Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The History of Montgomery Classis, R.C.A.
by W.N.P. Dailey,
Recorder Press, Amsterdam, NY 1916
To which is added sketches of Mohawk Valley men and events of early days, the Iroquois, Palatines, Indian Missions, Tryon County, committee of Safety, Sir Wm. Johnson, Joseph Brant, Arendt Van Curler, Gen. Herkimer, Reformed Church in America, Doctrine and Progress, Revolutionary Residences, Etc.


The Province of New York in 1771 included what is now Vermont, and was further divided into the counties of Albany, Cumberland, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester. On March 12, 1772, Charlotte and Tryon counties were set off from Albany. At the time the Province had a population of 16S,000 including 20,000 Negroes. Charlotte county was composed of the western half of Vermont, and included what is now Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Washington counties. Tryon (Montgomery) county included all west of Charlotte county to the St. Lawrence river, and west of a line running nearly thro the centre of Schoharie county to the Utsayantha Lake, the source of the west branch of the Delaware river, thence down the west branch to the Pennsylvania line.

Originally Tryon county included about a third of the State's area, and was named after the royal governor of the Province, an intimate friend and ardent admirer of Sir William Johnson, by whom he was royally entertained at Johnson Hall. At the time there were eight million acres in the county, but thro the years this has been reduced unto its present size of some three hundred thousand.

Governor William Tryon, after whom the county was originally named, was popularly known in the Province as "Bloody Billy." He was Governor of North Carolina prior to his appointment over New York. In 1777 Tryon became almost a savage in his treatment of the colonists. He charged Washington with burning a quarter of New York and plotted to assassinate him and blow tip the fort. His personality was so intensely offensive to the patriots of the Mohawk, valley, who were to all intents the first "Independents" in the Colonies (cf Note on Tryon Co. Corn. Safety) that the name of the county was changed April 2, 1784, to that of Montgomery, in honor of Gen. Richard Montgomery, the brave American officer who bad lost his life in an attempt to capture Quebec. The history of Tryon county's twelve years of existence would fill a volume whose pages are largely carmined with the life blood of those Christian patriots who for the most part were allied with the Dutch church. When the glad tidings of peace were announced Tryon county was a desolate bloodstained wilderness. Today the traveler, speeding along the old Indian trail in palatial splendor, is entranced with the beautiful vista of the valley of the Mohawk and is reminded on the journey at Schenectady and Canajoharie of its Indian occupancy, while at Palatine his thots go back to the Rhine of the Fatherland. But only in the musty pages of forgotten tomes will one ever come upon the name of Tryon. Herkimer and Otsego counties were formed from Montgomery this same year (1784). a state road was begun leading from Schenectady to Utica, sixty-eight miles. There were toll gates established at the terminals, and others at Cranesville, Canajoharie, Schenck's Hollow, Garoga Creek, St. Johnsville, East Creek Bridge, Fink's Ferry, Herkimer, and Sterling. At this time Montgomery county had a population of 15,057.

In 1788 Montgomery county was enlarged to take in the lands of the Iroquois which extended from its west boundary line. On Nov. 5, 1768 the Iroquois had made with England the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, receiving in lieu of certain lands $50,600. Later their rights to these lands were declared forfeited by the Crown. In 1789 Ontario county including all >the land west of Seneca lake, two million acres, was set off. In 1791 Hamilton and Tioga counties were formed. Hamilton county was put back into Montgomery in 1797 but again set off in 1817. In 1838 Fulton county was formed, its creation being due to the effort to move the county seat from Johnstown to Fonda. From Montgomery County have been carved the following New York State counties, Alleghany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.


<- General Richard Montgomery

This distinguished patriot soldier, after whom the County is named, was born in Ireland, December 2, 1736 entering the army of Great Britain at the age of twenty, serving seven year in the French Indian war. When the regiment to which Montgomery belonged was ordered to enforce the Stamp Act he and others resigned, an act due, doubtless, to the influence of Fox and Pitt, with whom for some he had been intimate. He visited England later, and sought certain honors, failing returned to America to live in New York City. He bought a large estate in Dutchess county, facing the river and soon afterwards (July, 1773) married Janet Livingston, whom he had first met was the captain in the British army. She was the sister of Chancellor Livingston, one of the three men to organize Montgomery Classis in 1880, and daughter of Robert R. Livingston, one of the judges of the King's bench. Here he settled down to the peace and prosperity of his quiet home. However, it was of short duration, for he soon joined the ranks of the colonists, and enlisted in the army of General Schuyler which was preparing for an attack on Quebec. He parted from his beloved Janet at Saratoga, never to see her again. In 1775 he was second in command with the rank of Brigadier. Illness of Gen. Schuyler threw the entire command upon Montgomery. He succeeded in taking St. John, Chambly, and Montreal. Congress made him Major General. Forward thro the December snows he pressed to join Arnold in the attack on Quebec. For three weeks the city was besieged, and on the morning of Dec. 31, 1775, amid the falling snow, an attempt was made to take it. Montgomery was killed at the very beginning of the attack while leading a division along the shores of the St. Lawrence beneath Cape Diamond. Arnold also was wounded and the expedition failed. Among the prisoners taken at St. John was Capt. Andrew who was later exchanged and joined the English army under Gen. Clinton and became Major Andre. Major Andrew had an intimate friendship with "Peggy" Shippen, the daughter of the radical Tory of that name of Philadelphia, whom Benedict Arnold married as his second wife. For two years prior to the West Point affair a correspondence was kept up between Major Andre and Arnold and Mrs. Arnold.

