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The Erghemar family were not among the Palatines on Hudson river in 1711, nor of those who remained in New York. They probably arrived with the third company of immigrants in 1722, from Holland, where they had sojourned many years.
At what time these people actually settled upon the lands patented to them by the crown, in the spring of 1725, is perhaps problematical, and rests in tradition. They were very urgent to remove to a part of the country where they could pursue their avocations and indulge in their own peculiar customs, unmolested by strangers and uncontrolled by colonial task masters; where the lands they tilled were secured to them by all the sanctions of a public grant emanating from the king. They had long felt and known that "patience and hope made fools of those who fill their hands with them." They and their' ancestors, for three quarters of a century nearly, had been afflicted with all the worldly evils and miseries that an intolerant and tyrannical hierarchy, supported by absolute despotic governments, could bring upon them; and they had looked to the future with patient and hopeful emotions for a day of deliverance. After twelve years of trial and privation incident to a new climate and a wilderness country, during which time they saw that strangers, and not their families after them, were to be benefited by their labors, no lands had yet been set out to them, by grant from the crown, well might they exclaim that those who endure patiently present wrongs and take no other means of relief only to hope for it, were unwise and improvident.
The Dutch recaptured New York in 1673, but it was restored to the English by treaty in 1674. At this time and to the close of the seventeenth century, a very great majority of the people of the province were Low Dutch or Hollanders, and the French of Canada exerted much interest with all the Iroquois Indians, through the agency of the Jesuits and the control of the fur trade, except the Maquaes, Mohocks or Mohawks, The whole country from Albany north to Lake Champlain, and from Schenectady west to Lakes Ontario and Erie was an unbroken wilderness, and it was therefore important that England should strengthen her colony of New York in both directions by planting settlements as barriers against hostile approaches, but she had no people to spare; the continental wars in which she had been long engaged and was then involved, more than decimated her population, and she eagerly embraced the opportunity of sending over the Palatines at the public expense. Gov. Burnet, whose talents, learning and kindness commended him to the well disposed colonists, seconded this policy of his government with zeal and success. Little did the governor or the home government then believe they were planting a barrier of stout hearts and sinewy arms on this frontier, which was soon to aid in obstructing the designs of the mother country in one of her most deliberate and best planned campaigns of the revolution. Nor could these then homeless exiles put aside the curtain of futurity and behold the terrific and tragic scenes which were so effectively and relentlessly enacted upon the soil they had chosen for their homes, and by the power through whose agency they had obtained their promised land.
The precise time when the Palatines made their first lodgment in the county is not ascertained. It was not later than 1725. Some who have speculated upon the subject suppose they came up the Mohawk valley as far as the Little Falls and to the Stone Ridge as early as the year 1720. Their agents, sent to spy out the lands, may have traversed the valley to the western bounds of the territory claimed by the Mohawk Indians as early as 1720, and perhaps before that period; but Gov. Burnet had not fixed them in the new settlement he had obtained for them of the Indians, at a very easy purchase, as late as November, 1722, and he that year permitted some of them to purchase lands of the Indians " on a creek called Canada creek." They secured the carrying place at the lesser falls as well as a long extent of wilderness country above, by their Indian deed; and the license of the colonial government to make the purchase, may have been considered by both parties, an authorization for them to remove before the patent was made out, as it no doubt was a solemn, irrevocable public pledge that the lands would be granted by the crown as soon as they should be surveyed. On this hypothesis it may be conjectured that settlements were made at or near the present site of the Stone Church in the town of German Flats, and at Herkimer village as early as the years 1723-24, if not before. Owning the lands at the carrying place, it is not likely that point was long neglected or unimproved.
Burnetsfield patent, so called in popular parlance, is a curious document, and well worthy of some special notice. It was granted on the 30th of April, 1725. It recites that "whereas our loving subjects, John Joost Patri and Coenradt Rickert, in behalf of themselves and other distressed Palatines, by their humble petition presented the 17th day of January, 1722, to our trusty and well beloved William Burnet, Esq., Captain General and Governor in chief of the province of New York, in council have set forth that in" accordance with the governor's license they had purchased "of the native Indians in the Mohawks country" the tract of land on both sides of the "Mohawks river" commencing at the " first carrying place [Little Falls], being the eastermost bounds called by the natives Astourogon, running along on both sides of the said river westerly unto a place called Gauondagaraon, or the upper end of it," being "about twenty-four English miles along on both sides of the said river." The Indian deed is dated July 9th, 1722. That the council advised the governor to " grant to each of the said persons, man, woman and child, as are desirous to settle within the limits of the said tract of land the quantity of one hundred acres."
The grantees were to hold the lands of the crown in free and common socage, that being the usual tenure named in the colonial grants at this time, as of the manor of East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, in Great Britain, subject to an annual quit-rent of two shillings and sixpence per hundred acres, and on condition that the grantees, their heirs and assigns, should within three years from the date, plant, settle and effectually cultivate at least three acres of land of every fifty acres" granted to them. This patent also contains the usual reservation of gold and silver mines, timber fit for the royal navy, and the right to enter upon the lands and take and carry away the same.
Of the ninety-two persons named in the patent to whom lands were granted, twenty-two appear to be females, by tho description, married, single or widowed. The paper does not disclose the number of families or the heads of families represented by males who settled on the tract, or how many one hundred acre lots went to any one family, husband, wife and children. There are several Pellingers, Starings, Wevers, Smiths, Edicks, Beermans, to whom grants were made. Jurgh Erghemer, Johan Jost, Madalana and Catharina Erghemar are separately named, but Nicholas Herkimer, afterwards the General, was not a patentee.
One design of this work is to rescue the names of those martyrs to posterity from the oblivion of old parchments and musty records, and place them on the historic page, from which, humble as their pretensions may be considered by some, they have been too long excluded. Some of those names will hardly be recognized, at this day, by their descendants.
23. Heger, Henry,
M. Helmer, Elizabeth, wife of
25. Helmer, Philip,
At the Little Falls.
North|AH the 30 acre lots were set on what were called the Great Flats, in and near the present village of Herkimer. The 70 acre lots South are described in the paNorth tent as wood land.
And large island in river.
East side of West Canada Creek.
26. Helmer, Johan Adam
27. Helmer, Lendert,
28. Helmer, Fredrick,
29. Helmer, Anna Margaret, wife
of John Adam Helmer,....
M. Herter, Apolone,
* Two lots of same number to Johannes Beerman.