his papers at Fort Rensselaer ; anxious, as it would seem, to have this principal fort among its half a dozen fellows, take on his own name. It is believed that never before that time it had ever been called by any other name than Fort Plain. Nearly two years later, Gen. Washington was there, and dated his correspondence from "Fort Rensselaer," and others probably did so, unaware that the name of the fort had been changed.
There was a palisaded house at Canajoharie, the old Van Alstine dwelling which is still standing, that was called Fort Rensselaer, as I was assured by Col. John Roof, Gen. Peter C. Fox and others, but it is not believed that Gen. Van Rensselaer made any halt there. In a late correspondence I asked Judge Campbell, author of the Annals of Tryon County, if he was aware that Fort Plain was ever called Fort Rensselaer, and he replied in the negative. The village of Fort Plain took on its war name, and the citizens will continue so to call it, without regard to the personal ambition of anyone.
An Interesting Paper Disclosing a Secret.-Since the above was written, the following document preserved among the papers of the late William II. Seeber, has come to my observation :
"By virtue of the appointment of his Excellency, George Clinton, Esq., Governor of the State of New York, etc., etc.
" We do hereby in pursuance of an act entitled an act to amend an act, entitled an act to accommodate the inhabitants of the frontiers with habitations and other purposes therein mentioned, passed the 22d day of March, 1781-Grant unto William Seeber, Peter Adame, George Garlock and Henry Smith, license and liberty to cut and remove wood or timber from the lands of John Laib (or Lail), George Kraus, John Fatterle, John Plaikert, Wellem (William) Fenck, George Ekar, John Walrath and Henry Walrath, lying contiguous to Fort Plain, being a place of defense, for fuel, fencing and timber for the use of the first above mentioned persons.
Given under our hands at Canajoharie this 8th day of November, 1782.
CHRISTIAN NELLIS & M. WILLETT, Commissioners.
This instrument was drawn up in the hand-writing of Esq. Nellis, and taken to Col. Willett to sign. In the hand writing of the latter and with the ink of his signature, he crossed off the word Plain and interlined the name Rensselaer. It seems surprising that Col. Willett, who so disapproved of changing the name of Fort Stanwix, should have connived at changing the name of Fort Plain ; and it can only be accounted for by presuming that he was thereby courting the influence of wealth and position.
The Burial of Col. Brown's Men.-I learned from George M. Bander, Esq.,*-a son of Michael Bander who was a Ranger in the Revolution-where this burial took place. His mother was Lana, a daughter of John Klock-the Bauders and Klocks -were among the earliest German families in Palatine, where informant was born August 28, 1768, and where he has always resided, honored for his integrity. And I may add, he still holds a military 160 acre land warrant, for his own services at Sackett's Harbor in 1814. After the Stone Arabia battle, John Klock drew the bodies of Brown's men together on a sled, but there was no snow on the ground. They were brought near Fort Paris which stood between " The Corners," and interred, as now believed, a few rods southeast of the present school-house
* He assured the writer that he attended the funeral services observed at the death of Washington, in the church at Johnstown, late In December, 1799 ; he being then 15 years old. There was no snow, as he said, on the ground at that time. He died in November, 1881, in his 97th year.
home. The pit dug was a trench some 12 by 15 feet, sufficiently wide to lake in two lengths of bodies; and upon its brink stood Miss Lana Klock and saw the remains deposited. They were laid in side by side in the clothes in -which they fell, without coffins ; but their number is unknown. It was probably 20 or 30. Some who fell in their flight from the battle-field were elsewhere interred. The general interment near the fort has been corroborated by Benj. Getman, Michael Wick and Henry Lasher, all three being octogenarians.
Just how many fell in the Stone Arabia battle is unknown. Col Stone gave the number as from 40 to 45, which I think closely aggregates the number. The loss of the enemy that day was unknown, but having so greatly the advantage in numerical force, it probably did not exceed one-half the American loss. Most of the Americans slain were New England men.
Incidents Growing out of the Battle.-After Col. Brown fell, many of his men borne down by numbers fled westward, and quite a number were overtaken and slain on the Judge Jacob Eacker* farm, a mile northerly from Palatine Bridge. It has been stated that six men took shelter behind a large rock, from which they made several shots, but the enemy getting in their rear, they were all cut off. After hours of concealment with his family and the enemy had been called westward by tinhorns, Judge Eacker sallied out to survey the burned district on which his own buildings had stood in the morning. A little back of the mansion which he erected in 1803, he found an American drummer-boy still alive, who had been scalped by the Indians, lie was conveyed to Fort Paris, properly cared for, and while convalesing he was sent to his Connecticut home, and was not again heard from.
