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flats district, previous to the revolution, except that of Thompson on Cosby's manor. There may have been two or three others. Much care and attention has been given to the biographical sketches of the official personages, who have been residents of and who died in the county. These sketches are not all I intended they should be in the outset nor all I would now wish them to be. I took what I believed proper measures, at an early day, to obtain precise and accurate information in regard to this subject. I did not anticipate any difficulty, and much less a failure. But my motives and objects were misconceived, or not approved of, or some of the parties to whom my circulars were addressed have exhibited an ignorance or indifference painful to think of.
I am compelled, reluctantly, to make an apology for a seeming neglect of the religious institutions of the county. I did hope to have been able to lay before the readers of this unpretending volume, a brief historical outline of the various religious organizations in the county, their foundation, progress and present condition; and took such measures at an early day, as would, I believed, secure this most desirable object. I care not to indulge in a single remark further on this topic. The statistical results, taken from the late state census, which will be found in a subsequent chapter, with some extracts from the journals of two missionaries who visited the county more than fifty years ago, must content the reader on this head. I should have been most happy to have followed them with a record of the names and the results of the labors of those who then and afterwards occupied this ground and ministered to our fathers in spiritual things, and should have done it, if I could have accomplished it by any other means than the course adopted, which entirely failed.
The reader unacquainted with our localities, should not conclude that the people of Herkimer county are indifferent to the grave subject which relates to their future welfare, because they find no elaborate display of churches, missionary and Bible societies organized within the county. As one reason of my failure in this respect, it may have been supposed, I was engaged in a work, the profits of which would amply repay me for the trouble and expense of collecting all the information needful to make the book perfect, interesting and valuable.
The writer, compiler and publisher of a local history, is in a condition somewhat like the Connecticut parson, whose congregation gave him a call and fixed the salary at one hundred dollars a year, one half to be paid in grain and such other necessary articles of living as they might have to spare and he might want. When he called for the payment of the balance of his salary, he was modestly told, he owed the parish fifty dollars for the rent of the parsonage and glebe. A local historian must be willing to perform any amount of labor required to make his book what he knows and wishes it should be, but if he hazards a large outlay, merely for the glory of publishing a book, his ambition will cost him dear.
The author who writes for extended glory or large profit, must bestow his talents and labor on subjects quite different from those I now have in hand. Nevertheless, if I shall be so fortunate as to meet the reasonable expectations of the people of the county, I shall have achieved all that my ambition can crave, or my most sanguine hopes have ever anticipated.
The chapter embracing the history of the several towns in the county will be found interesting, on account of the local historical matters there collected, and the statistical information condensed and arranged which will render the work highly useful as a manual. The brief notices of the early New England settlers are necessary links to conduct the reader through the early history of the county. The annals of the county would not be complete without the condensed view embraced in the chapter comprehending its political history. Whatever may have been and are the author's predilections on the questions discussed in that chapter, he would not feel this a proper occasion to give them any undue prominence, and he is confident a candid public will acquit him of indulging in any partisanship, or the least departure from a liberal and candid recital of facts connected with the party politics of the times. I am aware that local historians have hitherto given but small space in their works to the political histories of the counties. The reasons for this omission do not seem to me quite obvious, nor is it in any respect important now to make them a subject of discussion or inquiry. The intelligent reader will, I think, fiiid himself amply repaid for his time by a perusal of the chapter.
The historical works relating to the Mohawk valley, heretofore published, have necessarily been confined to the prominent and leading events of the old French and the Revolutionary wars. The minor events and leading incidents, which have marked the progress of the country, have attracted but little or no attention, and consequently have no place in the works alluded to. The author's object has been, so far as relates to the upper Mohawk valley, to supply this desideratum. The upper valley being only an outskirt of civilization and a frontier during the whole period of these two wars, would not of course attract the particular attention of writers, not familiar with all its localities, its legends and its traditions, and the character of its population; hence we must not be surprised to observe the little regard bestowed upon the eventful transactions of that locality. The author has endeavored to cover the whole ground, and fill up all chasms.
The attainder by the state government of the adherents to the British crown, and the consequent forfeiture and confiscation of their estates, has been incidentally mentioned by former writers of our history, drawn out by the fact that a large tract of valuable lands in the county had escheated to the state, by the statute attainder of Sir John Johnson. In consequence of the misapprehension of the facts in regard to the extent of this escheat, the author, in connection with the history of the land titles, has deemed it proper not only to elucidate the subject fully and minutely, but to attempt, not an apology merely, but defense, ample and elaborate, of the revolutionary patriots and fathers, who adopted and rigidly enforced the attainder act of 1779. My countrymen have more than once been charged with illiberality and cruelty in exacting the "pound of flesh," after the British king had yielded the point and confirmed the independence of his rebellious colonies. These advocates for republican munificence and generosity, seem to have forgotten the lives immolated on the altar of oppression, and the millions of money expended in defending the country against the aggressive acts of many of these same attainted adherents of loyalty; and that, if stern and inexorable justice was exacted, it was only in observance of a rule of public law sanctioned by the most refined civilization. The emancipated colonists should have been willing to mete out exact and even-handed justice, but they were not in any view which could be taken of this question, in a condition to be generous.
Although this may be quite a proper subject for general history, and elaborate discussion by statesmen, it finds a suitable place in the humbler annals of the upper Mohawk valley, where the forfeitures have been incurred, and the law of reprisal has been enforced. While the advocates of restoration of forfeited estates are zealously engaged in finding condemnatory arguments against the Americans for not yielding the forfeiture, let them bear in mind not only the circumstances that provoked the action of the colonial authorities, but the hostile attitude of the British authorities long after the peace of 1783 was inaugurated. The frontier posts were long held, in despite of the energetic remonstrances of the United States, and in violation of the treaty of peace; the western Indian tribes were instigated to acts of hostility, and rumored threats of a renewal of the war, and a speedy subjugation of the rebel colonists, did not and could not fail to influence the state governments in their action upon this question.
I take great pleasure in tendering my acknowledgments to the present Secretary of State, of this state, and A. G. Johnson, Esq., his deputy; the Hon. Abijah Beckwith, of Columbia; Hon. F. E. Spinner, of Mohawk; Hon. E. P. Hurlbutt, of Newport; Jonas Cleland, Esq., of Warren; Doct. William Mather, of Fairfield; Lauren Ford, Esq., Little Falls; Samuel Earl, Esq., Herkimer; D. C. Henderson, of Norway; E. T. Cleland, Esq" county clerk; to whom I am indebted for facilities afforded in obtaining useful information, and for timely assistance in collecting materials and furnishing valuable documents. I am under obligations to several other individuals for suggestions and information, for which they have my thanks.
In committing this work to the public, the author admits, it might have been better executed by an abler pen than his, at an earlier period of the country, but he confidently hopes, however, it will be found an interesting and useful addition to our local history.
N. S. BENTON.
Little Falls, 1855.