Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883

Volume II, Page 586. The Arrest and Execution of John Parker, the Johnstown Spy. One of the most interesting events which transpired in the vicinity of Johnstown in the Revolution, was the capture of John Parker. He was brought up in Philadelphia Bush, and went to Canada, at an early period of the war. In 1851, Frost Howland lived on the old Parker place. John Parker, had, from the beginning of the war, been one of the most daring and most active partisans, who had followed the Johnson family to Canada. Often had he been on the frontiers of New York, sometimes in the character of a spy, and at others in that of an open foe, his energies all bent on the injury or destruction of his former neighbors and friends. He had a constitution fitted to endure all manner of hardships, and an exposure to all kinds of weather; which enabled him to traverse the wilderness at seasons the most unpropitious, and steal into the settlements when a foe was unexpected, to find a resting place at the dwelling of some Tory friend, where he might recruit and gain desired information; but he came on time too many.

Having clandestinely entered Philadelphia Bush, in the early spring of 1782, his visit by some means became known to the patriots in the neighborhood. Spies were sometimes secreted for months near a Whig camp on the frontiers, and escaped unobserved, but whether Parker had been nay length of time on his last visit is unknown. His hiding place was discovered when it was yet good sleighing and streams were icebound. There dwelt, at this period, in a small log tenement in Albany bush, a German named Hughes, who kept a one horse tavern. He was a stocking weaver by trade, and in time came to be called the "Stocking Weaver." Learning that Parker had been seen at this little inn, Capt. Amos Bennett, a spirited militia officer who lived in Warrens bush, now Florida, collected in his neighborhood a small band of genial spirits; and at nightfall, in two sleighs the party crossed the Mohawk on the ice, and in due time reined up near the creaking sign of Socking Weaver's inn.

Leaving his men in the sleigh, Capt. Bennett went to reconnoiter. A few moments were only required, as he discovered through a crevice in the log walls, a man standing before a cheerful fire place, and clad in a fur coat; who, he believed, must be his object of search. Not a moment was to be lost, and he directed his men as silently as possible to surround the house, immediately after he had gained entrance. He entered the barroom and with the remark that he wanted to warm, advanced to the fire, several persons moving back to give him room. His entrance did not fail to startle the inmates, as the appearance of a stranger at such an hour, at that period, even in a tavern, was looked upon as the harbinger of some coming event. All eyes were riveted upon the new guest with the inquiry, what next?

Rubbing his hands as though no object occupied his mind save that of warming, he thus gained a minute or two of time for his cooperators to surround the house, careful to observe that the fur coat did not leave the room. The favorable moment having arrived, Capt. Bennett advanced, and laid his hand on the shoulder of the manly figure he sought, with the exclamation: "John Parker, you are my prisoner!" The latter made a show of resistance, and some of his friends that of succor, when the Captain said in a stern voice: "Parker, resistance will be in vain, the house is surrounded by my friends and your foes!" At this instant several armed men obeying a signal from their leader, entered the door, and having no weapon in hand with which to defend himself, he reluctantly yielded to his fate, and was bound. He was at once hurried into a sleigh, taken directly to Albany, were he was tried and condemned as a spy and soon after hung, to the relief of the neighborhood, and praise of his daring captor. Jacob Shew.

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