History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 296.-- "The Will.--In the Name of God, Amen.-- I, Sir William Johnson, of Johnson hall, in the county of Tryon, and province of New York, Baronet, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, do make, publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, in manner and form following:
"First, and principally, I resign my soul to the great and merciful God who made it, in hopes through the alone merits of my blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to have a joyful resurrection to life eternal, and my body to be decently interred in the place which I intend for it; and I would willingly have the remains of my beloved wife, Catharine Johnson, deposited there, if not done before my decease;" (Mrs. Johnson was buried in one corner of the garden at Fort Johnson. It seems surprising he did not require the removal of her remains, instead of expressing a mere willingness for it. It was never done.) and I direct and devise my heirs hereinafter mentioned executors, to provide mourning for my house keeper, Mary Brant, and for all her children; also for Brant and William, both half breed Mohawks; likewise for my servants and slaves. It is also my desire that ye sachems of both Mohawk villages [Canajoharie and Fort Hunter] be invited to my funeral, and thereat receive each a black stroud blanket, crape, and gloves,which they are to wear and follow as mourners next after my own family and friends. I leave to the direction of my executors to get such of my friends and acquaintances for bearers as they shall judge most proper, who are to have white scarfs, crapes and gloves; the whole expense not to exceed three hundred pounds currency [$750]. And as to the worldly and temporal estate which God was pleased to endow me with, I devise, bequeath and dispose of in the following manner: "Imprimis, I will order and direct that all such just debts as I may owe at the time of my decease, together with my funeral expenses of every kind, be paid by my son Sir John Johnson, Knight.
Item.-- I give and bequeath to the following persons the sums of money hereafter mentioned, which several sums are to be paid to them by my executors out of the money which I may have in the three per cent consolidated annuities, of which the heir of the late Sir William Baker has the management, and that in six months after my decease. And, first, to the children of my present house keeper, Mary Brant, the sum of one thousand pounds sterling, (Federal currency, dollars and cents, were unknown at this period. The current value of a pound sterling has long been reckoned at $4.84, varied some by rates of exchange. The gold coin representing an English pound, is called a sovereign. A pound currency in the colonies formerly equalled $2.50, or twenty Spanish shillings of 12 1/2 cents each, our circulating medium then being mostly in Spanish silver coin.) viz: to Peter, my natural son by said Mary Brant, the sum of three hundred pounds sterling; and to each of the rest, being seven in number, one hundred pounds each; the interest thereof to be duly received and laid out to the best advantage by their guardians or trustees, and also the income of what other legacies, etc., as are hereafter to be mentioned until they come of age or marry, except what is necessary for their maintenance and education.
"Item.-- To young Brant, alias Kaghneghtago, and William alias Tagawirunta, two Mohawk lads, the sum of one hundred pounds York currency to each, or the survivor of them. After paying the before mentioned sums of money, I bequeath to my dearly beloved son, Sir John Johnson, the remaining half of what money I may then have left in the before mentioned fund, and the other half to be equally divided between my two sons-in-law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson, for the use of their heirs.
"Item.-- I bequeath to my son, Sir John Johnson, my library and household furniture at ye hall, except what is in my bedroom and in the children's room or nursery, which is to be equally divided amongst them. I also bequeath to him all my plate, except a few articles which I gave to the children of my housekeeper, Mary Brant. He is also to have one fourth part of all my slaves, and the same of my stock of cattle of every kind. To my two daughters, Anne Claus and Mary Johnson, two fourths of my slaves and stock of cattle. The other fourth of my slaves and stock of cattle of every kind, I give and bequeath to the children of Mary Brant, my house keeper, or to the survivors of them, to be divided equally amongst them, except two horses, two cows, two breeding sows and four sheep, which I would have given (before my devise is made) to young Brant and William, of Canajoharie, and that within three months after my decease. I also give and devise all my own wearing apparel of every kind, woollen, lines, etc., to be equally divided amongst the children of my said housekeeper Mary Brant, share and share alike.