Jack, a valuable slave owned by Judge Eacker, was coaxed to go along with the slaves of Bernard Frey, in his early flight to Canada. In Sullivan's expedition this slave was captured and
* This man was out of a good German family, was a prominent citizen of this day, and well known as Judge Eacker of the county courts. He died in 1823, at the age of 74. He was the father of Capt. George I. Eacker, a distinguished young lawyer of New York city, she was insulted by, challenged by, and fought a duel with Philip, a son of Alexander Hamilton ; whom he killed at Hoboken in 1801?, as was shown in the first volume. So said Jacob I. Eacker, a younger brother of George,who married a daughter of George Herkimer, and resided on the paternal homestead. He died March 8, 187S, aged 87.
returned to his former master-a circumstance not mated in my investigations. Judge E. gave Jack 25 cents each, to bring together and bury all the dead soldiers he could find scattered upon his farm-and thus was he supplied with pocket money for sometime. Eacker had a stack of wheat in William Ehle's woods adjoining his own which escaped the torch, and this still supplied his family with food ; but the rest of his property shared the general fate of his patriotic neighbors.-Jacob I. Eacker.
Two Dwellings Escape the Torch.-Nearly two miles westward of the Eacker place, on the northerly part of the Domine Ehle lands, resided at this period William Ehle. Seeing the Oswegatchie fires in the morning and hearing the alarm guns, Ehle harnessed a team to a sled, took his family into it and drove to a secreted place in the woods, where he had concealed a barrack of wheat. With his gun he took a position to shoot a foeman, should an attempt be made to burn the wheat; but it remained standing, as also did his dwelling.
The house of Jacob Walrath, not far from Ehle's, was plundered and set on fire, and a hole burned through the floor; but as chance would have it, a bag containing flax seed was ignited and running freely into the hole smothen'd the fire.-From Barman Ehle, a son of William Ehle, and in his 81st year at our interview in 1862. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He married Lana, a daughter of Nicholas Weiser, whose wife was a daughter of Jacob Walrath above named.
Abner Pier, a soldier in this battle, was knocked down and scalped by an Indian, and as the enemy moved on one of them looked back, and, seeing him move, drew up and fired at him, inflicting a severe flesh wound. Without going back to his victim he proceeded forward. When the Americans returned to the field of carnage, Pier was found alive, taken to the fort and recovered. After the war, this Pier settled on the west side of Otsego lake nearly four miles from Cooperstown-the locality came to be called Pier's town. Some 60 years ago there were dwelling at this place the families of Philip Van Horne, Isaac and John Williams, brothers, and also a family of Watermans. This Pier family became celebrated in Otsego county for its musical talent, especially in playing the fife and key- bugle at military parades.-Hiram Pier, corroborated.
I have said that most of the men slain with Col. Brown were New England troops; there were, however, a number of local militiamen killed, and remembered among them were Peter House and John Cook-the latter being a son of Casper Cook- the Cook family having been numbered among the earliest and best families, of Stone Arabia.--Benjamin Getman, and Mrs. Andrew Nellis, a descendent of the Cook family.
After the battle, one Leaks, a militiaman, was found dead near the John Eacker place, who, as he had no wounds, was supposed to have run himself to death. The John Eacker house, a stone edifice,was not disturbed ; the enemy probably thinking it fortified-hence dare not "approach it. Col. Andrew Gray's house was the only one in its neighborhood that escaped burning. It was set on fire and extinguished by his brother with milk from the cellar. An Indian was running with a fire-brand toward the barn, when Gray raised a window to fire upon him and he scampered off. This family saved several stacks of hay by a timely sally of Americans from the fort, who fired on the barn-burners and they decamped.-Jacob I. Eacker.
The First Shot fired by Brown's men after leaving the fort, was by George Getman, who saw an Indian pursuing two women who were fleeing with bundles, supposed of clothing, from their own home. The Indian fired-one of them fell, and as he was running up to scalp her, Getman's rifle brought him down. The other woman escaped.-George Bander, then a boy at Fort Paris.
Escape of Bauder and Getman.-Fleeing from the battle-ground, George Getman, a militia man, overtook a Young Yankee soldier, who seized hold of his bayonet belt, much assisting him but retarding the flight of the former. After proceeding in this manner awhile, the belt broke and the lad fell behind, soon to be tomahawked and scalped. Getman was running east and came to a bar-way in a fence, the middle bar was down, and as he stooped to pass through he heard a bullet strike the board over his head. This gun was loaded, but unluckily the flint had fallen from the lock. He was not pursued any farther, and in passing a fallen tree in a little copse he heard a voice saying, " Come here, brother !" Concealed under this tree he found Jacob Snell (afterwards a county judge), a brother militiaman, with a wounded shoulder. They both adjusted their gun-locks, soon after which a single Indian came within gun-shot and stopped upon a stump for observation. The fugitives had a deadly aim upon him but, not knowing how near other savages might be, they did not fire ; but had he discovered them he would no doubt have fallen. Giving a few whoops, he disappeared.
