History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 141.
Further account of the Palatines in Schoharie-The, first white man murdered in the Schoharie valley.-Having followed these people through all manner of vicissitudes into their wilderness home, let us linger about their rude dwellings and see what other troubles awaited them. They were just beginning to feel somewhat at home, when in 1715, Adam Vrooman, a Low Dutchman from Schenectada, as I have shown, first attempted a settlement upon his lands just south of and adjoining those occupied by the former. Notwithstanding his grave charges to Gov. Hunter-who was ready to listen to any complaint against the Germans-for interrupting his plans and giving him a pretty bad scare, if he did not dilate somewhat upon their acts ; reliable tradition in his own family says he did not only erect his dwelling, that season ; but having his son and other hands with him, he raised considerable corn and fenced in a portion of his lands : and in the fall on returning to Schenectada, he left a hired man named Truax, and two slaves, Morter and Mary his wife, to look after the property. Not long after Vrooman and his son left the valley, Truax was cruelly murdered. The circumstances attending the murder are substantially as follows:
The evening before his death, Truax returned from gunning, with a mess of pigeons, which he told Mary to dress and prepare for breakfast. Being fatigued, he retired to rest earlier than usual, and soon was in a grateful slumber familiar to the sportsman. Mary cleansed the pigeons, and having done so, unconsciously put the knife into a side pocket still bloody, intending, but forgetting to wash it. Morter was absent from home during that evening and most of the night. Mary arose betimes in the morning, with no small pains prepared the savory dish, and waited some time for Truax to rise. Observing that he kept his room unusually late, she went to his door and called to him, but received no answer. She tried to open the door and found it locked inside. She felt the most lively apprehension that all was not right. She could, outside the house, look into the window. Thither she went, when her suspicions were more than realized. She quickly communicated intelligence of her discovery to the Indians, her nearest neighbors, who burst open the door of his room. Horrible indeed was the sight disclosed. Poor Truax lay in his bed, which he had sought without suspicion of danger, with his throat cut from ear to ear, Indian messengers were immediately dispatched to Schenectada, to communicate the tragic affair to the Vrooman family. About the same time, the bloody knife was discovered in the pocket of the weeping Mary. Soon the messengers returned with Vrooman, and proper officers to arrest the murderer, or whoever might be suspected. Suspicions were fixed upon the two blacks, and both were arrested, and hurried off to Albany for trial.
The day of examination arrived, and the prisoners were brought to the bar. On the trial no unsettled difficulty was shown to have existed between the murdered and the accused; indeed, little appeared to criminate the blacks, more than is already known to the reader. When the facts, that the throat of Truax had been cut, that a bloody knife was found on the person of Mary, and that Morter sullenly refused to answer questions during his arrest and confinement, were known to the court, circumstantial evidence was deemed sufficiently strong to fix guilt upon them : and as the murder had been an aggravated one, the prisoners were sentenced to be burned alive. When interrogated by the Judge, why sentence of death should not pass upon them, Mary boldly and firmly declared her innocence, and her ignorance of the real murderer : stating, in a feeling manner, all she knew of the affair ; how the knife had been heedlessly put into her pocket after cleaning the pigeons, and forgotten; how much she respected the deceased, and how much she lamented his untimely death ; and ended by an appeal to the great Judge of the universe of her innocence of the crime. Morter, when questioned, remained sullenly silent; and after receiving the sentence, both were remanded to prison. On the day of their execution, the condemned were taken west of the city, where had been prepared, a conical pile of pine faggots. In the centre of the pile the victims were placed, and the fatal torch applied. Mary, still protesting her innocence, called on the Lord, whom she trusted would save her ; and prayed that he would, in the heavens, show some token of her innocence. But alas! the day of miracles had passed ; and as the flame surrounded her, she gave herself up to despair. She expired, proclaiming her innocence. Her companion met his fate, with stoic indifference.
After the execution of this couple, the affair died away, and nothing further was disclosed for several years. Facts then came to light revealing the whole transaction. At the time the murder was committed, a man by the name of Moore resided at Weiser's dorf. The Germans at that settlement, which was distant from the dwelling of Vrooman about two miles, it was supposed, envied Vrooman the possession of the fine tract of land he had secured ; and by compelling him to abandon, hoped to possess it. It is not probable, however, that any one of them, except Moore, thought of getting it by the crime of murder. He conceived such a plan, and conspired with Morter to carry it into execution. Moore thought if Truax was murdered, Vrooman would be afraid to return for fear of a like might secure a choice parcel. Morter was promised, as a ward for participating in the crime, the hand of Moore's sister in marriage. It is not likely the girl had the most distant idea of the happiness her brother had in store for her. Amalgamation to Morter appeared in enticing garments. He therefore resolved to aid him, and it was agreed the deed should be executed in such a manner, as to throw suspicion on his wife: who, he intend! should prove no obstacle in the way of realizing his desire. Accordingly, at midnight, the murderers approached the house in which slumbered their innocent victim. Finding his door locked, they found it necessary, to gain admission to his room without breaking the lock, and, if possible, without alarming Mary. By some means they gained the top of the chimney which was not difficult, as the dwelling was but one story, and sliding carefully down that, they soon found themselves in the presence of their slumbering victim. Which of the two drew the knife is unknown. The nefarious deed accomplished, the assassins escaped from the dwelling.
When the commotion and anxiety of the next day followed discovery of the foul deed, Moore feigned business from home, and kept out of the way until after the arrest of his hardened accomplice. Not long after the murder was committed, a disturbance arose among the Germans, as will be seen, and many of them left the Schoharie valley and sought a residence elsewhere.-Moore was among those who went to Pennsylvania. He lived a life of fear for some years, but at length he was laid upon a bed of languishing. Being past recovery, to relieve his guilty conscience, he disclosed the facts above related. Truax was the first white man murdered in Schoharie county; and may be said to have fallen a victim to the unholy cause of amalgamation.
March 30th, 1726, Adam. Vrooman obtained a new Indian title to the flats known as Vrooman's Land, executed by nine individuals of the nation, " in behalf of all the Mohaugs Indians." Some difficulty had probably arisen, in consequence of his holding more land than the first deeds specified. The new title gave the land previously conveyed with the sentence, " let there be as much as there will, more or less, for we are no surveyors;" and was executed with the ensigns of the Mohawk nation -the turtle, wolf and bear.
The lands of Schoharie, why sold.-The Germans were just beginning to live comfortably, says Judge Brown, -when "Nicholas Bayard, an agent from the British crown, appeared in their midst. This I suppose to have been in the summer of 1714. He put up in Smith's dorf, at the house of Han-Yerry (John George) Smith, already noted as being the best domicil in the settlement. From this house (which was in fact the first hotel in Schoharie), Bayard issued a notice, that to every house-holder who would make known to him the boundaries of the land he had taken ; he would give a deed in the name of his sovereign. The Germans, ignorant though honest, mistook altogether the object of the generous offer, and supposing it designed to bring them again under tyrannic land-holders, and within the pale of royal oppression, resolved to kill Bayard, whom they looked upon as a foe ; and by so doing, establish more firmly the independence they had for several years enjoyed. Consequently, early the next morning, the nature of the resolve having been made known, the honest burghers of Schoharie, armed with guns and pitch-forks ; with many of the softer sex, in whom dwelt the love of liberty, surrounded the hotel of Smith, and demanded the person of Bayard. Mine host, who knew at that early day that a well managed hotel was the traveler's home, positively refused to surrender to his enraged countrymen, his guest. The house was besieged throughout the day. Sixty balls were fired by the assailants through the roof, which was the most vulnerable part, as that was straw: and as Bayard had, previous to his arrival, been by accident despoiled of an eye, he ran no little risk of returning to the bosom of his family, totally blind. Bayard was armed with pistols, and occasionally returned the fire of his assailants, more, no doubt, with the design of frightening, than of killing them. Having spent the last round of their ammunition, the siege was raised, and the heroes of the bloodless day dispersed to their homes, to dream on the invulnerability of their foe, and the mutability of princely promises. The coast again clear, Bayard left Schoharie, and under the cover of night, traveled to Schenectada. From there he sent a message to Schoharie, offering to give, to such as should appear there with a single ear of corn-acknowledge him the regal agent-and name the bounds of it, a free deed and lasting title to their lands. No one felt inclined to call on the agent, and after waiting some time, he went to Albany and disposed of the lands they occupied, to 5 individuals. The patent was granted to Myndert Schuyler, Peter Van Brugh, Robert Livingston, Jr., John Schuyler and Henry Wileman, and was executed at Fort George, in New York, on the third day of November, 1714, in the first year of the reign of George I., by Robert Hunter, then Governor of the province, in behalf of the King. The sum paid for the lands, says the bill of " grievances sent to the British crown," was 1500 pistoles-between $5,000 and $6,000.
This patent began at the northern limits of the Vrooman patent, on the west side of the river, and the little Schoharie kill on the opposite side, and ran from thence north ; taking in a strip on both sides of the river : at times mounting the hills, and at others leaving a piece of flats, until it nearly reached the present Montgomery county line. It curved some, and the intention was, to embrace all the flats in that distance. Patent was taken for 10,000 acres. Lewis Morris, Jr., and Andrus Coeman, who were employed by the purchasers to survey and divide the land ; finding the flats along Foxscreek, and a large piece at Kneiskern's dorf, near the mouth of Cobelskill, were not included in that patent ; lost no time in securing them. Those several patents often ran into each other, and in some instances were so far apart as to leave a gore between them, The patent taken to secure the remainder of the flats at Kneiskern's dorf, began at a spring on the west side of the river, near the bridge which now crosses that stream above Schoharie Court House, and also ran to, or near the Montgomery county line. Between that and the first patent secured, which were intended to embrace all the flats, was left a very valuable gore, which Augustus Van Cortlandt afterwards obtained. Finding much difficulty in dividing their lands-they so often intersected-the first five purchasers and their surveyors, Morris and Coeman, whose right in the Schoharie soil was propertionably valuable, agreed to make joint stock of the three patents. Since that time they have been distinguished as the lands of the seven partners. Patents and deeds granted at subsequent dates, for lands adjoining those of the seven partners, were, in some instances, bounded in such a manner as to infringe on those of the latter, or leave gores between them. As may be supposed, evils were thus originated, which proved a source of litigation for many years. Suits for partition were brought successively in Schoharie county in 1819-25-26-28 and 29, at which time they were finally adjusted. The latest difficulties existed between the people of Duanesburg and Schoharie, The facts relating to these land titles and suits at partition, were obtained from the late Henry Hamilton, Esq., of Schoharie.
After the seven partners secured their title to the Schoharie flats, they called on the Germans who dwelt upon them, either to take leases of, to purchase, or to quit them altogether. To neither of these terms would they accede, declaring that Queen Anne had given them the lands, and they desired no better title. The reader will bear in mind the fact, that those people had no lawyers among them, except by name, that they spoke a language different from that in which the laws of the country were written, and that they placed implicit confidence in the promises of the good Queen, that they should have the lands free; and he will be less surprised at their stubbornness. Their faith in the promises of the Queen had not been misplaced, as the intention of the crown to give them free titles by Bayard clearly proves. The great difficulty proceeded from their ignorance of the utility, and manner of granting deeds. The patent taken by the five partners was dated in November, 1714 ; and it was not until the first of August, of that year, that Queen Anne died. It is therefore probable, Bayard was an agent commissioned by her ; if not, by George I., who intended in good faith to carry out the design of his predecessor.
A Foot Race.-At this period of the history of Schoharie, several incidents transpired worthy of notice. I have already remarked that the Germans were fond of athletic exercises. After their location, such sports as were calculated to try their speed and strength were frequently indulged in.
In the summer of 1713 or 1714, a stump was given by the Indians to their German neighbors at Weiser's dorf, to run a foot race, offering to stake on the issue a lot of dressed deer-skins against some article the Germans possessed. The challenge was accepted, and a son of Conrad Weiser was selected, to run against a little dark Indian, called the most agile of the tribe. On a beautiful day the parties assembled at Weiser's dorf to witness the race. The course was above the village, and on either side the Germans and Indians took stations to encourage their favorites. The couple started half a mile from the goal, at a given signal, and onward they dashed with the fleetness of antelopes. The race was to terminate just beyond the most southern dwelling of Weiser's dorf. They had to run very close to the house, and Weiser, being on the outside as they approached it side by side, sprang with all his might against his competitor. The sudden impetus forced the Indian against the building, and he rebounded and fell. Weiser then easily won the race. The Indians, and their defeated champion were terribly enraged at first, and refused to give up the forfeit : but Weiser, who had already learned much of the Indian character, and knew the danger of trifling with their misfortunes, appeased their wrath, by satisfying them that the whole difficulty preceded from accident-that he stumbled upon some obstacle which rendered it unavoidable, and was very sorry it had happened. With this explanation their anger was appeased, and they delivered up the skins. This is the only dishonest trick I have heard related of the first Germans, and with the exception of Moore, they seem to have been strangers to crime. Foot races were often run by those people : at times, fifteen or twenty entering the course together.