"In the next place, I dispose of my real estate (all of my own acquiring), in the following manner; and as I naturally weighed the affair, and made the most equitable division which my conscience dictated, I expect that all who share of it will be satisfied, and I wish they may make a proper use of it. And, first, to my son, Sir John Johnson, Knight, I devise and bequeath all my estate at and about Fort Johnson, with all ye buildings, improvements, etc, thereunto belonging; to be by him and his heirs forever peaceably possessed and enjoyed. Also a small tract of land on the south side of the river opposite Fort Johnson; fifty thousand acres of Kingsland or royal grant all in one body at the northwesterly part of said patent. Also, all my Kingsborough patent (containing about fifty thousand acres) except the few lots which I have otherwise disposed of. (It is a singular fact that Johnson Hall, the residence of the Baronet at the time of making his will, is not named in it. The hall is presumed to have been conveyed to his son in this devise, as it stood upon the tract.) Also, my share in a patent called Klock & Nellis', etc., on the north side of the Mohawk river. I also devise and bequeath to my said son Sir John Johnson, all my right and title to the salt lake at Onondaga, and the lands around it two miles in depth, for which I have a firm deed; and it is also recorded in the minutes of council at New York. (This item of the will evinces the great sagacity of Sir William. Although this lake, some six miles long, was then surrounded mostly by a primitive forest, yet he well knew of the saline springs in the vicinity, and foresaw that they must become valuable, and meant to embrace territory sufficient to cover them all; and make his title sure. The city of Syracuse and the villages of Salina, Geddes and Liverpool, are all built upon these Johnson lands.) I likewise devise and bequeath to my said son, lot No. 10 in Sacondaga meadow, containing five hundred acres, also the house and improvements with that part of No. 11 in said meadow or patent of Sacondaga, containing two hundred and sixty three acres, to be by him and the heirs of his body lawfully begotton, forever, quietly and peacefully possessed and enjoyed. (The Sacondaga patent all lay upon the south side of the Sacondaga river. Lot No. 11 embraced Sumner house Point, and the house devised was the pretty cottage with green livery, which I have elsewhere mentioned. The Sacondaga meadow, or Vlaie as usually called, when confiscated and sold said Jacob Shew, was bought by Albanians with the confident expectation that they could drain it, and thus make corn land of it. Such a result, however, is a contingency to be looked for only by geological mutations in the lapse of future ages.) Lastly, I do most earnestly recommend it to my son to show lenity to such of the tenants as are poor, and an upright conduct in all his dealings with mankind; which will (upon reflection) afford more satisfaction and heart feeling pleasure to a noble and generous mind, than the greatest opulency.
"In the next place, I devise and bequeath to my son-in-law, Colonel Daniel Claus, and his heirs, the tract of land where he now lives, (The dwelling in which Col. Claus then resided, stood nearly a mile west of Guy Park, and was burned down in the Revolution. The ruins of its arched cellar, were partially town down only a few years ago, as I have elsewhere shown.) viz: from Dove kill to the creek which lies about four hundred yards tot he northward of the now dwelling house of Colonel Guy Johnson, together with all the islands etc., thereto belonging. (The last named house still known as Guy Park, is now owned by the family of the late James Stewart, who fitted it up in beautiful style. It is situated between the railroad and the river,half a mile west of the village of Amsterdam.) Also, the house and lot in Albany which I purchased of Henry Holland, together with the water lot adjoining thereto, which I purchased of the corporation of Albany, together with all the buildings and other improvements thereon. I further devise and bequeath unto the said Daniel Claus and the heirs of his body, all my right in the patent adjoining ye German flats on the south side of the Mohawk river, containing about sixteen hundred acres. Also, three lots in the patent of Kingsborough, vizt: No. thirteen, fourteen and fifty seven in the western allotment. Three lots in Sacondaga patent, viz: No. twenty nine, sixty six and seventy seven, containing each two hundred and fifty acres. A third part of a lot in Schenectady, which I exchanged with Daniel Campbell, Esq. Also, ten thousand acres of land in the royal grant, next to that of Sir John Johnson, which is never to be sold or alienated. And, lastly, I devise and bequeath unto the said Daniel Claus, and the heirs of his body, nine hundred acres, or half of that land which was Gilbert Tice's, in the Nine Partners patent, between Schoharie and Mohawks. The whole of the several tracts, lots and houses, etc., before mentioned, to be by him and the heirs of his body, lawfully begotten, forever, quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.
