Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

them, through the instrumentality of the colonial authorities, and the apparent indisposition to conform to the engagements made to them by Queen Anne, when they started for their new homes. Indeed, most if not all the difficulties encountered by the colonial officers originated with the Palatines settled on the west side of the river.

These observations are drawn out in consequence of a tradition, existing in the county, that this family, or some members of it, came from the Schoharie into the Mohawk valley, which seems not to be supported by the documentary history of the times.

In November, 1722, Gov. Burnet, in a letter to the board of trade and plantations, says, "but as about sixty families desired to be in a distinct tract from the rest, and were of those who had all along been most hearty for the government, I have given them leave to purchase land from the Indians on a creek called Canada creek."

From what had then taken place, Gov. Burnet would not have said that the Palatines, who went to Schoharie in spite of the efforts to prevent them, had been very hearty for the government, while he censured those who had participated in that exodus, though not in strong language. The similarity of names found among the Palatines on the east side of the Hudson river, and those contained in the patent, must go far, in connection with Gov. Burnet's declarations, to establish the conclusions now advanced.

This family seems to have held a prominent place in the public regard, at the time of the revolution, and were undeviating and unflinching in.their attachment and devotion to the cause of the colonists, in the revolutionary struggle. Col. Peter Bellinger, whose regiment was composed of the militia of the German Flats and Kingsland district, and Lieut. Col. Frederick Bellinger, of the same regiment, participated in the bloody fight at Oriskany; the latter was taken prisoner and carried to Canada. Col. John Bellinger, of this family, was also in that battle, as a private. He removed to, and settled at Utica, about the year 1791.

Most, if not all the lands allotted to the patentees, have been held by their descendants down to the present time, in spite of the diffusibility of our laws in regard to real estates. This has probably been effected by means of wills and testaments, for the statute of distributions, in the period of three or four generations, even where the children of each are few in number, would have divided a hundred-acre lot into very small parcels. One branch of this family placed a high estimate upon military titles, and we find the son succeeding the father in military rank and title, with about as much certainty as to an inheritable estate.

Gen. Christopher P. Bellinger.

In pursuing the plan marked out, of grouping the individuals of the stocks of the Palatine families under one head, from their origin to the present time, great inconvenience has been encountered for want of such accurate data as family records would afford.

Gen. Bellinger was born in the town of German Flats, or within the territory formerly embraced within its boundaries. In the prime of life he was a large farmer, and attained considerable wealth. In 1828, when the town of Little Falls was erected, a part of the eastern portion of German Flats, in which was located Gen. Bellinger's homestead farm, was set off to the new town. His native town contained a very large majority of inhabitants of German extraction, among whom his family connections were quite extensive and influential.

In the early division of political parties, he was a republican of Mr. Jefferson's school, and in this respect sympathized with a very large majority of the German population in his town and in the county; and, in the course of a long and active life, enjoyed a large share of public confidence. He was often elected a supervisor of his town, and to other minor town offices; and, for many years, acted as a justice of the peace. He was diligent, careful and upright in the discharge of all his public duties, and bestowed the most watchful care to the public interests committed to his charge. No stronger illustration of this need be produced than the fact that for many years he had no competitor in his town, for any public favor his fellow citizens had to bestow, or to which they could promote his interests or wishes. He was four times elected member of assembly, in the period of fourteen years, and once returned as elected, by the county clerk, when he was not chosen by a plurality or majority of votes.

At the annual election in the spring of 1809, he succeeded by a majority of five or six votes, and his two colleagues were defeated. Thomas Manly and Rudolph Devendorflf, two federalists, were elected over the two republican candidates. It has been said that Gen. Bellinger owed his election at this time to a partial belief entertained by some portion of the federalists that he favored the political views of that party. This was a mistake. He was the next year elected on the same ticket with two other well known republicans.