The Day of Enchantment.-As before intimated, the Schoharie Germans settled in clusters, the better to be able prudentially to guard against any hostile movement of their Indian neighbors, which caution was once well rewarded to those at Hartman's dorf. A difficulty had arisen which rendered a fight inevitable between them and their sable neighbors, and great was the consternation in the settlement, as the Indians were the best provided with fire-arms, until confidence was restored by Capt. Hartman Windecker, in a prophetic assurance, that not a gun of the enemy would discharge. Faith the leaven of any successful enterprise, induced these hardy pioneers to follow their daring leader to the contest, where they won an easy and bloodless victory. The days of witchcraft are now happily passed forever; but the time has been when it was no uncommon tiling for a spell or enchantment to extend to the lock of a rifle ; so says a very trustworthy tradition, in the memory of the late George Warner of Cobelskill.
Further Trouble in Schoharie, and Treatment of Sherriff Adams.-After the mission of Bayard, Gov. Hunter was seemingly glad for some excuse to sell these lands, to the detriment of those misguided people, since they had not fully succumbed to his wishes, and did through Bayard, as I have already shown, to Myndert Schuyler and others, in the fall of 1714 ; and it remains to show what effect that sale had on the newly made tenants. In 1715, being called upon by the partners to lease or purchase, they declared they would do neither. Finding lenient measures of no avail, they resolved to obtain justice by the strong arm of law. Accordingly, a sheriff from Albany, by the name of Adams, was sent to apprehend some of the boldest of the trespassers, as they had now become, and frighten others into proper terms.
The Albanians greatly underrated the bravery of those people, who had not only compelled an agent of the crown to flee, but had, in fair fight, victoriously battled their Indian neighbors. It is possible they had never heard of the Hartman's dorf conflict. Adams, conscious of his own honorable intentions, passing up through the valley, made a halt at Weiser's dorf. He had no sooner discovered his business and attempted the arrest of an individual, than a mob was collected, and at that early day lynch law was enforced. The women of that generation, as has been shown, possessed Amazonian strength ; nor were they lacking in spartan bravery. A part of those well-meaning dames, remembering the promises of Queen Anne, and sharing with their husbands the belief that they were objects of oppression, under the direction of Magdlena Zeh, or Zach, a self-appointed captain, took the sheriff into their own hands and dealt with him according to his deserts, of which the captain was judge. He was knocked down by a Mow from the magistrate, and inducted into various places where the sow delighted to wallow. After receiving many indignities in the neighborhood of Weiser's dorf, some of which he was conscious of receiving and some not, he was placed upon a rail, and rode skimington through several settlements. He was exhibited at Hartman's, Brunnen, Smith's and Foxes dorfs to his discomfiture ; and finally deposited on a small bridge across a stream on the old Albany road, a distance from the starting point of between six and seven miles ; no ordinary journey for such a conveyance. This stream was formerly called Mill brook-why, remains to be seen-and crosses the road a short distance west of the late Peter Mann's place, on Foxescreek. The captain then seized a stake, which she carelessly laid over his person, until two of his ribs made four, and his organs of vision were diminished one-half. She then, with little ceremony, bathed his temples in a very unusual manner-poor fellow, he could not resist the kindness-and called off her compatriots, leaving him to die if he chose. He saw fit to do no such act, in such a plight, and after such a nursing ; and as soon as consciousness returned-how long after Mistress Lynch had left him is unknown-he departed for Albany.
What strange thoughts must have occupied his mind while homeward bound. He must have been conscious, when the faculties of his mind returned, that whether his knowledge had increased or not, his bumps assuredly had. His progress must have been very slow, thus bruised and maimed, and it was not until the third day after he had been on the rail-rode that he reached Verreburg, a hill seven miles west of Albany, from whence he was taken to the city in a wagon. As there were few Samaritans on the road at that time, he was exposed nights to the carnival of wild beasts, and by day to danger of perishing with hunger. His arrival at Albany, wounded and half blind as he was, and maul-treated as he had been, prognosticated no good for the people of Schoharie. The leading facts in the foregoing statement, were published by Judge Brown, who assured the author that he received them from Sheriff Adams in person ; also corroborated by several old residents of Schoharie.
Significant Names.-The word burg, as we have shown, signifies a hill or mountain. At the period of which I write, before public houses were established between the two places, the people of Schoharie, who had occasion to go to Albany, went in squads and encamped out over night. The most important burgs and creeks on the road, were then the guides-by which they knew the route, distance, etc., and served the traveler in lieu of mile-stones. The first important stopping place, after leaving Schoharie, was at the Longburg, east of Gallupville, There, if the wayfarer left the valley late, he tarried overnight; to it was therefore called the first day's journey. The Beaverkill, which is a branch of Foxes creek, was also a guide: then came the Feghtburg, Supawnburg, Liceburg, Helleburg, Botte-Mentisburg and lastly, Vene or Verreburg. All these names had some significant meaning, which continued to remind the traveler of their origin, long after the road, -which was then little more than a rough foot path, and hardly admissible for any kind of wagons, became a public one.
A Day of Reckoning coming.-As may be supposed, the people of Schoharie, after dealing with poor Adams in the manner they had, became cautious about visiting Albany, where several of the partners resided. There was, in fact, little intercourse between Schoharie and Albany for some time : the people of the former viewing those of the latter place, in a light of lively apprehension. In civilized life, it is happily ordered that one community shall not live independent of others. There were some necessaries which they must have, and which they could not procure without going there. The men, therefore, sent their wives after salt; which was indispensable ; saying, in effect, they will reverence them: and if they did venture to Albany themselves, they were sure to do so on the Sabbath, and equally mindful of leaving the same evening. By remaining silent for some time, and not appearing to heed their coming or going, the real owners of the Schoharie soil, lured the occupants into a belief, that all the malicious acts extended to sheriff Adams, were forgotten : and that there was no longer I any need of caution about entering that good city. It was indeed presuming much on the charity of the partners, whose agent had been so harshly treated : but such was the fact. With the vigilance of the sentinel crow, were the people of Schoharie watched, and preparations matured for seizing some of them. It was not long after suspicion was lulled, before quite a number of them entered the city for salt, when the partners, with Sheriff Adams and posse, arrested and committed several of them to jail. The most notorious of the party were placed in close confinement, among whom was Conrad Weiser, Jr., of running memory, and one woman, supposed to have been Magdalena Zeh. As soon as news of this proceeding reached Schoharie, her citizens were horror stricken ? " What shall we do ?" was the interrogatory of one and all. How sadly, thought they, have we realized our European dreams of American happiness.
Believing themselves greatly wronged, and desirous of remedying in future the evils to which they were subjected, it was, at a meeting of the citizens, resolved to get up a petition setting forth their grievances, persecutions, etc. ; and delegate three of their number to lay it, with all due humility, at the feet of King George ; praying, at the time, for his future protection against their enemies, the Albanians. This petition, which is said to have been drawn by John Newkirk, was entrusted, said Judge Brown, to the elder Conrad Weiser, one Casselman, and a third person, name not known, for presentation. This delegation, says a gentleman of Pennsylvania, consisted of John Conrad Weiser, William Scheff, and a Mr. Walrath. The same writer says the delegation "embarked secretly from Philadelphia, in 1718, but on the voyage fell into the hands of pirates, who robbed them of their all, and set them free, when they put into Boston to procure necessaries. On arriving in London, they found themselves penniless, and forced to contract debts. The consequence was, Weiser and Scheff [probably now Schafer] were thrown into prison, from which they were afterwards relieved only by a remittance from New York." * Instead of their having been incarcerated for debt, Brown says : " they were clapped into the Tower," because of their treatment of Bayard and Adams, of which outrageous conduct the parliament was fully advised; and where as he says, Weiser had to remain a whole year-evidently growing wiser every day.
Looking through grates, and living on bread and water, had a wonderful effect on the spirits and temper of the incarcerated citizens of Schoharie. They therefore made a virtue of necessity, and resolved to comply with the requisitions of the law by taking leases and agreeing to pay rent for, or to purchase the land. Before releasing the prisoners, the partners drew up a statement of the abuses to Bayard and Adams, when in the discharge of their official duties at Schoharie, and required
* Historical Lecture delivered by I. D. Rupp, Esq., at Womelsdorf, Pa., March 24, 1836, " Touching the oppressions, Sufferings, Wrongs, Difficulties and Trials endured from 1708 to 1729, of the First Settlers of Tulpehocken, prior to their first settling in Pennsylvania."
them to be witnessed under hand and seal. This last requisition complied with, they were allowed to depart for their own homes.
The importance with which the colonists viewed this matter may be conceived by the delegation to England. No delay was allowed after procuring the duly attested evidence of the proceedings of Judge Lynch : it was forwarded immediately to the King. The ship in due time arrived in England, and on presenting their petition, how were Weiser and his friends astounded to find the King and his ministry in possession of all the late transactions at Schoharie. Had the ghosts of Bayard and Adams appeared before them, they would hardly have been more taken aback, than they were to hear their own misdemeanors told them from such a source. The King and his advisers, supposing the evil deeds of the Schoharie people resulted from bad hearts instead of ignorance, the parent of all their difficulties, without listening to what they would say, ordered them to confinement in the tower.
How much the difficulty of these well meaning people argues in favor of an education, and a knowledge of the world and its transactions. Had they been better informed, they would have been less suspicious ; for suspicion and distrust are the handmaids of ignorance. The liberal minded is generally the well informed man. Newspapers, the source of general information of the present day, were then unknown in the wilds of America. They were accustomed to transact most of their own business without pen, ink or paper ; and, agreeable to the knowledge they had, and their own method of doing business, they considered a promise made in good faith, as valid as a bond, for such it was with them, and never dreamed of their being mistaken about the object of Bayard's mission ; or that anything farther was necessary from the British crown to establish their legal title to the lands, than the mere promise of the Queen that they should, free of cost, possess them.
In 1718, as appears in the manifesto itself, of " Grievances and oppressions" set forth by the Schoharie pioneers, Capt. Weiser arrived in London ; but as that document was dated in 1720, and indorsed as received in 1722 ; it appears as though the delegation left the colony to state their grievances in person; and that in consequence of being confronted by charges and arrested, they had sent back to have a statement of the Schoharie difficulties forwarded them. Ocean mail steamers were then unknown, and mail matter moved but tardily between the mother country and her colonies ; hence this long delay in the partial accomplishment of their errand.
The Complaints of those Palatines and the justness of their appeal will be better understood by the reader, if I here note a few of the most glaring.* They claimed that before they left England, they were promised five pounds in money per head-which I suppose was without reference to age or condition-which money they never received. That on their arrival in America, they were each to have suitable clothing, tools for husbandry, etc., but received only a meagre supply. That they were to have a free grant of 40 acres of land to each person, which condition they complained was never fulfilled ; and that the land which was assigned them was very poor. That their children under the direction of the Governor, were taken from them and bound out to servitude for years, depriving the parents of the support and comfort they might afford them ; two of which children being sons 12 and 13 years of age of Capt. John Conrad Weiser-the most prominent and leading man among them, though sadly deficient in a proper knowledge of business matters. They said also that 300 of them were in an expedition against Canada ; that on their return their arms had been taken from them, and that the Governor drew pay for their services, but failed to give them any part of it. The reader will remember that many of them lost their guns when in a mutinous state at the camps. They also mentioned military services of some of them at Albany, the winter following the Canadian expedition, which were never paid. They complained of not receiving their full allowance of provisions in the latter part of 1712, when on asking for it they were informed that as no subsistence had been sent them from England, they must shift for themselves. They said, too, that when the Governor had visited them at the camps-probably at the time of the insurrectionary movement-the people with one consent applied to him for permission to go and occupy the promised Schoharie lands ; when he
* Doc. His. vol 3, p. 707.
stamped upon the ground and said, " Here is your land (meaning the almost barren rocks), where you must live and die." It seems, however, that the Governor mistook their mettle ; for they determined they would not die there.
Such were among the reasons they assigned to Britain, for removing upon the Schoharie flats, without awaiting the Governor's approbation. They further complained that after they had gone upon those lands-probably after the accusations made against them by Vrooman-that a sheriff was sent there to take Capt. Weiser (this was in 1715) dead or alive, but with timely notice he had escaped. Indeed, they were in a state of feverish excitement for nearly a dozen years.
During the long confinement of Capt. Weiser, and the suspense attending his mission, some of the Schoharie people, convinced that they stood in their own light, and that they had wholly mistaken the intention of Bayard, too late, indeed, to obtain a legal title to their lands free of charge, began to purchase of the partners, who granted them liberal terms. When I first published an account of this matter in 1845, I had supposed that it was not until the return of Capt. Weiser that the exodus from Schoharie took place ; but Mr. Rupp, from whom I have quoted, says that Weiser and Solicit having disagreed in London, the latter returned home in 1721, but that Capt. Weiser was obliged to remain till November, 1723. The writer referred to, who seems to have made the history of the Palatines who emigrated to Pennsylvania a specialty, says that Gov. Keith of that State was at Albany in September, 1722, and, learning of their troubles, " invited them to Pennsylvania as a State policy, hoping thereby to strengthen his political influence;" and adds, that, in the summer of 1723, thirty-three families of them got themselves in readiness to wander once more in pursuit of a permanent home. This would show that some of them did not await poor Weiser's return, who remained in London five long years-just why, we cannot say : and had he only been by name in the positive degree on his arrival in England, he assuredly would have been by nature in the comparative on his return to Schoharie, as he had really become very much wiser.
