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ered and enlarged by prudent and frugal hands, he devoted much of his time to agriculture, although he was not unmindful o,f political preferment when opportunity offered. He represented the county in the assembly in 1822, with Simeon Ford and Stephen Todd. At a late period in life, the spirit of immigration took hold of him and he removed with his family to northern Illinois, where he died many years ago. I have not the means of stating the fact with certainty, but from my knowledge of Mr. Robert Shoemaker, and his apparent age when I first saw him, I conclude he was born during the revolution.
Thomas Shoemaker, the patentee, raised a pretty numerous family, and some of his sons were not backward when danger and duty called the inhabitants of the valley to arms. His son Thomas participated in the Oriskany battle, and afterwards his wife and one of his children, Christopher, and a son of John Shoemaker, then quite young, were taken prisoners and carried to Canada. Mrs. Shoemaker and her child returned from captivity before the close of the war, but the other child did not come back until after. There are now many descendants of this branch of the Shoemaker family in the county as well as some of the other stock.
In looking into the Documentary History of the state, I find the name "Schumacher" among the Palatine immigrants of 1710, from which the present name, Shoemaker, is derived.
The Smith Family.
Two of this family cast their lots on the north side of the Mohawk, on the Great Flats, and two on the south side. The Schmidts were among the emigrants of 1710, and seated for a time at the camps on Livingston's manor. Adam / Michael Schmidt was a volunteer, in the expedition against Montreal in 1711. The descendants of the patentees are yet found in the county in considerable numbers, but emigration has diminished them to some extent. Colonel Nicholas Smith, now one of the oldest inhabitants of the city of Utica, if alive, and whose parents were killed by the Indians and tories at Herkimer during the latter part of the revolutionary war, was a descendant of one of the patentees. John Smith was assigned as an ensign to Capt. Eisenlord's company of militia in 1775. In common with the other patentees of Burnetsfield, this family had its share of suffering during the French and revolutionary wars. Some branches of it have held the lands assigned, in regular succession, one hundred and thirty years. Maria, the wife of George Smith, lived to the unusual age of ninety-six years. She died in 1817.
The wife of Joseph Smith was overtaken during the revolution, on the east side of the west Canada creek, by a party of Indians, tomahawked and scalped. The Indians left her, supposing she was dead. She revived after a time, and with much suffering found her way home across the creek. She recovered and lived to a very advanced age.
There were six males, and one married female, of this name, patentees of Burnetsfield. The Starings were formerly pretty numerous in the county, but of late years, they have lost some by emigration. I am not aware that a single lot, granted to the first patentees, is now retained in the hands of their descendants; and it is quite certain, that lot 13, at Little Falls, set apart for Mary Eva, the wife of John Adam Staring, was sold many years previous to the revolutionary war.
I do not find this name enumerated among the Palatine families on the Hudson river, or with those who remained in New York, and it does not seem possible that it could have been derived from any of those contained in the lists of immigrants published. This name appears to have been uniformly written in all the ancient manuscripts, which have come under my observation, as copied from the patent. In this case, as in every other relating to the families who
first settled in the upper Mohawk valley, all the parties were near relations, and may not have comprised more than two families.
Hendrick Staring, or as he often wrote his first name, Henri, was a man of some note during the revolutionary war and subsequent to that event.
