« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
from the other side, would sometimes be at hand, to aid the evasion. A portion of the force, under Col. B.'s immediate command, was stationed at points most suitable to assist the civil officers of the United States in executing the laws of the land.
A distinguished American statesman is reported to have said, when delivering a political harrangue on the sabbath, "there were no Sundays in revolutions." His Britannic majesty's liege subjects, acting upon the principle that a state of war abrogated the omnipotent behests of Jehovah, approached Sackett's Harbor with five armed vessels on the 19th of July, 1812; which day, the calendar tells us, was Sunday, with the view of capturing or destroying several American armed vessels at that place. Col. Bellinger's regiment with the crew of an eighteen gun brig, and a few militia collected on that occasion, constituted the whole American force at the harbor when the formidable expedition made its appearance. Although Col. Bellinger was at that time the commanding officer of the post, the arrangement of the batteries for defense, and the direction of the artillery, was supervised by the senior naval officers on that station. The enemy abandoned the object of the visit, after being somewhat crippled by American shot. Gen. Jacob Brown, in a letter to Governor Tompkins, spoke in terms of high commendation of CoL Bellinger's conduct on this occasion. In other letters to the governor, the general spoke of him as "a brave officer, and a worthy man"; "he is one of the best of men"; "the more I have seen of Col. Bellinger, the more I am pleased with him. He is disposed to do every thing for the best."
During a part of this term of service there seems from the correspondence to have been some misunderstanding between Gen. Brown and Col. Bellinger, in regard to the position of the latter. When the colonel was ordered to the harbor the command of the post was no doubt assigned to him, he being the senior officer in service at that point; and it was not until a brigadier's command was ordered out, and Brown assigned to it, that the latter could rightfully assume any control over him.
At the expiration of three months the regiment was mustered and discharged without being paid. In the subsequent campaign of 1814, Col. Bellinger performed a tour of military service on the frontier with the patriotic and devoted militia of the county. Being placed in defensive positions, he had no opportunity of distinguishing himself, except as a diligent officer, attentive to his duty, exacting its performance from his subordinates, and exercising those acts of kindness to the sick of his regiment, which rendered him beloved and respected by his men. His experience in military affairs was wholly limited to casual militia service, and some years after the war closed he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. Warm in his attachments, he was confiding to a fault, and consequently was not wholly exempt from the approaches of the artful and designing, although he possessed a strong and vigorous mind. His education was somewhat limited, being mostly confined to the teachings of the German country schoolmaster. He died at Little Falls about seventeen years ago, without male issue, at an advanced age, leaving four married daughters. He was twice married, and his second wife survived him.
Major Frederick Bellinger,
Being another descendent of the Palatine stock, was a native of the county. He embarked in mercantile pursuits, early in life, which he continued with some interruptions to its close. He won the regard and confidence of his fellowcitizens, which was frequently shown by expressions of popular favor on the part of the people of his native town, Herkimer.
He represented the county in the assembly of this state in 1836, with Stephen Ayresof Fairfield and Thomas Hawks of Columbia.
Major Bellinger possessed many amiable qualities, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. He died at Mohawk, German Flats, leaving descendants. He was twice married and his last wife survived him.
