History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 91
Canajoharie, The pot that washes itself.
Here is what gave a name to the creek, to the cascade on it, to the village below, and to the territory on both sides of the Mohawk from the mountain gorge at Spraker's to Little Falls, a distance of 20 miles above. It is a natural curiosity of much interest, being a hole cut in solid slate rock 20 feet in diameter, its exact depth being unknown. It usually has 10 feet of water in it; but how much it is filled in with stones and rubbish is undetermined. Its walls are vertical, and it resembles a large well; and the question always suggested to the visitor is, how this hole-so round, so smooth, and so deep-was made ? It is near the termination of an immense bed of slate rock, through which, for a quarter of a mile, the creek has worn its way. The hole was, no doubt, drilled with rolling stones and pebbles by the water, when the cascade, now some distance above, towered for a long period directly over this remarkable cavity. The hole must have been chiseled many centuries ago ; and the hills have been receding for many ages to attain its present condition above. The signification of this word was rendered by Joseph Brant at his home in Canada in 1806 to Judge Isaac H. Tiffany.
The Canajoharie Falls.
This is a pretty cascade in the creek, a quarter of a mile above the dinner pot, where the water in a little distance falls nearly 50 feet. It is a charming place of resort in the afternoon of a summer's day, as the bold bluff on the west shore shuts out the sun's rays at an early hour. If the convenience of a summer foot-bridge was placed above the race way of the Col. Hendrick Frey grist-mill, so that footmen could get to the east shore, on which they must approach the falls, many would be the visitors to this romantic spot, where in " ye olden time " the ; Mohawks did their courting, and where modern Mohawks might do theirs. From this digression we return. The Plattekill, or Flat creek, discharges its water at Spraker's Basin. Upon this stream has been found a small vein of lead ore. At Yatesville -Randall, as now called-in Root, Wasontha kill, a small mill stream enters the river. Oghrackie-Aries kill-comes to the river at Auriesville. Schoharie creek, the largest tributary upon that shore, enters the river at Fort Hunter, dividing the towns of Glen and Florida. This estuary was the ancient Tienonderoga, or Lower Mohawk castle, which nourished in the last century down through the times of Sir William Johnson to the Revolution, when the Indians in a body, influenced by the Johnson family, went to Canada with them and remained there. Tuechtanonda creek-or Little Chuctenunda, as now called, to distinguish it from a stream across the river-empties at Port Jackson. Of this mill-creek, said Spafford in 1824, "In its course of 12 or 14 miles it drives 20 mills." Cowilla creek, a small mill-stream, discharges its waters nearly opposite Cranesville; while Zantzee creek enters the river near Hoffman's Ferry, and Plotter kill, a little distance below. Benne kill, enters the river just above Schenectada ; while Donker's kill, and one or two other small streams are mapped to enter the river between Schenectada and its mouth.
Descending the Mohawk from Rome, upon its north shore, are found the following tributaries. The first two are numbered respectively, No. 6, and No. 9 mile creeks, the first being two and a half miles from Rome, and the latter seven miles. I have been unable to learn the local Indian names of those streams. Between Utica and West Canada creek, two small mill-streams enter the river called Budlong creek, and Sterling creek, believed in the town of Schuyler. The latter stream, the Indians called Ras-ce-loth. Teughtagh-na-row, or West Canada creek, enters the river nearly a mile below the village of Herkimer. A small nameless millstream is laid down as entering the river between Little Falls and East Canada creek. The Ciohana, or East Canada creek-called also the Gayohara,* falls into the river a mile or two below the site of the Upper Mohawk castle, across the river. The East and West Canada creeks are the largest tributaries of the Mohawk, coming from the north. The next stream below the East Canada creek, is a brook known as Crum creek. Fox's creek at Upper St. Johnsville, and Zimmerman's creek at the village of St. Johnsville, are also useful millstreams Near the latter is marked upon Gov. Tryon's map, made from a survey before the Revolution, the site of Fort Harrison, a military post of earlier wars.
The same map lays down as early forts in the valley, Fort Bute, on the site of Fort Bull, on Wood creek ; Fort Stanwix, at Rome ; Fort Schuyler, on the present site of Utica ; Fort Herkimer, at German Flats, the last vestige of which, the old Herkimer stone house, was demolished for the enlarged canal; Fort Hendrick, at the Canajoharie castle ; Fort Hunter, at the mouth of Schoharie creek, and Fort Johnson, a few miles below, Only two of those posts, Fort Harrison, and Fort Johnson-the residence of Sir William Johnson, were on the north side of the river. A little stream called Mother creek, is mapped as the boundary line between the towns of St. Johnsville and Palatine. The Garoga creek is a fine millstream falling into the river at the Palatine stone church. The map quoted marked upon this stream, Fox's mills, which were among the earliest erected in this part of the valley, and were burned by the enemy in 1780. At Schenck's place, a little distance below Spraker's, Kanagara creek runs to the river. I remember a terrible thunder storm one summer evening about the year 1850, when in a few hours the railroad bridge over this stream was undermined, and a night train of cars going west, between ten and eleven o'clock, went down in part, into the surging waters. The next day, I saw at Fonda, the body of a German who was drowned there in a freight car, in which he had charge of some good horses. Cayadutta creek, a nice millstream which courses through Johnstown, enters the river at Fonda. Dadanoscara creek finds its way to the river at the De Graff place, about three miles east of Fonda. Kayaderosseros creek, enters
* Here is an Indian name for this stream, which I found on an old land title in the Fox family, De-ag-jo-har-owe.
the river at Fort Johnson, a few miles west of Amsterdam. Upon this stream Sir William Johnson erected a gristmill at an early day. At Amsterdam the Tinghtananda or Chuctenunda creek, enters the river. This stream in the distance of a mile or two, is remarkably utilized. Its name is aboriginal, and signifies agreeable to Spafford, stony bottom. Eva's kill, runs to the river at Cranesville, and between that place and Schenectada, are noted Lewis creek and Vert kill; while below it, are named on one map, Aleplane kill and Anthony's kill, and on another Morte kill and Stony creek. Whether any of these streams have duplicated names I cannot say.
The Scenery of the Mohawk valley is charming and beautifully diversified at many points along the river. One of the finest as treasured in my memory for a generation, is nearly two miles west of Herkimer village, where the turnpike passes over a hill; from which looking down the valley beyond the villages of Mohawk and Herkimer, to the mountain gorge which makes the Little Falls, the eye takes in the greater part of one of the most beautiful amphitheaters to be found in any country. There are many charming points of interest along the valley, not a few of which are to be obtained near St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, Canajoharie, Fonda, Fultonville and Amsterdam, which would afford a score or two of choice stereoscopic views.
Speaking of Little Falls, said Rev. John Taylor when on a missionary tour through the Mohawk and Black river countries in 1802: "Upon the whole, this place is the most romantic of any I ever saw, and the objects are such as to excite sublime ideas in a reflecting mind." * Of this place twenty years later, said the Gazetteerian Spafford : " I could never discover the sublime features of mountain grandeur and magnificence, here-abouts, which some persons seem to have seen, etc." Those diverse opinions are given to show the reader how differently cultivated minds sometimes look upon objects of inspiration and sublimity.
* Doc. His. of N. Y., vol. 3, p. 1131.
The Old Ehle Dwelling.-Loss than two miles westward of the Frey family located that of Rev. Jacob H. Ehle, a Lutheran minister ; but just when he came hither is not certain. His coining could not have been much behind that of the Germans-his countrymen-who settled Stone Arabia. He probably at first erected a wood dwelling. He died at the age of 92, but in what year I am not informed. His son Peter erected a stone dwelling in 1752, and the westerly end would seem to have been erected at a later date. He died in 1808, at the age of 64. The father and son both died in the house erected by the latter. Peter No. 1 also had a son Peter, 2d, who was married at 20, and died in 1854, aged about 86, leaving the 3d Peter who died in 1864, aged nearly 72 years. The three Peters named were all born in the old stone house : the third successive Peter also left a son Peter, who now occupies a large two-story stone house built in 1826, on the turnpike, by his grandfather. The old stone dwelling, a one-story edifice in good condition, is still standing near the railroad ; the wagon road, at an early day, passing near it. The brick and pitch pine boards used in its construction are believed to have been brought from Schenectada on the river.
The Mabie Family and an old House.-In the year 1684, Jan P. Mabie, a Hollander, came to Sehenectada and purchased property there, as he also did at Rotterdam, six miles to the westward of that ancient town, on the south bank of the Mohawk. At the latter place in 1689, he erected a rough stone dwelling, which is still standing, and in which the descendants: of the first settler still reside ; the head of the present family, Simeon Mabie, being about 75 years old. His children and grandchildren residing with him, extend the family line down to the seventh generation. About the time of Mabie's settlement, tradition says a Bradt located midway between Mabie and Schenectada, but of this family we are not posted. It would be exceedingly interesting to trace the novel incidents.; transpiring at this old house, through the troublous times which followed its erection for many years. Tradition says that the Mabie family occupied it when, in 1690, Schenectada was destroyed. The enemy crossed the river on the ice to the town, and if aware of the exposure of this isolated family, they were in too jaded a condition to make a journey of a dozen miles to destroy it. Every family along the river, at an early day, kept its own water-craft ; and it is said that this family, when an enemy was reported on the south side of the river, fled across to the north shore, and that families settling on the north shore after they located did the same thing, that is, fled to the south shore when an enemy approached them. This Mabie house is no doubt, the oldest building in the Mohawk valley west of Schenectada, and possibly ante-dates any one in that town. The facts respecting this old landmark were furnished the writer by Jas. J. Marlette, Esq. It would have been a cause for gratification to have shown those old dwellings.
The Earliest German Emigration in Numbers.-June 29, 1708, Joshua Kocherthal, a German Lutheran minister, made application through the British board of trade, to Her Majesty, Queen Anne, in behalf of himself and 14 other distressed Protestants, lately arrived from the Palatinate and Holstein, craving that they, with 41 Lutherans similarly situated, might be transported to the province of New York.* The petition, which was granted, was made in consequence of a war between France and Germany, which disturbed their former homes. September 7th he asked for and obtained £20, a sum usually granted to clergymen emigrating to the colonies. Some Germans had previously emigrated from the same neighborhood ; and the coming hither of small numbers, from time to time, led to the emigration of thousands at once.