Getman, with his hat off, was in the act of examining Snell's wound, when a hawk flew down and struck its talons into his bald scalp, lacerating it and causing the blood to flow freely. Not seeing the bird, he thought an Indian had struck him, but turning round and seeing no third person, he knew not what hurt him, until Snell informed him. His wound bled more freely than did his companion's. On hearing his cause of alarm, Getman exclaimed-" Blitz, that's a warning." After hearing the signals to call the Indians westward, they passed up a ravine and reached Fort Paris in safety.-Carper Getman, Jacob I. Eacker and others.
Let us 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 the enemy did appear, possibly those stacks might escape the firebrand Andrew Loucks had two stacks thus concealed, 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 fight to 10 horses, comparatively few of which were recovered. 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 French leave during his absence. Col. Vrooman was often from home on public business during the winter months of the war; and sometime after the destruction of Schoharie-being a member 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 Maj. Woolsey. He laid off his loose clothing, and very soon after sought an interview with his " military friend," but to his surprise, 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 Colonel.-Angelica Vrooman.
Concealed Tories.-Where now stands the dwelling, so long known as."Spraker's Tavern" on the Mohawk turnpike, stood a small house in the Revolution owned by one of the Tribes Hill Bowens, and occupied by John Van Loan-whose politics were of a suspicious character. On a certain occasion, two tories, Albert Van De Warken, and a man named, Frazee entered the settlement in the character of spies, and were traced to the dwelling of Van Loan ; where they were concealed in the daytime. A small party of patriots having assembled under Capt. John Zielley, approached the house one evening to kill or capture these emissaries ; and discovered them through a window at supper. Becoming apprised of the proximity of armed men, the spies left the house and fled to a barrack of hay, between that and the hill. Around the barrack Capt. Zielley stationed his men to prevent the escape of the fugitives, and await the return of day. As light began to dawn, the rascals sprang from their concealment and ran. Frazee, in attempting to pass Adam Empie, a soldier 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 unknown.-Joseph Spraker.
Invasion of Dorlach.--When 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 the Tories in 1780, whether Britain could subdue the States, Philip, whose family still lived in New Dorlach, and who desired to move it to Canada, had a party assigned him near Harpersfield to aid in its removal. It is supposed they arrived near the settlement a day before the army reached Schoharie ; and were concealed until Seth's Henry 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 following day also of the hostile party in New Dorlach.
The Merckley Family.-The enemy, consisting of eighteen. Indians and three tories, made their appearance just after noon at the dwelling of Michael Merckley,* where Hiram Sexton resided in 1845. 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 13 years old, and Fox, a boy near his age, were also at home. Frederick, a brother of Michael 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 particulars were obtained), about 17 years old, who was then at home ; Martin, a young 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.
The France Family.-About three-fourths of a mile west of Michael Merckley, then resided Bastian France, where his son Henry resided in 1845, a little distance from the road, which ran much as it does at the present 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 (the first white child born in the town of Seward), and Miss Catharine Merckley, had plighted hymenial vows, and were to have been married two weeks from the day of her death. Four other sons were at home-John, 14: years old; Henry, 13,
* This name was formerly written Mercle, and pronounced Mericle.
and two younger , and two daughters-Betsey, a young lady of 17, and a little girl perhaps 10 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.
Death of Catharine Merckley.-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 excited from some cause, to meet her impending fate. Possibly she heard the gun fired at her uncle, and anticipated danger. She had but little more than a mile to go after parting with her 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 elevated in front of the Merckley place, and just beyond it the road turns off, nearly east, towards Hyndsville.
Miss Merckley, riding a noble gray horse, as she drew near her uncle's dwelling, 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 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 hand of another Indian and fired again. The horse, as though conscious of danger, and the value of his burden, increased his speed, bill the fatal messenger had done its errand-the lovely victim pitched forward and fell to the earth, writhing in the agonies of death.
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 -minutes, 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 pale face to kill, and had I known the squaw had such long black hair, I would not have -shot her." The horse ran home, after losing his rider, and the bloody saddle shadowed the tidings her friends might expect to hear. The family instantly fled, and secreted themselves in the woods, where they remained until the following day.