The return of the embassy, whose mission had resulted in effecting nothing but disgrace for themselves, and tended only to disclose the general ignorance of their constituents, created no little excitement in the valley. Capt. Weiser was by nature a proud, high-spirited man, and could not brook the mortification his own ignorance had originated, and on his return he at once saw what his own folly, and that of others, had led to, in depleting the settlement.
Tradition has preserved neither the exact number of the Germans who went to the Schoharie valley, or the numbers who left it in pursuit of other homes. Mr. Rupp says that in 1718, there were 170 families in Schoharie, numbering 680 persons, I have elsewhere estimated the number at about 1,000. Probably 300 families of them went to Pennsylvania, making three or four emigrating parties, only two of which were reported. Mr. Rupp says 33 families of them removed to Pennsylvania in 1723, that 50 families more removed thither in 1725, and that in 1729 a third exodus went there with Conrad Weiser,of which latter party he names 44 individuals believed to be heads of fails.* Thus the reader will see that he, in possession of their statistics, gives 127 families of his estimate of 170 for the whole number in Schoharie as removing, leaving but 43 families ; and when I state that probably not less than that number removed to the Mohawk valley after the troubles began, we shall find Schoharie entirely depopulated ; whereas a large permanent settlement remained there, and, as the result showed, of good and true material for future lasting benefits.
The want of horses and cows, which was so seriously felt by the Germans when they first located at Schoharie, was, at the time of their last migration, a source of little inconvenience, as they then owned a goodly number. The disaffected parties going to Pennsylvania, are believed to have gone by the same route. The first party is said to have passed up the Schoharie, piloted by an Indian to the Adaquitangie or Charlotte branch of the Susquehanna, and down that to the latter stream.
* Here is a list of the names given by Mr. Rupp, of the men win accompanied Capt. Weiser to Tulpehocken, Penn., and settled near Womelsdorf. I copy it, that Schoharie people may know where to find their cousins. "Ohrendoff, Anspach, Becker, Bayer, Briegel, Kapp, Dieter, Feeg, Fuchs, Fissher, Goldman, Hartman, Hagedon, Hell, Keller, Kuntz, Kiester, Kuhn, Kraft, Kobel, Koch, Laucks, Wolleber, Lang, Lauer, Mueller, Moyer, Petre, Schneider, Schauer, Theis, Zeller, Zeh, Werner, Kessler, Ross, Riegel, Everhart, Spicker, Badtorf, Katterman, Lauer, Noacre, Lowenfuth and others." Many of these names, although now spelled quite differently, can still be distinguished.
Brown says they arrived after a journey of five days at the Cook-house,* where they felled large trees and made canoes, in which they floated down the Susquehanna. Here is an error in Brown's pamphlet, as the Cookhouse is on the Delaware river: the canoes were wrought at the mouth of the Charlotte river. Nicholas Warner, one of the oldest citizens of Schoharie county, in the fall of 1837 assured the author that he had seen the stumps of the trees on the Charlotte branch of the Susquehanna, which "Weiser and his friends felled to make the canoes from, in which their women, children and effects descended the river. Their cattle and horses were driven along the shore, and were frequently in sight of the water party, until the latter left the canoes. The Indians whom they saw on the way never molested them in their journey. They settled on the Swatara and Tulpehocken creeks, in the neighborhood, as believed, of some of their native countrymen, who
* I make the following extract from a letter from the Hon. Erastus Root of the New York Senate, in answer to several inquiries, dated Albany, April 11th, 1843. " You ask whence originated the name of Cookhouse Various derivations have been given, but the most natural and probable one is this: That on the large flat bearing the name, being on the way from Cochecton by the Susquehanna and Chemung to Niagara, there was a hut erected, where some cooking utensils were found. It had probably been erected by some traveler who had made it his stopping place, and had cooked his provisions there. It has been stated to me as a part of the tradition, that the hut remained many years as a resting place to the weary traveler, and that the rude cooking utensils were permitted to remain as consecrated to the use of succeeding sojourners."
General Root went to reside in Delaware county In 1796. Gen. Root was not only one of its early settlers, but for a long period was one of the most active and useful citizens of Delaware county. He was born at Hebron, Ct, In 1773, graduated at Dartmouth College In 1793, and died In 1816. He taught school for a time, and then studied law. In 1798, and for several sessions thereafter, he was a member of the State Legislature He was elected to Congress In 1803, and subsequently on four other occasions He was chosen Lieutenant-Governor In I822. Politically he was a disciple of the Thomas Jefferson and George Clinton school, and had been a life-long Democrat until about 1839, when he avowed himself a member of the new Whig party, and was chosen on that ticket to the Stale Senate: and I may add a circumstance attending his election, which I do from memory. It was said at the time that he was elected by one majority, in a district vote of about 30,000, and what was remarkable, and serves to "how the importance of a single vote, one man was sent to State's prison for casting an illegal vote for him.
Here is an anecdote of Gen. Root, while a member of the State Legislature, related to me about the year 1850 by Jacob Shew, who was a member from Montgomery county at the same time. A bill was under discussion in the House, imposing a penalty for the wanton destruction of deer, which the General warmly advocated; and at a dinner table with others, one of whom was my informant, as it happened, a fine roast of venison was placed before the former to carve. " Now," said he, as he drove the knife through the dainty dish, " all you members who will vote for the pending game bill, on have a slice of this meat, and those who would vote against it can't have any; as for myself," he added, as he was securing for himself a savory piece, " I Intend to have all I want of it."
went there via Philadelphia. Few of these Germans ever revisited Schoharie : several old men did, however, nearly fifty years after, to see a wonderful change in the valley.
Capt. Weiser is said to have become an influential man at his new home. His swift-footed son Conrad, who on his arrival in the country west of Albany, spent several months with the Mohawk Indians, enduring many hardships to acquire a knowledge of their language, became a celebrated interpreter, and was employed at many treaties and conventions held between State authorities and Indian sachems of the six nations and others, at Philadelphia, Albany and other places. He stood high in the confidence of both the colonists and the Indians, In 1755, he was appointed colonel of the troops in Berks county, in which he resided.* On Simeon De Witt's map, showing early land patents on the south side of the Mohawk, conveyed prior to 1790, one is laid down as granted to John Conrad Weiser, in 1725, between the Otsquene and Otsquago creeks, in the present town of Minden, and about four miles from Fort Plain. Its acres are not named, supposed several thousand, however, as it is believed to have extended across the Otsquago and embraced lands along the Otskongo, a little kill that bounds the celebrated Indian Hill on its westerly side-perhaps half a mile from the Otsquago. How much he invested here, or what disposition he made of it we cannot say. As appears by this map, Rutger Bleecker secured a patent in 1729, for 4300 acres of land along the Mohawk, on both sides of the Otsquago at its outlet, embracing the present village of Fort Plain and its surroundings. These lands evidently reached Wiser's on the south. On the same map is also laid down a patent to Hartman Windecker, in 1731, for lands to the westward of Bleecker's upon which it is believed he went from Hartman's dorf, as a family of the name resided in that locality until after the Revolution, supposed of that paternal stock.
Was it Instinct-Is not Memory the Basis of Reason?- Says tradition, the following circumstance transpired, showing the instinct of the horses which accompanied the emigration to Pennsylvania. Twelve of these noble animals left their owner's
*Doc. His. vol. l, p. 420.
cribs, and after an absence from them for a year and a half, ten of them in good condition arrived at Schoharie, a distance through the wilderness of over 300 miles. It is possible they remembered the sweet-clover* of Wiser's dorf, and longed again to munch it.
Two other not dissimilar instances of brute instinct, were told the author by Mrs. Van Slyck. About the year 1770, the Bartholomews removed from New Jersey to the Charlotte river. Soon after their arrival there, three of their horses disappeared, and after much unsuccessful searching for them, it was concluded they had strayed away and become a prey to wild beasts. Judge the surprise of the owners to learn after some time, that one of them had been taken up within two, and another within five miles of their former residence. The third was found by them near Catskill.
The other story is perhaps the most singular of the two, as the horse has given numberless instances of remarkable sagacity. Not many years from the period above cited, Ephraim Morehouse removed in the spring from Duchess + county to the vicinity of the Charlotte river. He passed through the Schoharie valley on his way, and tarried over night with Samuel Vrooman, father of my informant. He drove with his cattle a large sow with a bell on. As Morehouse approached the end of his journey, the sow disappeared. After considerable delay in a fruitless search for her, he proceeded on his way. In the following autumn he revisited the place of his his former residence, and on his return again remained over night with Vrooman. He then related the circumstance of losing his sow, and again finding her. She had returned to the old stye in due time, to the great surprise of the neighborhood. Whether she found her way by the same path or not is unknown ; but to reach her former place, she had been compelled to swim the Hudson, and perform a solitary journey of one hundred miles.
*The land through which the little Schoharie kill, in Middleburgh, runs to the river, is to this day called the clauver wy, which signifies the clover pasture. When the Schoharie valley was first settled, the land along the stream was thickly covered with clover, which was seen in few other places about the Schoharie: hence the appropriate name.
+ I have been asked, why spell this word with the letter t, and believing it was called after the wife of a Duke instead of a nationality, I will write it as above.
A glance at the policy which sent the elements of good citizenship, from one Province to another.-The plan as contemplated in England before the Palatines left there, of planting them on the frontiers of New York, was a master stroke of policy, that should at the outset have been acted upon ; and although the blind zeal of Gov. Hunter in listening to interested advisers, coupled at length with no little false pride-nay, worse, with malice, made it most humiliating and trying for them for a few years ; yet their perseverence in going there proved a most fortunate circumstance in the end for the colony and subsequently for the State ; and what other provinces gained in consequence of unwise management in New York, and especially by Pennsylvania is thus hinted at by the Swede, Peter Kalm, who traveled much in the colonies in 1747 and 48.* He says : " Though the Province of New York has been inhabited by Europeans much longer than Pennsylvania, yet it is not by far so populous as the latter. This cannot be ascribed to any particular discouragement arising from the nature of the soil, for that is pretty good ; but I am told of a very different reason, which I will mention here.
"In the reign of Queen Anne, about the year 1709, many Germans came hither, who got a tract of land from the English government which they might settle. After they had lived there some time, and had built houses and churches [this latter is an error], and made corn fields and meadows, their liberties and privileges were infringed, and, under several pretences, they were repeatedly deprived of parts of their lands. [He should have said interrupted in its occupancy.] This at last aroused the Germans. They returned violence for violence, and beat those who thus robbed them of their possessions, But these proceedings were looked upon in a very had light by the government. The most active people among the Germans being taken up, they were roughly treated, and punished with the utmost rigor of the law. This, however, so far exasperated the rest, that the greater part of them left their houses and fields and went to settle in Pennsylvania. There they were exceedingly well received, got a considerable tract of land, and were indulged in great privileges, which were given
* Kalm's Travels in America, vol. 1, p. 270.
them forever. The Germans, not satisfied with being themselves removed from New York, wrote to their relatives and friends, and advised them if they ever intended to come to America, not to go to New York, where the government had shown itself so unequitable. This advice had such an influence that the Germans who afterwards went in great numbers to North America, constantly avoided New York, and always went to Pennsylvania.
"It sometimes happened that they were forced to go on board of such ships as were bound for New York, but they were scarce got on shore when they hastened on to Pennsylvania, in sight of all the inhabitants of New York."
Now, although this is, to a great extent true, he is in error in saying that German emigrants to this country, after the Schoharie difficulties, " constantly avoided New York, and always went to Pennsylvania ;" for accessions were continually being made to the population of German communities in New York, and from the same cause he assigned for their going to the former State, viz.: that those colonists well-established in New York, wrote back to their friends in the fatherland to come here, and they did so, greatly increasing the population of the central part of the State. Nor is this all of the picture : the Germans who went from Schoharie to Pennsylvania had to buy lands there, perhaps at as high a figure as they would have been charged for them at Schoharie ; but they had now learned wisdom by experience, and were extremely careful on arriving there to secure good land titles, which they did by purchase, at their very earliest convenience. It is, however, true that they had the sympathy and generous influence of the Governor and State authorities of Pennsylvania, and that once known in Germany carried the tide of emigration for a time thitherward.
Mr. Rupp says that Gov. Keith, at an interview -with deputies from the Schoharie emigration, granted them permission to locate upon Tulpohocken creek-the then frontier portion of the State-on condition they would make full satisfaction to the proprietor for such lands as should be allowed them: and he adds-"The lands they settled upon, the proprietor had not yet purchased from the Indians, which caused the natives much uneasiness and put them to some trouble, because of the Germans' cattle running at large and destroying the Indians' corn." Their sad experience in Schoharie, he says, " made the Palatines more circumspect, and cautioned them against delaying to secure a title for the lands they were about improving." They made their purchase, the proprietorship of the lands secured an Indian title to them, and they made a successful and prosperous settlement.