"Item.-- I devise and bequeath unto my son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson, and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, the farm and tract of land whereon he now lives, together with all the islands, buildings and other improvements thereon. [This was Guy park.] Also the house and lot of land in Schenectada, purchased by me of Paul Comes, and now in the possession of the said Guy Johnson. All my right in Northampton patent which I purchased of Arent Stevens. Two lots in Sacondaga patent, containing one thousand acres, viz.: lots No. one (On this lot Johson's Fish House was situated, a building of celebrity in its day.) and two near the river, on both sides of the Sacandaga [Kennyetto] creek. Three lots of land in Kingsborough, Nos. eighty-seven, eighty-eight and eighty-nine, containing each one hundred acres of land; and are in ye eastern allotment. Ten thousand acres of land in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining to the ten thousand acres given to Col. Daniel Claus, which is never to be sold or alienated on any account. And, lastly, nine hundred acres, or the half of that land which was Gilbert Tice's in ye Nine Partner's patent, between Schoharie and the Mohawk village. All the above mentioned farms, tracts of land and houses with their appurtenances, to be by him and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, forever peaceably and quietly possessed and enjoyed.
"I devise and bequeath unto Peter Johnson, my natural son by Mary Brant, my present house keeper, the farm and lot of land which I purchased from the Snells in the Stoneaby (Since written Stone Arabia, and situated in the present town of Palatine.) patent, with all the buildings, mill (This, it is believed, was a grist mill situated on the Garoga creek, within the present village of Ephratah.) Note by typist: the building is still standing. ajb and other improvements thereon. Also two hundred acres of land adjoining thereto, being part of Kingsborough patent, to be laid out in a body between the Garoga and Canidutta (Since written Cayadutta, and entering the Mohawk at Fonda.) creeks. Also, four thousand acres in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, next to the Mohawk river, and another strip or piece of land in the royal grant from the Little Falls or Carrying Place to lot No. one, almost opposite the house of Hannicol Herkimer, and includes two lots, No. three and No. two, along the river side, and which are now occupied by Ury House, etc. (The property of the Fink family, below the Falls, was formerly on this last devise The Carrying Place had previously been secured by Mr. A. Glen, and the royal grant did not come to the river for miles above the Falls, unless Sir William had an interest in Glen's purchase, which is not unlikely he may have had. The Gen. Nicholas Herkimer brick house, yet standing, is the one alluded to in this connection.)
"I devise and bequeath unto Elizabeth, sister of the aforesaid Peter, and daughter of Mary Brant, all that farm and lot of land in Harrison's patent, on the north side of the Mohawk river, No. nineteen, containing near seven hundred acres, bought by me several years ago of Mr. Brown, of Salem, with all the buildings and appurtenances thereunto belonging. Also two thousand acres in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, and that to be layed out joining to that of her brother Peter, both which she and the heirs of her body lawfully begotten are to enjoy peaceably and quietly forever.
"To Magdalene [usually called Lana], sister of the two former, and daughter of Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath that farm near to Anthony's Nose, (The termination of the Mayfield mountain, at the Mohawk in Palatine, a little distance below Spraker's railroad station.) No. eight, containing about nine hundred acres of land, on which Mr. Bradt now lives, with all the buildings and other appurtenances thereunto belonging. Also, two thousand acres of land in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining to that tract of her sister Elizabeth.
"To Margaret, sister of the above named Magdalene, and daughter of Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath two lots of land, part of Stoneraby patent, the one, viz: No. twenty-five which I bought of William Markell, contains one hundred acres, the other, No. twelve, contains one hundred and thirty one acres and a half, or thereabouts, which I purchased from Peter Weaver. Also two thousand acres of land in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out for her next to that of her sister Magdalene.