Seeking Assistance.-Bastian France, who was then advanced in life, and quite infirm, 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 taking 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. Knowing he could not reach it before-they did, he resolved to proceed on foot, to the Lower Schoharie fort for assistance, distant 18 or 20 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 Mohawk. 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 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 around a corner of the house and stood still. 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 with 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 placed on a table in the centre of a room and greedily devoured. Mrs. France hearing 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 slept, but the hatchet had done its bidding, and he was too weak. When his mother arrived at the house and beheld the situation of her dying son, who was then past speech, her maternal sympathy was aroused. Her little daughter, crying, hung to her knees and besought her to save John from the cruel Indians ; 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.
A Captive Escapes.-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 around, 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 round it and fled towards the woods. When about 20 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 direction he had taken. From behind some logs he watched their motions, and as soon as they had returned to the dwelling, he gained the adjoining woods in safety.
Killed for his Scalp.-A few minutes after Henry had eluded the vigilance of his new master, the Indian who had gone to Hoffman's returned, was angry because the former had escaped, and instantly dispatched and scalped John. Philip Crysler lived in the direction of Hoffman, 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 the blooded Indian are almost invariably black), but they afterwards 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 Indian 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 snatching 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 in flames. Two large barracks, each an hundred feet in circumference, 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 offspring.
The invaders went as far west as the dwelling of Haines, capturing 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, and then, with Betsey and three younger children, concealed himself in the woods.
Henry France, after gaining 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 meantime, the enemy, with their plunder, accompanied by the family of Crysler, 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 greater security but a day or two before, they made a halt. Spurnhuyer had left a young heifer near the dwelling, which was shot to serve the party for food. When the gun was fired at the animal, young France was not in sight, though near, but was running directly toward that place, and supposed it fired at himself, changing his course, nor did he know at what the gun was discharged, until the return of Martin Merckley, sometime 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 smother. Procuring blankets at the house the weeping group returned to sleep in the woods, fearing a visit from the hears 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.
Two Prisoners Killed.-Spurnhuyer's house, after being plundered, was set on fire, and, with 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. 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 place where the boys were murdered, found bones scattered over the ground, wild beasts having no doubt eaten the flesh that covered them. 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, fortunately 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. Prisoners captured in the spring or fall, when the Indians were congregated 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.
A Solemn Burial.-On the day following their massacre, the remains of John France were buried by Henry Haines, Sr., and those of Mr. Merckley and his charming niece, by Mr. Haines, Michael Fremire, and Christopher France, Miss M.'s intended husband. "No long procession followed those mangled corpses yet one there was present whose sorrowing came from the heart. A few rough boards were laid in the " narrow house " which had been hastily dug a little distance east of where they had fallen, and blooming youth and parental age were placed side by side and buried. About 1840 their remains were taken up, placed in a coffin, 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 :
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 was about 18, and her uncle, probably, 45 or 50 years old. After 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.
A Mystery Solved.-It has been a mystery to many that Michael Merckley, an 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 previous 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 it became necessary to fix the paternity of an unborn infant. Her parents desired her to fix it on young Merckley and compel a marriage. She was taken before Judge Brown, a justice of the peace, who, appraised 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 paternity was awarded Barnhard. This affair caused a lasting hatred between the two families ; and when Crysler obtained the direction of a party of Indians, some of them were found willing, in anticipation of plunder, to share his prejudices and gratify his savage propensities.*
*Not a few instances occurred in the Revolution. In which persons, not only of diverse politics, but of those acting in concert politically, seized on the opportunity afforded by a civil war to revenge serious difficulties, of a patriotic character, in the most summary manner. Indeed, such is, to a greater or less extent, ever the case in commotions which upset the established order of governments and render wholesome laws nugatory. Such was tearfully the case when Charles IX, of France, in 1572, caused the assassination of the Huguenots of his kingdom. Among the fifty thousand victims to the bigotry of Queen Catharine, the mother of Charles, who connived at and impelled the treacherous act, not a few fell upon the shrine of hoarded hatred, to satiate personal enmity amid the bloody tempest.
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 pretexts 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 passions of the human breast triumph over virtue and social order ; and crime-
abroad at noonday,
Nor does she cease at midnight to destroy,* "
Number of Buildings Burned in Schoharie.-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 134 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 county, 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 other
* 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 Fretz; Henry a son of Wm. Hynds, and Christian, a son of Fred. Merckley, corroborated by others.
colonies at the time, the following extract of a letter from President Madison, dated at Philadelphia, Nov. 16, 1780 (which I find in the Albany Evening Journal of "Nov. 30, 1841), will clearly show. After alluding to the difficulty of procuring supplies of wheat and flour for the Army, he adds :
" The inroads of the enemy on the frontiers of New York have been most fatal to us in this respect. They have almost totally ruined that fine wheat country, which was able, and from the energy of their government, was likely to supply magazines of flour, both to the main army and the northwestern posts. The settlement of Schoharie, which alone was able to furnish, according to a letter from Gen. Washington, eighty thousand bushels of grain for public use, has been totally laid in ashes."