In 1821 he was again a candidate for the assembly, and having a larger number of votes than either of the two other republican candidates running with him, he obtained the certificate upon an alleged informality in the return of the vote from the town of Danube, when one of his competitors, the lowest on the Clintonian ticket, had obtained a considerable majority. At this time the county clerk alone, canvassed the county vote for members of assembly. The constitution of 1777 was still in force, and the political majority in the assembly would determine the character of the council of appointment, which then wielded an immense political power, having nearly all the civil appointments in the state within its gift.

For a time, after the election, it was doubtful which party had secured the majority of the assembly; it was charged against the clerk, who was a republican, or bucktail as then called, and who held his office at the pleasure of the council of appointment, that he had given the certificate to secure the election of an anti-Clintouian speaker and four antiClintonian members of the council. The clerk of course denied the charge, insisting he had no right to look behind the returns, and he must take the certificate of the town canvassers as it stood. And although an Irishman by birth, and could talk high Dutch with the most glib-tongued German in the valley, he said he could not make the word Tood read, mean or spell Todd, and therefore he should give the certificate to the candidate having the highest number of votes, after placing those certified to Stephen Tood among the scattering. The general was however unseated immediately after the organization of the house, and Doct. Stephen Todd of Salisbury, the party who had been chosen, took his seat.

Gen. Bellinger in the party split of 1819 and 1820 acted with the section called in that day bucktails; was an ardent admirer of Daniel D. Tompkins, and in the presidental contest of 1824 adhered to the fortunes of William H. Crawford.

In the fall of 1823, he was again elected to the assembly with John Graves, Esq., of Russia, and Dr. Caleb Budlong, of Frankfort. It devolved on the legislature, which assembled in January, 1824, to choose the electors of president and vice president of the United States, or provide by law for some other mode of appointment. A large majority of members elected in 1823 were republicans or democrats, but very much divided in respect to the candidates for the presidency, and a new element of party strife was presented to the assembly, soon after the election of speaker. The Clintonian party had ceased to exist, and the old federal party had been disbanded. At the election in 1823, a new party, called the people's party, composed of Clintonians, federalists and republicans, hostile to the election of Mr. Crawford, sprung up, and, by the united action and votes of this political combination, a large number of members, hostile to Mr. Crawford, were returned to the assembly. It is not my design to present to the reader anything more of the political history of the state than may be required to give a proper view of the position occupied by the individual whose biography is a subject of consideration.

The speaker, Mr. Goodell, of Jefferson, was friendly to Mr. Crawford. Gen. Bellinger was appointed one of the committee of nine members to which was referred the subject of altering the law prescribing the mode of choosing presidential electors. The minorities had combined to defeat Mr. Crawford; six of this committee, however, were supposed to be his friends, and Gen. Bellinger was one of that number. He assented to the report of the bill, by the select committee, changing the mode of election, and voted for it on the final passage. This bill was defeated in the senate, and in November, 1824, at the adjourned legislative session, he voted for Crawford electors. This was the last time he represented the county in the legislature.

When war was declared by the United States, against Great Britain, in 1812, the General had then attained the rank of colonel in one of the militia regiments of Herkimer county. Congress, anticipating that, event, had, in April of that year, authorized the raising of 100,000 men, to be drafted from the militia of the several states; 13,500 of which number was assigned to this state. Col. Bellinger was detached by Gov. Tompkins, to take command of the regiment of militia designed for the defense of the northern frontier, and repaired, with his command, to Sackett's Harbor, in May following. The term of service fixed by congress, for these troops, was three months. The object of the government in thus placing a military force upon the frontier, at this early period, was to watch the movements of any armed force that might be collected in Canada, protect the public property that should be collected at the various points designated as military depots, and enforce a rigid execution of the non intercourse law with Great Britain and her dependencies. A good deal of illicit commerce had been carried on, along the frontier; the laws of the United States had been openly and extensively violated, and the authority of her revenue officers contemned; and, when needed, even an armed force,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »