History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 231.
Palatine's Village. .-In its place I spoke of the settlement of German Palatines on the present site of Herkimer village, known for many years as Palatine's village; which the industry and thrift of those settlers had at the end of 35 years given comfortable homes and comparative wealth. Their village numbered 30 dwellings, with a neat little church and a settled minister. And as quite a number of settlers resided on the south side of the river within the distance of a few miles, it is presumed the village church was usually well filled.
TO THE KEY ON MAP.
No. 1. The Church.
No. 2. Mr. Petry's house. He was the patroon of the village.
Ox. 3. The Minister's house.
No. 4. Mr. Christman's house.
No. 5. H. Mayer's house.
NO. 6. Fort Herkimer.
No. 7. The Fraucken house and ferry at the great flatts.
No. 8. The road going west.
No. 9. Way in which Christmans and Seiner family took their flight and saved their lives: so also, Hendrick Mayer. They passed through a ravine-went round the village-followed the creek down and reached the fort.
10. The routes by which the French and Indians entered the village.
No. 11. The Fort Herkimer Church, completed about 1757.
Of course the citizens had barns and out buildings not figured on the map.
NOTE: Due to the poor quality of graphic in the book I am using, the following is not clear. ajb
Explanation of Map, etc.-This map of Palatines village, is from a survey made as early as 1750, and was copied by John Lawyer, Jr., a good practical surveyor, among whose papers it was found. He died at Schoharie in 1800, at the age of 54. How he obtained the key of explanation accompanying it is not known-supposed of surviving citizens ; the place having been destroyed when Lawyer was a boy. The large house seen in the foreground, is intended to show the relative position to the village from Fort Herkimer-or Kouari, as called by the French; to which the Domine and some of the inhabitants fled for safety. At this period there were eight dwellings on the north side of the river, between the fort and Little Falls. The old stone church also represented as a one story building in the foreground, which was commenced about the year 1755, for the better accommodation of all the neighboring settlements, stood about one-fourth of a mile below the fort; and was probably completed soon after the one at the village was destroyed. It was a one story edifice without a steeple, says Samuel Earll, Esq., until after the advent of Rev. John P. Spinner to occupy its desk, in 1801. It is yet in a good state of preservation. Near Fort Herkimer was a ferry and crossing to the village. The original map did not show the proper courses of the streams ; and Dr. Eli Fox produced a copy to correct that defect, a good photograph of which by Gilman is here given. This and a similar map of Brunnen dorf-Schoharie, also found among the Lawyer papers ; show the two oldest villages in the State west of Schenectada.
This village was destroyed by the Canadian French on the 12th of November, 1757 ; and with other writers in giving an account of its destruction, I shall have mainly to depend upon the French account,* which though greatly exaggerated was in some degree correct. Gen. M. de Belletre, with a detachment as stated of 300 Marines, Canadians and Indians, arrived after great fatigue in the vicinity of the Oneida castle, to which place he sent four warriors, doubtless to make interest with that people, by promising not to war on them and possibly to obtain food, for which they were much straitened. From
* Brod. Papers, vol. 10.
thence he journeyed to the river Corlaer-Mohawk, at the Carrying Place, where it is said he had " the satisfaction of examining five abandoned English forts." He means the sites of forts, and doubtless referred to those of Forts Bull, and Williams, and one as intimated elsewhere, as having been commenced between those two forts; but what other two he meant, it is not easy to determine, unless it were those destroyed at Oswego. At the Mohawk he was joined by the delegation sent to Oneida, with six Oneida volunteers.
When the troops learned from the Oneidas that Fort Herkimer, a mile below the village, was garrisoned by 350 men, his Indians began to manifest fear ; but all were encouraged to go forward, except a few of the youngest and oldest warriors, who were the most fatigued. The party passed down on the south side of the river to within four or five miles of the village, when they crossed the river toward evening November 11th, and encamped a few miles from the first of five forts, as the account says, which covered the Palatine settlements. What he called forts is left to conjecture-some of them may have been small block houses, and others dwellings more or less fortified. At three o'clock A. M. the attack was ordered, and so alarmed were the inmates of the first fort saluted-which was a fortified dwelling-that the mayor of the village-as the narrative calls its commandant-opened his doors and asked for quarters. Benton, in his History of Herkimer County, says : This man, who was the master spirit of the place, was John Jost Petrie, who was among the captives made, lived to return and died some years after. Belletre passed rapidly from one to the other of the five forts, all of which surrendered at discretion, and were burned. The invaders also ravaged and burned the 60 dwellings of the place-30 houses, says the French "Topography " of country made at the time *-with their barns, other out-buildings, and a saw-mill and water-mill (a small grist-mill), both of which mills were on creeks upon the south side of the river above Fort Herkimer.
The French account says that about 40 of the English (meaning German citizens) perished at this time, either killed or
* Brod. Papers, vol. 10, p. 678.
drowned, and 150 men, women and children were made prisoners, including the surgeon and some militia officers.*
The enemy claimed that they had not a man killed, and only four or five wounded. They boasted of having destroyed large quantities of grain and hay, many hogs, 3,000 each of cattle and sheep. They claimed to have taken 1,500 horses, 300 of which they took along to feed the detachment on its return. The narrative says, also, that the property in furniture, wearing apparel, merchandise and liquor, might form a capital of 1,500,000 livres. The mayor of the village alone has 400,000 livres. The French and Indians have acquired as rich a booty as they could carry off. They have in specie more than 100,000 livres. One Indian alone has as much as 30,000. There was likewise plundered a quantity of wampum, silver bracelets, etc., scarlet cloth and other merchandise, which may form a capital of 80,000 livres more. All this damage, says the account, could not be done short of 48 hours. The account adds that on the 13th, at 7 A. M., 50 Englishmen and some Mohawks left the fort across the river to attack them, but were driven back by the French and Indians, and that at noon, of that day, the detachment was ordered on its return march.
Another view of this exaggerated account. Mr. Daine, writing at the time from Quebec to the French minister,+ says: "This whole account should be diminished at least a good half, and other portions of it still more so." The reader will observe that they claim to have destroyed 3,000 each of cattle and sheep as the property of 30 families, which would be 100 head of each
* Speaking of the destruction of this place In a letter to the Board of Trade, Jan 5, 1758, Lleut.-Gov. De Lancey, says; "The loss is estimated at £20,000 this money [$50,000]. It is, perhaps, as fertile a piece of ground as any in the world. The settlers were generally rich, and had good buildings on their lands. Some of the inhabitants were slain, about 101; carried into captivity, their houses and barns with the crops destroyed by fire, etc." (Doc. His., vol. 1, p 518.) The French Topography alluded to, says it was reckoned that Palatine village, of 30 dwellings, contained 300 persons, men, women and children, 102 of whom were made prisoners, and the remainder fled to Fort Kouaril, except a few who were killed in fording the river. This seems to agree with Gov. De Lancey's account, though neither, of them give the number slain. Discounting the French account properly, It Is reasonable to conclude they may have obtained 15 or 20 scalps; but most of the citizens fled to the fort across the river, and among them their Domlne The Topography also states that two houses were destroyed on the shore of a creek called Ras-se-dot, nearly four leagues above Palatine village Here was a crossing place from the south to the north side of the river, near which this creek must have been, and not far from Utica.
+ Doc. His., vol.1, p. 519.
to each family, as also 50 horses for each family. M. De Vaudreuil, writing to the minister from Montreal, in the following June, says: " The 500 horses lost by the enemy in this affair were not exactly captured. The greater part were killed or wounded ; but Belletre brought with him a very small number [that could not have been 500] on which to support his detachment on its return, but that the remainder could not be taken along for the want of roads, and the transport of forage for them." + Here is another glaring inconsistency. Says the first account-"All this damage could not be done in less than 48 hours;" and yet orders were given at noon, on the 15th, to return, which, supposing the enemy reached Petrie's at four A. M. on the 12th, would give but 32 hours for the work requiring 48 hours. What force there really was at this time in Fort Herkimer has not been shown, but it was quite too small to oppose the enemy in the field. It was at first thought that Sir William Johnson was at fault in not, through his Indian runners, duly having notified this settlement of its impending danger; but he was able to show that his timely warning had been disregarded, and the people suffered in consequence. The calamity of this settlement caused great excitement, and almost a stampede from Stone Arabia, Dutchtown, Cherry Valley and other exposed settlements.
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