In speaking of the advantages to Pennsylvania from this German accession in 1738, Lieut.-Gov. Thomas, of that State, says : " This province has been for some years the asylum of the distressed Protestants of the Palatinate and other parts of Germany, and I believe it may, with truth, be said that he present nourishing condition of it is, in a great measure, owing to the industry of those people. It is not altogether the goodness of the soil, but the number and industry of the people that make a nourishing country.'' Yes, that is all true, and the same may be said in favor of the German element of once Western New York ; it added wonderfully to the future prosperity and greatness of the entire commonwealth.
Page 164. A third Immigration of Palatines to the Colony of New York-as appears by the minutes of council, made October 27, 1722-was made just before that date. This was a ship load from Holland, whither, I suppose, they had fled from persecution in Germany. The ship touched in England, but it does not appear that any passengers were there left or received. It was reported that many passengers had died on the voyage, but on an examination on ship-board by Doctors Braine, Nichols and Cobus, they pronounced her free from contagious disease, but ordered her over to Nutten Island, that her clothes, chests, etc., might be properly aired.* What became of this new arrival is not shown in the transcribed records, but it is reasonable to conclude that as none of the Schoharie Palatines had yet removed to Pennsylvania, and as Gov. Burnet had negotiated with the Indians for the lands in the Mohawk valley above Little Falls for some of the discontented of Schoharie, that this last arrival of Germans were allowed to go upon those lands with the promise of a title on their survey, and that they went thither in the spring of 1723, passing up the Mohawk valley, which then contained few, if any, white families above that of Hendrick Frey, nearly 25 miles below their destination.
The German Flats patent, which was for lands upon both sides of the Mohawk, and now mostly situated in the towns of Herkimer and German Flats, was dated April 30, 1725, and was granted to 92 individuals, who are believed to have been mostly of the immigration named. The conveyance was for 9,186 acres, which, in an equal division, gave about 100 acres to each person. One reason why I believe those Palatine patentees, or the most of them, were of the last ship load, is the fact that their names seem rather of a different cast from those in Schoharie, or in the valley east of them, although there was a John Jost Petry in Capt. Windecker's company, in the expedition to Canada in 1711. Not a few of those names may still be traced to that locality. It is more than probable some relationship existed between the former and the latter, which favored their immigration hither. To preserve those names in a history of the times, and that their descendants may the better trace their ancestry, I shall here record them. As we find in other instances, the English scribes at New York made sad work in anglicizing some of those names, but I choose to give their orthography as I find it.
The German Flats patent was conveyed to John Jost Petrie, Mary Eva Stareing, John Jost Temouth, Mary Breman, Agustines Hess, Jacob Bowman, Christopher Fox, Johannes Reslaer, Nicholas Reslaer, Anna Docksteder, Johannes Ponradt, Gertruyd Poueradt, Henry Heger, Elizabeth Helmer, Hendrick Spoon, Jr., Johan Adam Staring, Lodowick Pears, Johannes Beerman, Philip Helmer, Frederick Pell, Mary Catharine Kons, Melgart Fols, Johan Veldelent, Adam Michael Smith, John Jurgh Kast, Jr., John Adam Helmer, Nicholas Feller, Jacob Wever, Johan Jurgh Smith, Hendrick Mayer, Thomas Shoemaker, Catharine Lant, Johan Adam Bowman, Godfrey Reele, Nicholas Weaver, Tedrigh Tetmouth, Jurgh Docksteder, Lodowick Rickart, Johannes Pellinger, Frederick Staring, Gertruyd Petri, Johannes Valden Staring, Elizabeth Edigh, Margaret Pellinger, Catharine Rickert, Anna Veldelent, Frederick Helmer, Jurgh Erghemer, Johannes Miller, Nicholas Staring, Joseph Staring, Conrad Orendorf, Hendrick Orendorf, Peter Speis, Lawrence Herter, Johan Jost Erghemar, Frederick Pellinger, Conrad Rickert, Johan Michael Edigh, Hendrick Spoon, Johannes Hess, Nicholas Weleven, Ludolph Horsing, Madalana Erghemar, Anna Mayor, Catharine Pears, Margaret Pellinger, Jacob Edich, Michael Editch, Hans Conradt Felmore, Christiana Felmore, Ludolph Shoemaker, Mary Feller, Jacob Weaver, Jr., Godfrey Reelle, Jr., Godfrey Reelle, Ephraim Smith, Elizabeth Speis, Appolona Herter, Mark Ryckert, Catharine Erghemar, Morte Smith, Jacob Fols, Lodowick Kones, John Valde Staring, Jr., Lendert Helmer, Johan Jurgh Kast, Peter Pellenger, Mark Petri, Belia Koreing, Anna Margaret Helmer, Andries Wever.
As the reader will perceive, at the period under consideration, people having two Christian names, were sure to write them both. Twenty-two of the above names were of females, bill their position or interest in the purchase is unknown. These lands were granted them upon very easy terms, the State only reserving an annual quitrent of two shillings and six-pence per hundred acres, and the cultivation within three years of six acres in every one hundred. As was usual in all such documents, a reservation was made of gold and silver mines, and timber suitable for the royal navy.
Gov. Burnet, as the successor of Gov. Hunter, found the latter had bequeathed him no little trouble and anxiety with the Schoharie settlers ; for the latter might and should have been more lenient with them and looked with more favor upon their going to Schoharie-though it were against his will-since he could not himself succor and sustain them at the camps. A little elasticity in his own selfish purposes, would not only have saved them and his successor in office a world of trouble, but as it turned our in the end, himself also. The truth of this is manifested in a letter from Gov. Burnet to the Board of Trade, November 21, 1T22 ; and one from George Clark, Secretary of the colony, to Mr. Walpole.*
In this letter Gov. Burnet stated that when at Albany, he expected to have fixed the Schoharie Palatines in the new settlements which he had obtained of the Indians for them at a very easy purchase-and I may add that nearly all purchases of the natives were such, for a little tobacco and rum and a few yards of cheap cloth or a parcel of gaudy trinkets, often paid for a thousand acres of good land-but he found them much divided into parties, the most cunning among them fomenting divisions to induce the greatest number to leave the province (and go to Pennsylvania), that the great tract* he had purchased for them (above the Little Falls), might make large estates for the families that remained ; the quantity of land being as they pretended, far short of what the Indians had represented it. He showed them the fallacy of their reasoning, but found they were disposed to undervalue what was done for them, and concluded to await for some change in their humor. But, he added, as about 60 families desired to locate by themselves, and were among those who had been the most reasonable, he had given them leave to purchase lands from the Indians between the English settlements, near Fort Hunter and Canada creek ; where lie said they would be still more immediately a barrier (than they would be on the lands above Little Falls which he in person had secured), against the sudden incursions of the French. He also added his testimony to the fact that, some of the Palatines for whom his predecessor had done the most, were the most apt to misrepresent him. A few cunning persons among them, he said, led the rest as they pleased, they being an honest but headstrong and ignorant people.
He said also in this connection that, " The other Palatines have since my return to New York, sent some of their body to desire a warrant and survey for the new tract already purchased, etc." The reader will readily see why I conclude that the disaffected from Schoharie were the ones who located in and
* Doc. His. vol. 3, pp. 716, 717.
* Doc. His., Vol. 3, p. 715.
about Palatine, which party Gov. Burnet called 60 families. He said he had permitted them to purchase of the Indians between Fort Hunter and the [East] Canada creek, and they did so and settled there, but as I have hinted-probably an 100 families, within a year or two, settled in the towns of Palatine and Minden. " The other Palatines desired to go on the New Tract," that is his Indian purchase above Little Falls, and I have no doubt be allowed them to do so. That a few in the country before-perhaps relatives-went there with them is not improbable, and that a few of the last ship load lingered with those below for the same reason is equally probable : and as I have hinted, both parties went upon their lands in the spring of 1723; as the arrangement for their occupancy was made too late for them to erect dwellings in the preceding fall.
The letter of Secretary Clark alluded to, shows that at some period prior to the date of his letter, Gov. Hunter, wanting vouchers to aid him in settling his accounts in England, sent a certificate to him for the Schoharie Palatines to sign, going to show their subsistence at the camps pursuant to the Queen's orders, etc. , with a pledge in some form to repay the King the money expended years before for their subsistence, etc. As Hunter had given him permission to make any alterations he might deem necessary, the secretary knowing the wonderful excitement the colonists were in, made a few changes calculated to quiet their fears in regard to the future, which met the approval of those interested in behalf of the late Governor. He sent the certificate by one of Hunter's friends to Albany, where on some occasion Gov. Burnet bad called on the Palatines to meet him, in reference to their going into the Mohawk valley. Rejecting Clark's amended form of certificate with its balmy counsel, the agent, insisted upon their signing the paper as sent by Hunter, which they refused to do ; and Gov. Burnet who had before approved of Clark's revision of it-partook of the excitement and told them they must sign it, or they should not go upon the land he had promised them. Said Clark. : " By this means they failed in their negotiations getting but very few hands to the certificate, the rest resolving to leave the province, and accordingly the greatest part of them have purchased in Pennsylvania, and are determind to go thither, thus the brigadier is baulked and this province deprived of a good frontier of hardy and laborious people.''
Mr. Clarke said also in his letter that Gov. Hunter's claim was a just one-" But that threatening manner of proceeding at first and the offering of rewards to others for their hands, has injured him beyond expression." In a P. S. he added, that after much time spent in sending several times into the neighboring provinces, as well as to the remote parts of this, he had succeeded in getting vouchers to Hunter's accounts, which he would forward by the next ship. As Mr. Clarke suspected Gov, Burnet of acting in concert with the agent having charge of the certificate at Albany, he stated the circumstances to Mr. Walpole to set himself right in Europe, where he had reason to apprehend he might be misrepresented in the agency. Thus will the reader see that even Gov. Burnet lent his influence, to drive the Schoharie Palatines to Penn., to the great advantage of the latter colony. The coming of this Palatine element to this colony was thus justly alluded to in Smith's History of N. Y. "The Queen's liberality to those people was not more beneficial to them than serviceable to the colony." There was, however a strong opposition to the Queen's generosity toward these people in the House of Commons, and among other strictures on the conduct of the late ministry they said, take notice of " the squandering away of great sums upon the Palatines, who were a useless people, a mixture of all religions, and dangerous to the constitution; and they held that those who advised the bringing them over were enemies to the Queen and kingdom." * Thus we perceive that those poor adventurers, who became a bulwark of defense in the colony of New York at a later day, were beset at their coming by foes before and behind : we see, too, that Gov. Hunter was also made sensibly to feel the truth of the maxim-with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Condition of the Palatines at Germantown.-The reader would, no doubt, like to know something of the Palatines left in the valley of the Hudson. When Gov. Hunter bought the 6,000 acres of Livingston's Manor in 1710, on which to plant the immigrants, the title was executed to Hunter for the use of Queen Anne and her successors ; and thus the title continued until 1724, when the Germans remaining on the tract petitioned Gov. Burnet, through three of their number, Jacob S. Sherb
* Salmon Chron. His. as quoted by Holmes, vol. 2, p. 77.
(Sharp), Christophel Hagadorn and Jacob Shumacker, for themselves and others, to have the lands patented to them, subject to such quit-rents and restrictions as were usually granted to other patentees. The council having considered the matter, ordered the Surveyor-General to inquire how many families then upon the lands, were willing to take such grant, etc. Of the 70 families-300 or more souls of those remaining-63 were reported willing thus to purchase, having, as I infer, become somewhat the wiser from the trouble of their Schoharie friends. In the autumn of 1724 the conveyance was executed, when a glebe of 40 acres was reserved for a minister, who was also to be a school-teacher, each citizen was to retain his improved lands then in possession, and the balance was to be divided among all the inhabitants in equal shares.* I have no proof of the fact, but presume that the Palatines still remaining at West Camp were also properly cared for at this interesting period for that people.
A Retrospective View of Central New York, and its further settlement by the whites-showing their customs, habits and vicissitudes from 1725 to 1775-being a period of almost constant anxiety and peril, as its hardy pioneers were obliged to become participants in the wars waged between England and France in their colonies.
Pounding corn-Home of a primitive settler doing his own milling. Having seen Central "New York peopled by Hollanders at Albany, Kingston and Schenectada, and permanent settlements
* Doc. His., vol. 3, pp. 720-726.
begun in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys Toy Germans, let us note the accessions made in and around those settlements, the progress made in subduing the forests, and the constant increase in their population and wealth against all adverse circumstances. For in the 50 years between the dates above named, Western New York, as at that period called, was filled with many of the most exciting, novel and interesting scenes that were ever crowded into the history of any country. After the Schoharie people had learned, at so much cost of mental suffering, the importance of land titles, they, as also their friends elsewhere, were careful in all their future transactions " to read their title clear."
First Apples in Schoharie.-There were some apple trees I standing on the flats of the old Ingold-now Hollinbeck-farm,* half a mile south of the court house, said to have been there when the Germans first arrived, supposed to have been planted by the Indians. One of these antiquated trees, at least 140 I years old, was still standing in 1842, and very fruitful. Other trees of the same planting were yet bearing fruit, as the writer remembers, in 1837, but they have all since disappeared. The trees from which the first apple orchards in Schoharie were derived, were procured, Judge Brown assured me, in the following manner. One Campbell, with other individuals, went from Schoharie to New York to be naturalized, not long after the settlement was commenced. Their business accomplished, they started for home on a sloop ; but not having money enough to pay their passage to Albany, they were landed at Rhinebeck, and traveled from thence on foot. Crossing the Rhinebeck flats, each pulled up a bundle of small apple trees in nurseries they passed, from which the first orchards in Schoharie were planted.
