Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

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


Vol II, Page 145-150 Settlement of Tilleborough and its Invasion.-- About the year 1773, nearly 20 enterprising German families settled along the west side of the Garoga creek, in the present town of Ephratah. The settlement was so called after a place in Germany. Prominent among those settlers was Nicholas Rechtor, whose father, Johannes Rechtor, came from Hesse, in Germany,and located six miles below Albany, at a place called Niskatau. At the time of his coming hither, Nicholas, his only son, was 18 years of age. The latter had two sisters, Cornelia and Elizabeth. Nicholas Rechtor, when he entered upon his sylvan abode, was about 40 years old. The settlers all dwelt in log houses, except Rechtor, who erected a frame house and barn, which were yet standing, a few years ago, just back of a public house in Garoga, so called after the creek passing through it, the original name still attaching to the settlement. The following adventurers also broke ground within a few miles of Rechtor at about the same time, he having located nearly three miles west of the stone grist mill erected by Sir William Johnson, for the benefit of that locality: Near to Rechtor was Jacob Appley,and in the distance of half a dozen miles were Jacob, Frey, John Hurtz, Conrad Hart, John and Henry Smith, John Cool, Jacob Duesler, Leonard Kretzer, Henry Hynce, ____ Flander, ______Phye, John Spanknable (now written Spanable), and John Winkell. The latter lived near Johnson's mill, while Spanable and Phye resided some miles beyond Rechtor, on what was once known as the "State road." Some half a dozen of those families were between Rechtor and Spanable, and probably some not now remembered. John Winkle, said, Henry Smith, a son of Henry Smith named in the context, was the most influential settler at first on this part of the Stone Arabia patent, and if instrumental to getting 28 settlers on the tract, he was to have 200 acres from the patentees, which he was said to have obtained.

A small company of militia was organized in this settlement in 1775, of which Nicholas Rechtor was captain, with John Williams and George Smith its lieutenants and John Sholl its ensign. Capt. Rechtor was in the Oriskany battle, no doubt, with a good part of his company. The captain was thrown down in the engagement and a horse trod upon his hip, disabling him. About 4 P.M., on the 30th of April, 1779, when most of the settlers were making maple sugar, the settlement was invaded by about 20 Indians and Tories, the latter in the garb of scalp seekers. At the time of their arrival, Capt. Rechtor was about a mile from his own home with 20 of his men, who ad met for a military drill. Some half a dozen of the enemy made their first appearance at the house of Conrad Hart. On their approach, a daughter stole away, ran to the place of parade and told Capt. Rechtor that the Indians were at her father's. All his men, but four, ran to their homes. Had the whole party, armed as they were, proceeded directly to the captain's dwelling, they must have made a good record. The enemy killed Conrad Hart, took his son Wilhelmus, William, then 16 or 18 years of age, a prisoner, and plundered and burnt the house; and from thence they proceeded to Jacob Appley's, whose dwelling shared the same fate, In the mean time 14 of the enemy arrived at Capt. Rechtor's. Jacob Appley, Daniel, a son of Conrad Hart, and Peter Shyke, were three of the four men who accompanied the captain to his home.

The foeman had arrived there some little time before, and had been packing bundles of plunder, such as they coveted, embracing clothing and whatever else they desired. This family had already stored a large quantity of maple sugar in an upper room, which the invaders threw down from a chamber window. Rechtor's family were in better circumstances then any other in the settlement, and the plunder of its wardrobe proved an important item. There were then in the family four daughters and three sons: Margaret, 18; Elizabeth, 16; Catharine and Maria, the latter eight years old. The boys were John, Peter and Henry, the last named, four years old, was killed. How the female members of Hart's and Appley's families escaped death or captivity, I am not informed, but it is not improbable they were in the "sugar bush." Among the plunder at Rechtor's was a new suit of clothes and six new shirts, and he had to borrow a change of underclothes of his neighbors. On his arrival Appley is said to have shot an Indian, and was in return shot down. Shyke, too, was severely wounded, and Capt. Rechtor, in the melee, had his right arm badly shattered by a bullet. As the Americans approached the house, seeing Mrs. Rechtor contending with a stalwart Indian, one of them fired at the latter through an open door. They were striving for the possession of a long handled frying pan, an indispensable article at a fireplace, and the bullet, striking its handle, glanced downward and wounded Mrs. R. in one leg near the ankle. Just before the occurrence mentioned, she had a struggle with one of the party, whom she recognized as a Tory by the exposure of his white arms and blue eyes, for the possession of her daughter Margaret's cloak. They jerked each other about the room, and as she had to relinquish her hold she exclaimed--"For God's sake leave something for my daughter!" Just as the enemy left this dwelling, Helmus Hart, who had been tied to a tree, having given his captor the slip, arrived there,s till pinioned, and on being set at liberty, increased the circle of home defenders.

Whey the enemy fled when they still so greatly outnumbered the Whigs, is unknown, but it is presumed that seeing so many armed men approach, they anticipated an increase of the number, besides, they did not care further to risk with their lives, the possession of so much plunder. Whey they had not slain Mrs. Rechtor is a marvel, but it is presumed they were influenced by some sinister motive, possibly to get them food, leaving her scalp to be secured by and by; and why her children except the youngest escaped the tomahawk is also left to conjecture. Maria assured the writer, that she and her sister Catharine were in the sugar bush; heard the firing at her father's and counted the guns fired, but were afraid to go home. Where the tow oldest daughters and the boys, then lads, were, is left to conjecture. They may have been forewarned by the firing at Hart's, and concealed themselves in the woods; for certainly they or their scalps would otherwise have gone to Canada. After the enemy left, Capt. Rechtor lost no time in gathering his family together except the youngest boy and two youngest girls, whom they made a circuit in the bush in vain to find. Appley, though severely wounded in the body, was perhaps not mortally so, but as the Captain was disabled and the Hart boys could not carry him, he had to be left to his fate. As he desired, he was placed sitting against the oven with a well loaded gun. The Rechtor family had scarcely gone half a mile when they heard the report of a gun, which no doubt Appley had fired at an Indian. The party reached Fort Paris, some miles distant, about midnight.

