History From America's Most Famous Valleys
THE WINDECKERS AND RELATED FAMILIES
A Family History donated by: Harry Windecker
Manheim and Fairfield (both originally part of the Town of Palatine) are towns where several generations of Windeckers resided. Frederick (son of Hartman) moved to Manheim sometime before the Revolutionary War. (He later returned to the homestead in Minden to defend it from the Loyalists). Hendrick, son of Johann Georg, may have relocated in nearby Fairfield also, although he was also reported in Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Johannes Windecker, a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, also resided in Minden. As mentioned above, Johannes is likely Hartman's son, but could be his grandson (possibly the son of Henrich or could be Henrich, himself, choosing that name over his common name).
Hendrick (son of Johann Georg) served England, as a member of Butler's Rangers, under Lieutenant Pawling. The Rangers participated in a raid of the Mohawk Valley during the fall of 1781 under the command of Major Ross. They burned many houses and small villages, causing many of the German American Patriots in the area (including our ancestors) to abandon their farms and consolidate in local villages for defense. Hendrick ultimately removed to Ontario, Canada after or during the Revolutionary War. Although unlikely, Henrich, Hartman's older son, was also reported to be a Loyalist, as was Henry, our ancestor, Frederick's son. (This is probably incorrect, as Henry is also reported as a Private in the Tryon County Militia. Hendrick, Henrich, and Henry were all commonly known as Henry, therefore, confusion could easily occur. In addition, only one Loyalist, named Henry Windecker, was found in association with Butler's Rangers.)
An episode that will live in infamy.
As stated earlier, Hendrick was the grandson of Hartman, and son of Johann Georg (1715-1761). Hendrick (Henry) was born in Minden, Montgomery County New York about 1738, and moved to Fairfield. Around 1770 he moved his family to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. In 1777 he and several Loyalist neighbors entered military service. On July 3, 1778 he participated in the Battle of Wyoming, gaining a place in history. During the rout of Americans in this battle, it was reported that he saw Lieutenant Shoemaker of the American troops in the river trying to evade capture. Henry, who had received the benevolence of Shoemaker during the previous winter, offered his hand in aid. Henry convinced Shoemaker that he would not turn him over to the Indians, so Shoemaker took Henry's hand. Henry, using his other hand "buried the hatchet" in Shoemaker's head.
John Windecker captured. In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, John Windecker (son of Frederick) was captured near Frederick's farm in a raid conducted April 3, 1780, by Indians and Tories at Rheimensnyder's Bush (Manheim). John, older brother of our ancestor, Frederick II, was held captive in Canada for about five years. A Son's of the American Revolution (SAR) marker marks his grave in Manheim. A book entitled "Frontiersman of New York" dedicates a few pages to John's saga. He claims to have been treated well by his Massassaugua Indian captors, but not treated very well by the Canadians to whom he was turned over after they arrived in Canada. He claims the Indians taught him how "bear with hunger" or as John put it, "how to starve" by cinching their belts tightly around their chests. John was also listed as a Corporal at the Battle of Oriskany. Henry was listed as a Private. During his capture, John may have served as a drummer for a British Regiment. A description dated January 21, 1783, when he was returned from Canada is a follows: "Return of the Names, Size, Age, and Time of Service of Major Roger's Corps." It lists him as "John Windecker, drummer, age 16, 5 feet 3 ¼ inches, with two years, nine months service." [NOTE: The age given, 16, makes his birth year, 1767, not 1762 recorded by several other sources. This corresponds more to the age of his younger brother, Frederick.]
Nicholas, Frederick's younger brother, is possibly the Nicholas buried next to Frederick in The Old Yellow Church Cemetery in Manheim. An SAR Marker is located next to his grave. It was fallen when I visited the site in 1999. A Fredrick (sp) Windecker is known to have served in the Tryon County Militia, 1st Regiment and it is likely that he is our ancestor, Frederick, as verified in the next paragraph. Nicolas (sp) Windker (sp) served as a private, Frederick, as a sergeant and Hanes Windecker (probably Johannes), as Lieutenant in the Regiment. Henry Keller, father of Catherine Keller (married to John Windecker) and Elizabeth Keller (married to Frederick II) is also is listed as part of the Regiment. John Keller, who married Barbara Windecker (daughter of Frederick I), is also listed, and has an SAR Marker at his grave in Manheim.
Reported also, is that Frederick served as a sergeant in Captain Jacob Klock's Company during the Revolution. According to this report, Frederick was declared a Hero of the Battle of Oriskany (one of many) in 1777. Both Frederick and Nicholas are listed in the Fort Klock Restoration (Roster of Oriskany Heroes), as participants of this battle. Frederick and son, John, were also listed here, as Prisoners of War.
Prior to the Revolution, Frederick served in the French and Indian War in 1763 in Captain Klock's Company. In 1763, Frederick was listed as a Sergeant; Johannes, a Corporal; and Conrad Windecker, a Private. Frederick, Conrad and Johannes were listed as Albany County Freeholders in 1763.
A monument at the cemetery is inscribed as follows: "In memory of more than 50 Revolutionary Soldiers buried in Rheimensnyder's Bush." The list of soldiers on the monument includes Frederick, Nicholas and John Windecker, Jacob, John and Henry Keller, and possibly other participants in the Revolutionary War of whom we are descended. Frederick Windecker's SAR Marker is apparently missing.
An interesting note and mentioned earlier, is Fort Windecker, a 1777 fortress. It is described in the literature as the fortified home of Johannes Windecker, Minden, Montgomery, New York. It was located about 1 1/2 miles south of St. Johnsville, and 8 miles northwest of Fort Plain. The fortification was removed after the Revolutionary War. This was probably the Mohawk Valley homestead of Hartman Windecker, part of his Land Patent. It was reported that Frederick Windecker claimed the fortress/farm at a later date. This may not be true, as this was also named as the home of Johannes. Johannes, however, left no heirs.
In addition to those names listed above, several of our ancestors possibly served in the American Revolution. For instance, Newkirks and Masons served in the Tryon County 3rd Regiment. Militia records are incomplete and spelling is also difficult to interpret, making searches inconclusive. We also have Klock ancestors, who served in the Revolution. [NOTE: George Willard Windecker, our great great grandfather, married Melissa Klock, our great great grandmother.] The lineage of Melissa (born Amanda Melissa) is to Colonel Jacob Klock, who was a militia commander during the Revolution.
In 1791, Herkimer County (in honor of General Herkimer [His
ancestors also spelled their names Hercheimer and Erghemier]) was split out
of Montgomery County. The towns of Manheim and Fairfield were formed from
the Herkimer County portion of the Town of Palatine. Data prior to 1791 show
Palatine and Montgomery County as the town and county of residence for Frederick,
whereas, Manheim and Herkimer County become that location after 1791.