The second season after the murder of his agent Truax, in Vrooman's Land, Peter Vrooman returned to that place and established a permanent residence. He planted an apple orchard, which was yet standing in 1850, near the dwelling of the late Harmanus Vrooman, and is possibly still there.
Mechanical Industries among the Schoharie Germans.- There were few regular mechanics among the first settlers, on
*Near this ancient brick farm-house stands a modest wooden structure, which was used as the first court house, on the organization of Schoharie county.
which account native genius was more or less taxed. We have seen to -what inconvenience and labor they -were subjected for want of mills. The first grist mill in the county was erected by Simeon Laraway, on the small stream called Mill brook, from that circumstance, which runs into Foxescreek near Waterbury's mills. Upon a bridge which crossed this brook, Sheriff Adams was left, as already shown, in the first anti-rent war. Some part of the race-way of this mill, was still to have been seen 30 years ago. Before the erection of Simeon's mill, as called, several hand mills, like the one at Welser's dorf, were in frequent use. In the course of 20 or 30 years after Weiser and his friends left, several other mills were established in and about Schoharie, one of which as I have shown was at Fountain's Town. One Cobel erected two mills, one of which was built on a small brook in a ravine on the south side of the road, a few rods distant from the river bridge, one mile from the court house. The other mill he erected about the same time on Cobelskill, * which took its name from that circumstance. It stood near the mouth of the kill. It -was not until about the year 1760, that bolting cloths were used in Schoharie. Henry Weaver, who owned a mill on Foxescreek, was the first who introduced them.
At nearly as late a period as the Revolution, the colonists procured most of their shoes at Albany, or at East Camp (they kept up an intercourse for some years with their Hudson river cousins), and one pair was the yearly allowance for each member of the family. They were repaired by traveling cobblers, Those unaffected Germans were not votaries to fashion, The good wife and daughters generally cut and made the rude apparel of the family, and thought it no disgrace. The settlers manufactured most of their buttons, and often the same garment had on those of very different sizes, of wood, horn, bone or lead.
Not having been accustomed to luxuries from childhood, they
* This creek took on the paternal name of the mill-wrlght, Judge Brown assured me. I find the name written Cobels kill In many of the old conveyances, and in all the early Session laws, of the State. It is, in truth, the correct orthography of the word. The Indians called Cobelskill the Ots ga-ra-gee, which signifies The hemp creek When first settled by the whites, an abundance of wild hemp grew along its banks near to the village of Cobelskill The natives often procured it, making from its fish nets, and ropes to aid them In transporting their portable wealth.
were contented with simple fare and uncouth fashions. Their clothes, as may be supposed, did not set out a good form to very fascinating advantage. Those useless bipeds denominated dandies, noted for idleness, cigars and empty pockets, were unknown in the Schoharie valley at that day : indeed, they are not numerous there now. Of course, other considerations than mere display of finery, influenced their choice of a partner for life. They had little to be proud of, consequently many of the men did not shave oftener than once or twice a month. A Dow or a Matthias would hardly have been distinguished from them had they appeared at that day.
Lawrence Schoolcraft, at the residence of Peter Vrooman, made the first cider in the county, making it as follows: The apples were first pounded in a stamper and then placed in a large basket suspended to a tree, beneath which was inserted a trough which served to catch and carry the juice compressed by weights, into a vessel for its reception. In the year 1752, the father of Judge Brown, as before shown, removed from West Camp to Schoharie. He was then a widower, and soon after his arrival married a widow, who possessed ten acres of land and about £110 in cash ; which enabled him to establish and carry on his trade successfully. He was the first wheel-right in the county. The people had manufactured a rude wagon before his arrival, with which they transported light loads. Schoharie wagons prior to 1760, had no tire on the wheels. This Brown, in 1753, made the first cider-press ever used in the county The same process which prepared the pomice for Schoolcraft did for Brown, as he used the same pounder. The press was first used at Hartman's dorf, where he resided.
The First Schools began to be taught in the Schoharie settlements prior to 1740 ; one Spease kept the first, and one Keller the next. German teachers were employed in the German settlements, while at Vrooman's land a school was taught in Dutch. About the year 1760, English instruction was introduced into those schools, and in some instances the English, German and Dutch languages were all taught by one teacher, in the same school. Little attention was then paid to the convenience or comfort of the scholars. Barns, in some instances, became school-houses as well as churches, in summer; and if schools were continued in the winter, a log dwelling witnessed the child's improvement. Stoves, in those days, were unknown. The settlers had mammoth tire-places, however, and plenty of wood ; and often a large quantity was ignited at once. Few horses were shod for many years after the settlement began ; and those persons who required any smith-work their own ingenuity could not create, were obliged to go to Albany or Schenectada to get it done. John Ecker was the first black-smith in the Schoharie valley, and he was self-instructed. The Germans formerly brewed a kind of domestic beer, and many in Schoharie brewed their own, and used it in place of tea or coffee.
Slaves, how treated.-The Germans, when they located at Schoharie, owned no slaves, nor indeed, did they for several years ; but these accompanied the Dutch on their arrival. By industry, and a proper husbanding, the wealth of the former increased rapidly, and it was not long before they, too, possessed them.
The manner in which the slaves of Schoharie were generally treated by their masters, is not inaptly described by Mrs. Grant, in her Memoirs of Albany. They were allowed freedom of speech, and indulged in many things which other members of the family were, whose ages corresponded to their own; and to a superficial spectator, had the color not interfered, they would have seemed on an equality.
Many of the tools early used in husbandry wore clumsy and uncouth. Rakes used in Schoharie were made with teeth on both sides. Hay forks were made from a stick having a suitable crotch for tines, or by splitting one end of a straight stick and inserting a wedge. The improvement made in plows since that time is as great as that made on any one implement of the cultivator.
Threshing.-Grain was then threshed, as it was down to 1840, by the descendants of those people who had no machines for the purpose, by the feet of horses. The process is fast giving place to the buzzing of machinery, and it may be well to relate it. In the center of a roomy barn floor an upright bar was placed, previously rendered a pivot at each end, to enter a hole in the floor below, and a corresponding one in a beam or plank overhead. Through this abaft, at a suitable height from the floor, a pole was passed, to which several horses were fastened so as to travel abreast. Sometimes a number were fastened to each end of the pole, and, in some instances, a second pole was passed through the shaft at right angles with the first, to which horses were also attached. A quantity of sheaves being spread upon the floor, the horses were started at a round trot, thus trampling the grain from the straw. The upright, when the horses moved, turned upon its own pivots. Persons in attendance were constantly employed in turning and shaking the straw with a fork, keeping the horses in motion, removing any uncleanness, etc. The outside horse traveled much farther in his circuits than the inside one ; hence they were occasionally shifted. Grain was broken less if thrashed with unshod horses. Some used a roller to aid in the process. This was a heavy, rounded timber, worked smaller at one end than the other, with square pins of hard wood inserted at proper distances the whole length. The smallest end of this roller was so fastened to the shaft as to preserve the horizontal motion of one, and the perpendicular motion of the other, at the same time. To the heavy end of the roller, horses were fastened, drawing it on the same principle that the stone wheel in an ancient bark mill was drawn. In threshing with horses, the roller was a great assistance. A similar contrivance was sometimes used by the early miners in California. Fanning-mills, for cleaning grain, were unknown in former times, it being separated from chaff by fans, or shoveling it in the wind.
Religious Prejudice.-Early much prejudice existed in Schoharie between the Germans and Dutch. These national antipathies mere manifested in nothing more, at first, than in matters of religion. The early Germans were disciples to the doctrines of Martin Luther ; while the Dutch, collectively, subscribed the Calvanistic, or Dutch Reformed creed. Time, however, the great healer of dissensions, aided by intelligence and liberality, has now entirely removed those prejudices. While they existed they tended to prevent that interchange of good feeling, that reciprocity or kindness, so necessary to the prosperity and happiness of an isolated people. As Judge Brown remarked, at our interview, " the Low Dutch girls formerly thought but little of the High Dutch boys," and the young people of both settlements kept separate companies for many years. In a few instances elopements took place, but they were rare, as ministers were cautious about uniting a couple who could not produce certificate of publication.
Early Mechanics.-Among the first shoemakers who worked at the trade in Schoharie was William Dietz. Few boots were then worn. Men wore low, and women high-heeled (called French heeled) shoes. Shoes were then fastened with buckles, which, like those worn at the knees, were made of silver, brass or pewter. Caleb Kosboth and John Russeau were the first tailors. They worked, as did the first shoemakers, by whipping the cat-from house to house. Breeches and even coats were made of deer-skins, and in some instances, of blankets, in their day : the, former being fastened to striped hose at the knees with huge buckles.
One Delavergne was the first hatter, and is said to have been well patronized. Cocked, or three cornered hats were then the tip of fashion.
Fish were very plenty formerly in most of the streams in Schoharie county. For many years after the Revolution, trout were numerous in Foxescreek, where now there are few, if any at all. From a combination of causes, fish are now becoming scarce throughout the county, and need the well timed services of a Seth Greene. In many small streams, they have been nearly exterminated by throwing lime in the water. This cruel manner of taking the larger, destroys with more certainty all the smaller fish. Such a mode of fishing cannot be too severely censured.
Bear Stories.-Wild animals of every kind found in the same climate, were numerous in and about Schoharie, for a great length of time after the whites arrived. Bears and wolves, often appeared in droves, and were to the pioneer a source of constant anxiety and alarm. Deer, were then very numerous in this part of the State. But few incidents, worthy of notice, relating to wild animals, have come to my knowledge. One of the first German settlers was killed by a bear, between the residence of the late Josias Swart (near the old fort), and the hill east of it. He had wounded the animal with a gun, when it turned upon, and literally tore him in pieces. The Indians hunted them for food, and not unfrequently had an encounter with them. Nicholas Warner assured the author, that when a boy, he saw an Indian, named Bellows, returning from a hunt, holding in his own bowels with his hands. He had, after wounding a large bear, met it in personal combat, and although so terribly lacerated he slew it. Jacob Becker informed me that there was an Indian about Foxescreek in his younger days, called The-bear-catcher, who received his name from the following circumstance. He was hunting-treed a large bear and fired upon it. The beast fell and a personal encounter ensued. The Indian, in the contest, seized with an iron grasp the lower jaw of Bruin, and a back-hug was the consequence. He succeeded in holding his adversary so firmly that the latter could not draw his paws between their bodies. Bruin had, however, in the outset, succeeded in drawing one of them obliquely across the breast of the red man, scarifying it in a fearful manner. While thus situated, holding his adversary at bay, he called to a son, who was limiting in the woods not far off, for assistance. The latter ran to the spot, and placing the muzzle of his gun between the extended jaws of the bear, he discharged it, to the great relief of his father, then so affectionately embraced. The following adventure was related by Andrew Loucks : One Warner, who was among the first settlers at Punch kill, went out towards evening lo seek his cows. He met in his path a large bear, having cubs, which instantly pursued him. He ran for safety behind a large tree, round which himself and madam Bruin played bo-peep for some time-neither gaining any advantage. At length Warner seized a hemlock knot, and with it, Sampson like, slew his shaggy pursuer. This story was also told me by Jacob Becker, which was enacted near Foxescreek : John Shaeffer and George Schell went hunting. Shaeffer had a dog which treed a bear, and he being near at the time, instantly fired upon it. Bruin fell, though not passively to yield life. The dog attacked him, but was so lovingly hugged, that he cried piteously. Shaeffer thought too much of his canine friend to see him fall a victim to such affection, and endeavored to loosen one of the bear's paws : but, as he seized it, it was relaxed, and quicker than thought thrown round so as to include in the embrace his own arm. Shaeffer might as easily have withdrawn his hand from a vise. When he found he had caught a tartar, or, rather, that the bear had, he hallooed for his companion to come to his assistance and reach him his tomahawk. Many of the white hunters, in former times, were as careful to wear tomahawks as were their Indian neighbors. The missile was handed very cautiously, and Shaeffer buried the blade of it in the brains of his game, to the relief of his other arm and the resuscitation of the dog.
December 15, 1753, a squaw and her child were killed by a bear near her dwelling at Schoharie, which soon devoured a part of her and her child. An Indian soon after came to her assistance with a gun, and fired five times, and at last was obliged to cut a large hand spike and dispatch him.-New York Gazette and Post Boy, Jan., 1754.
