History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 281 Surprise of the Folts Brothers While Picking Berries.-- Among the early settlers on the German Flats, was a family named Folts, and at the period indicated, three brothers of the name dwelt together, or in close neighborhood at Fort Dayton. Their names were Joseph, Melchert and Conrad, their ages ranging in the order named. The two oldest were married. July 9, 1779, (I was unable to fix the date of this transaction until the late Rev. William Johns, who took a deep interest in our Revolutionary history, in 1875, published in the Herkimer Gazette, the copy of an account against the State, by Dr. William Petree for surgical services: which fortunately settles the date of this and some other important events. This was one of the comparatively few invasions of the enemy, while Sullivan was on his way to retaliate their destructive raids. Mr. Johns died only a year or two later.) those brothers with the wives of the married ones, and Mrs. Catharine Dorenberger, who was a Hilts before marriage, went up the West Canada creek about a mile to pick raspberries. Joseph took along his gun which he laid upon a log. While they were all engaged, they discovered a dozen Indians and Tories stealing upon them. An alarm was shouted and Melchert and Conrad then near together, ran for life in the nearest unobstructed direction to the fort, followed by the three women. Three of the enemy fired upon and pursued them, and Melchert's wife received a buckshot in the breast, but did not fall; and as the enemy passed them in their attempt to overtake the men, the two Folts women found a safe hiding place. Mrs. Dorenberger was overtaken by one of the party as subsequently learned, who was a Hilts, her own brother, who stabbed her several times with a spear and drew off her scalp for market. After a hard race the brothers met a party of troops the firing had drawn from the fort, who, in turn, drove the enemy back.
Joseph Folts ran to get his gun, which separated him from the rest, and nine of the party pursued him, but before he turned his back on them he gave them a parting salute. They were in close proximity, his gun was loaded with 21 buckshot, and as they were favorably in line, three of the rascals bit the dust: two never to rise, the third mortally wounded. His pursuers fired on and followed him, but three of them falling, they seemed panic-stricken and halted, except one, who soon came up with and clinched him, inflicting a wound on his arm with a tomahawk. The struggle for the mastery was brief, the intrepid Folts, dashing his adversary to the ground and giving him a blow that loosened his grasp, when he renewed his flight. While the two were struggling the panic stricken reloaded their guns, but were prevented form shooting Folts, through fear of injuring their leader. As soon as the latter was not exposed, they again fired and inflicted other wounds upon his person, but he fled; and, faint from loss of blood, excitement and fatigue, he, too, was met by troops from the fort, and gained it without any further injury. The other two women were found, in their concealment, but alas, the wounded one had paid nature's final debt. She was buried, with becoming respect, at the fort.
Here are Dr. Petree's charges for services to Folts and Mrs. Dorenbergh:
July 9, 1779, Jost Vols [now written Joseph Folts], wounded in the thigh and arm with a ball, three buckshot, and a cut with a hatchet; under my care six weeks: dressed twice a day. . . £4 10 0
Same date, Dorenberger, scalped, and stabbed with a spear on five sundry places; dressed twice a day. . . . £16 0 0
It would seem by this account that Mrs. Dorenberger survived her injuries.
Subsequent to the invasion narrated, one of the Folts brothers was made a prisoner at Steele's Creek, near Ilion, and taken to Canada. While there the Tory, Hilts, recognized his former neighbor, and offered to shake hands with him. The patriot refused to touch the blood stained hand, but asked him sarcastically if he remembered when he scalped his own sister with that hand. "An what do you know about that?" sharply retorted the villain."What do I know about it?" said the prisoner; "I was there when you did it." "Well," said Hilts, "if I had seen you there I would have had your scalp too." Thus admitting that he sold his sister's scalp. The particulars of this event were furnished the author, in manuscript, by Frederick Petrie, who was well acquainted with the family; and at personal interviews with Conrad Folts, a son of one of the brothers, Conrad Hartman and John Dockstader, who were familiar with all the circumstances. I asked the latter if it was true that Folts killed three Indians at one shot. "Yes," he replied, "you may say he did. Two never got up, and the third died on his way to Canada; and," continued he, "this was the best shot made in the Herkimer settlements during the war."
The account of Dr. Petrie against the State, from which I copied two items, gives other which should find brief mention, as the names of these sufferers will not all appear elsewhere--
1777, Aug. 6, Conrad Vols [Folts], ranger in Capt. Bradley's company, wounded with a ball and two buckshot. As this was on the day of the Oriskany battle, he was no doubt wounded there.
1779, May 10, the wife of Jost Smith, and the wife of Henry Widerstyn; both scalped, and cared for by him eleven months. Then followed the two already given.
1780, Aug. 8. John Dachstader and Conrad Vols, both wounded with buckshot.
1780, Sept. 1st, Jacob Ittig, wounded; wound dressed 40 days.
1780, Sept. 31st, Christian Schell, wounded through his arm.
1780, Oct. 29, Adam Hartman and John Demood, each with a ball.
1781, Feb. 6, Peter Davis, fort surprised [what fort and where?] and three of his daughters wounded: one stabbed three times, and a cut with a hatchet.
1781, May 28, Nath. Shoemaker, wounded, with a ball through his breast.
1781, May 28, Abram Wohleber, scalped, and two scalps taken at one time.
1781, June 24, Frederick Schell, wounded with a ball through his thigh.
Doctor Petrie's bill footed. . . . . . . . . £121.10.0=$303.75.
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