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The American congress fulfilled its treaty stipulations to the letter, but its messages met with a cold and silent reception from the several states when they spoke of surrendering up estates to those who had been active participators in what was deemed an unjust and cruel war of aggression. While the attainder act, before mentioned, was in full force in this state, and the commissioners of forfeitures were executing their office, the constitution of 1787 was ratified, which declares that " no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted."
Biographical Sketches of the Palatine Families; Bell, Beerman, Bowman,
The descendants of the following Palatine families are yet extant in the county: Bowman, Dacksteder, under the name of Dockstader, Felmore, by that of Fulmer, Herter, Lant, now known as Landt, Mayor changed to Moyer, Orendros and Orendorf, now called Ohrendorff, Pears changed to Barse, and Pell to Bell, Reckert and Spoon.
I should not omit to mention the name of Miller, or neglect to say, in this place, that the descendants of Johannes, the patentee, have until the year 1854, retained the ownership of the whole or some portion of the lot granted to their ancestor. But the last proprietor of the name parted with the remnant of a patrimony held in the family more than one hundred and twenty-five years; where sire and grandsire had sported their youthful pastimes, and, when maturer years had cast the burthen on them, where they had toiled and endured in obedience to a high command. Earned by a long and tedious pilgrimage in search of a "haven of rest," and consecrated by the sufferings endured through two long and cruel wars, the title has now passed to a stranger, and the "home-farm" is now divested of all the interesting incidents that have been clustering around its hearth-stones through five generations.
The following families soon became extinct, or removed from the county, and no trace of the names, even, can now be found, if they ever had any real existence:
The Beermans, Fellers, Hoss, Korsings, Pouradts, Spies, and Veldelents. The title to the lots drawn to these names passed into other hands before the revolution, and in some instances can be traced back many years before that event. Owing to the great abuses practiced at one period, under the colonial governors, of granting large or extravagant quantities of lands to individual applicants, in some instances to the extent of fifty thousand acres, where there was no pretence of colonization or settlement, the home government directed that no more than one thousand acres should be patented to one person at any one time, and within a limited period after a grant had been made, and the colonial legislature resumed many, if not all the previous extravagant grants. This restriction was, however, materially, if not completely evaded, when the leading families and influential personages in the colony combined to accomplish by indirecttion, what the home government prohibited. A number of names would be procured to a petition to the governor and council for a license to purchase the Indian title to as many thousand acres of land as there were names to the petition. The license would, almost as a matter of course, be granted, and the Indian deed being obtained, a patent would be issued. When this was done, the real parties in interest, the affair having been previously arranged and understood, would invite their cograntees to a dinner party, and while the glass circulated freely, and the generous wine had done its office, the stool-pigeon men would execute releases of their interest in the lands patented. In this way many thousand-acre tracts were obtained at the cost of a dinner.
Some of the names which so suddenly disappeared from the upper Mohawk valley are found on the Livingston manor and New York lists. The Zellers may, by a clerical mistake, have been written Fellers. Zoller and Zuller are familiar names among the German population of the county. If any of the original patentees gave a dinner for a hundred-acre lot, in this then sequestered region, the consideration may not have been inadequate, when compared with a metropolitan feast.
Great changes took place in the pronunciation and method of spelling the original German names, when translated or changed to English. This was unavoidable with a people who did not comprehend the two alphabets.
The Bell (or Pell) Family.
Frederick and Anna Mary Pell each took one hundred acres of land on the north side of the river, in the Burnetsfield grant, near Herkimer village. The family were never, I believe, very numerous in the county, and before the revolution seem to have been confined to farming, One of this family, with his son, was killed by Brant and his Indians in the attack upon the settlement on Henderson's patent in July, 1778. The "aged man" may have been Frederick himself. George Henry Bell, who married General Herkimer's sister Catharine, was a man of considerable note in the valley during the revolution. He had been well educated and wrote a neat, compact hand, with much rapidity. Although not among the militia officers appointed in 1775, he commanded a company at the Oriskany battle, was wounded there, and afterwards placed on the invalid pension roll. His disability continued through life. Capt. Bell had two sons in the battle, Joseph and Nicholas; the former was killed and the latter run away during the action, which was always a subject of deep grief and mortification to the father in after life. Nicholas was afterwards killed and scalped by the Indians and tories, about a mile from his father's house, on the road passing over Fall hill. Capt. Bell remained on the battlefield with Gen. Herkimer until the action was over, and took charge of the escort which carried his wounded commander more than thirty miles on a litter. He brought with him from Oriskany a gun which
he took in a hand-to-hand fight with a British officer, whom he killed. This trophy was long retained in the family and exhibited as evidence of military prowess. Capt. Bell lived on Fall hill, within the limits of the patent granted to his wife's father. His house, built of stone, was surrounded with wooden pickets during the war, as a protection against the enemy.
He was commissioned a justice of the peace of Tryon county, February 2d, 1778, by the council of appointment, again commissioned in Montgomery county, July 8th, 1784, and reappointed March 27th, 1790. It is said of him that he administered justice with great precision, and sometimes with severity, when he had to deal with those who sympathized with royalty. He had two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters married Henry I. Walrad and the other Peter Waggoner. The late Col. Joost Bell was the son of Nicholas, whose strong attachment for his family is said to be the cause of his leaving his post at Oriskany.
The Bellinger (or Pellinger) Family.
There appear to be five persons of this name, grantees of Burnetsfield Patent; two of them being married women. During the first quarter of the present century, the descendants of these families were considerably more numerous in the county than they now are.
The name is found among those Palatines who volunteered under Col. Nicholson, in 1711, for the expedition against Montreal, then held by the French. On their arrival at New York, they seem to have been sent by Governor Hunter to the camps, so called, on Livingston's manor, under the pretense of collecting naval stores; and there is strong reasons for believing they were originally seated on the east side of the Hudson river. The emigration of the Palatines to Schoharie appears to have been from the west side of the Hudson, and consisted of those who had been the most restless and unquiet under the hard treatment inflicted upon