Middleburgh Hills.-The three most prominent hills east of Middleburgh village, are called the Fireburg, Ameiseburg, and Clipperburg, The first the most southern, took its name (as Geo. Warner informed the author) from the following circumstance. A tar barrel having been raised to the top of a tall tree on that hill, it was, at a particular hour of a certain night, set on fire, to ascertain if the light could be seen from the residence of Sir William Johnson, in Johnstown, at whose instigation it was done. Whether it was seen there or not, tradition does not inform us, but the circumstance originated a name for the hill. Ameiseburg, the next one north, signifies the ant-hill, or hill of ants ; it having been, in former times, literally covered with those insect mounds. Clipperburg, directly north of Ameiseburg, signifies the rocky-hill, or hill scantily covered with vegetation. It is now known as the Sager-Warner mountain, and is often visited by pleasure seeking parties ; for its salubrious air and splendid prospect.
A Panther Story.-This story was related to me by Maria Teabout. She with several other individuals, was on the Fireburg before the Revolution, when a loud scream like that of a child was heard some distance off, to which she made answer by a similar one. She was told by the men to keep still, that it was a painter, the vulgar name for panther, and by answering it they would be in great danger. " A painter ! " she exclaimed, " what then is a painter ? " Being young and heedless, she continued to answer its cries, until her companions, alarmed for their own safety, had taken flight, and she found herself alone. As she was part native* she felt little fear, until the near
* She was half Indian, and In 1837, was nearly 90 years old.
approach of the animal struck her with terror. She had no time left to secure a safe retreat, but instantly concealed herself in a hollow tree. The animal approached so near that she saw it from her concealment, but as that did not see her, it went back in the direction from whence it came. In the meantime, those who had fled on the panther's approach, went home and reported Maria as slain in an awful manner. A party, consisting of Col. Zielie, with half a dozen of his neighbors, and a few Indians, all mounted on horseback and armed with guns, set out to seek and bring whatever of Maria might be left, by the panther. Leaving their horses near the entrance, they went into the woods and called to her. She heard the voice of Col. Zielie, and came out from her hiding place. The Indians then declared they would soon have the panther, and fixing a blanket on a stump so as to present a tolerable effigy of one of their party, they all fell back behind trees. An Indian then began to call, and was soon answered by the animal, which approached stealthily. When it came in sight, it fixed its eyes on the effigy, and crawling along with the stillness of a cat, it approached within a few paces, from whence it bounded upon it with the speed of an arrow. In an instant the blanket was torn into strings, and as the disappointed animal stood lashing its sides furiously with its tail, looking for the cause of the voice (panthers having no belief in ghosts), a volley of rifle balls laid it dead on the spot. The skin was taken off, and some slices of the critter, as Natty Bumppo would call it, were taken home by several of the Indians to broil. Few panthers have been killed in the county since the remembrance of any one living in it. One of the last was shot long since, on Foxescreek.
The sagacious beaver was a resident of this county on the arrival of the Germans. They were numerous along Foxescreek, and at a place called the Beaver-dam, on that stream, which is now in the town of Berne, Albany county, they had several dams.
A Dangerous Encounter.-Wild-cats were numerous in Schoharie formerly. The following anecdote is related of old Doctor Moulter, a physician who lived on Foxescreek about the time of the Revolution. He awoke one night to hear an unusual noise among his setting geese. Without waiting to dress, or seize upon any weapon, he ran out to learn the cause of alarm. On arriving at the scene of action, although his prospect was sombre, he discovered the cause of disturbance in an unwelcome animal, that was paying its devoirs to mistress goose. He ran up and seized it by the neck and hind legs, and although it struggled hard to regain its liberty, he succeeded in holding it until his boys, to whom he called for assistance, came and killed it. The reader may judge his surprise, when, on taking it to the light, it proved to be a good sized wild-cat. Had he caught it otherwise than he did, it is highly probable that, in his nude state, he would have repented his grasp or lost his life. Many anecdotes are told of this same Dr. Monitor, an eccentric and well-known citizen. When he located at Schoharie he was afraid to ride on horseback, unless some one led his horse by the bridle. Those who led his nag for him grew tired of gratifying his whims, and would occasionally let go his reins, and leave him to shift for himself. This kind of treatment soon taught the old doctor the skill of horsemanship. He is said to Have doctored for witches, and promulgated the doctrine of witchcraft. Nor was he wanting in believers, as no dogmas, however doggish, need much preaching to gain proselytes.
First Distiller.-Francis Otto, who is said to have established the first distillery in the county (which was for cider-brandy, and stood half a mile east of the court house), was also a kind of doctor. In fact, he was one of that useful class, who can turn their hand to almost anything ; being a brandy-maker, a doctor, phlebotomist, a barber, a fortune-teller, etc. He, too, believed in witchcraft. His death took place just before the Revolution, in the following manner : He had spent the evening at the John Ingold dwelling, and left there to go home, with the bosom of his shirt filled with apples. He may, to have kept off the chill of the evening, and increase his courage, have tasted a potation of his own distilling, of which he was fond. On the following morning he was found in a bruised state, still alive, having fallen off the rocks not far from his own dwelling, but died soon after. As he was much afraid of witches, it was generally believed that they had thrown him off the rocks. Thus ended the first distiller, poor Otto, of bewitching memory.
A Successful Hunter.-Deer, as remarked, were numerous in Schoharie formerly. Jacob Becker related this story. An old Indian, who lived in Garlock's dorf, was very skillful in the use of the bow and arrow. This Indian stationed himself at a run-way the deer had on the north side of Foxescreek, not far from Becker's mill, now Shutter's Corners. It was at a place where a small stream of water descends from the hill, affording a path from that to the flats below. At this place this Indian was concealed, when a noble deer came down the declivity. An arrow from his bow pierced the heart of the unsuspecting victim, when it bounded forward a few paces and fell dead. Another deer descended, and a second arrow left a bleeding victim near its fellow. Another and another descended to meet a similar fate, until six in quick succession had fallen near together. There were times when, like the one named, the arrow was as trusty as the rifle ball. The distance must not be great, however, and the bow must be drawn by a skillful hand. The arrow, giving no report, the Indian was enabled, by his masterly skill, to bring down six, when a single discharge from a rifle would have sent the five hindmost deer on the back track. The arrow, however, would not tell upon a distant object like the rifle ball, and great muscular strength was required to send it, even at a short distance, to the heart of a bounding buck.
Rattle-Snakes were very numerous formerly along the north side of Foxescreek, and the west side of the Schoharie. Hundreds were often killed in a single day at either place. Neighborhoods turned out in the spring about the time they came from their dens, in the latter part of April, or early part of May, to destroy them. A few still remain at both places. It was not uncommon in raising a sheaf of wheat, on the flats near the hills-which afford their favorite haunts, as early as the Revolution-to find one or more of those serpents under it. They were but little dreaded then, especially by the Indians, for, if they could get at the wound with their mouth, suction, with other applications, generally saved the bitten. The Indians, said Andrew Loucks, rubbed their legs with certain roots, to avoid being bitten by rattle-snakes, and made use of several kinds of roots and plants, in effecting a cure for their bite. The knowledge they had of botany, although limited, was of a practical nature, and enabled them not unfrequently to effect a cure, when the application of a mineral compound would have destroyed. This country, undoubtedly, affords an herb for every disease of the climate, that is cureable, and great attention should be paid to the study and medical application of Botany. Rattlesnakes diminish rapidly in numbers, if hogs are allowed to run where they infest. They will eat them, with the exception of the head, whenever they take them. There are individuals, in fact, who eat those venomous reptiles, and pronounce them palatable. The late Major Van Vechten, of Schoharie, formerlyformerly ate them, and at times invited his friends to the banquet. On one occasion (in 1836) he had several young gentlemen-students from Union College-to partake with him, who were ambitious to be able to say they had eaten of a " sarpent." Did they taste flavorous ? One would suppose the idea of eating a rattle-snake would sicken the eater, save in cases of approaching starvation.
I have been thus particular to notice the habits and customs of the Schoharie people, and circumstances attending their manner of living, etc., because I was fortunate enough to obtain them when attainable, knowing that in the picture of their primitive habits, I should reflect those of other local settlements of their national brethren, who immigrated with them, or came hither soon after. Here, too, is some matter relating to their lands, titles, etc.
The Schoharie Indians, says Brown, claimed the lands lying about Schoharie, and made some sales, but were interrupted in those transfers of lands by the Mohawks, who proved that the land given to Karighondontee's wife, at the time her husband settled, was to be no more than would be required to plant as much corn as a squaw could hold in her petticoat : which, he adds, would be reckoned about a skipple. A squaw's petticoat neither has great length or breadth ; but the reader will understand that the grain was carried in the garment, not on the person but in the manner of a sack.
But a few years after the Schoharie Germans had their difficulties with Rayard, and Sheriff Adams, they began to secure land not only of the seven partners, but also of the natives, and made transfers among themselves.
A bond in the writer's possession, given for what is unknown, by " John Andrews of Scorre [Schoharie], to John Lawer [Lawyer], for 26 pounds 3 shillings, corrant money of New York, dated the 3d day of May, in the fifth year of our Sovereign Lord George I., king of Great Britain, France and Ireland, and in the year of our Lord God, 1T20, shows the earliest date of any paper I have met with, that was executed between the early settlers in the Schoharie valley. The bond is written in a fair, legible hand, and most of the orthography is correct.
In the early conveyances, lands in the vicinity of the Schoharie Court House, were located at " Fountain's town, Fountain's flats, and Brunnen or Bruna dorf." Some of the old deeds bound those lands on the " west, by the Schoharie river, and on the east, on the king's road." The road then ran near the hill east of the old Lutheran parsonage house, now standing ; leaving nearly all the flats west of it. In ancient patents, the brook above Middleburgh village is called the Little Schoharie; which name I have chosen to adopt.
A Permit to Buy Land.-Many of the Indian sales of lands in Schoharie county, were legalized by the Governor and council of the colony. The following paper, which is copied verbatim et literatim, will show the usual form of a royal permit, to buy lands of the Indians.
" By His Excellency the Hon. George Clinton, Captain-General and Governor in Chief of the colony of L. S. New York, and Territorities thereon depending in America, Vice Admiral of the same and Admiral of the White Squadron of his Majesty's Fleet.
"To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern, Greeting :-
"Whereas Johannes Becker, Jr., Johannes Schaffer, Jr., Hondrick Schaffer, Jr., and Jacobus Schaffer, by their humble petition presented unto me and read in Council this Day, have prayed my license to purchase in his Majesty's name, of the native Indian proprietors thereof, six thousand Acres of some vacant Lands, Situate, Lying and being in the County of Albany, on the North side of the Cobelskill, and on the East of the Patent lately granted to Jacob Borst, Jacob C. Teneyck and others near Schoharie : in order to obtain His Majesty's Letters Patent for the same or a proportionate quantity thereof. I have therefore thought tit to give and grant, and I do by and with the Advice of his Majesty's Council, hereby give and grant unto the said Petitioners, full Power, Leave and lycense to purchase in his Majesty's Name of the Native Indian Proprietors thereof, the Quantity of Six thousand Acres of the vacant Lands aforesaid. Provided the said purchase be made in one year next after the Date hereof, and conformable to a report of a Committee of His majesty's Council of the second day of December, 1736, on the Memorial of Cadwallader Colden, Esq., representing several Inconveniences arising by the usual Method of purchasing lands from the Indians. And for so doing this shall be to them a sufficient lycense.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Arms, at Fort George, in the City of New York,
the sixteenth Day of November, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-two.
" By his Excellency's command, G. CLINTON."
" GEO. BANYAR, D. Sec'y."
A conveyance made in December, 1752, of 1500 acres of land in " New Dorlach," now in the town of Seward-bounds it on "West creek"-west branch of the Cobelskill beginning at a bank called in an Indian conveyance, " One-en-ta-dashe" This I suppose to have been the Indian name of the mountain south of Hyndsville. When the county of Tryon was organized, it took in "New Dorlach;" which was embraced in Otsego county on its organization ; and subsequently became a part of Schoharie county.
The parties to an indenture, made November 30th, 1753, were Johannes Scheffer, Christ Jan Zehe, Johannes Lawyer, Michael Borst, Johannes Borst, Johan Jost Borst, Michael Hilkinger, William Baird, Jacob Borst, Michael Bowman, Johannes Brown, Barent Keyser, Peter Nicholas Sommer, Johannes Lawyer Sen., Hendrick Heens, and William Brown. It was a purchase of 15,000 acres of land on the north side of the Ots-gar-rege, or Cobelskill, about seven miles westerly from Schoharre."
The author has in his possession a parchment copy of letters patent, dated March 19, 1754, granted in the reign of George II., under the administration of George Clinton as Governor, and James De Lancey, Lieutenant-Governor, to John Frederick Bauch [now Houck], Christian Zehe, Johannes Zehe, Michael Wanner [Warner] and Johannes Knisker [Kneiskern], "For a certain Tract of Land lately purchased by them of the Native Indian proprietors thereof, situate, lying and being in the county of Albany, to the westward of Schoharry, and on the south side of a creek or brook, called by the Indians Ots-ga-ra-gee, and by the inhabitants Cobelskill, containing about four thousand eight hundred Acres, and further bounded and described as by the Indian purchase thereof, bearing date the Ninth day of November fast, might appear." The patent grants among other things, Fishings, Foldings, Bunting and Hawking ; reserving at the same time Gold and Silver mines, and "All trees of the Diameter of twenty-four Inches and upwards at twelve Inches from the ground, for Masts for our Royal Navy. And also all such other trees as may be fit to make planks, knees, and other things necessary for the use of our said Navy;" with the privilege of going on and cutting the timber thus reserved, at any time or in any manner. The following singular sentence appears in the patent. The purchasers, after being individually named, were, with their heirs and assigns forever, " To be holden of us, our heirs and successors in fee and common socage, as of our Mannor of East Greenwich, in the County of Kent, with our Kingdom of Great Britain, yielding, rendering and paving therefor yearly, and every year forever, unto us our heirs and successors, at our Custom House in Our City of New York, unto our Collector or Receiver General there for the time being, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, commonly called Lady day, the yearly Rent of two shillings and six pence for each and every hundred acres of the above granted Lands, and so in proportion for any lesser quantity thereof." Within three years after the date of the patent, the purchasers whose interest was equal, were required " to settle and effectually cultivate at least three Acres of every fifty Acres, of the land capable of cultivation." The conveyance was to be invalidated by the wanton burning of the growing timber.
