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with any great success, as only a very few of them are known to have abandoned their homes and followed the fortunes of the Johnson family. They may have had abundant reasons for doubting the disinterestedness of any proffers that were made to them from that quarter, and they chose not to put any further faith in promises which had to their grief and sorrow been so often broken. They had not in seventeen years forgotten the scenes of November, 1757, and April, 1758, when they were left an unprotected and exposed frontier, subject to attack by an enemy whose trophy was the human scalp, and the record of whose warlike achievements was found in the smouldering ruins of destroyed hamlets, slaughtered cattle, and captive women and children; when, if any males were spared, these were preserved to grace the triumph of victory, by running the gauntlet between two lines of infuriated demons, whose privilege and duty it was to inflict torments, and whose greatest solace consisted in viewing the agonies of the tortured victim.
But these people had other and loftier motives to guide their actions and control them in the course they should pursue in the contest, where even brother was to strive with deadly weapons against brother, and the son with the father; a most unnatural conflict, provoked by kingly power. Tradition, if they possessed no other means of information, had unfolded to them all the miseries of serfdom, a concomitant of regal power and the absolute rule of one man. They saw and felt the justice of the sentiment, that man ought not to be burdened without his consent; but exposed as they were, and suffer as they well knew they must, from the blows that would be dealt upon them by their old foes, soon to be leagued with former friends, they embraced with zeal, and with a resolution not to be shaken, the cause of the colonies against the mother country, and held out firmly to the end; thereby proving themselves unfit "instruments to make slaves of the rest" of their fellow subjects.
This is plain, unembellished historic truth, respecting the inhabitants of the country now embraced within the bounds of the county, and of which the descendants of the Palatines composed, by far, the greatest number.
From the close of the French war to the stirring events that shortly preceded the commencement of the revolutionary contest, neither history nor oral tradition has given us any marked or striking incidents worthy of notice. Until 1772, Albany county extended westward without any defined limits, when Tryon county was erected, and the administration of justice must have been characterized by a patriarchal simplicity, often silenced, no doubt, by military rule. The white settlements were mostly confined to the Mohawk valley and its vicinity, although some families were found remote from the principal settlements along the river.
CHAPTER V. 1772 to 1783.
Events Preceding the Revolution — Tryon County — Territorial Divisions of White Settlements before the War—General Congress in 1774 — Provincial Convention in 1775 — Second General Congress in 1775 — Committees of Safety — Meeting of in Tryon County — Conduct of Guy Johnson — Indian Council at German Flats — Gloomy Prospects — Sir John Johnson — Declaration of Independence — Preparations of the Enemy — Generals Schuyler and Herkimer — Vigilance of the Foe — Fort Schuyler Invested by St. Leger—Herkimer's Proclamation — Tryon County Militia assemble at German Flats — Herkimer Marches to the Relief of Fort Schuyler — Col. Gansevoort—St. Leger's Forces — Insubordinate Conduct of Herkimer's Officers — Battle of Oriskany — Willett's Sortie — Sir John Johnson's Effort to Detach the Inhabitants from the Patriot Cause —Walter N. Butler captured— Arnold arrives at Fort Dayton — His Proclamation — Honjost Schuyler's Mission and Success — Situation of the Valley in the Winter of 1777, 1778 — Andrus — Town destroyed by Brant — Retaliation on Young's Settlement — German Flats destroyed by Brant — The Liberty Pole — William Dygert — Fate of the Palatines — Mills burnt at the Little Falls — Alexander Ellice — Enemy's Visit to Rhiemensnyder's Bush — Mount Family in Jersyfield — Sir John Johnson's Retreat — Destruction of Fort Schuyler — Solomon Woodworth — John Christian Shell — Donald McDonald — Defeat of Ross — Death of W. N. Butler. — Losses and Sufferings of the Enemy — Willett's Return from Pursuing the Enemy — Resolution of British Commons — Failure of the Expedition against Oswego —Close of the War — Conciliatory Proposals of Peace.
Upon the organization of Tryon County, the territory was divided into four large districts of country, although each contained but a comparatively small number of inhabitants. These districts were subdivided into smaller precincts. The Mohawk district was the easternmost, and lay in that part of the county directly under the influence of the Johnson family; the Canajoharie lay above the Mohawk on the south side of the river, and embraced all the territory south and as far west as the Little falls; the Palatine district embraced all the country on the north side of the river between the Little falls and Mohawk district; and the German Flats and Kingsland districts included all the territories and settlements on both sides of the river westward of the Palatine and Canajoharie districts. These comprised the territorial divisions.
In those days, the exciting events that formed the topic of conversation among the colonists, on the seaboard and in the eastern provinces, were slow in reaching the secluded valley of the upper Mohawk. The Johnson family, controlled a district of country lying between it and Albany, and it was not without some hazard, that any one friendly to the colonists could venture to convey intelligence of an unfriendly bearing to the mother country into the upper distircts.
A congress, composed of delegates from most of the colonies, met at Philadelphia, in September, 1774. In April, 1775, a provincial convention met at New York, and chose delegates to the second congress, which convened in May following, at Philadelphia; and, on the 22d May, 1775, a provincial congress assembled at New York, at which necessary measures were taken to defend the country. This body delegated their powers, for one month, to a committee of safety, consisting of three members from the city, and one from each of the other counties.
It may be superfluous to remark that these organizations were voluntary; but deriving all their authority from the people, these bodies claimed to exercise, and did exercise all necessary power, for the protection of their constituents, on the disruption of the royal governments. Local committees of safety were appointed, in all the districts of Tryon county, in accordance with the recommendations of the general and provincial congresses. The committees of the Palatine and Canajoharie districts seem to have taken the initiative in these affairs and were active and zealous in their patriotic efforts to present to their countrymen the true grounds of difference between the colonies and the mother country.
The committee of the Palatine district, on 21st of May, 1775, in a letter sent by express to the Albany committee, say: "We have just sent an express to the German Flats, and Kingsland districts, desiring them to unite with us, and give us their assistance; which districts, or at least a great majority of them, we are credibly informed, are very hearty in the present struggle for American liberty." Mr. Campbell, in his Annals of Tryon County, says the first united meeting of the committee, for the whole county, was held on the 2d day of June, 1775, and gives the following names of members from the several districts.
From the Palatine district: Christopher P. Yates, John Frey, Andrew Fink, Andrew Reiber, Peter Waggoner, Daniel McDougal, Jacob Klock, George Ecker, Jun., Harmanus Van Slyck, Christopher W. Fox, Anthony Van Veghten; 11.
From the Canajoharie district: Nicholas Herkimer, Ebenezer Cox, William Seeber, John Moore, Samuel Campbell, Samuel Clyde, Thomas Henry, John Pickard; 8.
From the Kingsland and German Flats districts: Edward Wall, William Petry, John Petry, Augustine Hess, Frederick Orendorf, George Wentz, Michael Ittig, Frederick Fox, George Herkimer, Duncan McDougal, Frederick Helmer, and JohnFrink; 12.
From the Mohawk district: John Morlett, John Bliven, Abraham Van Horne, Adam Fonda, Frederick Fisher, Sampson Simmons, William Schuyler, Volkert Veeder, James McMaster and Daniel Lane; 10. In all, 41.
The members from the Mohawk district had hitherto been hindered from meeting with the delegates from the other