"To George, my natural son, by Mary Brant, and brother of the before mentioned children, I devise and bequeath tow lots of land, part of Sacondaga patent, known by No. forty three and forty four, and called New Philadelphia [or Philadelphia bush], containing two hundred and fifty acres each. (Those lands were some three miles westward of the present village of Fondasbush, and were occupied before the Revolution, by the families of one Shades, Michael Carman, and Joseph Morden. Jacob Ross, a single young man lived with Carman, and Shades had three sons grown up who were all Tories. These tenants all removed with the Johnson family to Canada. Compensation was subsequently sought for these lands. --Jacob Shew.) Also, a small patent or tract of land called John Brackans, lying on the north side of ye Mohawk river, almost opposite to the Canajoharie castle, and contains two hundred and eighty acres, or thereabouts. And, lastly, three thousand acres in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, next to the two thousand acres given to his sister Margaret. The said farms and tracts of land with all the buildings and their appurtenances belonging to them, are to be by him and the heirs of his body, lawfully begotten, forever, quietly and peacefully possessed and enjoyed.
"To Mary, daughter of Mary Brant, and sister of the before mentioned children, I devise and bequeath two thousand acres of the royal grant, now called Kingsland, adjoining to them of her brother George. Also, two lots in Stoneraby patent, No. thirty six and thirty eight, containing about one hundred and fifty acres, which I bought of Peter Davis and Hannis Kilts.
"To Susanna, daughter of Mary Brant, and sister of the foregoing six children, I devise and bequeath three thousand acres of the royal grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out adjoining to them of her sister Mary.
"To Anne, (The reader will perceive that both of the Baronet's married daughters found namesakes in the second domesticated edition of his family. It is not surprising, however that this modern Gideon's register of names was insufficient to christen all his children without some duplicates.) sister of the foregoing seven children by Mary Brant, I devise and bequeath three thousand acres of the royal grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out next to that of her sister Susanna, and to be by her and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, forever, quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.
"To young Brant, alias Kaghneghtago, of Canajoharie, I give and bequeath one thousand acres of land in the royal grant, now called Kingsland, to be laid out next to and adjoining the before mentioned land of Anne, daughter of Mary Brant. Also, to William alias Tagawirunte of Canajoharie, one thousand acres of land in said royal grant, alias Kingsland, adjoining that of Brant's, to be by them and the heirs of their bodies, lawfully begotten, forever, quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed.
"It is also my will and desire that in case of any of the before mentioned eight children of mine by Mary Brant should die without issue, their share or shares as well of my personal real estate, be equally divided amongst the survivors of them by their guardians.
"To my prudent and faithful housekeeper, Mary Brant, mother of the before mentioned eight children, I give and bequeath the lot No. one, being part of the royal grant now called Kingsland, and is opposite to the land whereon Honnicol (Han, or Hans-Nichol, is John Nicholas. If Gen. Herkimer was thus christened, and he seems to have been thus known to the Baronet, the John must have been dropped in after life, for we find in the military records of 1775 his Christian name is simply given as Nicholas.) Herkimer now lives, which she is to enjoy peaceably during her natural life, after which it is to be possessed by her son Peter and his heirs forever. I also give and bequeath to my said housekeeper, one Negro wench named Jenny, the sister of Juba also the sum of two hundred pounds current money of New York, to be paid to her by my executors within three months after my decease.
"I also devise and bequeath to Mary McGrah, daughter of Christopher McGrah, of the Mohawk country, two hundred acres of land in the patent of Adageghteinge, now called Charlotte river, to be by her and her heirs forever peaceably possessed and enjoyed.
"I give and bequeath to my brothers John and Warren Johnson, to my sisters Dease, Sterling, Plunket and Fitzsimons, the following tracts of land, which I would have sold by my executors to the best advantage, and ye monies arising therefrom to be equally divided between them and their heirs, to wit: whatever part of the patent called Byrne's, (This patent was granted March 25, 1768, to Michael Byrne and 17 other for 18,000 acres in the towns of Middleburgh and Cobelskill, Schoharie county.) at Schoharie, may remain unsold at my decease; also my fourth part of another patent at Schoharie called Lawyer and Zimmer's patent; (This patent was granted December 29, 1768, to Johannes Lawyer, Jacob Zimmer and 35 others for 36,600 acres, in the towns of Middleburgh and Schoharie. His interest if one-fourth, would have been 9,150 acres.) also that of Adagehteinge or Charlotte river, (This patent was granted May 8, 1770, to Sir William Johnson and 25 others for 26,000 acres. It is now situated in the counties of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie. It would seem as though he possessed the whole tract.) and lastly the five thousand acres which I have in Glen and Vrooman's patent; (This patent, I suppose, is the one granted April 12, 1770, to Henry Glen and 93 others for 94,000 acres. It became known as the Jersey field patent, and was divided into 95 lots of 1,000 acres each.) also thirteen thousand acres which I yet have in the patent called Servis', (This Servis is said to have been a relative of Sir William Johnson's first wife. --Shew.) near Gen. Gage's, or whatever part of the aforesaid tracts may be unsold at the time of my decease. This (from the many losses I have sustained, and the several sums expended by me during the war which were never paid) is all I can possibly do for them without injuring others, which my honor and conscience will not admit of.