A Paper Currency of Little Value.-Nor was the great loss, of grain, dwellings, stock, etc., the only 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 nearly its pretended value.
In an invoice of the effects of Jacob Fr. Lawyer, made June 1, 1798, by Peter Swart, John Ingold, Jr., and John Knauff, is the following item: " 306 Continental dollars, and one New York bill of five dollars." Some families had larger amounts.
Many 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 50 to 60 dollars continental money would command in 1780 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. It was counterfeited to some extent (see Jour. of Prov. Congress, p. 891). The British printed and scattered it in counterfeit form broadcast, to aid in rendering it valueless.
Counterfeit Money and Ominous Signs.-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 he most likely to stimulate patriotic sentiments and enlist the feelings of Americans in the popular cause. Indeed, numerous historical incidents tended in no stinted measure to inspire the struggling patriots with alternate hopes and fears. Among those of the former kind often mooted, were two facts in the annals of royalty. First, that the golden head of the walking cane of Charles I, loosened and fell off upon the ground ; which seemed ominous of the subsequent fact that he -was beheaded. Second, that when George III, the then reigning English monarch was crowned, during the ceremony the richest jewell in the crown fell out upon the floor, from which circumstance the analogy was deduced that, as her American colonies were the richest jewel in the landed possession of the British government; they must with the strife fall from her grasp.-Capt. Eben Williams.
|The vignette of this bill is the emblem of a globe surrounded by the motto : " The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice." A quotation from the Psalms of David, showing the confidence of the states in the God of battles.|
The significant devices on the bills generally proved an index to the settlements prevailing at that date. The back of the notes contained the amount of the same, with the name and residence of the printers, and some simple device, as that of a leaf, a vine, or an Indian bow. The latter appears on the back of the note, from which the above cut was engraved. Some of the continental notes contained watermarks, only to be seen by holding them up to the light. Many of the vignettes also contained a colored mark of some kind. This device, a circular chain, bearing on each link the name of a state, is an admirable emblem of their union, and implies that while it remains unbroken, no foreign power can destroy its central government This note, two-thirds of a dollar, is dated February 17, 1776, and in a device upon the back is the commendable caution, "mind your business."
This is the vignette of a six dollar note, dated February 17, 1770. It represents a beaver gnawing a tree. This sagacious animal constructs its dams and dwelling-, by cutting down trees with its teeth ; a slow but sure process. The motto over it is : " By persevering." Saying in effect to the colonists : persist and your labors shall be crowned with success. This is the vignette of a five dollar note, of New York currency, dated March 5, 1776. It represents a candlestick with 13 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.
is the vignette of a five dollar note, dated May 9, 1776. It shows a thorn
tree, with a hand grasping it. The motto says : "Sustain or abstain."
This device, at that period, represents the colonies as saying in effect
to Great Britain, pass laws to protect or none to affect
|This device, a contest between an eagle and a stork, is from a three dollar note, dated July 22, 1776. The stork represents the colonies struggling against the superior force of the mother country. The motto encourages by saying : "The result is uncertain."|
|Here is the vignette of an eight dollar note, dated August 13, 1776. It contains a harp of 13 strings, 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 note, dated August 13, 1776, is a most interesting and significant one. It is that of a hand planting a young tree. Its motto : " For posterity," shows the duty of practicing disinterested benevolence ; in struggling to establish a government which will extend its greatest benefit to future genera ions. So appropriate was this device, that I used it on the cover of the book.|
vignette of this note for four dollars, dated January 14, 1779, represents
a swine encountering a spear; and demanding, as he received it, "death,
or life with decency."
This note for eighty dollars is also dated January 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.
|This little device, which appears on a note for one shilling, New York currency, dated August 13, 1770 (on which are the words : " 'Tis death to counterfeit"), is truly expressive. It represents 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 5,000 men, and 400 cannon. In June 5,000 men, under Gen. Kniphausen, entered New Jersey and committed many acts of violence. On the 10th day of July, Admiral M. de Ternay sent by the French government, with 17 armed vessels and several transports, arrived at Newport, R. I., bringing 6,000 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 10th of August the American army, under the command of Gen. Gates, met the British at Camden, 120 miles northwest of Charleston, S. C., under Lord Cornwallis ; at which meeting the laurels of Saratoga were transformed for the American commander, to 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. It never has been done. It should be.
In September, an attempt was made by Gen. Benedict Arnold * to surrender the fortress of West Point by treachery, to Sir Henry Clinton, 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 captors of Maj. Andre.
