Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Wormuth House

The Wormuth house, probably built about 1730, was demolished about 1865. Douglas Ayres, Jr. and "Lovey" Nellis located the site several years ago and drove an iron pipe in the ground to mark its location. The location is only about 150 yards north of the northern limits of the village of Nelliston.

According to Anita Smith, this site is over the hill below the Longhorn Trucking Company on Route 5.

Here is a copy of the Rufus Grider print of the Wormuth house which can be seen in the Fort Plain Museum off Route 5S.

Peter Wormuth was a Palatiner. There is no known date of the erection of the house but it is of the type of the earliest construction of the small stone houses built by the Palatines after they came into our Middle Mohawk Valley about 1722 and it probably dated from about 1725 or 1730. Other stone houses like Fort Ehle, Fort Frey and Fort Klock were all built close to the Kings Highway as was the Wormuth house. One reason the Wormuth house was finally destroyed was probably because of this location, as it was some distance from the Mohawk Turnpike, now Route 5, which was built on or before 1800. There seems to have been no road leading to it.

Besides Washington's stay at this local home, the Wormuth house has other historical significance. In May 1778, Chief Joseph Brant, at the head of a raiding party of the Indians, attacked and burned the little settlement of Springfield at the head of Otsego Lake. Brant then moved on to the little village of Cherry Valley with the idea of destroying it. It is reported that from a distant hill, he saw a large group of boys drilling in front of Fort Alden. Thinking it too heavily garrisoned for an attack, he moved his war party to the deep glen beyond Judd's Falls, thinking he might capture some "rebels" passing by. On the morning of that day, Lieut. Matthew Wormuth, with a companion named Sitts, had ridden from Fort Plain to Cherry Valley with the message that valley militia would come up next day to aid the Cherry Valley post, as Brant was known to be in the neighborhood. Wormuth and Sitts were riding back in the evening over the Fort Plain road in the glen, where Brant had deployed his war party in an ambush in the dense forest growth. The Indians fired on the horsemen, mortally wounding Wormuth and wounding and capturing Sitts. Wormuth was an officer in Col. Klock's Palatine regiment. Klock and some troops came up from Fort Plain the next day but all they could do was to take Wormuth's body back to Fort Plain and from there across the river to his father's home in the Palatine district. Lieut. Wormuth was a strapping and handsome young soldier, who was universally popular among the valley folks and there was general sorrow over his death. It was indeed a sad day in the Wormuth house, when the body of Peter Wormuth's only son was brought back to the doorstep of his home. One of the most stricken was the Lieutenant's young wife, Gertrude Herkimer. Brant drew off his Indians but returned with Walter Butler in November and perpetrated the Cherry valley massacre.

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