For forty-three years the remains of Montgomery rested within the walls of Quebec. When time for exhuming the body came, one James Thompson, a man of eighty-nine, was found, who had originally buried Montgomery, and also had the sword that Montgomery wore when he was killed. In 1818 at the request of Janet Montgomery, who had lived all these lonely years at the "Montgomery Place" (Rhinebeck), thro action of the New York Legislature the body was brot back to America and New York. It lay in state at the Capitol, Albany, on Independence Day, 1818. On the following day Mrs. Montgomery stood alone upon the broad piazza of her home and for hours watched the funeral cortege wending its way down the Hudson past the General's former dwelling. On July 8, 1818, it was buried in St. Paul's churchyard beneath a mural monument ordered by Benjamin Franklin and provided by Congress. He was in his fortieth year when he died, tho the monument says but thirty-seventh.

<- Caughnawaga Church (Fonda).


Among the churches of the Classis of Montgomery of this day are organizations that carry us back to the very first settlements of the Mohawk Valley, as Fort Herkimer which was organized in 1723. Nearly half of the present membership of the Classis are churches which were founded more than a hundred years ago. Still the terms "old" and "new" are relative and indefinite since what may seem old to us after all but new in the light of other history. And yet we are proud of these old Dutch churches of the valley of the "Mohaque," some of whose buildings take us back to the beginning of things in this section of New York State, as the church at Fort Herkimer whose foundations were laid before 1740, and whose quaint architecture, bold and strong, has almost entirely escaped the despoiling hand of the modern. These pages tell the romantic--often tragic story, of the provisions made by these first settlers to supply the religious needs of the community, and is worthy of repeated telling, that the people of this day may know something of the price paid for the heritage handed down to them.

<- Rev. Dr. Livingston.

Named after the County in which its churches were for the most part originally situated the Classis of Montgomery was formed on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1800, at the Caughnawaga (Fonda) Dutch church. On Friday, June 13, 1800, General Synod had appointed a committee of three, Rev. D. John Livingston (afterwards Chancellor), Rev. Dr. Dirck Romeyn (pastor of the 1st Dutch church at Schenectady, and founder of Union college), and Rev. Dr. Solomon Froeligh (later organizer of the "Wyckofite" church), all three professors in the Theological Seminary, to organize the Classis. At this Synod there were seventy-two ministers and elders present, thirty-one of whom were from the Classis of Albany. Among the delegates were Rev. Conrad Ten Eyck (cf Owasco) and his elder, Lowrens E. Van Nalen from the Veddersburgh (Amsterdam) church, Rev. Abram Van Horne and his elder from the Caughnawaga church, and Rev. Dirck Romeyn and his elder, Garret S. Veeder, from the First Dutch church at Schenectady. At this time the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in America had five classes, Albany, Hackensack, Kingston, New Brunswick, and New York. In 1800 General Synod divided the Classis of Albany, Kingston and Hackensack into seven classes. Montgomery being one of the bodies set off from Albany, and containing twenty-four churches. With Albany the churches of the Classis of Rensselaer, Montgomery, and Ulster formed in 1800 the original Particular Synod of Albany (formerly called the Circle of Albany). This was made up of the churches of Albany, Charlotte, Cumberland, Gloucester, Schenectady, and Schoharie counties.

Rev. Rynier Van Nest of Schoharie became the first President of the Classis of Montgomery, and Rev. Abram Van Horne of Caughnawaga the First Stated Clerk. The churches forming the Classis at its organization were the following: 1. Amsterdam (not present Amsterdam); 2. Andrustown (merged in Columbia); 3. Canajoharie ("Sand Hill"); 4. Charlestown (extinct); 5. Chenango (Presb. and extinct); Chukonot (Florida); 7. Coenradstown (merged in Columbia); 8. Conewago (Caughnawago i.e. Fonda); 9. Curriestown (Currytown); 10. Duanesborough (Presb. and extinct); 11. Fonda's Bush (Presb.); 12. German Flatts (Fort Herkimer); 13. Herkimer; 14. Lower Schoharie (Schoharie); 15. Mayfield (Presb.); 16. New Rhinebeck (Lawyersville); 17. Owasco Lake (Owasco); 18. Remsens Bush (Florida); 19. Sacondaga (extinct); 20. Schoharie Kill (extinct); 21. Sharon (Schoharie Classis); 22. Snellsbush (Manheim); 23. Stone Arabia; 24. Upper Schoharie (Middleburgh).

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