History From America's Most Famous Valleys
by Milo Nellis, Direct Descendant
This was an article from the St. Johnsville Enterprise and News. The date is unknown, but it probably appeared with the series of items in the 1920's and 1930's. The owner of the E & N for a number of years, was Lou D. MacWethy. His granddaughter has permitted articles to be used on the Fort Klock web site.
There appears to be a sentiment among some of my readers that I am overstepping the bounds of propriety in my references to Sir. William Johnson. Consideration of this sentiment has somewhat retarded my continuing with my story. I deem it essential therefore to make a statement before proceeding further.
From a recent editorial in the New York Times commenting on historical matters, I quote the following: "Far be it from us to light old fires but the Pilgrims and the Puritans didn't love nor were they loved by the Dutch. Formerly, at least, most of the histories were written by the Yankees and none by the "Dutch". Can we believe that the "Dutch" had half a chance." This expresses my sentiments.
When in 1838, William L. Stone wrote the "Life of Joseph Brant" he introduced his subject with the following famous fable: "It is related by Aesop that a forester once meeting with a lion, they traveled together for a time, and conversed amicably without much difference of opinion. At length a dispute happened to arise upon the question of superiority between their respective races, the former in the absence of a better argument, pointed to a monument of which was sculptured in marble, the statue of a man striding over the body of a vanquished lion. "If this," said the lion is all you have to say, let us be the sculptors and you will see the lion striding over the vanquished man." The moral pointed out by Mr. Stone that "the Indians are no sculptors" is quite as applicable to the life of Col. Jacob Klock and his brother George Klock, Sr. as it was to the life of Joseph Brant.
I am trying to tell the story of the Revolutionary War in this immediate vicinity from the Klock side.
This story has never been told because the Klocks were "no sculptors."
I am no doubt prejudiced in my views from a family standpoint. I am I believe, however, sufficiently remote from the Revolutionary strife to harbor none of the bitterness that stirred the souls of the participants in that struggle. I believe also that I am quite as much entitled to defend the characters of my heroes as was Mr. Stone when he wrote the "Life of Joseph Brant" and his "Life and Times of Sir William Johnson." These works and the Documentary History of New York compiled by O. Callaghan are counted among the best histories of that period and have been much used by subsequent historians, but all of these works were evidently prepared by those who were prejudiced in favor of Brant and Johnson and against the Klock brothers and their associates. Much has accordingly been suppressed that is very important to know in determining the true characters of the contending parties on both sides.
These authors and those quoting them have stressed the complaints of Johnson against George Klock and the jealousies directed against Col. Jacob Klock to a point of defaming their characters. They have built up to a high character for Sir William Johnson and for Joseph Brant at the expense of the Klocks and their associates. They have represented Sir William Johnson as of a high, moral character, seeking ever to do good, interested deeply in the welfare of the Indians and the white settlers as well but very much hampered in his good work by the villainy of George Klock and his associates. They have even represented that had Sir William Johnson lived he would have been on the patriot side in the strife.
My research has brought forth many documents to disprove these and other generally accepted statements. Since I am not making statements on the subject without giving the documents that support them. I am at a loss to tell my story without bringing these matters to the front.
When Hugh Hastings as State Historian under date of November 5, 1900 wrote his introduction to Vol. IV of Clinton, covering the period from the public papers of Governor George, September, 1778 to June 1779, he said, "New York occupied a strategic position of great importance and was forced to endure a number of Indian atrocities along her unprotected frontier, that stand without a parallel in the history of the war. Many of the details now appear for the first time in print and are so largely at variance with generally accepted statements that have stood unchallenged, for one hundred years and more that the historian in the future, will be compelled in the interest of accuracy and truth to revise and remodel all of the standard histories so far as those histories touch upon the border wars of New York state."
When it is realized that Sir William Johnson's influence with the Indians rested on his willingness and ability to buy scalps at $50 (10 pounds) a piece; on his polygamous relatives with the various tribes on his generous gifts of goods and money supplied by the English government, aided with a liberal supply of rum for which he received in return large tracts of land and on his intriguing with the Indians against George Klock over comparatively small tracts of land for which Klock had paid liberally in money and that no other charge was ever brought against Klock than supplying rum as did all other traders of the time including Sir William Johnson himself. George Klock's villainy begins to pale.
When it is further realized that the high price Johnson had always paid for scalps and wealth of England flaunted before Joseph Brant by Guy Johnson against the poverty of the patriots was the decisive factor in bringing the Indians into the Revolutionary strife when the patriots were exerting every effort to keep the Indians neutral and of course offered no reward for scalps, it begins to appear in which direction the real villainy lay.
When one learns all the indignities George Klock and his brothers and neighbors suffered for thirty years at hands of Johnson he wonders not that the Klocks were active leaders in forming the vigilance committee, in framing the resolution to "be free or die," in furnished the man power to stay the invader and to hold their land to the bitter end.
When one remembers also that the vigilance committee was making it so hot for Johnson that his sudden removal by death at the close of a day's parley with the Indians concerning George Klock's land was under well-grounded suspicion of suicide to end his troubles and immediately following his son Sir John Johnson and son in law Guy Johnson were forced by the same vigilance committee to flee hastily to Canada; that it was they who took Joseph Brant to England where they secured through him the pledge of the Indians to their cause and returning to Canada, organized the bands of murdering scalping savages that precipitated horrors upon Wyoming. Cherry Valley and our own beloved valley, it begins to appear what the Klock and their neighbors did and what they suffered and why they were villains in the Johnson eyes.
The battle of Oriskany was the beginning of the struggle in these parts. It is now recognized as one of the few decisive battles of the world's history. Col. Jacob Klock and a score of other Klocks were there and how any of them survived that murderous ambush and the seven years of hell that followed is indeed beyond our comprehension.
Douglas Campbell in his introduction to the reprint edition of W. W. Campbell's "Annuals of Tryon Co.," says "Tryon county at the close of the long conflict, was left but a charred and barren waste. Yet it was never completely overcome. Against the devastating incursions of savage hordes it was held, though tragically, for the patriot cause, remaining to the end a barrier to the ravaging of all New York state westward of the Hudson river as well as the Frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania."
Brant and the Johnsons led that work of destruction while George Klock, Col. Jacob Klock and Johannes Klock who had defied and persistently opposed them were all among those who were left in possession of that "charred and barren waster" and with the broken fragments of their families began the reconstruction work of this frontier country.
Governor George Clinton recognized the great service the Klocks had rendered and did all he could to honor them. As early as 1777 he sought to appoint Col. Jacob Klock as Judge, but the old war scarred veteran neither sought or desired it and seems to have been reported as unqualified by the Rev. John Daniel Gross (see Clinton Papers Vol II p. 621) who favored a jealous antagonist of the colonel in the person of William Harper of Schoharie.
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