He was a native of the county, and lived and died within the limits of the present town of Schuyler. He was one of the few fortunate survivors of the Oriskany tragedy, and from that time held a prominent place as a militia officer in the district. He was the son of one of the Palatine families, but I have been unable to ascertain with certainty his father's name. Born after his parents came to the German Flats, his infant years were cradled in the wilderness, and his days of manhood were occupied with the stirring and dangerous events incident to two border wars, unparalleled in severity, and the often repeated destruction of crops and all means of human subsistence. Even the devastations of fatherland, which drove his ancestors to seek repose and protection in a wilderness, beyond the verge of civilization, would not exceed, in all the inflictions heaped upon the devoted heads of the German peasantry of the Palatinate, the cruelties practiced by the combined efforts of French and British loyalism, stimulating Indian ferocity with rum and bribes. These were not the times when parents could venture to send their children to their distant school-house for the purpose of instruction. The population was scattered over a broad extent of wilderness; and few, if any, had the means or the opportunity of instructing their children at home. Col . Staring's education was quite limited, but he possessed a sound and vigorous mind; he was brave, active and zealous in defeating the schemes and counteracting the efforts of the enemy, so far as his limited position would allow. He had, in the course of the war, become a leading man in his neighborhood, and attracted the attention of the royalists, who made several fruitless efforts to capture or destroy him. But the untiring vigilance of the Indian could not always be guarded against; and the Colonel, late in the fall »of the year, supposed to be October, 1781, was so unfortunate as to be surrounded and captured near Fort Herkimer, with Abraham Wollever, by a party of Indians. The captors were much elated with their success, and hurried off with their prisoner into the deep recesses of the forest, where it was supposed they intended to inflict upon him a lingering death by torture.
The Colonel understood this to be their intention, and for a time, no doubt, felt some disquiet and a fervent solicitude to get rid of such uncomfortable companions. He had no relish for a stake-burning and as little desire, probably, to have his ears saluted with the music of an Indian pow-wow; and therefore contrived during the night, after he was taken, to make his escape and return to the fort after an absence of two days and two nights. He felt it was no disgrace to turn his back upon an enemy on an emergency of this kind, and thereafter avoided being placed in a like predicament.
He lived near the small stream called Staring's creek, in Schuyler, on which there was A, small grist-mill burned by the French and Indians in 1757, and being rebuilt the mill was again destroyed during the revolution. He was a man of thrift and owned many broad acres of land, some of which have been retained by the descendants to a very recent date, if they are not now the owners. The reader who may be curious to see the particulars of the Colonel's capture and escape will do well to consult the Annals and Recollections of Oneida County, published by Judge Jones.
At the treaty of peace in 1783, Colonel Staring was a prominent and influential man and enjoyed the confidence of his countrymen almost without stint. He was a member of the convention from Montgomery county, called in 1788, to consider the present constitution of the United States, which had been submitted to the several states for ratification or rejection. He was an ardent friend of Governor George Clinton, an anti-federalist, and he with a large majority of the convention, when elected, were opposed to the ratification of the constitution.
It has been often asserted that he was absent on the 26th of July, 1788, when the final vote was taken on the resolution to ratify the constitution, having been detained from attendance by the management of one of the prominent advocates of the measure. This can not be true if the members composing the convention and voting on the resolution have been accurately given by Mr. William Jay, who states in his life of John Jay (vol. 1, p. 266), there were fifty-seven members in all elected, and this was the number besides the president, Gov. George Clinton, which voted on the resolution, there being a majority of three in favor of it.
Mr. Hammond (vol. I, page 21 of his Political History), thinks Mr. Jay's statement incorrect. He sets down the whole number of members elected to the convention at sixty-seven, consequently there must have been nine absentees on the final vote. Ten states had ratified the constitution when the final vote was taken in the New York convention. The assent of nine only was required to give the constitution effect. The ratification by New Hampshire on the 21st of June, 1788, she being the ninth state, was not known at Poughkeepsie where the convention was in session, until some time in July. The news from Virginia which ratified on the 26th of June, reached the New York convention in all probability before the 26th of July. This changed the whole aspect of the controversy going on in the convention, and must have placed Governor Clinton and the majority in a very embarrassing position. By a rejection New York would have seceded from the confederacy, and being then one of the smaller states her condition in that case must have excited the most intense apprehensions. This was felt and expressed by some of the leading and influential members of the majority, who gave the resolution such form of expression as they hoped woukFquiet the public and still preserve to the state her place as a member of the union.