Col. Robert Hunter received his commission and instructions from Her Majesty, Queen Anne, as Governor of the Colony of New York, October 19, 1T09. Previous to his leaving the mother country, he was intrusted with some of the arrangments for the coming hither of 3,000 German Palatines, then seeking favor? of the British crown. Several places in northern New England were suggested by Gov. Hunter in which to colonize them; +but the board of trade finally proposed to Her Majesty to plant them on lands along the Mohawk river and Schoharie creek in 'the colony of New York ; one strong motive being ; the better security of the province against Canadian aggressions ++It was deemed advisable to locate them "where they could best produce for the home government, from pine trees, naval stores such as turpentine and tar.§
Gov. Hunter, who is believed to have had supervision of the emigrant transports, reached New York, June 14, 1710, in the midst of their arrival. There were ten ships in all, freighted with emigrants, and the ship Lyon, of Leith, Capt. Stevens, commander, was the first to arrive, June 13, and her passengers were landed on Nutten Island-now Governor's Island. June 16, Gov. Hunter reported to the home government: "We still want three of the Palatine ships, and those arrived
* Brodhead Papers, vol 5, p. 53.
+Ibid, Vol. 5, p. 43.
++Ibid, Vol. 5, 17.
§ Ibid, Vol. 5. p. 11
are in a deplorable, sickly condition.* Thomas Benson, a chirurgeon on board of the Lyon, reported 330 as having been sick at one time on the passage. He presented an account to Gov. Hunter for the sum of eight pounds for attendance and medicine given by him to the sick on her passage. + Writing to the board of trade from New York, July 24, 1710, Gov. Hunter says : " all the Palatine ships separated by the weather are arrived safe, except the Herbert frigate, where our tents and arms are. She was cast away on the east end of Long Island, on July 7 ; the men are safe but our goods much damaged. We still want the Barcley castle, which we left at Portsmouth. The poor people have been mighty sickly but recover apace. We have lost above 470 of our number." ++
Instructions to Gov. Hunter.-From some 30 pages of instructions to him from the English government on his coming to the colony, here is a copy of several I think noteworthy.§
Section 75. "We do further direct that no School-master be henceforth permitted to come from this kingdom and to keep school within our Province of New York, without the license of the Lord Bishop of London ; and that no other person now there, or that shall come from other parts, be admitted to keep school without your license first obtained."
Section 76. " You are to take especial care that a table of marriages, established by the Canons of the Church of England, be hung up in every orthodox church and duly observed: and you are to endeavor to get a law past in the Assembly of that Province (if not already done) for the strict observation of the said table."
Section 77. "You are to take care that drunkenness and debauchery, swearing and blasphemy be discountenanced and punished : and for the further discountenance of vice, and encouragement of virtue and good living (that by such example the infidels may be invited and desire to partake of the Christian Religion), you are not to admit any person to public trusts and employments, whose ill fame and conversation may occasion scandal."
Section 79. " You are to give all due encouragement and invitation
* Brod. Papers, vol. 5. p. 165.
+Doc His. Of N. Y., vol. 3. p. 558.
++ Ibid, vol. 3, p. 559.
§ Brod. Papers, vol. 8, p. 136.
to merchants and others, who shall bring trade unto our said Province, or any way contribute to the advantage thereof, and in particular to the Royal African Company of England,"
Section 80. "And as we are willing to recommend unto the said company that the said Province may have a constant and sufficient supply of Merchantable Negroes at moderate prices in money or commodities, so you are to take especial care that payment be duly made, and within a competent time according to their agreement."
Section 81. "And you are to take care that there be no trading from the said Province to any place in Africa, within the charter of the Royal African Company, otherwise than prescribed by an Act of Parliament past in 1697, entitled an act to settle the trade to Africa."
Section 82. "And we do further expressly command and require you to give unto us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, an account every half year of what Negroes the said Province is supplied with, that is, what number by the African Company, and what by separate traders, and at what rates sold."
Section 102. Gov. Benjamin Fletcher, in 1698, had issued such extravagant land patents to Rev. Godfrey Dellius and others, and especially in the Mohawk valley, that, on a complaint of the Mohawks of the Tienonderoga castle, whose lands were embraced in the grants, they were annulled, which finally opened the way for the coming of the Palatines into the Mohawk valley. In this section of the instructions to Gov. Hunter, it was specified that, in all future grants of land, there should be a reservation of a yearly quit rent of two shillings and six pence for every 100 acres ; and three acres of every 50 were to be improved within three years, or the grant was to be forfeited. No future grant to any individual was to exceed 2,000 acres.
The German Palatines, how Settled.-It had been determined, before they left England, to settle them in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys ; and, to enable them to reimburse the government for the cost of their support and transportation, it was resolved to set them to manufacturing naval stores, especially tar. Soon after his arrival with them at New York, Gov. Hunter sent " a surveyor with skillful men to survey the land on the Mohaks river, and particularly on the Skohare [creek]." The Indians in possession of the latter lands at first refused to allow them to be surveyed, but afterwards consented. The Governor reported to the Lords of Trade July 24, 1710: " These lands, I believe, will be no ways fit for the design in hand, being very good land which bears no pines and lyes very remote." It was a false report that the country had no pine timber, for the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys were then heavily timbered with pine ; but it -was mostly white pine, and not as suitable for tar making as would be either yellow or pitch pine, both of which in some quantity were also there. It was, however, considered remote even from Albany.
James De Prue, in a letter to Secretary Vernon, dated at New York, October 4, 1710, says : The Palatines began last week (the last week in September) to embark for their new homes on the Hudson ; about which time Gov. Hunter wrote to the Lords of Trade that he had finally purchased 6,000 acres of land of Robert Livingston, on Hudson's river, for 400 pounds New York currency (^1,000) upon which to plant the most of the Palatines. Some writers have hinted that the Governor was made an interested party to this purchase, but, if so, there is no evidence of it.
Gov. Hunter himself said in the communication alluded to, John Bridger, the engineer who was to superintend the labor of the men, chose the first and approved the selection of the last place on which to locate them. The first place was on the east side of the Hudson, in the southeast part of Livingston's manor. It was called East Camp, and was in the present town of Germantown. "Over against this purchase," across the river, said the Governor, " I have found a small tract of about a mile in length along the river, which by some chance has not been granted, where I have planted the remainder." This was in the northeast corner of Ulster county, in the present town of Saugerties ; the place was called West Camp.* A few of the Palatines remained in New York, the rest of them went to the camps. They were located, at first, in five dorfs or villages, three at the East and two at the West Camp, the latter near Sawyer's creek,f These villages were laid out by J. Bridger; as commissioner, each family having a lot of arable land.
* Brodhead Papers, vol. 5, p. 70. + Ibid. vol. 5, p. 180.
It may be well for the memory of Gov. Hunter, who we once thought had some interested motive in keeping those people on the Hudson against their wishes as will appear, to insert a few words from his engineer in their affairs, for we would not willingly see his character maligned. It was probably the Governor's anxiety to have their labor return to the government, some part of its great outlay in their behalf, that exhausted his patience and made him to appear arbitrary in detaining them on the Hudson, when they desired to go into Central New York, whither they left England to go, and which locality their hearts were set upon. Extract of a letter from Mr. Bridger, who is believed to have visited Schoharie, to the Lords of Trade, November 10, 1710. " The land proposed in the Maquas [Mohawks] country for the settlement of the Palatines is so far up in the land, and no pitch pine there, render it uncapable for that service ; in order, therefore, to lay this design on a better and more sure foundation, the Governor has purchased six thousand acres of land, that with some land of Her Majesty's fitting for the Palatines settlement, both on Hudson's river, opposite to each other, the centre of the pitch pine land much more commodious for the design than any other place in this government." It is possible that Bridger may have been in the interest of Livingston, a known speculator. "It cannot he any surprise to your lordships to know that it must be two years from the preparing of the trees before any tar can be made of them, having several times laid it before your lordships, etc." *
In evidence of the fact that Gov. Hunter could not have been personally interested in the purchase of Livingston's lands for the Palatines, here is his own expressed opinion of that gentleman, in a letter to General Nicholson ; on learning from Commissioner Cast, that Livingston had taken measures to prejudice Gen. N. against the Governor. The latter was about to embark from Boston for Europe, when Gov. Hunter, October 22, 1711, wrote to him from New York as follows: "Though all this be mysterious to me, I cannot forbear taking notice of this proceeding of Mr. Livingston's, as a most base and villainous practice, if there be any truth in it, and I hope
* Brodhead Papers, vol. 8, p. 175. and 196.
I have deserved that justice from you, that you will, as soon as may be, acquaint me with what Mr. Livingston has thought fit to represent. I know him to be ye most selfish man alive, but I could never have believed that a man who lay under so many obligations to me as he does, would take it into his head to make any representations to my prejudice without acquainting me at least, neither can I be persuaded that after ye manner we have lived together and ye mutual confidence between us, you would engage yourself in anything of that nature upon ye suggestions of such a man. I have suffered here by giving him too much countenance, and if any man has any advantage by ye Palatines here it is he : I beg you'll clear that matter to me, because he has too considerable a trust to be continued to him after so base and barbarous a practice." *
After the arrival of the Palatines at New York, some of their children were apprenticed to families that would receive them, over forty of whom were orphans, having lost their parents on the voyage, girls until fifteen and boys until seventeen years of age. The N. Y. Council authorized Dr. Staats and Mr. Van Dam to manage that affair, and seventy children from four to five years were thus apprenticed, about twenty finding homes in other States. The names of the children and who bound to, were all recorded.+
The palatines were planted in five dorfs or villages three at Rooloffe Jansen's kill, on the east side, and two on the west side of Hudson's river, the latter near Sawyer's creek-then in the counties of Duchess and Albany. By November 14. 1710, they had built themselves comfortable huts, and were clearing ground for spring work.++ It was the intention of Queen Anne to naturalise those people on their arrival in the colony, free of reward, but for some unexplained reason, they declined the proffer. § The number which settled in the five villages, was 2227. || The number remaining in New York, was 351. ** By the spring of 1711, it had cost the government since their arrival at New York, nearly a year before, for subsistence and settlement, £12,700 ($31,750), and Gov. Hunter estimated their further support for two years, at £15,000 per annum, ere their
Doc. His, vol. 3, p. 675.