Catharine and Maria, who had been carrying sap from the trees to the kettle that afternoon, toward sundown left their hiding place, and cautiously approached their home. They found it abandoned, but saw poor Appley with a bayonet thrust through him, and near him lay one of the foe in Indian dress and leggins. He gave several frightful groans which so alarmed the girls, that they ran to Appley's and finding the house burned down, they ran to Hart's and seeing that in ashes and the mangled body of its owner near it, they sped back to their sugar bush, near which they remained concealed under a log that night. The enemy returned to Rechtor's at the time the gun was fired, one of whom was shot by Appley, who in turn was dispatched, scalped and left with a bayonet in his heart. Little Henry had now returned to the house to be killed, scalped and thrown into the creek. When killed, he was eating bread and milk and the spoon was yet in his had when taken to the fort. The foeman were evidently afraid to remain there, for when the girls arrived there they had again left; but after their visit, they returned and carried away their fallen, whom, as the their custom, they gave a secret burial in the forest. A company of troops when from Fort Paris in the morning with a wagon, and took the bodies of Hart, Appley and the Rechtor boy to the fort for interment. When found, Appley's body still wore the bayonet. The remains of the latter, were taken from the fort to the house of William Loucks, his father-in-law. Early in the morning the Rechtor girls left their concealment, and supposing their friends, if not prisoners, had gone to the fort, set out to go there. On their way they met Jacob Frey, who told them all that had happened the day before. Henry Smith soon after took them to his house, fed them, and went with them to the fort.

Whether the enemy had more than two killed at Tilleborough, is unknown. After leaving Rechtor's they captured Peter Loucks, whom they took to Canada. The Americans went in pursuit the next day, piloted by Henry Flat Head, a friendly Indian, who on a hill discovered the enemy's camp fire. Giving a loud yell, he ran down to the fire; from which the enemy had just fled, leaving meat cooking. It was supposed he purposely gave a yell of alarm, that the rascals might escape. Had he kept his whistle still, it is probable most of the enemy would have been killed or captured; but thus warned, they made good their retreat. Tilleborough was now abandoned by its Whig families, and the enemy suffered the dwellings to remain for their own convenience, when on marauding expeditions; as they could there find resting places unobserved. Rechtor with his family returned to his father's residence below Albany, where he remained until the war closed. While there two children were added to his family; Cornelia born in 1782, and Nicholas, though whether before or after this date, is unknown. The surviving settlers generally returned to Tilleborough after the war.

The details here given of events in Ephratah, were obtained by the writer, from Gen. Peter C. Fox, then 82 (a son of Capt. Christopher W. Fox, a Captain in the Oriskany battle, and Major after the war), who remembered seeing the flame of Hart's and Appley's dwelling; from Mrs. Maria Rechtor Fox, aged 84, the widow of Peter Fox (father of the present Jacob P. Fox), one of the girls hid in the sugar bush; Mrs. Cornelia Rechtor Fox, wife of William W. Fox, then 72; and the late Benjamin Getman, of Ephratah. I had an interview with all the persons named, in February, 1854. I may here remark, that the maiden name of Capt. Rechtor's wife, was Miss Mary Hanneman, and her daughter Elizabeth married George Getman.


Page 150-151 Kringsbush--This was the name of the local settlement several miles north of St. Johnsville. At the time Tilleborough, a few miles north of St. Johnsville. At the time Tilleborough, a few miles to the eastward of Kringsbush was settled, a whole ship load of immigrants, mostly from the German district of Nassau, near Frankfort-on-the Main, came to this country, landing at Baltimore in 1773, many of whom found their way into the Mohawk Valley. The ship encountered very tempestuous weather, in which her masts went by the board, and the passengers came near finding watery graves. John Kring, his brother-in-law Joseph Davis, Matthias Smith, Leonard Helmer and a few others made the Kringsbush settlement, so called after John Kring, its most prominent pioneer. The Tilleborough settlers except Capt. Rechtor, mostly came in the same ship.

This settlement prospered until near the time Tilleborough was invaded, when two Indians, possibly of the same party who visited the latter place, appeared there. Nancy, a daughter of Matthias Smith, was sent to their sap bush to see if sap would run. She came in sight of the hut where they boiled the sap, and saw the heads of two Indians peeking around the corner of it. Alarmed, she ran back to the house and made known her discovery. John, her brother, would not credit her report, went to see if it was really so; was made a prisoner by them and taken to Canada. He was the only captive made there then. It was several years before he was exchanged and came home. He got a fever sore while a prisoner among the Indians, which the squaws cured, but years after he died from its effects. Matthias Smith, his father, was a soldier in the Oriskany battle. --From Henry Smith.

Death of Miss Rickard.--On the very day that young Smith was captured at Kringsbush, the same two Indians who took him, shot Miss Rickard, a Young woman, near Fort Klock below St. Johnsville. She was in the act of driving cows to her home near George Klock's dwelling, and was pursued and shot near the present turnpike. On the alarm, Mr. Klock appeared with his gun as the Indians were running to scalp her, and firing at them, they fled to the bush and lost the evidence of her death for a Canadian bounty, proceeding directly to Kringsbush. --Henry Smith.

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