About the year 1760, says Brown, the Mohawks began to sell large tracts of land around Schoharie, through Sir William Johnson, the royal agent of Indian affairs of the six nations for the British Government. These conveyances to be legal, he adds, were required to be made in his presence, he usually taking good care to secure a valuable interest to himself.
Land was considered of little value among the pioneer settlers of New York, and large tracts were often disposed of for an inconsiderable sum. The following certificate, found among the papers of the late Philip Schuyler, of Schoharie, will serve to show from its vague limits, the value set by the owner on a large tract of now valuable land.
do hereby certify to have sold to Messrs. Philip Schuyler and Abram Becker,
and their associates, the Flats of the Cook House with an equal quantity of
upland near the path going to Ogwage [Oquago.]-And I hereby permit them to
take up or mark off any quantity of land they may farther think proper, on
the west side the said Cook House branch, granted to me, the subscriber, by
the Governor and Council of this province of New York.
Albany,19th June, 1773.
Attached to this certificate is an affidavit made by George Mann in 1818, before Peter Swart, a Judge of the court of common pleas for Schoharie county, which states that in the month of June, 1773, being then at the Indian village of " Orgquago," he saw " Philip Schuyler pay to the Chiefs of the Indian tribe of the same name, in behalf of John Bradstreet, the sum of $100, which he understood to be money received by them in consideration of a deed for a certain tract of land given by the said Chiefs to the said Bradstreet, and which land was situated on the west branch of the Delaware river, commonly called the Kokehouse branch.* He adds that Alexander Campbell, John H. Becker and David Becker, were also present at the time.
Slaves in Schoharie.-I have before remarked that the Schoharie people owned slaves. Many of them were either purchased in the New England States, or of New England men. A certificate of the sale of a black girl about thirteen years of age, given on the 7th day of July, 1762, by "John McClister of Connecticut, to Jacob Lawyer of Schohary," for the sum of sixty pounds, [$150], New York currency, will probably show the average value of female slaves at that day. At a later period, able bodied male slaves often sold as high as $250, When slaves were purchased out of the colony, a duty was required to be paid on them, as the following certificate of the Mayor of Albany will show.
Koke is the Dutch of cook-to prepare food to eat.
are to Certify, y Nine negro men and women has been Imported Into ye County
of Albany from New England, and according to an Act of ye Governor, ye Council,
and the generall Assembly ; William Day has paid ye Duty for said Negro men
and women : witness my hand this twentieth Day of Aug. 1762.
VOLKERT P. DOUW, Mayor.
Five of the above mentioned slaves were sold at Schoharie.
Public Roads.-While New York was a British province, public roads were called " The King's Highways," and were kept in repair by a tax levied by officers under the crown. Individuals were not compelled at that period to fence in their lands along the highways, but where the line fence between neighbors crossed them, they placed gates. This was a source of constant vexation to the traveler, who often complained that there were more obstructions of the kind than necessity required. Accordingly, to remedy the evil, a legislative act was passed, by which those obstructions could only be placed across the King's road by a legal permit; signed by several of His Majesty's justices of the peace. The traveler was annoyed by gates across the highway in thickly settled communities in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys for some years after the American Revolution.
John Lawyer, named in the bond of 1720, and father of one of the first white children born in Schoharie, was one of the principal settlers at Brunnen dorf ; was the first merchant among those Germans, trading, as believed, in the old stone building which stood some 20 rods southwesterly from the Lutheran parsonage, which building, then standing on the premises of Chester Lasell, was burned about 1857 or 1858. Tradition says he erected a grist-mill near his store, which, with an overshot wheel, was driven by water from the great spring at the parsonage, in an aqueduct. He was a flax hatcheler in Germany. The natives were among his most profitable customers, with whom he bartered blankets, Indian trinkets, calicoes, scarlet cloth, ammunition, rum, etc., for valuable furs, dressed deer skins, and oilier commodities of the times. He was one of the best informed among the Germans, who settled the county. He was a good business man, and aided many who purchased land in making their payments, ever sustaining the reputation of an honorable dealer. He became a widower when about 80 years old, and married a widow in New York city. He sent word to have one of his sons meet him in Albany, but they were so displeased with his marriage that none of them would go. One Dominick took the happy couple to Schoharie, where they ever after spent the honeymoon. It has been stated that he had several children by this late marriage. Judge Brown assured the writer that he had, indeed, but that they were not very young when he married their mother.
A second John Lawyer, who usually wrote his given name Johannes (the German of John), a son of the one mentioned above, succeeded his father in the mercantile business. He became a good surveyor, and surveyed much land in and around Schoharie county. He was also an extensive landholder, owning at least 25,000 acres of land, and his name appears in very many conveyances made in that county before the year 1760. A well executed portrait of this man, in the fashion of that day, is now in possession of his descendants.
I have before me a copy of the will of this man, which was dated March 10, 1760, by which it appears he was then a merchant. He had three sons and two daughters, and his will so disposed of his large estate, as to be equally distributed on the death of his widow, to the surviving children and the lawful heirs of the deceased ones.
Not all parents at the present day in Schoharie county, imitate the commendable example of this wealthy man, and divide their property equally between sons and daughters. The latter, who are by nature the most helpless, are frequently unprovided for ; and while a son or sons are enjoying the rich inheritance of a " wise father," a worthy daughter is sometimes compelled, on the death of her parents, either to marry against her own good sense a man unworthy of her, or feel herself really dependant on the charity of those from whom she should not he compelled to ask it. Are fathers wise who make such wills?
Johannes Lawyer was succeeded by a son, his namesake, in the mercantile business. Lawrence Lawyer, one of his sons, who was still living-a very old man-in Cobelskill in 1837, informed me that some person in New York presented his father with a small cannon while in that city purchasing goods, a short time previous to the French war: and that during that war, whenever the Schoharie Indians-who -were engaged with the Mohawks under Sir William Johnson-returned home with scalps of the enemy, this cannon was fired for joy. Thus we perceive that the very cruel Indian custom of scalping-condemned in the savages during the Revolution 20 years after the whites had approved in the French war, and demonstrated that approval by the discharge of cannon. Can we blame the unlettered savage for continuing a custom hisfathers-indeed, we ourselves taught him to think fair and honorable, by our own public approval and celebration ? Ought we not rattier to pity the injured Indian, and censure ourselves for encouraging his love of cruelty instead of mercy?
I learned from this old patriot, who was one of the early settlers of Cobelsklll, the origin of the name Punch-kill. His grandfather took a patent of lands adjoining this stream : and on running out the lines in making a survey, punch was made and freely drank on the premises, on which account the brook was called Punch-kill, and has been so called ever since. This kill is in the northeast part of the town, and falls into the Cobelsklll.
Funerals.-It was formerly customary, not only in Schoharie, but in nearly every county in the state, to provide refreshments at funerals. Indeed, as late as 18-25, the custom of providing liquor on such occasions was in vogue, and the bearers and friends of the deceased were expected to return to the house of mourning after the burial, and drink. Neither was it at all uncommon for people in those days to go home from a funeral drunk: but the barbarous custom of passing the intoxicating bowl on such occasions, has become obsolete. It is said that John Lawyer, the second one mentioned in this connection kept a barrel of wine for several years before his death to be drank at his funeral: that it was carried out on that occasion in pails, freely drank, and many were drunk of it. Cakes were carried round at such times in large baskets, and in some instances a funeral appeared more like a festival than the solemn sepulture of the dead. The old people give a plausible reason for the introduction of such a custom in this country. Its inhabitants were sparsedly settled over a large territory, and many had to go a great distance to attend funerals,-and as all could not be expected to eat a regular meal from home, those extra provisions were made for friends present from remote sections. A custom of this kind once introduced, even if at the time justifiable, it is easy to perceive might be continued in after years, until it became obnoxious to sympathy and reprehensible. The Palatines brought this habit of funeral feasting from the fatherland.
The following is the copy of a well written receipt, in the hand writing of the second mentioned John Lawyer, his name being there written as the contraction of Johannes. It was doubtless given as it purports, for liquor drank at a funeral.
Scoherie, March 29, 1738.
" Then Received of John Schuyler the sum of Twenty Schillings for five gating [gallons] of Rum at the Bearing [burying] of Maria Bratt. Reed by me. JOHS. LAWYER."
Indian Characteristics.-The Schoharie Indians had but few serious difficulties with the early white settlers. Judge Brown mentions in his pamphlet that a squaw once shot a man on the Sabbath, while returning from church. The Indians often hid personal broils among themselves, and generally settled them in their own savage way. Brown also states that in his time he saw one William, a son of Jan, stab and kill another Indian at the house of David Becker, in Weiser's dorf. The eye-witness of the act informed the author, that the Indian killed was called John Coy. David Becker then kept a public house, which stood on the present site of the parsonage house of the brick church in Middleburgh. John had a child in his arms in the bar-room, and was asked by William, another Indian, to drink with him. The former declined drinking, and walked out of the room upon a piazza in front of the house. William soon after followed him out and buried the blade of a long knife in his back --which he did not attempt to draw out--and departed. John died almost instantly. The cause of this assassination informant did not know: it is doubtless to be attributed to the red man's curse-alcohol.
Mrs. Van Slyck related the following traditionary story, which serves to illustrate another phase of Indian character. At a house which stood on the farm owned by Henry Vrooman in 1845, and contiguous to Wilder Hook, about the year 1750, one Indian stabbed another on the threshold of the door to the entrance into the upper part of it. The deed was committed in the evening, and was the result of a former quarrel. The tribe took little notice of the act, but when the corpse of the murdered man was about to be lowered into the grave, the father of the murderer required his son to get into it to dig one end deeper. He did so, and while standing there, the father sunk a tomahawk into his brains. He was laid down in the narrow house with his implements of war beside him-the other victim placed upon the body of his murderer, and both buried together. Thus bodies which in life were rendered so hateful to each other by the savage spirits which controlled them, mingled into one common earth after death, by the fiendish act of a father ; who, by endeavoring to punish the believed wrong of a son, became himself the most guilty of the two. However unnatural an act like this may seem, it was by no means uncommon among the unlettered sons of the forest. The father often assumed the responsibility of punishing the son, and the son the father, for misdemeanors which might have a tendency to disgrace the avenger, even to the taking of life.
The following anecdote will show another peculiarity of the Indian character. One of the Schoharie chiefs, named Lewis, is said to have gone to battle-in a French Canadian war, scalped a squaw, taken her home as his prisoner, and afterwards made her his wife and the mother of his children.
The Indians were in the annual habit, to considerable extent, of taking up a temporary residence near a corn field-when the corn became eatable-proving unprofitable neighbors to the whites, as they often destroyed more than they carried away.
A Glance at Passing Events.-From the time the several white settlements were planted in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys, although there were jealousies and rivalries between the English and French nations as to which should weave the strongest chain of friendship among the Iroquois, and secure their fur trade : those pioneer settlers were very little disturbed in their homes down to 1754, or the period denominated the old French war. There were, however, several occasions in which the colonists of New England and New York took a part in invading Canada. David Kerth-written by English writers Kirk-captured Quebec by shipping, July 19, 1629, just 130 years before its final conquest by Gen. Wolfe. It was again restored to France, by treaty, March 17, 1632.* It would have saved England and her American colonies a world of trouble, had Canada never been ceded back by treaty, and Central New York would probably have been civilized nearly an hundred years earlier.
Again, after many mutations and vicissitudes in the colonial affairs of England and France, they found themselves in l746 -114 years after England had restored Canada to France-in more complicated difficulties than ever ; when an expedition was undertaken to conquer the Canadas, Gov. Shirley, of Massachusetts, having much to do with the enterprise. In this year, said the historian Smith [page 482], the French and Indians had become BO elated with success, that marauding parties of them were frequently seen within a little distance of Albany, laying in wait to take prisoners. An Indian called To-mon-wil-e-mon was celebrated for such adventures. The programme laid down was much as follows : Captain, afterwards Admiral Sir Peter Warren, with a British fleet, was to take on board at Louisburg what troops were sent from England, with 5,300 colonial troops furnished by the then four New England colonies, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and ascend the St. Lawrence to attack Quebec ; while 3,900 troops, raised in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, were to assemble at Albany and march thence against Crown Point and Montreal ; and Gov. George Clinton, of New York, was to secure the co-operation of the Six Nations with the western army. The colonies, loyal to the crown, and anxious to see Canada wrested from France, and a source of frequent alarm upon the frontiers effectually removed, readily furnished their quotas of the troops.