+ Doc. His. Vol. 3, p. 555, 506.
++ Brod. Papers vol. 5, p. 180.
|| Ibid, p. 188.
§ Ibid, vol. 5, p. 184.
** Doc. His. Vol. 3, p. 56-2.
labors would be remunerative ; for they must still be fed and clothed with but little assistance from the soil. In the spring they had two more villages, Hunterstown on the east, and New Town, on the west side of the Hudson.* The winter for the Palatines at the camps was evidently one of monotony and discontent. They had been promised desirable lands for husbandry, and were now destined to learn the avocation of making tar and pitch, a labor distasteful to them. Consequently in the spring not a few were willing for a campaign, to face danger and fatigue in the army, to escape the duty imposed on them.
A record headed, " PALATINE VOLUNTEERS FOR THE EXPEDITION AGAINST CANADA, 1711," gives from Hunterstown the names of 25 men, John Peter Kneskern, captain ; from QUEENSBURY the names of 40 men, John Conrad Wiser, as captain ; from HAYSBURY, 19 men, and from ANNSBURY 52 names, Hartman Winedecker, captain.+ These names were given to the local settlements at East Camp, except Hunters-town the fall before. Haysbury seems to have been the least import of the three. The two villages at the West Camp called GEORGETOWN and. ELIZABETHTOWN. Jean Cast, having supervision at the camps, writing to Gov. Hunter, March 27, 1711, says of these people : "They persuade themselves that Canada will be taken this campaign, and that upon the conquest of that country, as a security for their settlement, they will be established on the lands destined for them." ++ Anticipating such a result is what sent so many of those hardy men into the army. They preferred the smell of gunpowder to that of tar, and desired, of all things, to go and take their chance in the country of the Mohawks.
As appears by the report of the commissioners for the Palatines, dated July 5, 1711, there were then seven villages at the camps, with the following list masters attached to them, viz.:
the east side, in Duchess County.
Hunterstown, John Peter Kneskern.
Queensbury, John Conrad Weiser.
Annsbury, Hartmen Windecker.
Haysbury, John Christopher Tucks.
* Doc. His., vol. 3, p. 672. + Doc. His., Vol. 3, pp. 571, 674. ++ Brodhead Papers, vol. 5, p. 214
the west side, in the County of Albany.
Elizabethtown, John Christopher Gerlach.
Georgetown, Jacob Manck.
Newtown, Philip Peter Grauberger.*
I have shown above that over 130 of the Palatines went from the villages on the east side of the Hudson into the army in the summer of 1711. Gov. Hunter, writing to the Lords of Trade, January 1, 1712, says he had 300 Palatines employed in the land forces under Col. Nicholson ; + but a part of them were, no doubt, from West Camp, and others may have been of the party which remained in New York. The troops under Col. Nicholsby, about 4,000 strong, left Albany August 28 for Canada. ++
The following receipt will not only show that the education of the children was to be cared for, but also who was a spiritual adviser that winter at East Camp :
PALATINE SCHOOL HOUSE : I acknowledge to have received of Robert Livingston,
40 boards for ye school-house in Palateyn town called Queensbury, and desire
sd Livingston to send for ye sd use 30 boards now to compleat ye school-house.
" JOH. FR. HAEYER, Min.§
"Dated this 18 January, 1711."
Here is a subsistence bill which gives the relative numbers of Palatines at the seven, villages at its date :
LIVINGSTON, 24 June, 1711.
"Account of the charge of subsisting the Palatines from 26 March to this day, both inclusive, in their several settlements on the east and west sides of Hudson's river, according to the number in each family, and the days they have been respectively subsisted at 6d pr. diem one with another :
* Doc. His., vol. 3, p. 672.
+ Broad. Papers, vol. 5, 301.
++ Holmes' Annals, vol. 3, p. 78
§ Doc. His. Vol. 3, p. 668.
|Came 28th April & Beginning May||527||1874||3887||7||0 1/2|
As I have intimated, the spring found, the Palatines very discontented and clamoring for the land. promised them while in Europe. Mr. Cast, one of the commissioners over them, writing to Gov. Hunter, March 27, says : "I asked Mr. Kocherthall [Rev. Joshua and one of their ministers who died in Ulster county in 1719], in what way his people behaved? He tells me all are at work, and busy, but manifestly with repugnance, and merely temporarily-that the tract intended for them is in their minds a land of Canaan-that they agree it is a very dangerous place to settle at present, and for this reason it is that they are willing to have patience here for a couple of years. But they will not listen to tar-making." *
Gov. Hunter made a contract November 13, 1710, with Robert Livingston, to furnish the Palatines on both sides of the Hudson, with bread and beer for the ensuing six months ; the quantity of bread for each person each day was to equal one-third of a loaf of bread of such sort and size as was sold in New York, at four pence half penny (six and one-quarter cents) and of equal weight and fineness, with one quart of beer such as is usually railed Ship's beer, of the price three pounds for each tun ; in quantity 252 gallons. Livingston had a mill and brew-house near his dwelling where the articles were to be delivered to the commissioners. He was to be paid every two mouths one-half in silver and the other half in wares and merchandise, five-sixth from Europe, and one-sixth from the West Indies. +
Prior to the arrival of the Palatines, Robert Livingston had come to be looked upon in the mother country as a speculator, or as we would now say-a sharper ; and Lord Clarendon in
* Doc. His. Vol. 3, p. 658.
+ Ibid., P. 653
a letter to Lord Dartmouth, dated March 8, 1711, said; "I think it is unhappy that Col. Hunter at his first arrival in his government fell into so ill hands, for this Livingston has been known many years in that province for a very ill man ; he formerly victualed the forces at Albany, in which he was guilty of most notorious frauds by which he greatly improved his estate : he has a mill and brew-house upon his land, and if he can get the victualing of those Palatines who are so conveniently posted for his purpose, he will make a very good addition to his estate ; and I am persuaded the hopes he has of such a subsistence, to be allowed by Her Majesty, were the chief if not the only inducements that prevailed with him, to propose to Col. Hunter, to settle them upon his land ; which is not the best place for pine trees : the borders of Hudson's river above Albany, and the Mohacks river, Schenectada, are well known to be best places for pines of all sorts, both for numbers and largeness of trees." He suggested that the bills drawn by Gov. Hunter for one quarter's subsistence, for adults at 6d, and children at 4d per day, was computed for the full number of those who landed in New York in June, 1710, whereas it was certain that many of them had since died. He closed by expressing a belief that if the subsistence bill proposed was allowed: "Livingston and some others will get estates, and the Palatines will not be the richer." * In justice to the character of Mr. Livingston, I here state what Messrs. Perry, Keill and De Prue, under date of December 11, 1711, in answer to certain questions from the English Lords of Trade, said of him: "Mr. Livingston was always known to be a careful, industrious and diligent man, who by these, more than any other means, hath got a considerable estate. It is true he was accused by a faction in that country, of having defrauded the government of great sums when he subsisted the forces at Albany, but it is as true that he hath honorably cleared himself ; having fairly passed his accounts before a committee of council, upon which he obtained an act of Assembly for releasing him and his estate that was under a sequestration, until he had so past his accounts ; and the reason which induced the Governor to deal with him was not so much
* Doc. His. Vol. 3, p. 656.
his choice as advantage, because the said Livingston made most reasonable and fair offers, and because he was capable of making the largest advances and had most conveniences for that purpose, as brew-house and bake-house." They further stated that in the matter the Governor acted with all imaginable care, binding him to take back any bread or beer not satisfactory to the Palatines.*
As a further evidence that speculators determined to make all they could out of the coming and support of those poor immigrants, Mr. Cast reported to Gov. Hunter, May 1, 1711, that he had received twenty barrels pork, and had never seen salted meat so poor or packed with so much salt, about one-eight of the weight being salt. He had received 117 barrels flour; and his suspicions led him to make a bet with Robert Livingston, Jr., that one of those barrels tared seventeen, would weigh twenty pounds ; and when the barrel was well cleaned it weighed twenty-one pounds. Of twenty barrels, eighteen were tared sixteen, one seventeen and one nineteen pounds each ; not one of which he was willing to wager, would weigh less than 20 pounds. + Thus were cormorant speculators defrauding the immigrants of their bread, and selling the government about two barrels of wood in every 100 barrels of flour. These peculations swelled the general expenses, and increased the prejudices of the people not only in the colony, but also in the mother country against the emigration.
About the middle of May the discontent had become so great among those unlettered but well meaning people, who were not only displeased with the occupation assigned them but were becoming distrustful of all around them, that they became not only clamorous but mutinous to go to their land of promise, as the Valley of Schoharie seemed to them. It is not improbable that German Indian traders, who had been to Schoharie, had conversed with some of those people, either at the camps or at New York, and had increased their anxiety to go thither. Indeed, Gov. Hunter writing to the board of trade May 7, 1711, says: "I have met with great opposition from many of the ill-disposed inhabitants, who daily insinuated [to those people] that there were better lands for them on the frontiers,
* Brodhead Papers, vol. 8, p. 291.
+ Doc. History, vol. 3, p. 659.
and that they were ill used in being planted there [at camps]. " He remained with them several days to convince them, that to go on with their labors would be the best thing they could do ; * and they agreed to go to work at the pine trees. But a week later they were in a mutinous condition, as their overseers informed the Governor. They had now boldly resolved they would neither work at tar making, or remain on that land, but would go to Schoharie, upon the lands promised them by the Queen. Bringing a detachment of sixty men from Albany on the ground the Governor soon dispersed the rioters.