"As his present Majesty, George the Third, was graciously pleased as a mark of his favor and regard to give me a patent under the great seal for the tract of land now called Kingsland, and that without quit rent, except a trifling acknowledgment to be paid yearly, it is my will and desire, that no part of it be ever sold by those to whom I have devised it, as that would be acting contrary to my intentions and determined resolution.
"I devise and bequeath to my much esteemed nephew, Dr. John Dease, the sum of five hundred pounds current money of New York, to be paid to him within six months after my decease by my executors, out of such monies as I may have in this country at that time, or by my son Sir John, for which he, my son, Sir John Johnson, shall have and forever enjoy that lot of land in Scaondaga patent, whereon Martin Leffler and two more tenants now live, (This lot was in Albanybush, on the road from Johnstown to Tribes Hill, a mile or two from the latter place. Leffler remained upon it during the war.--Shew.) viz: No. eighty four, containing two hundred and fifty acres. I also devise and bequeath unto my said nephew, John Dease, Esq., two thousand acres of land lying near to South Bay, or Lake Champlain, which tract was formerly the location of Ensign or Lieut. Gorrel, with all the advantages thereunto belonging; or, should he, my said nephew, prefer or rather choose to have the value of it in money, in that case it is my will and desire that my executors dispose of said land to the best advantage, and pay the amount of it to my said nephew.
"To my faithful friend, Robert Adams, Esq., of Johnstown, the dwelling house, other buildings and the lot of one acre whereon he now lives, the potash, laboratory and one acre of land with it, also the farm which he holds by and from me; all free from rent during his natural life, except the quit rent. (This Adams, as I have elsewhere stated, was the first merchant in Johnstown. The dwelling house conveyed to him by Sir William, and standing but a few years ago, was the first house west of the Hethcoat Johnson tavern stand, adjoining the court house. That tavern occupied the site of the old store, which made a part of the building. The store was used in the Revolution as a continental storehouse, its owner being the greater part of the time at Schenectada. The Adams buildings were among the first erected in Johnstown, and are believed to have been built in 1764. Facts from Hon. A. Haring. The Sire William Johnson hotel now occupies the site of those Adams buildings.
The potash mentioned in the will stood near the creek on the right hand side of the road leading from the court house to Johnson hall. --Shew.)
To William Byrne, (This man, it is believed, followed the fortunes of the Johnson's to Canada.) of Kingsborough, I give the lot of land whereon he now lives and improves; also, that part of the stock of cattle which was mine, free of rent or demand as long as he lives; the quit rent excepted. I also will and bequeath to Mr. Patrick Daly, now living with me, (for whom I have particular regard), the sum of one hundred pounds current money of New York, to be paid unto him within three months after my decease, by my executors. It is also my will and desire that all the white servants I may have at the time of my death be made free, and receive from my son ten pounds [$25] each. (These persons, as his wife was, must have been sold into servitude on their arrival from Europe.)
"I also devise and bequeath unto my much esteemed friend and acquaintance, Joseph Chew, Esq., now of Kingsborough, in the county of Tryon, during his natural life, fifty acres of land which I purchased of Mathias Link, with all the buildings and other improvements thereunto belonging: and after his decease, to his son William, my god child and to his heirs forever. (Chew went to Canada, and this place was confiscated. Capt. Snow, an American officer, purchased and lived upon it for a while. It was owned after 1850, by Mr. Belden Case. --Shew) I also devise and bequeath unto the said Joseph Chew, Esq., two hundred acres of land in the patent called Preston's, now Mayfield, to be laid out in one piece next to the lots already laid out by John Collins, Esq., for the township; the same tow hundred acres, to be by him, the said Joseph Chew and his heirs forever, peaceably and quietly possessed and enjoyed.
