Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY

Background: One of Col. Jacob Klock's sons was a Tory. Many do not realize how the war set neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. Here is an excerpt from vol. I, pg. 342. William Seeber had sons Adolph, Jacob, William Conrad, Henry, John, Adam, and two daughters, Magdalene and Caty, (plus Mary Elizabeth who never married) who married respectively, Frederick Bell and Adam Klock. Most of the Seebers, father and sons, all warmly espoused their country's cause, while the sons-in law, Bell and Klock, left their families behind, both went to Canada with their Tory associates and came back on several occasions, to imbrue their hands in the blood of their former neighbors.

Fate of a Tory (or two)

Bell and Klock were both engaged in the Johnstown battle in the fall of 1781, in which the former was mortally wounded with a bullet through his lungs. The second William Seeber herein mentioned, was also in this engagement under Col. Willet, and after the enemy had been defeated and had retreated, he was told by a neighbor named Dunckel, where he could see his kinsman Bell; and accompanied by friends he went thither and saw him lying the hearth of a small house near Johnson hall, where kind hands had laid him, as the weather was cold, it being the last week in October. He seemed speechless, and at every breath the air charged with blood, came from the wound in his breast. Seeber, on leaving his presence was heard to say he wished Klock, his brother-in-law was lying beside Bell-- or as another heard him say: "He had settled with one brother-in-law and hoped before the war was over, to square accounts with the other one." Thus did the war fill the hearts of former friends with great bitterness.

Word reached Mrs. Bell, a woman of remarkable energy, on the evening of the battle, informing her of the condition of her husband and where he could be found. She procured a team, put some bedding in a two-horse wagon, and cumbered with an infant child, but otherwise alone, she set out to seek her husband in a pelting rain storm; and traveling all night probably by the old Indian road, via Stone Arabia to Johnstown, she arrived there in the morning and found her husband still alive. With him carefully cared for in the wagon, she started for home, and passing through Johnstown village, the patriot troops still there, were not a little exasperated to learn that a Tory was thus being cared for; but as he was mortally wounded and protected by an affectionate woman, they desisted from any violent demonstration. In due time she reached her home among her patriotic relatives near Fort Plain, none of whom manifested any interest or sympathy in her great trial. At the end of a day or two he expired and was buried with little solemnity by patriotic neighbors,whom he came from Canada to injure; and who, as tradition has it, from a bottle of rum drank to the health of Gen. Washington over his grave, giving three rousing cheers for the Continental Congress.

Mr. Bell was left with two small children, Betsey who afterward married George Fox, and Christina, who became the wife of George Diefendorf. Some years after the war, when the Kanes were in trade below Canajoharie village, Mrs. Bell became their housekeeper. One Pierson, an Albany tailor was induced by the Messrs. Kane to come to Canajoharie, and when they quit trading there Pierson returned to Albany, where Mrs. Bell kept house for him.

Adam Klock returned to his family at the close of the war, but was never again a welcome guest among his patriot relations. On some occasion he met his kinsman, William Seeber, and told him that he saw him in the Johnstown battle. "Why did you not speak to me?" inquired Seeber. "Because," said Klock, "just then it was not a time for much talking." The voice of gunpowder monopolized the conversation. Frederick Bell had a brother Thomas, who also became on the the Tory scourge from Canada in the war, rendering himself very obnoxious to his patriotic neighbors: and was also with the enemy at Johnstown. He, too, ventured back after the war to the place of his childhood, when Capt. Lawrence Gros, to whom he was especially obnoxious, hearing of his arrival, armed himself for the occasion and threatened to kill him on sight. He was kept secreted for several weeks and then smuggled away by a friend, never again to return.

About the time Bell came back to the valley, a man named Foster, also a former resident, returned. He, too, had won the lasting displeasure of Capt. Gros. He met with so cold a reception, and such marked abuse from certain men he had faced in battle, that he sought to compel the respect of his persecutors through a court of justice. He therefore lodged a complaint with Esq. Wynkoop, a justice of the peace below Canajoharie, who cited some of the offenders before him. When the matter was to be tried, Capt. Gros, apprised of the condition of things, proceeded with a posse of his patriotic friends to the convened court, which, with little ceremony, was put hors de combat, seeing which, Foster fled. He was stoned, pursued, captured and brought back; and, in the midst of buffeting, which was not unlike running the gantlet, which he had once gloried in seeing his neighbors do, while in the guise of an Indian, he was compelled to thank his tormentors for their kind treatment; and promising at once to leave the valley, and never return to it--with an assurance that his life would be in jeopardy if he did--he took French leave of this goodly heritage, his feet never again polluting its soil.

Many Tories came back after the war, but their former neighbors, who had met them in hostile array as Indians, usually made the atmosphere so close for them that not a few fled precipitately back to Canada, some with and some without scourging; while here and there one was suffered to remain, though unhonored and hardly noticed in society, by those who had been their warmest friends before the war. Such evils ever attend a civil strife. This narrative was obtained from William H. Seeber, a grandson of the second William Seeber named in the context, and Maj. Frederick Hawn, the grandson of a sister of the Bell brothers here mentioned. W. H. Seeber died in his 90th year, in the spring of 1881.

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