The next day they assumed a menacing attitude, and gave the Gov. to understand that they would sooner lose their lives than remain there. While a conversation was going on with the deputies, word came that a body of them were in arms across the kill ; and having received a reinforcement of seventy men the Gov. marched the troops across the stream, and the insurgents scattered for their homes. He proceeded to the first village and ordered a surrender of their fire arms, which was done. Next morning he ordered the men of all the other six villages to bring in their arms, which order they dared not disobey ; and thus -was the colony disarmed and order restored, by the prudence and pluck of the Gov. without bloodshed. The majority who had been controlled in their rebellious action by a few discontented spirits, now regretted their hasty action, asked the Governor's pardon, promised their good behavior lit the future, expressed their willingness to go to work, and did immediately after. +
Secretary Geo. Clark, writing to the Lords of Trade, whom he had previously informed of the sorry condition of things at the camps, June 7, says : " The Palatines are now demonstrating their sincere repentance of their past transgressions, and for several days past are at work on the trees, of which by computation they prepare 15,000 a day. The children are all likewise busy in gathering up knots, which will be burnt this year, and I doubt not considerable tar made from them." He added : " the people work with all the cheerfulness imaginable." It was as he wrote, a great satisfaction to his Excellency,
* Doc. His. vol. 3, p. 661. +Brod. Papers, vol. 5, p. 238.
to see the great enterprise now promising success.* Early in July, the coopers were set at work making barrels for the tar. There were sixteen of this trade among them, and thirty-six men were to be detached each week to cut down, saw and split timber for the barrels. A bridge was also built to facilitate the conveyance of tar to the river for shipment. By the middle of September nearly an hundred thousand trees were reported ready for the undertaking.
June 12, Gov. Hunter appointed a court or commission, consisting of Robert Livingston, Richard Sacket, John Cast, Godfrey Wnlfin, Andrew Bagge and Herman Schuneman, Esquires; any three of whom, provided one of the first two mentioned were of the number, were competent to act in the settlement of all matters of difference among these people, except in life or mutilation. Capt. Har. Holland, of the troops, also acted on the commission.+
The preserved records of the times are not sufficient to give us a very satisfactory account of the doings at the camps in 1712. About the first of May of that year, the commissioners of the Palatines applied to Col. Ingoldsby, of the Fort at Albany, for a detachment of troops, as they found it difficult to keep them in subjection, and 30 men were sent thither. July 30, Gov. Hunter wrote Robert Livingston that he found it necessary to make the expense of the Palatines as little as possible, and thought some retrenchment might be made in the article of beer, which, we suppose, was used instead of tea or coffee. He thought that if beer was furnished the men who worked, and not for their families, a saving could be made. He also suggests there must be many widows and orphans among them, who might be so disposed of as to be no longer a burthen. ++
Gov. Hunter, with all his energy and seeming good intentions, found his efforts to make the coming of the Palatines a paving enterprise for the mother country, blocked and dwarfed in every direction. Many in England were distrustful of the project, while the Legislature of the colony looked with jealousy and displeasure upon many of his acts and those of the council. This happening, too, at a time when the colonies were
* Brod. Papers, vol. 5, p. 250
+ Doc. His., vol. 3 p. 669.
+ Ibid, vol. 3, pp. 683, 683.
prosecuting a war with Canada, made the matter still more onerous. Therefore we are not surprised to find him, September 6, 1712, writing to Commissioner Cast : " I have, at length, exhausted all the money and credit I was master of for the support of the Palatines, and have, thereby, I assure you, embarrassed myself with difficulties which I know not how to surmount if my bills of exchange be not paid. If, however, I were able to go on, that would not discourage me, having such ample order from Her Majesty to subsist them, that I doubt not her goodness to reimburse me. Therefore, I have no desire that the people quit their establishments, now the work has arrived at such a point of perfection. To prevent their perishing and the total abandonment of the work, I have devised this expedient which you will communicate to them, and then execute."
This project was to call the people together, make known to them the condition of things, and request them to seek employment among the farmers of New York and New Jersey (of both of which Provinces he was then Governor), and rind support for themselves and families, whence they could be recalled by proclamation. Each family had 40 acres of land at the camps-not much of it was yet cleared, however,-and those who could do so were to support themselves there. They were not to go out of the provinces named, but were to take a ticket of leave from the commissioners to depart for a designated place, and any daring to leave without such ticket, was made liable to be recalled and punished. The coopers lie wished to retain, and for them he would still provide support. All of them he hoped to recall in the spring, if his bills of exchange were honored. Although this resort caused him great uneasiness, yet he hoped for the best, and said lie had the testimony of a good conscience for having done all that depended on him for the prosecution of their destined work.* A month later he again wrote that commissioner, saying he could not tell what measures to adopt regarding the Palatines. He, however, wished as many of the people kept at the camps as possible, and such as stayed there he said he would distinguish in his future land grants. He desired to have distributed, as soon
* Doc. His., vol. 3, p. 683.
as possible, whatever Mr. Cast had, among the sick and indigent, and closed by certifying that gentleman's honesty, who, he said, would find he had not been at work for an ingrate.* That most of the Palatines were, in the fall of 1712, virtually left to shirk for themselves, here is the reason briefly mentioned in a letter from Gov. Hunter to the Lord Treasurer of England, dated 31 October : "My Lord, were I not persuaded that the complaints of the distressed are only grievous to your Lordship when yon have no redress in your power, I would not, at this time, presume to trouble you with mine, consisting of these three heads. The bills of the expedition to Canada not answered, all the bills for the subsistence of the Palatine's unpaid, and an expensive government without a support."+ And vet, December 16, writing to the Lords of Trade, he says : "The Palatines continue upon the grounds where I have planted them, so that we have them at hand when Her Majesty shall think to re-assume the design, and require the performance of their contract."++ The Governor was so extremely anxious to have the labor of the Palatines reimburse the crown for their accrued expenses, that he seemed almost willing to see them suffering rather than be mortified by the failure of a favorite project, and tins more especially when he could not control their action.
The Germans Settle Schoharie.-When writing the History of Schoharie County, etc., nearly forty years ago, I concluded from the best authority then attainable, that her pioneer settlers went to Schoharie in 1711, but the publication of foreign records copied by Mr. Brodhead, enable me to show with certainty not only the arrival in the country of the Palatines, but of the time of their exodus from the camps on the Hudson, to Schoharie.§
Some may think I am taking too much pains to show the coming of these people and the vicissitudes attending them for several years : my reason for doing it at so much labor is, because their descendants became the nucleus in their frontier homes, of a hardy race of men who, in the Revolution, were the
* Ibid, p. 685.
+ Brod. Papers, vol. 5, 353.
++ Ibid, p. 357.
§ Palatine was a term formerly given to a prince in some part of Germany, who presided over a territory called a Palatinate. People emigrating hither from such a district were called Palatlnes.
patriotic element which vindicated its rights against arbitrary laws ; bearing upon the persons and homes of those with whom they sympathized. More than this, standing by their principles and their integrity upon the frontiers of civilization, they largely made up that army of patriotic yeomen, which under the gallant Herkimer, met and drove back the enemy at Oriskany, and possibly gave an impulse to the war at that period, which resulted in victory at Saratoga, and final triumph at Yorktown.
It had been estimated that, after the year 1712, the Palatines would be able to subsist on the products of their lands ; and that after 1713 one man's labor should annually produce 60 barrels of tar, and that 500 men would make annually 30,000 barrels, worth one dollar a barrel. It was also anticipated that these people should raise hemp as a naval store, to be dressed in the winter, when tar making could not be done ; but those air-castles, we have seen, were about to become prophetic visions. As appears by a London document-evidently an appeal to the British crown by the Schoharie settlers-which was dated in 1720, and indorsed " Grievances of the Palatines in "New York, received August 20, 1722,"* only about 200 barrels of tar and pitch had been made prior to the exodus of a part of those people to Schoharie. This paper, which gives the time of their leaving the camp after they were noticed to shirk for themselves, says : "This was at the latter end of the year  and winter just at hand, which is very severe, there being no provision to be had, and the people bare of clothes, which occasioned a terrible consternation amongst them-and particularly from the women and children the most pitiful and dolorous cries and lamentations that have, perhaps, ever been heard from any persons under the most wretched and miserable circumstances- so that they were at last, much against their wills, put under the hard necessity of seeking relief from the Indians, upon which some of their chiefs [chief men] were suddenly dispatched away to the Indians [of Schoharie] by whom they were kindly received, and to whom they opened their miserable condition; and that being wholly cast off by the said Governor, and left destitute of the means of living elsewhere, they intreated them to
* Doc. His., vol. 3, p. 707.
give em permission to settle on the tract of land called Schorie, which they immediately granted, saying they had formally given that said land to Queen Anne for them to possess, and that nobody else should hinder them of it, and they would assist them as far as they were able ; whereupon the chiefs [we suppose them German list men] returned to the people, acquainting them of the Indians favorable disposition.
"This put the people in some heart, and finding it absolutely necessary to embrace that opportunity so providentially bestowed on them, all hands fell to work, and in two weeks time ; cleared away through the woods 15 miles long, with the utmost toil and labor, though almost starved and without bread ; which, being effected, 50 families were immediately sent to Schorie. When being arrived and almost settled, they there received orders from the Governor not to go upon that land, and he who did so should be declared a rebel." Judge Brown's account said that these people went over the Helleburg to Schoharie ; but Gov. Hunter, writing to the Lords of Trade, October 31, 1712, after saying that his substance and credit were exhausted, and he had desired they might find subsistence elsewhere for the winter, says: " Some hundreds of them took a resolution of possessing the lands of Scoharee, and are accordingly marched thither, having been busy in cutting a road from Schenectedy of that place ; and have purchased or procured a quantity of Indian corn toward their winter subsistence ; it being impossible for me to prevent this, I have been the easier under it upon these considerations, that, by these means, the body of that people is kept together within the province, that when it shall please Her Majesty to resume the design of prosecuting that work [tar making], that body at Scoharee may be employed in working in the vast pine woods near to Albany, which they must be obliged to do, having no manner of pretense to ye possession of any lands but by performing their part of the contract relating to that manufacture ; and that in that situation they serve in some measure as a frontier to, or, at least, an increase to, the strength of Albany and Schenectaday, etc." He also thus alluded to the state of preparation for work at the camps: trees had received their last fitting, staves were prepared for the barrels, magazines were almost finished, road between the latter and the woods almost completed, etc.
"This message of the Governor," continues the account, " Bounded like thunder in their ears, and surprised them beyond expression, but having seriously weighed matters amongst themselves, and finding no manner of likelihood of subsisting elsewhere, but a certainty of perishing with hunger, cold, etc., if they returned, they found themselves under the fatal necessity of hazarding the Governor's resentments, that being to all more eligible than starving.
"In the same year in March [1713 is meant], did the remainder of the people (though treated by the Governor as Pharaoh treated the Israelites) proceed on their journey, and by God's assistance traveled in a fortnight with sledges [probably hand-sleds] through the snow which there covered the ground above three feet deep [suffering], cold and hunger, and joined their friends and countrymen in the promised land of Schorie," The whole distance from the camps to Schoharie by Schenectada was about 90 miles. They seem to have made slow progress, but they naturally made halts at Albany and Schenectada.