An Event which Happened in New Jersey.-In the autumn of 1858, I met John, Stuyvesant, then of 684 Water St., New York, who would be 80 years, old Oct. 19th of that year ; an intelligent old gentleman, who said he witnessed the following circumstance when seven or eight years of age, which would place its time in 1780 or '81. At this period there dwelt at New Bridge, four or five miles from Hackensack, N. J., a Demorest family upon whom a marauding party of refugees levied a seven lax, driving away most of their cattle. A small party of armed whigs rallied and pursued the '' cow-boys," as that class of thieves were called, toward New York, overtaking the rascals in Bergen, 10 miles from the starting point. They were four in number, and thinking, no doubt, that they had eluded pursuit, they there lingered awhile in an apple orchard. The Whigs, unperceived by their foes, gained an out-kitchen of one Towers, from which, selecting their victims, they fired upon and killed all four; which number, it was believed, constituted the whole of this thieving gang. My informant, seeing one of them yet alive, went to him, but he died soon after. His father, Peter Stuyvesant, owned the land across the road from the orchard, where a hole was dug and in it the bodies of these misguided men were buried just as they fell. Thus was summary justice meted to these rascals for engaging in an infamous business, in which not a few, on both sides of the Hudson, got safely away with their booty.
Fate of a Horse-thief.-New Jersey was a favorable place for
* He flee from West Point Sept. 24,1781, and on the 4th of October following, Congress erased his name from the Register of the names of the officers of the American army.
the operations of the class denominated " cowboys Engaged in this nefarious calling, was a fellow named William Clark, who turned his attention mainly to stealing horses, from Monmouth and adjoining counties. He had been successful for five years, and was supposed to have stolen and sold 100 good horses in New York, eluding every effort to capture him. But in 1782, in the vicinity of Woodbridge, a letter having been conveyed to him, as he supposed, by an accomplice, telling him to be at a a certain place, where he would find two good horses tied. He went there, and instead of horses he received several bullets from patriots awaiting his arrival. Thus was the district ridded of a great pest.-Barber & Howes Historical Collections of New Jersey.
Schell's Defense of his Castle.-Snellsbush, so called after Christian Schell, its principal settler, was in the town of Herkimer, at that period three or four miles from Fort Dayton. Schell had erected a block-house on his farm early in the war,
* The subsequent arrest and execution of Parker are given elsewhere.
in which he continued to reside, with his family, undisturbed until the afternoon of Aug. 6, 1780, when the enemy, 66 strong, under Lieut. McDonald, attempted to storm the little fort. Campbell first mentioned this invasion in note " J" of his Annals, but the note seems to have no text elsewhere. The note shows, in doggerel verse, that this invasion occurred Aug. 6, but does not state the year. The verse says of the invaders- "The Indians were 48, and tories full 16." Col. Stone places the transaction in 1781, and Benton copies the date from Stone. As stated by Campbell, the Indians stole the march on Schell the next year and compassed his death ; which I am satisfied occurred in 1781. Hence, I place the attack on the blockhouse in 1780; at the same time in which Brant struck the Canajoharie settlements.
Schell was fortunately in his house with his wife and three grown up sons. His two youngest boys, eight or ten years of age, had been sent to a neighbor's to borrow a fan with which to clean grain, and were taken by the enemy while returning. McDonald's party surrounded the house and made great efforts to force an entrance, two of them getting a rail, with which they attempted to open the door. Schell and his sons from loop holes kept firing upon the invaders with telling effect, while Mrs. Schell, with an axe did good execution by striking down the guns thrust through the crannies to tire on the inmates ; thus bending the barrels and rendering them useless. One of Schell's sons making an opening in the roof, drew a bead upon the feathered head of an Indian and shouted : " Take care of your eyes !" The Indian looked up as a bullet crashed through his brain. After the battle had lasted some time, McDonald came to the door and demanded a surrender, promising good usage, etc.; but exposing himself to the fire of an inmate, a ball shattered his leg. Quickly Schell unbarred the door, and, seizing the leader, drew him in and secured the door before the astonished crew could prevent it. With McDonald a prisoner, the inmates no longer feared the burning of the fort, which had been threatened.
A Successful Ruse.-Twilight was gathering when Schell, apprehending some desperate effort of his foes, adopted a successful ruse. An outside cellar door had an underground entrance toward Fort Dayton ; and from this, Schell, unobserved, gained a little distance from the fort, when, at the top of his voice, and the great dismay of his foes, he shouted-" Capt. Small, advance upon the right; and you, Capt. Harter, take the left, and surround the enemy." In the next moment the latter fled precipitately, not doubting but two companies of rangers were surely approaching. The Schell family, leaving their prisoner well cared for, lost no time in making their flight to Fort Dayton.
