Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys
St. Johnsville Bicentennial Celebration
Published by St. Johnsville Village/Town Bicentennial Committee, Inc.

Sketch of Settlement of Jacob Zimmerman about 1725

(Adapted from a report by Lou D. MacWethy for the bicentennial celebration of the settlement in 1925)

< Gilbert Hough Building. St. Johnsville was once a cigar making center.

History places the date of the settlement of St. Johnsville at 1725 . . . . the first settler was a Palatine German named Jacob Zimmerman (or Timmerman).

A deed seems to clinch the matter so far as the title and location is concerned, for the land traced in the deed is the land on which the village now rests, and the deed conveyed the land to the children of Anna Zimmerman, who is supposed to be the wife of the first Zimmerman. This deed bears the date of 1733, so that land was being transferred at this early date.

In 1710 there came to this country five brothers: Theobald, Lawrence, George, Henry and Jacob Zimmerman. They came from Switzerland. Jacob Zimmerman became a trader with the Indians and married a princess of the Wolf clan of the Lower Mohawk Castle, residing at what is now Fort Hunter. She was christened Anna Margaret, receiving her name from the chaplain of Queen Anne's Chapel at Fort Hunter. Queen Anne's parsonage still stands today. The date of their marriage is fixed roughly at between 1713-19.

Just how it came about that Jacob Zimmerman located here, at present St. Johnsville, and from whom he purchased the land is not made clear. Possibly it was a grant from the Mohawk Indians, or it might have been purchased from the owners of the Francis Harrison Patent, who had acquired all the land from East Creek to Palatine Church by purchase for 700 beaver skins in 1722.

We do know that Jacob Zimmerman, the pioneer of the present St. Johnsville, and Johan Jost Schnell of Stone Arabia secured a grant of the Mohawk River section in the present town of Manheim, Herkimer County, extending from east Creek westward to a point opposite the home of "Johan Nickoll Herchheimer (Nicholas Herkimer)" and running a considerable distance inland. It embraced 3,600 acres of land, then a largely virgin forest. The Indian deed was signed by "Hendrick Peterson" (King Hendrick). In this patent East Creek is called Tegahuharoughwhe.

Jacob Zimmerman, Sr., and one Veeling (Failing) held lots 14, 15, and 18 of the Harrison patent of 1722. Lots 14 and 15 comprise the central part of the present village of St. Johnsville, and lot 18 was at upper St. Johnsville. Zimmerman Creek at St. Johnsville and Timmerman Creek at upper St. Johnsville probably both take their names from Jacob Zimmerman (Timmerman).

The first enterprise installed here by Jacob Zimmerman was that of a grist mill where corn and wheat were ground for the bread makers of the area, both red and white, who must have found this method preferable to the old mortar and pestle. Jacob Zimmerman's descendants are still here and some of them occupy the original land.

< Interior of Fort Klock.

The original Mohawk Valley Zimmerman had five sons: Henry, Adam, Frederick, and Jacob, Jr., and one other. Jacob and Lieutenant Henry fought at Oriskany, as the others probably did also. Henry was there so seriously wounded that his life was despaired of for several months. He recovered and lived to a good old age. Jacob Jr., born in 1758, is considered the founder of the present village of St. Johnsville, of which his father was the pioneer settler.

Jacob, Jr. married Madalina Polly Hagar. Both are buried in Prospect View Cemetery, St. Johnsville. Jacob, Jr., died in 1835.. Lieutenant Henry died in 1807 at the age of 69. He is buried in the Snell's Bush Cemetery, where his headstone reads, "Henry Zimmerman".

The town of St. Johnsville was part of Palatine until 1808, and its early history, both as to events and commerce, is largely that of the older town.

St. Johnsville township and village formed part of the town of Palatine until 1808, when the town of Oppenheim, then part of Montgomery County, was formed, the new township including the present town of St. Johnsville. In 1838 Fulton County was separated from Montgomery and and the present township of St. Johnsville was formed. The first town meeting of the new town was held May 1, 1838, at the home of Christopher Klock one mile east of the village. The number of votes polled was 271.

The construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the Utica and Schenectady Railroad in 1836 boomed the little village. A ford and later ferry furnished river crossing until 1852 when a bridge was built. In 1857 St. Johnsville was incorporated as a village. During the Civil War, St. Johnsville furnished a large number of federal soldiers, considering its small area.

< Margaret Reaney, mother of Joseph Reaney. The library was built by Joseph in his mother's memory.

St. Johnsville was a pioneer in hydroelectric development. It was the first Mohawk River town to receive and install hydroelectric power and light service. St. Johnsville received its power from the second development on East Canada Creek, that of Beardslee Falls.

The following newspapers have been published in St. Johnsville: Interior New Yorker 1875; Weekly Portrait; St. Johnsville Times; St. Johnsville Herald; St. Johnsville Herald-Times; St. Johnsville Leader, 1886; St. Johnsville News, 1891; St. Johnsville Enterprise, 1897.

The population of the town of St. Johnsville in 1850 was 1627; in 1880, 2000; and in 1910, 3369. The village went from 720 in 1857 to 1071 in 1880 and 2536 in 1910. Now (1925, when this report was written) it is approximately 3000. (EDITOR'S NOTE" This figure seems optimistically high; if true, it is the largest population St. Johnsville ever attained.)

The region about St. Johnsville is rich in historic lore. Both village and countryside reflect the sterling qualities of the frontiersmen who here wrested civilization from the wilderness and whose blood helped gain America her liberties. Lou D. MacWethy

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