A retrospect seems to be here needed. In writing the History of Schoharie County nearly 40 years ago, I had before me Judge Brown's pamphlet History of Schoharie, published in 1833 ; and, although some of it is traditionary, much of it came under his own observation, or was communicated to him by interested parties. If brief and unskillfully arranged, it is, nevertheless, a valuable contribution for the historian, who cannot but wish that his example of writing down what he did know, had been imitated by others in the border settlements of New York. An Indian piloted the delegation of Palatines from the camps over the Helleberg* from Albany, said Brown, to find the land of promise, in 1"71'2 ; and years ago I had supposed this visit to have been in the spring instead of fall. It must have been in a mellow September sunlight, when the messengers gained from a commanding eminence a view which took in the estuary of Foxescreek and the Schoharie, from whence their
* On arriving upon this mountain, a spur of the Catskills, those messengers halted repeatedly to enjoy the rich prospect thus afforded. Helle signifies light or clear, and burg hill or mountain. Hence, the appropriate name they gave it-Helleburg, Prospect Hill, or Sightly Mountain. Helderburg, the Low Dutch of the name-a word less euphonious-has inappropriately been given this mountain, an orthography I have tried to correct.
eyes rested upon the most delightful scene they had ever beheld. The Schoharie flats were spread out before them like a neglected garden, while opposite the mouth of Foxescreek their view was obstructed by a romantic mountain. I was unable to learn its Indian name. The Germans called it the clip-per-berg, meaning the rocky hill. I have taken the liberty to call it Ka-righ-on-don-tee, the name of a chieftain, after whom Brown called the Schoharie tribe. On its summit is a cultivated farm, an excursion to which in the summer rewards the rambler with a charming prospect. To the right hand the deputation-standing, as I imagine they stood, on the summit of the hill, near where it descends into the two valleys on the north side of Foxescreek-they were enabled to catch a view of the great bend in the Schoharie, where it takes a more easterly coarse immediately after receiving Cobelskill.
The hill from which I suppose the pilgrim messengers to have viewed a portion of the " promised land," the Indians called Oxt-don-tee. They only remained long enough in the valley to confer with its native warriors, who looked with favor on their aspirations, and promised them a welcome ; when they hastened back to their anxious brethren. Would we could serve the reader with a copy of the report made by these delegates; that it was telling is evident from the alacrity with which they set about opening a road from Schenectada, a nearer approach than by Albany, after which in due time, fifty families found their way thither. They had not a vehicle of any kind, and with their scant wardrobes, a few agricultural and mechanical implements and meagre larder, they set forward for their destined home. The intervale lands which the deputies had visited, were at that time, to a great extent cleared or timberless.
How many more families joined the settlers in the-spring exodus of 1713 from the Hudson, I find nowhere stated. I estimated the Schoharie Palatines in 1845, at between five and seven hundred ; but that estimate was probably too low. Rations were drawn at the camps in the spring of 1712, for about 1850, old and young; and without knowing how many of that number remained and became permanent settlers there ; I have supposed that full one half or numbers approximating at least 1000, more or less, went to Schoharie ; for as the reader will learn, a large delegation afterward, went from thence to Pennsylvania ; while not a few families removed to the Mohawk valley-and yet the settlement remained a large and permanent one.
Young readers can hardly imagine what trials, discomforts and even squalid misery were at an early period, often spread in the immigrant's pathway. Tradition preserved but few incidents in the journey of the Palatines to New York. On leaving England they embarked from Portsmouth, and while one of the ships was lying at anchor some distance from the shore filled with emigrants, six of them landed in a boat to make some necessary purchases. Only one name of the number is yet remembered, and that was Becker, whose relatives afterwards settled on Foxescreek, Schoharie. When ready they put off to regain the ship, but having a gale of wind to encounter, the boat capsized and the crew were all buried in the raging billows. This unhappy commencement filled their friends with fearful forebodings for the voyage, which was protracted by adverse winds, until all were put upon short allowance and the horrors of starvation menaced them. Many passengers died on the voyage in that ship, and one old lady who had been ill of consumption, died and was consigned to a watery grave at the Narrows near New York ; but if numbers died on the voyage, the places of several were supplied by that ancient rule of arithmetic, which subtracts one from one and leaves two-an important rule in settling all new countries.
There appears to be a discrepancy in the narratives as to whether the Palatines went to Schoharie from Albany, or from Schenectada; which seems only reconcilable by supposing the party to have divided and gone by both routes. Brown believed that not only the prospecting messengers went over the mountain from Albany, but he takes thither the multitude ; and hit tradition I found too well corroborated forty years ago by people of his generation to be ignored now --besides, local names on the way were at that period indellibly fastened upon that route. Hence I conclude that if the fifteen mile road opened as Gov. Hunter stated from Schenectada, the party must have divided, the weaker going by the latter route as the easiest, being about the same distance from the camps.
To my fair Schoharie readers who are to that manor born in lineage let me say, that your grandmas, clad in linsey-woolsey never trailed, made this journey of thirty odd miles via. Albany,in October, 1712, over an intricate Indian foot-path, loaded down with heirs, provisions or unmentionables. You are ready to ask why their husbands did not bear those burdens? Having neither vehicle or a horse, they too, were all heavily laden, as were all the boys and girls according to their strength. They left Albany on Thursday amidst the sympathy of that ancient stadt, because they were going so far into the wilderness, to reside among Indians and wild beasts. Their progress was necessarily very slow, and nights as they had to sleep in the open air, they made fires to keep off the wolves so numerous in their pathway.
Nothing remarkable happened on the first two day's journey, but on Saturday, having reached Pucker-street, as Brown has it, believed to be the present site of Knoxville, which was about the summit level of the journey, a halt and gathering of people took place ; when from some unknown cause a contest ensued in which numbers were engaged ; from which circumstance it became known as Fegt-burg, or Fighting-hill. The cause of this quarrel is unknown, no one was seriously harmed, the insurgents were subdued, order restored and the line of march again resumed.
On Sunday, a day of seven set apart in the civilized world for cleansing and decorating the outward person, the party, having arrived at a brook, which descends from the hills on the north side of Foxescreek and runs into the latter, almost within sight of the Schoharie valley-halted, and resolved on a general personal cleansing. Says Brown in narrating this event: " As they were a washing, the lice were a swimming down the brook: whence the brook is called Licekill until this very day." The neatness of many of their descendants has become proverbial, There can be little doubt but the washing adventure may move a mirror to many parties of immigrants who have been long journeying or living in crowded and filthy huts. It is not difficult to account for the fact, that the most negligent of the number should have been unclean. They were poor-had not changes of apparel, and of course the clothing they wore, without great pains-taking to keep it clean, must have become dirty : add to this the fact that they had either been journeying for a long time, or were dwellers In rude huts, poorly clad and without any conveniences whatever for private ablution, and the story becomes a plausible one. Poor people although usually cleanly, often find it 'difficult to exhibit evidence of their neatness while traveling.
On the sabbath night after their purification, the pilgrims bivouacked in the Schoharie valley, and no doubt offered devout thanks to Him who in his care had brought them hither. The lands upon which they now entered they supposed were yet in fee of the British crown. I presume that in disposing of those lands for the occupancy of the Palatines, the Indians reserved to themselves the right to hunt and fish thereon, and probably to raise corn, though their tillage was limited. In the English record of grievances already alluded to, appears the following sentence : " The number of Germans who came hither to search for bread for themselves, their wives and children, were more than the land already granted them by the Indians could supply with settlements, and some of the people of Albany endeavoring to purchase the land round 'em from the Indians on purpose to close them up, and deprive them of any range for their cattle ; they were obliged to solicit all the Indian kings [chiefs] there adjoining for more land, which they willingly granted 'em and sold 'em the rest of the land at Schorie, being woods, rocks and pasturage for three hundred pieces of eight." Meaning eight shillings, or in amount $300.
This was evidently written several years after the Palatines went upon it, but tradition has said that the tract of land upon which their settlements were made, embraced some 20,000 acres. Brown said the tract commenced at the Little Schoharie kill in Middleburgh, at the high water mark of the Schoharie river, at an oak stump burned hollow-which stump is said to have served the Mohegan and Stockbridge Indians residing near it the purposes of a corn mill-and run down the river northward, taking in the flats and some upland on both sides of it nearly ten miles. By the side of this stump was erected a large pile of stones, which was standing after the year 1800. Upon this stump was cut the figures of a turtle and a snake, the ensign of the Karighondontee tribe, the Indian seal or evidence of the conveyance. The Germans settled along the east side of the Schoharie, supposed mostly in the year 1713, in seven dorfs*-villages which took the names of as many principal men, four of whom are known to have been directors or list men, as denominated at the camps, viz.: John Peter Kneiskern, John Conrad Weiser, Hartman Windecker and John Christopher Garlock. Weiser's dorf occupied a portion of the present village of Middleburgh, and contained forty dwellings ; small rude huts constructed of logs and earth, and covered with bark, grass, etc. They were built on both sides of a street -which ran nearly east and west.
Hartman's dorf-of similar-architecture, as at first were all the villages-was the next one down the valley, and about two miles north of Weiser's dorf. This was the only one of the settlements called after the Christian name of its founder ; his name having been Hartman Windecker ; why this feature in the programme is unknown. This flekken, the largest village of the seven, is said to have contained 65 dwellings. The Germans (as is the custom of many of their descendants to this day) built their ovens detached from their dwellings, and 13 constructed of stone are said to have answered all the baking purposes of the town. Like the former, this village was built on one long street; and before the construction of a plank road between Schoharie and Middleburgh, or, say about 1850, its probable position could be defined. At that period, about two miles from the latter village, upon a ridge of table land gently declining westward, the traveler came to two sharp angles in the road about 40 rods apart, in which distance the road ran nearly east and west. The centre of this letter Z in the road is believed to have been the identical site of the main street running through Hartman's dorf ; and it is further conjectured that the commissioners of highways, when the valley road was laid, had too much respect for the burghers of that ancient dorf to straighten it; but in later times the Yankees, getting their noses in here pretty thickly, not piously regarding an old landmark which required a needless crook and some rods of extra travel in the road, took the liberty to squelch out the main street of this old dorf, and thus not only the dwellings and the ovens but the very street which ran between them has become
* Dorf means a compact farmers' town or small village ; flekken alarger village than a dorf, and stadt, an incorporated city.-Brown.
obliterated for ever. Sic transit gloria mundi ! or, at least, so much of it as ever appertained to Hartman's dorf.