"It is my will and desire that in case my son, should (which God avert) die without issue, the following disposition be made of the personal and real estate, which is by the foregoing part of the will bequeathed to him, to wit: All the lands of Kingsborough containing about fifty thousand acres (the few lots excepted which I have otherwise disposed of) to be by my grandson, William Claus and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, forever, quietly and peaceably possessed and enjoyed. Also, twenty [ten] thousand acres of the royal grant, now called Kingsland, which is never to be sold or alienated from my family.
"It is, likewise my will and desire, that in the above case, viz: of my sons death without issue, that the lands, houses, etc., at Fort Johnson, and a small tract on the opposite side of the Mohawk river, called Babbington's, together with twenty thousand acres of the royal grant, called Kingsland, be possessed and enjoyed by the first male heir which my daughter Mary Johnson may have by Guy Johnson, and by his heirs lawfully begotten forever; and in case of her having no male heir to possess it, then it is my will, that the before mentioned lands be equally divided between her daughters and their heirs, in consideration of which my two sons-in-law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson shall (within a year) pay unto my executors and trustees for the use of my children by Mary Brant, my housekeeper, the sum of eight hundred pounds current money of New York; that is to say: Col. Daniel Claus shall pay the sum of five hundred pounds, and Col. Guy Johnson, three hundred pounds, while some are to be (as well as the rest divided and bequeathed to them) put out to interest for their support and emolument, until they come of age or marry;p when an equal division is to be made between them by their guardians or trustees. All the remainder of my son's estate, (except what remains of his acre in the royal grant, alias Kingsland), shall be sold by my executors to the best advantage, and the monies arising from the sale thereof, to be equally divided between my brothers and sister as before named. The remainder of his share in Kingsland to be equally divided between his two sisters' children, who are never to dispose it is. (The curse of this leasehold entailment, was for the welfare of the country, fortunately averted.)
"Lastly, I do hereby make and appoint my beloved son, Sir John Johnson, Kt ; my two sons-in law, Daniel Claus and Guy Johnson, Esq; my two brothers John and Warren Johnson, Esq; Daniel Campbell, of Schenectada; John Butler, Jelles Fonda, Capt. James Stevenson, of Albany; Robert Adams, Samuel Stringer, of Albany; Doctor John Dease, Henry Frey, and Joseph Chew, Esq, or any six of them, executors of this my last will and testament. And, it is also my will and desire that John Butler, John Dease, Jelles Fonda, James Stevenson, Henry Frey and Jsoeph Chew, Esq, be, and act as guardians, or trustees of my before mentioned eight children by, Mary Brant, my present housekeeper, in full confidence that from the close connection of the former and the long uninterrupted friendship subsisting between me and the latter, they will strictly as brothers invariably observe and execute this my last charge to them. The strong dependence on and expectations of which unburdens my mind, allay my cares, and makes a change the less alarming. And, as I would willingly, in some measure (although trifling), testify my regard and friendship for the above named gentlemen, I must request their acceptance of three hundred pounds currency, to purchase rings as a memento of their once sincere friend, which sum is to be immediately paid to them by my son, Sir John Johnson. And, I do hereby revoke, disannul and make void all former wills, bequeaths and legacies by me heretofore at any time made, bequeathed or given, and I do make and declare, this only to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof, I have (with a perfect mind and memory), hereunto set my hand and seal, this 17th day of January 1774, One thousand seven hundred and seventy four, and my name at the bottom of each page, being thirteen. (At this period it was customary to subscribe on every page of a will)
W. JOHNSON. [L S]
"Signed, sealed, published and declared by the testator, as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of us, of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names.
"William Adems, (Doctor Thomas Reed, a native of New Jersey, who was on duty at Johnstown as a surgeon in the Revolution, married a daughter of Doctor Adams at the close of the war. Shew)
"Gilbert Tice, (This Tice is believed to have been the first innkeeper in Johnstown. The house he erected was known after the Revolution as the Rollins tavern: an antiquated building with a gambrel roof and still a show of red paint on its front; it was standing not many years ago on the north side of William Street, a little distance from the court house. At this house the elite of the Tryon county courts, found a temporary home, shaded by Lombardy poplars. This place was long owned and occupied by the late Martha Hildreth. Tice was a royalist and went to Canada in the war; but lived to visit Johnstown at its close. Zepheniah Batcheller, Esq., a Johnstown patriot, married a daughter of Gilbert Tice. Shew.)