The next morning a strong party from that fort visited Fort Schell, and learned from McDonald that his followers returned, surprised to find him alone, and still more, perhaps, to learn that the two companies of rangers had not wheeled into line. They found he could not be removed with safety, and left him, with a promise of kind treatment to the Schell boys, if their commander was properly cared for.* The loss of the enemy was severe. Col. Stone says they had 11 killed and six wounded. Benton copies this and adds that, "nine out of 12 wounded, which the enemy started with, died before they reached Canada." It is believed that their loss, in killed and wounded, was at least 20-a pretty dear attempt to capture or destroy one family. Lieut. McDonald was borne to Fort Dayton on a litter, made of two poles and a blanket ; and on the way, Adam Hartman, fixing his bayonet, with a feint movement said he would help carry him. He would, no doubt, have killed him had he not been a prisoner. Dr. William Petrie amputated McDonald's leg, but could not staunch the wound, and he bled to death. A rumor was current that the old doctor had purposely let him bleed. This was not generally believed. The captive Schell boys came back at the end of the war. They were treated kindly on their way to Canada. The enemy were pursued by troops from Fort Dayton to their camp fires, but they succeeded in making their escape to Canada. John Dockstader and Adam Hartman were of the pursuing party, as the former assured the writer in September, 1849, at which time he was 93 years old, with a clear, intellect, and very retentive memory.
Schell Removes to Fort Dayton.-He at once abandoned his back-woods farm and occupied a hut in the Fort Dayton inclosure. The following summer (1781) he, with Adam Hartman, of whom I have elsewhere to speak, cultivated land together. Hartman lived just outside the pickets. They were hoeing corn on the flats near where the bridge now crosses the river, between the villages of Herkimer and Mohawk, June 24 ; and when Schell and his four song, Christian, Demas, Frederick and Marks, were ready, after dinner, to go to work, Hartman said, " You go on, I will soon come along." On their arrival at the field the father started to go round it to see if everything was right. Oats were growing upon one side of the corn, and in the oats Indians were concealed, with wild lilies over their heads. As Schell came near to the oats he was fired upon and fell, with a bullet through his stomach. Seeing his sons about to flee, he called to them not to let his scalp go to Canada ; when they halted, and one of them shot down his father's murderer. Two Indians sprang to catch their falling comrade, when Demas, with his gun loaded with buck-shot, drew up to fire, as a bullet passed through his own breast. His blood wet the priming of his gun, which prevented its discharge. His son Frederick also received a bullet through his thigh which laid him up for months. The firing hastened Hartman and others on the way, who were soon on the ground. The firing also drew troops from the fort, and the Indians abandoned further attempts to procure scalps and fled across the river.
Schell and his wounded sons were taken to the fort and properly cared for, but he and Demas both died on the following day, greatly lamented. Mr. Schell was an ardent Christian, honoring his profession. A short time before his death his neighbor, Hartman, left him praying fervently for his enemies. Some one met him soon after and inquired the condition of the sufferer. In no very good humor he replied much as follows : "There's Schell in there ; he's going to die, and he's praying for the 'poor Indians !' It's well worth while-for him to pray for them d--d Indians, as came here to kill him."
The account of the Schell family was obtained at interviews with Lodowick Moyer and John Dockstader, corroborated by other old people of Herkimer county: they were mainly from Dockstader. He was a son of George Dockstader, and at our interview was living a mile above Herkimer village. He was in the Oriskany battle under Capt. Henry Harter,"and was near Gen. Herkimer when he fell. He said that at New Germantown, opposite Frankfort, Herkimer proposed to wait for tidings from Fort Stanwix; when some of his officers told him that his family was nearly all in Canada, and taunted him beyond endurance. This staunch old patriot died within two years of our interview. I was surprised to learn that Gen. Herkimer's wife, at the beginning of difficulties, went to Canada and remained there. This fact should increase our veneration for the old hero's memory.
Anecdotes of Zachariah Keyes.-Here are several incidents that should have gone in the first volume, in connection with the large wagon transport, that were accidentally omitted there, which I think the reader will be pleased to find here. The most eccentric inn-keeper on the Western Turnpike, was " Zach" Keyes, as familiarly called, in the time of large covered wagons of whom several pleasing anecdotes are told About the year 1817, a Cayuga county merchant went to Albany on horse-back, and from thence to New York on a sloop to purchase goods. Steamboats were then running, but as the fare was from five to seven dollars on them, and only two dollars on sloops, the latter were still much patronized. Returning to Albany he there expected to meet teams after his goods ; and with finances low he left the city, hoping to meet his expected teams or some acquaintance to put him in funds. Toward night he called at several taverns and made known his condition, but found no one who cared to entertain a stranger unable to cancel his bill in the morning. He resolved to change his tactics, and much fatigued he halted at the house of Keyes, about 40 miles from Albany, making no allusion to his assets. Mine host with the suavity and politeness of a Frenchman catered to his liberal calls for the best the house afforded.