The next village, about three miles north of the last, and in the vicinity of the court-house, was Brunnen dorf-Spring hamlet. Near the old Lutheran parsonage, which is still standing, issues from the rocks a large living spring, which at one time supplied many villagers with good water. A further notice of this place may be found in another part of this work. The most influential man among the settlers here, was Johannes-John Lawyer, Jun., the first tradesman in the valley. Descendants of the Lawyers, Shafers, and possibly Rickards-who were among the first settlers-still reside near the location of their ancestors. Smith's dorf, so called after Johannes George Schmidt-Smith, as now written-was a mile north of Brunnen dorf, and a little distance below the Schoharie railroad station. A few friends settled around him, for whom he had rendered service in some capacity at the camps. Smith had the best house in the dorf, and that was thatched with straw : his, too, was the smallest settlement of the seven. It is doubtful, at this writing, whether any of Smith's clan are still represented within his beat. Fox's dorf was less than a mile to the northward of Smith's, and was called after William Fox, its leading man, who settled near Foxscreek, which took on his name. The Snyders, Beckers, Zimmers, Balls and Weidman's, now or recently residing near this stream, claim their pedigree from the first settlers here.
Gerlach's, or Garlock's dorf, was the next in succession north, nearly two miles further down, and between the present residence of the late Jacob Vrooman and the creek. The Dietzes, Manns and Sternberghs,* now in the neighborhood, are descended from the primitive settlers. The seventh, and most northern was Kneiskern's dorf, named after John Peter Kneiskern, He resided some two miles from Garlock, and nearly opposite the mouth of the Cobelskill. The Kneiskerns, Stubrachs, Enderses, Sidneys, Berghs and Houcks, now or recently residing thereabouts, claim their descent from the primitive settlers. If there is a Kneiskern still there, then that and Brunnendorf are the
* Proper names of this kind I shall write bergh, while in names of places I shall write it bury, except In Middleburgh ; the citizens of which place so write it, to keep their mail matter from going to Middlebury, Vt, where It often does if the State is not on the address.
only ones having representatives of their founders or directors. Among the first settlers at these seven rustic hamlets, were some whose descendants still reside, or did, not many years ago in the county-their first location, in but a few instances, being now traceable. It is presumed a majority of them may have located lithe two most southern and important villages. The Keysers, Boucks, Richtmyers, Warners, Weavers, Zimmers, Mattices, Zehs, Bellingers, Borsts, Schoolcrafts, Cryslers, Frances, Casselmans, Newkirks, Earharts, Settles and Merckleys were, doubtless, among the first settlers.
Further Condition of the Schoharie Palatines.-Having located the pioneers of Schoharie, let us see how they were to live. More or less land was found at each settlement cleared, and with little pains, it was fitted for cultivation. It has been already shown that their effects were conveyed in such a manner, that they could have possessed very little of this world's gear. Their all, no doubt, consisted in a few rude tools, a scanty supply of provisions, a meagre wardrobe, and a small number of rusty fire arms : they had to manufacture their own furniture, if an apology for it, merited the name. Bedsteads, they for some time dispensed with. From logs they cut blocks, which answered the purpose of chairs and tables ; sideboards, sofas, piano fortes, ottomans, carpets, etc., were to them neither objects of family pride, convenience or envy. They fostered the friendship of their Indian neighbors, from whom they received corn and beans, which the latter kindly showed them how to cultivate. Says Brown, within one week after their arrival, four children were born ; a fact very worthy of record in the annals of this people. Their names were Catharine Mattice, Elizabeth Lawyer, Wilhelmus Bouck and Johannes Earhart. In preparing ground for planting, which was done in the absence of plows, by broad hoes, they found many ground nuts, which they made use of for food, the first season. They we not furnished with provisions by the Queen's agent, after they left the camps, but had to live on their own resources, and what the country afforded.
The want of grist mills, for several years, they found to be a source of great inconvenience. The stump heretofore mentioned, which served as the southern bound of the first Indian purchase, not only answered the Indians, but the early Germans, the purpose of a corn mill. By the side of this hollow stump, an upright shaft and cross-bar were raised, from which was suspended a heavy wood, or stone pestle, working on the principle of a pump. Their corn for several years, they hulled with lye, or pounded preparatory to eating it.
Brown says, the first wheat was sown in Schoharie in the fall of 1713, by Lambert Sternbergh, of Garlogk's dorf, which is no doubt correct. The arrival of the first colonists in October, 1712, if not too late to put in wheat successfully, left them no opportunity to do it, as necessity required all their time in the erection of rude dwellings, to shelter them from the approaching winter.
As Schenectada was nearer the Schoharie settlements than Albany, for such necessaries as they required the first few years, they visited the former place the most frequently. Those who possessed the means, bought wheat there at two shillings a spint (a peck), or six shillings a skipple (three pecks), had it ground and returned home with it on their backs, by a lonely Indian foot-path, through the forest. It was thus Sternbergh carried the first skipple of wheat ever taken to Schoharie in the berry. He resided near where Henry Sternbergh, a descendant of his, did in 1845. On the west side of the creek, opposite Garlock's dorf, had been an Indian castle, which was abandoned about the time the Germans arrived ; the occupants having removed to Wilder Hook. On the ground within the dilapidated inclosure, the wheat was sowed, or, rather hoed in (as they then had no plows or horses), over more than an acre of ground ; it was planted within this yard, because it was a warm, rich piece of ground with little grass on it, and, being inclosed, would remove the danger of having the crop destroyed in the fall or spring, by deer, which were numerous on the surrounding hills. This wheat, which rooted remarkably well in the fall, stood so thin that it was hoed in the spring like a patch of corn ; and well was the husbandman rewarded for his labor. When ripe, it was gathered with great care ; not a head was lost, and, when threshed, the one yielded eighty-three skipples. In later days, when the weevil has been so destructive, this statement would seem incredible, were not all the circumstances known. Many procured seed from Sternbergh, and it was not long before the settlers raised wheat enough for their own consumption.
For several years they had most of their grain floured at Schenectada. They usually went there in parties of fifteen or twenty at a time, to be better able to defend themselves against wild beasts, which then were numerous between the two places. Often there were as many women as men in those journeys, and as they had to encamp in the woods at least one night, the women frequently displayed, in danger, as much coolness and bravery as their liege lords. A skipple was the quantity usually borne by each individual, but the stronger often carried more. Not unfrequently they left Schoharie to go to mill on the morning of one day, and were at home on the morning of the next; performing a journey of over forty miles, in twenty-four hours, bearing the ordinary burden ; but at such times they traveled most of the night without encamping. Women not unfrequently performed the journey in the shortest time, preparing a breakfast for their families, from the flour they had brought, on the morning after they left home. Where is the matron now, in the whole valley of the Schoharie, who would perform such a journey, in such a plight, to save a starving household?
Owing to the industry and economy of the colonists, want soon began to flee their dwellings, and plenty to enter ; and as their clothes waxed old, they manufactured others from dressed buck-skins, obtained from the Indians. A file of those men, clad in buck-skin,with caps of fox or wolf-skin, all of their own manufacture, must have presented a formidable appearance. It is not certain but here and there a ruddy maiden, concealed her charming proportions beneath a habit of deer-skin.
It is said that physicians accompanied the first Germans to Schoharie ; and that for some years, ministers, or missionaries, under pay from the British government, labored in the different German settlements in the country. They visited the people ; married those whose peace of mind Cupid had destroyed ; preached to, and exhorted all. Their audiences occupied some convenient barn in the summer season, and the large dwellings in the winter. Who the first physician was is unknown, but receipts before the writer show that Dr. James Lawes was practicing in the valley as early as 1732.
The want of horses and cattle at first, was much felt in the settlements. By whom cattle, swine and sheep were first introduced is unknown. The first horse-flesh they possessed, was an old gray mare. She was purchased at Schenectada, by nine individuals of Weiser's dorf ; and it is said they kept her moving. Who the nine were, who owned this Rosinante, is unknown; but there can be little doubt that Weiser owned an important share. It may be asked, whether the people of those settlements, did not live as do the shakers ; who make all their earnings common stock ? No, lands were marked out and bounds placed, so that every one knew and cultivated his own parcel.
Settlement of Vrooman's Land.-Not long after the Germans settled in Schoharie, the Low Dutch began a settlement in Vrooman's Land, on a tract of land so designated, situated on the west side of the Schoharie, two or three miles above Weiser's dorf, in the present town of Fulton. Adam Vrooman,* a citizen of Schenectada, a gentleman of means and somewhat advanced in life, took a patent for this land, from which circumstance it was so distinguished. This patent was executed August 26, 1714. Previous to obtaining the royal title, Vrooman had received Indian conveyances for portions of the land as gifts. One of two deeds, which have escaped the fate of some of Col. Peter Vrooman's papers, contains the names of eighteen Indians, inserted in the following order: " Pennonequieeson, Canquothoo, Hendrick the Indian, Kawnawahdeakeoe, Turthyowriss, Sagonadietah, Tucktahraessoo, Onnadahsea, Kahenterunkqua, Amos the Indian, Jacob the Indian, Cornelius the Indian, Gonhe Wannah, Oneedyea, Leweas the Indian, Johanis the Indian, Tubna-in-hunt, and Esras the Indian, all owners and proprietors of a certain piece of land, situate, lying and being in the bounds of the land called Skohere." The title is for two hundred and sixty acres of land near the hill " called Onistagrawa ;" two hundred of which were flats, and sixty acres wood-land. The instrument closed as follows : "In testimony
* He was a son of Hendrick Meese Vrooman, was born In Holland In 1649, and emigrated when a young man with his father's family, to the province of New York. After he was 21 he spent two years in learning the mill-wright's trade of Cornelis Van Den Bergh, at which he worked for a time. He had three wives; the first, whose maiden name was Engeltie Ryckman, was, with an Infant child, killed, when the then village of Schenectada was destroyed in 1690. Two sons, Barent and Wouter, whom, I suppose, were lads under their teens, were at the time made prisoners and carried to Canada. In 1691 he married Grietje, a sister of his first wife, then the widow of Jacques Cornelise Van Slyck; and losing her he married, January 13,1697, Grietje Takelse Heemstraat, of Albany. At the time of making the Schoharie purchase he was 65 years old. He died at the age of about 80 years.- Peason's Genealogies of Schenectada.
whereof, we, the three races, or tribes of the Maquase, the Turtle, Wolf and Bear, being present, have hereunto set our marks and seals, in, the town, of Schenectady, this two and twentieth day of August, and in the tenth year of her Majesty's [Queen Anne's] reign. Annoque Domini, 1711." Eighteen wax seals are attached to the conveyance, in front of which are arranged, in the order named, the devices of a turtle, a wolf and a bear, the former holding a tomahawk in one of its claws.