His family, in common with every other inhabitant of the valley, were visited by the scourge of Indian warfare. During the revolutionary struggle, two brothers, descendants of one of these Palatine families, had occasion during harvest to go into the meadow after a load of hay, and as usual one or both of them went armed. One of the brothers had placed his gun against a stump in the field and commenced pitching hay to the other on the wagon. They had not been long engaged in this before they were fearfully warned of danger at hand by the savage yell and the discharge of muskets. The brother on the wagon after seeing the other shot down and marking the man who did the act, succeeded, by the fleetness of his horses and being partly protected by the hay, in making his escape. The young man shot, was killed while endeavoring to reach his gun, by a well known tory, who had lived on Young's patent, in the south part of the county. He had most likely recently joined the sable allies of the king, and was out on a mission to reduce his rebellious subjects to duty; and true to the instincts of his nature and obedient to the orders of his masters, he could shoot down the peaceful husbandman in the harvest field, or drive the hatchet into the head of the unoffending mother while nursing her infant offspring, and hang the scalp lock of both to his belt with as much zest as the most proficient of his nimble-footed compeers. Many long years had rolled over the head of the surviving brother; he had a family and sons grown to manhood, but time had not obliterated from his memory the recollection of a brother's death or the face and form of the man who had done the foul deed. So late even as when Henry S. Whiting kept the stage house in Herkimer, and a line of passenger stages was running between Utica and Albany, when large wood fires and massive andirons were much in fashion, Mr. Bellinger went into the tavern, to see whether some friend or acquaintance had not just then arrived in the stage, with no thought that he should meet face to face the man who many years before had slain his brother.
But there sat the slayer enjoying himself before a rousing wood fire, which had imparted so much heat to the andirons as to make them red-hot. Mr. Bellinger .saw and knew the man at once, and, no doubt, considering him a murderer, seized one of the hot irons by the top, drew it from the fire intending to inflict a blow upon the head of his tory acquaintance, which must have greatly disfigured his scalplock if the bystanders had not interfered and prevented him. I very much doubt whether this man ever again traveled through the Mohawk valley, or would venture within reach of Bellinger's curling tongs. He rightfully believed himself protected by the guaranties of the treaty of peace, but Mr. Bellinger did not think so, and when prevented from using the andiron, he sought for and loaded his gun, declaring that he would take the life of his brother's murderer. His son interfered, explained how matters stood between Americans and their late enemies under the treaty of peace, and finally took the gun and put it away.
There may be some who will look upon the outburst of fraternal feeling with great disfavor, and overlook all mitigating circumstances which at the moment seemed to justify Mr. Bellinger in his own mind for any act of retaliation, however severe, or even fatal to the individual who had thus unexpectedly and presumptuously made his appearance upon the field of his former hostile exploits.
Let the scenes of the revolution enacted in the valley be remembered; let it be borne in mind too, that this family with many, if not every other inhabiting the German Flats, had been subjected to the severest calamities of an unnatural and cruel warfare of seven years' continuance, had looked upon harvests and houses destroyed, fields desolated, and cattle and horses shot down as if in sport, or driven away to gorge the appetites of an unrelenting enemy, and last of all, but by no means the least inconsiderable cause of irritation and unappeasable hate, who had mourned some relative slain, either in the field of battle, or by stealth and Indian stratagem; when these things are brought to memory, we can not visit with stern rebuke an act, palliated, if not justified, by so many bold and indisputable mitigating circumstances. The treaty of peace had thrown round this man its broad protective shield, and he was therefore entitled to an immunity which he was in no haste to claim a second time.
The Keslaer And Casler Family.
This was, a few years since, and is now, probably, one of the most numerous of the Palatine families in the town of Little Falls. We can trace the name back to the camps on Livingston's manor, and find it on the lists of volunteers in the Montreal expedition. In respect to this county, so far as I have been able to discover, the name has been derived from the two patentees, Johannes and Nicholas Keslaer. The industrial pursuits of this family have been principally directed to agriculture, and this has been attended with such uniform success, that, in most instances, the sons have inherited the home farms of their fathers, through several generations; and, even at this day, the two lots granted to the first patentees, are still possessed by their lineal descendants. John and Nicholas were brothers, no doubt unmarried, and without families, as each drew a lot of one hundred acres; and no more lands were drawn to that name. Another fact bears out the presumption taken: the third generation from one of the patentees, now living, inherit the property, and the combined ages of the three oldest is more than one hundred and eighty years, and making due allowance for the adolescence of the first and second generation, the period from 1725 to 1855 is more than filled up. In a recent interview had with Richard Casler, a venerable patriarch of one branch of the family, and now eighty-nine years old, I gathered some materials for this notice. He was with