In the morning the stranger mounted his horse to resume his journey, and as he drew up the reins, Zach, in his most affable manner, said to him: " Sir, I think you have forgotten some-thing ? " " No, nothing at all! " replied the stranger, clapping his hand upon a portmanteau, " Sir," continued the host, " I think you must have forgotten to pay your bill! " " No," said the traveler emphatically, " I have not forgotten to pay it, but sir, the honest truth is, there is every farthing I have in my pocket!" saying which, he exhibited four solitary coppers. " What may I call your name sir?" demanded Zach with an excited bow. " My name is ----, I am a merchant, reside at ---, Cayuga county, have been to "New York to buy goods, my expenses thus far have exceeded my expectation; I left Albany supposing I should meet teams going after my goods and from the drivers obtain some money."
Keyes then asked the stranger to dismount and enter the house. Once more in the bar-office, Zach enquired how much money his guest would need to take him home. " Five dollars," was the reply, " less the amount of your own bill." As he received the needful from the confiding landlord, he said : " Such a day you may expect the money by mail." He once more vaulted into the saddle, was bowed from the door, and was soon out of sight. In due time a letter arrived for the Sharon landlord from his western customer, containing a ten dollar bank note, from which he was directed to cancel his own claim, and retain the balance as a fund for travelers circumstanced as he had been when last at his house. Zach Keyes liked a good practical joke, and as this incident was highly relished, it afforded him an additional yarn to spin on proper occasions. -From Judge Tiffany, Henry Butler, and others.
A Peep at the Goat.-While Zach Keyes was keeping tavern in Sharon, a Masonic Lodge held its meetings in a ball-room on the second floor of his house ; of which lodge he was a prominent member. Over the ballroom was an opening for ventilation, and when the lodge was in session, Stephen, a son of the landlord, of 10 summers, essayed to get over the unfloored timbers of the garret, to see from this hole the proverbial goat; when a misstep let him through the plastering into the lodge room, landing him near his mortified father. Without any ceremony or delay the parent seized his inquisitive boy and cast him neck and heels out of an open window upon the ground ; certainly a wiser young man if he had not seen just what he expected to see-for he had learned better how to estimate the strength of lathing, and gained a surer knowledge of his own specific gravity.-John Crownse, a former neighbor of Keyes.
Novel Courtship and Marriage of the Innkeeper Keyes.- About the year 1825, the eccentric Zach Keyes being a widower went to Cherry Valley on horseback ; and riding up to the public house then kept by the widow of Thomas Whitaker-a plump and rosy widow-he requested her called to the door. As she appeared with a smile and invited him in-doors, he said nay, " I have some business with Esq. Hudson, which will detain me two hours. I have concluded to marry again, and have thought of you for a wife, and "-
" Pray dismount and come in, Mr. Keyes ! " said the charming widow. "No," said the horseman, " I cannot go in, but if you think favorably of marrying me, you can let me know it on my return." Her sweetest smile could not win him from the horse, and he rode away.
Returning at the specified time, cupid's candidate again halted at the widow's door, who reappeared with bewitching allurements ; but the suitor executed himself handsomely from her pressing invitations to enter the dwelling, as he desired to know her determination. She was much excited, but at once concluding the event was registered above, and it was folly to war with fate, she blushed and whispered through her smiling tears-"I have concluded to marry you !" He then told her that on a certain day she should, with her friends, come to his house, where he would have all things ready for their nuptials, and thus contravene village gossip.
In the absence of a desired clergyman, Keyes secured the services of a Baptist minister residing on the hill above him, and at the appointed time the guests were assembled. The Elder on foot put in his appearance, wearing a Scotch plaid mantle and a straw hat. As he entered the room the eccentric groom thus addressed him : " Now Domine, if you have any praying to do, please defer it for rainy days and Sundays, but proceed and marry me to Mrs. Whitaker, as soon as the Lord will let you." As may be supposed, there was no delay in tying the knot after such an episode; and when done, a friend placed in the palm of the Elder, a fee of five silver dollars--casting rather a carnal look upon which, the good man slipped them into his vest pocket. He was tendered a glass of wine which he refused, and after wishing the married couple much happiness, he proceeded directly home. Hawk-eyed people are not uncommon guests at weddings, and one of this kind from a window saw the Domine take from his pocket, look at and replace the filthy lucre so easily obtained, half a dozen times in going to the old Myndert place, distant from the inn about 20 rods. Some Coelebs still in search of a wife may inquire it this couple lived happily? Of course they did, for when was a match ever recorded in Heaven, that did not prove a happy one. --Thomas Machin and John Crownse.
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