The other deed alluded to, is dated April 30, 1714, and contains the eight following names : " Sinonneequerison, Tanuryso, Nisawgoreeatah, Turgourus, Honodaw, Kannakquawes, Tigreedontee, Onnodeegondee, all of the Maquaes country, native Indians, owners and proprietors, etc." The deed was given for three hundred and forty acres of woodland, lying eastward of the sixty acres previously conveyed, " bounded northward by the Onistagrawa, to the southward by a hill called Kan-je-a-ra-go-re, to the westward by a ridge of hills that join to Onistagrawa, extending southerly much like unto a half moon, till it joins the aforesaid hill Kanjearagore." This instrument closes in the manner of the one before noticed, except that each Indian's name is placed before a seal to which he had made his mark. The ensigns of the three Mohawk tribes are conspicuously traced in the midst of the signatures. One of the two witnesses to both deeds was Leo Stevens, a woman who acted as interpreter on the occasion of granting each conveyance. Both deeds were duly recorded in the secretary's office of the province.
Vrooman's patent was bounded on the north by a point of the Onistagrawa and the Line kill, and on the south by the white pine swamp (as a little swamp near the residence of the late Samuel Lawyer was then called) and a brook running from it, and embraced a good part of the flats between those two bounds from the hill to the river, excepting the Wilder Hook : where dwelt many of the natives, and where, as before stated, was their strongest castle. This patent was given for eleven hundred acres, more or less. It is said to have contained about fourteen hundred acres, than which very little better land was ever tilled.
When I first published an account of Adam Vrooman's Schoharie purchase, the tradition in the memory of Mrs. Susannah Van Slyck, a grand-daughter of his son Peter, was, that the purchase was made for the latter ; and I had then no knowledge of the fact that the former ever took up a residence upon it, until the publication of the Brodhead papers, in which I met with Adam Vrooman's letter to Gov. Hunter, now given in this connection.* That rivalries and jealousies existed for some time between the German and Dutch settlers here I was aware, as I have elsewhere hinted, but never supposed such bold measures were entered upon by either party. The Germans began the settlement first, and it is here made to look as though they were determined to remain in possession of all that goodly heritage-Vrooman's Land lying south of and beyond Weiser's dorf. The orthography of the letter in question, which is good for a Dutchman, is preserved as I find it:
" To His Excellency Robert Hunter Esq, Cap'. Gen., and Governor In chief In and over His Majesties Province of New York & New Jersey and Vice Admirall of the Same, etc.:
" As In duty bound by my Last to you, I give your Excy an acct How the Palintines threatened In a Rebelious manner If I should build or mannure the Land at Schore, that your Excell'y was Pleased to Grant me a Pattent for, and In Please your : Excellency I have mannured [he must mean plowed] a great part of the Land and Sowed Considerable grain thereon, they still drove their horses on it by night : I then hired my sones to go with me and build me a house ; I was their and was making a stone house 23 foot Squar, and had so high so that I had Layd the Beams for the Chamber, I having at the same time an Indian house about 200 yards off for myself workmen and negroe to sleep in, but on the 4th day of this Instant In ye' night following, they had a Contryvance to tie bells about horses necks and drive them too and fro, In which time they pulled my house Stones and all to the Ground : the next day I spok with some of them and they used such Rebellious Expression: that was never heard off ; but they told me before now when they had done all, they would Run among the Indians. John Conradus Wiser has been the Ring Leader of all factions, for he has had his son some time to Live among the Indians and now he is turn'd their Interpreter, so that this "Wiser and his
* Doc. His , vol. 3, p. 687.
talk with the Indians very often and have made treaties for them, and have
been busy to buy Land at many places, which is Contrary to your Excellencys
Proclamation, and has made the Indians drank to that degree to go and mark
of Land with them: and I am no wayes secure of my Life, theirfor after I came
away they went and pulld my son off of the waggon and beat him, and said they
would kill him or his father or any body Else that came their, so that my
son was forced to come away : Likewise they say they care for nobody. John
Conradus Wiser and 2 or 3 more has made their Escape by way of Boston, and
have Said they will go for England but has left his son which is their Interpreter
to the Indians, and every day tells the Indians many Lyes, whereby much mischief
may Ensue more than we now think off and is much to be feared : for the time
I have been their I have made a diligent scrutiny into all their actions,
but I dont find a Great many Concerned with Wiser and his son In their disobedient,
unlawful and Rebellious Proceedings I am well informed who are their Chiefs
: for those that are good subjects among them and will not Joyn with them
are afraid the others will Burn their houses doun by their threatening words
; And please you I could Enlarge much more of their misdimeanours but for
fear of trobleing ye Excellency too much, I shall beg your Excellencys pardon
att this time, and Ever Remain your Excellencys most Humble and Obedient Servant
Schenectady July the 9th day 1715. In hast.
All matters of controversy have two sides : and that this statement of Vrooman is greatly exagerated there can be no doubt. Many of the early troubles which the Palatines suffered about the possession and titles to their lands, came upon them through their own ignorance, some of which they charged upon Gov. Hunter, who was displeased with them for going to Schoharie without his consent. Here is the evidence of their belief that Vrooman was the agent or tool of Gov. Hunter to annoy them, as seen in their complaint to the British crown : " No sooner had Gov. Hunter notice of their settlement and agreement with the Indians, but he ordered one, Adam Vromen, to endeavor to persuade the Indians to break the agreement made." Now, if they had tangible evidence that Vrooman had endeavored to get the Indians to break faith with them, it would seem to give them some pretext to hinder or prevent his settling there. They also stated among their grievances, that they went upon those lands so poor that but for the charity and kindness of the Indians the first year, they must have perished with hunger : that after having erected small houses or huts and made some other improvements, several gentlemen came there from Albany and declared they had bought the lands of Gov. Hunter, and that to remain upon and occupy them, they must first deal with them. They replied that Her Majesty, Queen Ann had given them the lands and they intended to hold them subject to the pleasure of the new King. It looks as though Gov. Hunter-by disposing of those lands to other parties when he knew their hearts were set upon occupying them, and that the crown favored their doing so-was very willing to subject them to serious difficulties, for not bending in their ignorance to his iron will. Some time after, the reputed owners sent a sheriff and posse thither to seize upon Capt, Weiser, dead or alive, but being warned in time he escaped, The " Grievances " further state :
" These Gentlemen finding the Inhabitants resolut in keeping possession of the lands they had thus improv'd and from whence they drew the only support to themselves and family's fell on another project which was Clandestinely and basely to endeavour to sew Enmity betwixt them and the Indians, and if possible to persuade them (for money or Rumm) to put them in possession of the land, and declare them rightful owners thereof, but in this they also failed though not without great troubles and Charge to those poor people, who were forced to put themselves on the mercy of the Indians, by giving them out of their nothing and beg of them, that since they had so long seclude them, at their breast, not to wean them so soon and Cast them of."
The petition of the Schoharie Palatines being before the Board of Trade, they sent a copy of it to Gov. Hunter, who had returned to London to be succeeded by William Borne, as Governor of the colony, to inform them about those people; and under date of July 26, 1720, to their secretary, Hunter says : " Such of that people as were sober and industrious remain on the lands where I settled them at first * * * these are well enabled to subsist themselves, the rest have been wanderers. About forty families of them went and took possession of lands granted to several persons at New York and Albany, against repeated orders : In compassion to the innocent women and children, I prevailed with the proprietors of those lands to make them an offer of the lands free from all rent or acknowledgement for ten years, and ever after at a very moderate quit-rent. The majority accepted of the conditions but durst not or could not execute the agreement, for fear of the rest who had been tampering with the Indians who had resigned their claims to the crown, but I have some reason to believe that in the meantime it is completed or speedily will be so."
He added that their lordships knew that all the lands of any value were granted away before his administration ; but that there was still a great tract of land granted to Domine Dellius, which grant had been annulled by the Legislature. He thought if they were willing to go upon it, and their lordships were disposed to make them an offer to, a letter to the present Governor (Burnet), for that purpose would do the thing, and if they would accept it, would free them from any further trouble ; but he added this " Query : how far such grant may avail them until His Majesty has approved of the naturalization act,or whether the Governor can grant them letters of denotation to enable them to hold lands, there being no such powers mentioned in his letters patent."*
September 6, Gen. Nicholson, as also Jeremy Long, were examined before the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, with reference to the Schoharie Palatines. The former said he understood that about 3,200 Palatines were first sent over to New York ; that he knew nothing of any promise made to them; that he had about 300 of them in his expedition to Montreal; that they were subsisted during the expedition, but that he knows of no engagements concerning their pay ; that he is a stranger to their settlement at Schories ; that he knew of no direction for leaving the arms the Palatines had in possession, but that there was an order for leaving some of them in the plantations as stores for the magazine there. Mr. Long, although
* Doc. His., vol. 3, p. 705.
acting in their behalf, could not make proof to the particulars set forth in the case, but was assured that papers relating to the matter should be transmitted to Gov. Burnet, and the settlement of such of them as desire to remove to proper places, be recommended to him.*
Gov. Hunter, to exonerate himself for taking measures to pique the Palatines, whose action he could not control, was not altogether truthful when he said the lands were all granted away before his administration ; for Adam Vrooman reminded him in his letter of complaint against Weiser, that he had granted him a patent for 1,400 acres, nearly two years after some of the Palatines had been in Schoharie, while the complaint of the settlers to the crown stated what he did not deny, that he had disposed of the lands, after they went upon them, to Bayard and others. Nor could he have forgotten that a title to the Schoharie lands had been annulled, and that the native owners had conveyed their claims in them to the government for the the benefit of these Palatines ; for, knowing this, he made the excuse against their going there, that the lands were so remote and deficient in pine timber, that he bought lands of Livingston instead of using them. Learning that the Indians had resigned their claims to these Schoharie lands for their benefit, and, doubtless, assured by friendly Indians who had been there, of that beautiful country, they could not abandon the intent to go there, and did go, to be kindly received by the natives, who would not imitate the white man's faithlessness.