The readiness having been made on the part of the colonies, they awaited with anxiety, month after month, for the British transports to arrive with the promised troops and a General to command them, until in a consultation between Admirals Warren and Pepperell and Gov. Shirley, it was judged that the season was too far advanced to execute the designs against Quebec; but it was still thought practicable, with the troops that could be assembled at Albany, and the friendly Indians of the Six
* Holmes' Am. Annals, vol. 1, pp. 251, 265.
Cantons, to prosecute the enterprise against Crown Point. At this juncture a French fleet consisting of 40 ships of war, besides transports bearing nearly 4,000 troops-the most powerful naval armament ever then seen in American waters-under command of D. Anville, arrived at Nova Scotia.
Its main object was supposed to be not only to operate against the English fleet on the coast, but to recapture Louisburg, take Annapolis, destroy Boston, and break up the settlements on the eastern coast, if not in fact to conquer all New England, then the most thickly settled of the colonies. All was for a time consternation in this country, and especially along the frontiers of New England and New York. After a few weeks, however, this great anxiety was relieved by the intelligence that the French fleet had been scattered and greatly crippled by a storm which wrecked many of the ships with an immense loss of life. Other disasters befel the French. Four ships of war expected from Hispaniola to join the fleet had failed to connect ; while a pestilential fever had prevailed among the French troops, and, added to this, intercepted letters led them to expect the arrival of an English fleet.
These adverse circumstances produced a division of sentiment among the French officers, and caused the sudden death of D' Anville, either by an apoplectic fit or poison ; while D' Estournelle who succeeded to the command, was so excited by the rejection of his plans in a council of his officers, who were for returning immediately to France, that his agitation brought on a fever in which delirium succeeded, and he fell upon his own sword and expired. The French, however, resolved to make an attempt to capture Annapolis, but scarcely had they sailed with this intent, when they were overtaken by a terrible tempest near Cape Sable, and what ships escaped fatal disaster, were so demoralized, that they at once returned singly to France. Thus by a combination of unlocked for events beyond human control, were the plans of the French thwarted and the country saved from much blood shed and desolation. "A more remarkable instance of preservation seldom occurs," and had it been otherwise, one could hardly conjecture what the result might have been.*
* Holmes' Annals, vol. 2, pp. 168-172.
It was in the midst of the preparations making for the contemplated attempt to capture Canada, which resulted so remarkably for the English colonists, that Gov. Clinton secured the services of Wm. Johnson, the young Mohawk valley tradesman, to take the Indian agency of the six nations, and render them as far as possible, available for a demonstration against Crown Point and Canada. Here and thus began the public career of this remarkable man, who afterwards became possessed of such unbounded influence over the Indians of New York. It seems surprising that his name did not thus early get into Holmes' Annals of the events of 1746, but it is no doubt because at that period those events found their chroniclers in New England.
Other Frontier Settlements.-Here and there a small settlement sprang up, from time to time, in the early period of Western New York, around the few already mentioned, which deserve our notice. August 18, 1738, John Lindsay took a patent for 1,965 acres of land, and on the same day, with Jacob Roseboom, Leonard Gansevoort and Sybrant Van Schaick, also secured a patent, beside the first, for 7,050 acres, both tracts containing 9,015 acres of land. Those lands were situated mostly in the present town of Cherry Valley, and, consolidated, became known as the Cherry Valley patent. On May 24, 1739, John Lindsay, took a patent for 500 acres on the Cherry Valley creek, which he found the previous grants did not embrace. The head waters of the Cherry Valley creek-one of the sources of the Susquehanna-ran through these lands. The Canajoharie creek also rises near the former creek, and flows in an opposite direction to the Mohawk. On the latter stream, only two or three miles from Cherry Valley, is a gorge in which is a waterfall, called, on the De Witt map of 1790, by the Indian name "Tu-ay-on-na-ron-wa Fall." But a short distance from this little cascade, Lieut. Matthew Wormuth was killed in 1778, as will be shown. In modern times this cascade has been, called the Te-ka-har-o-wa, but on what authority I cannot say. Mr. Lindsay, who was a Scotch gentleman of substance, also secured a patent August 24, 1736, with Philip Livingston, for 3,000 acres in the present town of Danube, bounded northeasterly by the Mohawk ; and August 22, 1738, he patented 460 acres of land now in Greene county, and was possibly interested in other land purchases.
I shall give the reader a brief account of the first settlement of Cherry Valley, drawn chiefly from Campbell's Annals of Tryon County. Thinking a life among the wild cherries would be romantic and pleasant, in 1739 Mr. Lindsay obtained an assignment from his three partners to the largest Cherry Valley tract for himself and Gov. Clark-who, as Governor, had first granted it-and they had it surveyed and laid out in lot". In the spring of 1740, Mr. Lindsay removed his family from New York city upon one of the best farms in his Cherry Valley purchase, and the locality became known as Lindsay's Bush. There may possibly have been here and there a settler within a few miles of him ; but if any such there were nearer than those contiguous to the Mohawk valley, a dozen miles distant, it is now unknown. On going into their country and upon their hunting grounds, Mr. Lindsay-as did all similar adventurers-found it necessary to cultivate the friendship of the Indians.
A family from refined life, isolating itself in the woods among Indians and wild beasts, could reasonably have expected to find only a life of very severe romance, and such an one proved that of the Lindsay family the first season ; for in the winter following its arrival, not having made ample provision for its wants, it became straitened for food ; and there being a great depth of snow on the ground, its necessities were only to be relieved by the kindness of an Indian, who, upon snow-shoes, went to the Mohawk river settlements and returned with a supply of necessaries upon his back. Thus were the whites often befriended into successful homes and colonies by the natives, whose lands and country they were slowly but surely robbing them of.
In the spring of 1741, Mr. Lindsay made the Rev. Samuel Dunlap, of New York, the gift of a good farm to settle upon his tract, which lie accepted, and used his influence to induce others to go with him, among whom were David Ramsey, William Gallt, James Campbell and William Dickson-known at the time as Scotch-Irish-in all about 30 souls. Mr. Dunlap, who was from the Emerald Isle, returned thither after a short residence at Cherry Valley, to fulfil a marriage contract, and returning with his wife he became a permanent settler, and the first minister of that place. He was a liberally educated man, and taught the first grammar school, as believed, to the westward of Albany ; and among his pupils were not a few from the Mohawk valley settlements, Borne of whom were representative men in the Revolution. Among the settlers making accessions within a few years to the Cherry Valley settlement-so named, because of its numerous wild cherry trees-was John Wells, of New York, an Irishman, who later in life became a justice of the peace, and a very useful citizen. Mr. Lindsay, knowing little about farming, and his family, no doubt, tiring of a forest life, at the end of a few years abandoned his sylvan enterprise and returned to New York. For the credit of the Cherry Valley colonists, I may observe that hardly were they comfortably established ere they had erected a school-house and a church- both of the pioneer's building material, unhewn logs.
The Cherry Valley colony increased, though not rapidly, in numbers for the next 30 years, in the latter part of which period other small settlements were made in its neighborhood. One of them, in the present town of Middlefield, was known at the beginning of the Revolution as Newtown Martin, so called after Peter Martin, an owner of lands there. The late Mrs. Matthias Becker, the mother of Mrs. William A. Haslet, of Fort Plain, and the late Jeremiah Martin, of Glen, were children of this Martin, who was a Montreal tradesman at the beginning of hostilities, when this settlement was broken up. In 1762, five families settled in Springfield, being those of John Kelley, Richard Ferguson and James Young, in the eastern part of the town, and those of Gustavus Klumph and Jacob Tygart [Dygert] at the head of the lake. Dygert had two sons, John and Jacob, captured at the destruction of Cherry Valley. The last two were, no doubt, Germans from the Mohawk valley. A Spalsbury family, and that of Capt. Thomas Davy, are also known to have become residents of the town before the Revolution, and the latter, with others from Springfield, was in the sanguinary field of Oriskany,* where be was killed, leaving three sons, James, Jeremiah and Harvey. Other families are known to have located near Mud lake, and in other parts of the town, at the period named. Several families are said to have pushed out as far westward as the Little lakes-now in Warren, though then
* Memorial discourse of Rev. P. V. Sanborne, delivered July 16, 1876.
called Springfield, and, it is not improbable that the family of George Knouts was of the number.
Settlements were also successfully planted several years before the Revolution in Unadilla, Otego, Laurens, Butternuts, Harpersfield, and in what are now several other townships. On the organization of Tryon county, all the settlements named, to he west and southwest of Cherry Valley, except Harpersfield, became known as the Old England District; hence we may infer that a majority of those pioneer settlers spoke the English language. Cherry Valley and Harpersfield were embraced in the Canajoharie district.
I have already stated that it was long after a Dutch colony was established at Schenectada, before the whites ventured any great distance to the westward of that place. A few families did venture across the river, however, and the Schenectada Reflector of October 24, 1878, tells us that a certain Mabee family settled in Rotterdam, six and a half miles west of that old town about 200 years ago, to which fact I have already alluded.
One of the earliest Low Dutch families to push up the Mohawk as far, was that of Philip Groat, of Rotterdam, who in 1716, made a purchase of lands near Cranesville, in the town of Amsterdam, 13 miles west of Schenectada. When removing to the latter place, Mr. Groat was drowned in the Mohawk, not far from Schenectada, by breaking through the ice. He was in a sleigh accompanied by a woman who was also drowned. His widow and three sons, Simon, Jacob and Lewis, the last named being then only four years old, with several domestics, made the intended settlement. In 1730, the Groat brothers erected a grist-mill at their place, believed the first one ever built on the north side of the Mohawk. This mill when first erected, floured wheat for citizens who dwelt upon the German flats, some 50 miles distant. The first bolting cloth in this mill, was put in by John Barns, a German, in 17772. Prior to this the settlers lived on what is now known as Graham bread, bread, made from unbolted flour, unless they sifted it in hand sieves.*
* Facts obtained In 1841, from Mr. John L. Groat, a son by his second wife of Lewis Groat named in the context, who lived and died at the old homestead below Cranesville, where he was long and favorably known as an inn-keeper. He was an agreeable companion on all matters connected with his early life, as he had a good memory, well remembered Sir William Johnson, with whom his father was on intimate terms, and knew well many of the baronet's associates. Mr. Groat might very properly have been called a Yankee Dutchman, for his social and Inquisitive nature made him familiar with the pedigree of more families in the Mohawk valley, than was any other man with whom I ever conversed. He died In January, 1845, aged about 90 years.
In 1713, Henry and John Hanson, father and son, whom I suppose of Holland descent, as already stated, secured 2,000 acres of land upon the north side of the Mohawk, extending westward from a point opposite the mouth of the Schoharie creek, to the westerly bank of the Da-da-nas-ka-rie creek, which enters the river at the De Graff place several miles above.
Capt. John Scott, then in command of Fort Hunter, in 1722, secured a tract of land laying along the Mohawk, and extending westward from Aurie's creek * in the town of Glen; and in 1725 he purchased another tract of land adjoining the first on its westerly side, the two it is said extending nearly to the present village of Fultonville. Early in the eighteenth century, three brothers named Quackenboss emigrated from Holland to the colony of New York ; one of them locating at New York city, and the other two at Albany. Peter, one of the latter, settled on Scott's patent, only two or three years after it was secured. He resided near Aurie's creek at the old Leslie Voorhees' place. Mr. Quackenboss had several children grown up when he arrived in the country, and David, his elder son, after a somewhat romantic courtship, Married Miss Ann, a daughter of Captain Scott, and settled on Scott's Patent, where the Montgomery county poor house now stands. A young officer under the command of Captain Scott, requested young Quackenboss, then in the employ of the captain to speak a good word for him to Miss Ann, which he readily promised to do. While extolling the good qualities of her admirer, he took occasion to suggest his partiality for herself. The maiden, who had conceived an attachment for Quackenboss instead of the young subaltern, shrewdly asked him why he did not make advances on his own account. He had not presumed on so advantageous a match ; but the hint was sufficient to secure his fortune and happiness. His son John, a fruit of this connection, born about the year 1725, was the first white child born on the south side of the Mohawk-west of Fort Hunter, and east of the German
* Aurle or Arie, is the Dutch of Aaron. The creek was so called after a warrior of that name, who lived near It.
settlements some distant above. Captain Scott had one son who became a general officer, says John Scott Quackenboss, a descendant. As appears by the De Witt map of 1790; in 1726 Hermanus Visscher took a patent for lands adjoining and next adjoining Visscher-along on the river in the order named, also in 1726-patents were secured for small parcels of land by H. Ten Eyck, Archibald Kennedy, Robert Livingston, William Burnett, David Prevost and Johannes Roseboom, the last and most westerly seeming to have equalled in quantity the three preceding grants. But who settled upon these several land purchases, or what other families came into this neighborhood at so early a period, cannot now be shown, unless their descendants can post the historian from old papers or reliable traditions.*
*Doc. His., vol. 1.
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