"Samuel Sutton. (Sutton was the first cabinet maker in Johnstown, and many an old fashioned round table long remained about the settlement, to remind the hungry owner of its maker.)
"Tryon county, ss.: Be it remembered, that on the twenty-fifth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, personally came and appeared before me Bryan Lefferty, surrogate of the said county, Sir John Johnson, Baronet, Guy Johnson, Daniel Claus, John Butler, Robert Adems and Joseph Chew, executors of the within will of Sir William Johnson, Baronet, and were duly sworn to the true execution and performance of the said will, by severally taking the oath of an executor as by law appointed by me.
"BRYAN LEFFERTY, Surrogate.
county, ss.: Be it also remembered, that on the twenty-six tb day
of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, William Adems, Gilbert
Tice, Moses Ibbitt and Samuel Sutton, all of Johnstown, and county aforesaid,
being duly sworn, on their oaths declared, that they, and each of them,
did see Sir William Johnson, bearing date the twenty-seventh day of January,
one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, and heard him publish and declare
the same as and for his last will and testament. That at the time thereof,
he, the said William Johnson, was of sound disposing mind and memory, to
the best of the knowledge and belief of them the deponents. And that their
names subscribed to the will are of their respective proper hands-writing,
which they subscribed as witnesses to the said will in the testator's presence.
"BRYAN LEFFERTY, Surrogate.
and compared with the original by me.
"FR. BLOODGOOD, Clerk."
The will was, no doubt, drawn by Mr. Lefferty, as he was Sir William's secretary for the transaction of his private business.
In reading the will of this distinguished. man, one is most forcibly reminded of the instability of worldly wealth. He bequeathed whole townships of land, and yet no stone marks either his or his wife's resting place. The immense amount of real estate disposed of by Sir William Johnson to his personal friends did them no good-as from their want of loyalty to the States it was all confiscated-if we except the small bequest to Robert Adams, as the rest of the persons to whom it was given sooner or later fled to Canada. Sir William Johnson did more in his life-time to inspire the love of liberty and promote the solid welfare of the State of New York, than ever did any other man in it-more than this, he established at Johnstown the first free-school in the State; and if the town of Johnstown discharges a pious duty it owes to posterity, it will erect ere long, a befitting monument to commemorate the memory of Sir William Johnson.
At his death, as I have said, Sir -William's remains were deposited in a vault in the Episcopal church in Johnstown. When this edifice was erected, the entrance to it was in its western end, with the desk in its opposite or eastern end. The vault was on the south side of thc pulpit, the principal aisle leading to it. A trap door in the floor covered it. A railing ran round the vault, over which the sacrament was administered. Sir William was buried in a mahogany coffin, which was inclosed in a leaden casket; and, as lead was scarce in the Revolution, at some period of the war the vault was invaded by sacrilegious bands and the casket removed, to be moulded into patriotic bullets. In the summer of 1836, a destructive fire laid the central part of the village in ashes, at which time the church was demolished. The vault was then filled up, and the model of the edifice, when rebuilt, was so altered as to bring the vault just outside its southeastern corner. Some few years previous to the burning of the edifice, and while it was undergoing re pairs, part of the coffin was found floating, when it was removed and the remains placed in a new one and returned to the vault. Portions of the old coffin were given to friends and antiquarians, at which time the lid of the coffin which bore the initials of his name in brass nails was hung up in the church near the desk. Facts from Benjamin Chamberlain, Esq., corroborated by others.
It was customary
at the period under consideration, and for 50 years later, to put upon the
lid or cover of a coffin at interment, in brass or silver nails, the initials
of the deceased, and often the age. The coffin lid taken from Sir William
Johnson's tomb, and suspended in the Episcopal church in Johnstown for years,
was inscribed in silver nails in the following form:
Et. 60 years.
I saw this memento in its place in the summer of 1822, which, three years later, was consumed with the church. The custom of placing a plate upon the cover of a coffin has now become universal.
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