For the reader's better understanding of this matter, and to show him the danger that threatened the future welfare of the colony at that period, by the reckless conveyance of large tracts of land by Colonel Benjamin Fletcher, I will show some of those grants that were not only calculated to rob the Mohawk nation of its patrimony, wean it from the British interest, and possibly drive it to Canada, but would, at the same time, surely entail upon the most inviting portions of the colony the curse of lease-hold estates, instead of hardy and intelligent property owners. A grant was made to Col. Nicholas Bayard of a tract of land in the county of Albany, claimed by the Mohawks, and containing about 24 or 30 miles in length-its breadth not given.+
Doc. His., p. 706
+ Brod. Papers, vol 4, p. 391.
Gov. Bellomont, one of the few honest rulers the colony ever had, said; "Some spoke of this tract as 86 miles long, and from 18 to 26 broad, but taking it in its least dimensions," he adds, " it contains exactly 900,160 acres of land, and is full as big as Devonshire, reckoned the third county of England."* Dr. O'Callaghan, in a foot-note to page 391 cited, says : " This grant included the valley on both sides of the Schoharie creek, from the mouth of the latter at Fort Hunter, in Montgomery county, to the mouth of the Little Schoharie creek, in Middleburgh, Schoharie county." Between the points designated, it is about 30 miles. Whatever may have been its length, breadth and acres, they were, no doubt, over-estimated to Gov. Bellomont, or, as we shall show, that description belonged to another of the large land-grants. John Champante, Esq.,+ an agent of the crown, under date of October 26, 1700, says of it : "The grant to Col. Bayard is not so particularly set forth as to the length and breadth of it as the two former [to Domine Dellius], though by the boundaries it appears to be extravagantly great; and the Indians, who are known to be extraordinary footmen, in their complaint call it a vast tract of land which a young man had enough to do to run over in a day." The quit-rent reserved to the crown was to be one otter skin per annum. It is believed to have contained several hundred thousand acres.
A grant was made to Godfrey Dellius, a minister at Albany, for a tract of land on the east side of the Hudson, about 701 miles in length and 12 in breadth. It extended north through Washington county into Vermont, and contained over 620,000 acres. The surveyor-general's account, says Champante, made this tract 16 miles longer, or 86 miles in length. This was, doubtless, the one Gov. Bellomont's account mistook for Bayard's, as the length corresponds, the breadth being estimated at 16 to 20 miles. The quit-rent for this grant was a racoon skin per annum.
A grant was made to Col. Henry Beekman for a tract of land in Duchess county, containing about 16 miles square. Also another grant to him of another tract upon Hudson's river, 20 miles in length and about 8 in breadth.
A grant was made to Col. William Smith, a member of the
Papers, vol. 4, 503.
+Ibid. vol. 5. p. 11.
council of tracts of lands and meadows in the Island of Nassau-Long Island, comprising all the vacant lands between the bounds of former patents therein specified, and computed to contain about 50 miles ; what length or breadth is not known.
A grant was made to Capt. John Evans, commanding the ship; Richmond, for sundry tracts of land lying on the west side of the Hudson, containing about 40 miles in length and 20 in breadth. The tract contained above 650,000 acres, with a quit rent of 20 shillings and one fat buck yearly. These lands were situated in Ulster, Orange and Rockland counties.
A grant to William Pinhorn, Esq., Col. Peter Schuyler, Dr. Godfrey Dellius, Maj. Derrick Wessels and Capt. Evert Banker, for a tract of land lying on the Mohacqs river, containing about 50 miles in length and two miles in breadth on each side of the said river. This grant of 50 miles by four, O'Callaghan supposed extended from Amsterdam to Little Falls, or West Canada creek. But the Palatine's village, which occupied the present site of Herkimer, was west of that stream, and the lands must have extended above there. I have supposed this tract began near Caughnawaga, now Fonda, and extended to Frankfort or perhaps Utica. It was supposed to contain, at least, 128,000 acres, with a quit-rent annually of one beaver skin per annum the first seven years, wad five beaver skins thereafter.
Besides the seven large tracts of land already enumerated, others were made to Schuyler, Van Rensselaer, Livingston, Philips, and two to Courtlandt ; making in all thirteen named; which, said Gov. Bellomont, " are not less than twenty miles square one with another." * Col. Benjamin Fletcher, as Governor, came to the colony August 30, 1692, and was succeeded by the Earl of Bellomont, in April, 1698, and yet in those half a dozen years, he had not only well nigh ruined the future prospects of the colony, but had in that time secured to himself a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. He had made sure of liberal fees in making those large bequests, if he had almost forgotten to look after quit-rents for the crown. Of these grants I should say, Van Rensselaer's, twenty-four miles square, and Livingston's sixteen by twenty-four miles, were made before Fletcher's time. Seeing what a mercenary and hypocritical part his predecessors
* Brod. Papers vol. 4, p. 535.
had acted, and giving ear to the complaints of the Mohawks who bad been cheated out of their lands ; Gov. Bellomont at once grappled with the difficulties besetting his position, and in defiance of the threats of interested parties he recommended annulling all those exorbitant land grants ; and in October following the home government authorized him if possible to annul them. He succeeded in getting through the next Legislature a law to vacate four of those grants, two of which stripped the Indians of their territory, viz.: that of Domine Dellius, Finhorn and others, that of Dellius alone, and those of Bayard and Evans: and in a letter to the Lords of Trade, May 29, 1719, he said: "Having the order of the Lords Justices of England of the 10 of Nov. last, for using all lawful ways to break those extravagant grants, I value not the resentment of a few undeserving men ; being sure it is not for the Interest of the Crown or the Province that three-fourth of the lands and soil should be in the hands of ten or eleven men, as I shall undertake to make it appear, should Fletcher's grants stand good. Therefore am I for abolishing the rest of the Palatinates* (for such vast tracts deserve no less a name), the next session of Assembly, if I have strength enough ; but indeed I can promise nothing without a good lawyer to be Chief Judge and to sit in Council, and a good active lawyer to be Attorney General. I have stood single on my own legs in all these difficulties, and 'tis impossible for me always to bear all the burthen of business. The Bill for vacating the grounds begun with us at the Council Board, and we sent it down to the Lower House, and there they added a clause for depriving Mr. Dellius of his benefice at Albany, so that we were obliged to pass that clause as part of the Bill, or we must have lost the Bill, and I thought it better to lose a wicked Clergyman than a good Bill."+ He expressed his belief also to the Lords of Trade, that it would be an act of injustice to break some of those extravagant grants and spare others : and also gave it as his opinion that the English Parliament would have to do it, as he doubted his own ability to do it in the Legislature.
He was for bestowing upon the soldiers who had known seven
term compares the grants in extent to the districts so called in Germany.
+Brod Papers vol. 4, p. 529.
years service in England's wars, a portion of the annulled lands on the Mohawk, that the country might be strengthened on the frontier towards Canada ; and adds : " Had this method been practiced twenty years ago, there had been this day 1000 families on the land granted to Dellius [and others], which would have been a force sufficient to make a stand against all the French of Canada and their Indians, had they a fort at the extreme end of the land which was granted to Dellius, to cover them from sudden inroads of an enemy." Thus he wrote to the Lords of Trade, August 24, 1699 ; about which time the Mohawks particularly thanked him, for restoring to them the control of their own lands. Having been violently assailed by Domine Dellius and his friends, in a letter to the Lord Bishop of London, September 11, 1699, he descanted upon the character of that former minister of Albany, whom he characterized as not only very immoral, but as a liar, a drunkard and seducer.*
To perfect the colonial law for annulling the extravagant grants, they must be submitted to His Majesty's approval, and so much hostile interest was brought against the measures to annul and cause delay, that Gov. Bellomont began to despair of success in his laudable effort; and in his perplexity and anxiety over the subject, in writing to the Lords of Trade January 2, 1701, he observes : "It were better that things of this kind were never called in question, I mean those fraudulent grants, than not to be vigorously prosecuted when once they are begun and questioned. A slackness of orders from home makes everything , uneasy here, and discourages a man that has an honest zeal to serve England." + On March 5, following, Gov. Bellomont--than whom the colony never had a more honest and upright servant-died ; ++ and this same uncertainty hung over the question of annulling grants until 1708, when Gov. Hunter was preparing to come over with the Palatines, as I have already shown. He was however, authorized to regrant to the same patentees, 2000 acres of those lands, but they refused to accede to those terms, whereupon the lands began to be regranted in small parcells to other purchasers. This is said so late as April
*Brod. Papers vol. 4, p. 581. + Brod. Papers vol. 5, p. 536.
++ He died at the age of 65 years, and was buried in St. Paul's church yard, New York city.
12, 1720; but matters relating to those immense tracts of land given to. individuals-think of it, half a million of acres in undefined bounds to one man-were the cause of a world of difficulties, which even cropped out as late as Gov. Colden's time in, 1762.*
Just how many of the grants were vacated and when, is not satisfactorily shown by the foreign records. Some we know were not annulled, while others were, and yet others were compromised and no doubt amicably adjusted. So many friends were at once made interested parties to those patents, that it became difficult to undo what had been unwisely done ; showing the great evils attendant upon corrupt and selfish legislation. And as was shown by Gov. Bellomont, they operated from the time they were made, in favor of the settling of the New England and other States (where no such wild grants had been made), against the settling of our own State ; which by virtue of its position against all unwise legislation, was destined in the end to become the Empire State : but it would have been fifty years earlier, if reason and common sense had prevailed at all times in the colonial and home governments. Gov. Bellomont, in his English correspondence, to show the folly of granting such large landed estates to men who could never subdue much of the land themselves, stated a fact corroborated by others-that at the time of his administration, the average cost of clearing the wild lands " was all the colony over, four pounds and ten shillings," or $11.25 per acre.
* Brod. Papers vol. 7, p. 486.
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