Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

TO THE PEOPLE OF HERKIMER COUNTY

I dedicate this humble and unpretending volume. If the manuscript sheets, which have been prepared with some labor, and a scrupulous regard to the best authenticated facts, shall assume the form of a readable book, it will be through their generous appreciation of the writer's efforts.

And, if my labors to condense and illustrate the annals of what has hitherto been and now is an interesting portion of one of the largest and most populous states of the American Union, in the destinies of which the citizens of Herkimer county have hitherto so largely participated, shall merit and receive the approval of those so well qualified to form just conceptions of their value and importance, I shall have no hope or ambition left unsatisfied. THE AUTHOR.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the General, devoted themselves in the future progress of the war, with zeal and courage in defense of the country.

Another motive prompted me to the undertaking. Herkimer county was one of the first erected after the revolution, and while the surrounding counties, and some of them carved from the territory it once embraced, were esteemed worthy of elaborate historical notice which had been liberally patronized by the populations of those counties, it seemed strange indeed that she should so long have remained neglected and forgotten, like the illustrious individual whose name she bears, and no one of her sons, native or adopted, would venture to place her in a just position. All that portion of the book compiled from public works and documents, such as the origin of the titles to lands, the description and boundaries of the county and the towns, and the statistical and other information derived from the recent census, may be relied upon as strictly and critically accurate.

Heretofore, several, if I may not say many, of the political men of the county, have held not only reputable, but high positions in the councils of the state, and some of those, who are now dead, have left an enduring impress of their talents and exertions upon the political institutions of the state. The somewhat peculiar political characteristics, which have heretofore marked the action of a considerable majority of the voting population of the county, seemed to me a matter worthy of elaborate consideration. Why two peoples, distinct in their origin, dissimilar in tastes, habits and customs, should harmonize on a great political problem for a period of more than fifty years, and in numbers to carry almost every popular election, presented a question worthy of inquiry and solution. Animated with a strong desire to arrive at a just and proper conclusion in respect to this question, I have given, in the sequel of the book, a full statement of the facts which are believed to have drawn the German and English or New England populations into harmony.

A brief allusion to the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, found roaming over its extended surface and almost impenetrable wilds, at the first advent of the European emigrant, was appropriate to the subject in hand as a necessary starting point from which to trace the authentic events of history, intended to be developed in the subsequent pages of the work. This is not the place to make an effort to reach the origin and follow the progress of a proud and brave, but a barbarous and illiterate people, whose annals can only be traced through a dark cloud of traditional mysticism, highly figurative, unnatural, and entirely improbable, when examined and compared with the providences of God, as given to us and illustrated by the written history of other branches of the human race; it has not therefore been attempted.

Although a history of the upper Mohawk valley does not necessarily embrace that of any other country or state, I have not considered a brief elucidation of German history as out of place, inasmuch as the first European settlements in the valley were made up entirely of a people of purely German origin, whose recent immigration into the colony had given no opportunity of change in habits, manners and customs, if any such change could have been effected in the adult emigrant, even if he had been a whole life time in reaching the land of promise, and had meanwhile sojourned with divers nations and people.

The particulars of this Palatine or German immigration, so far as they can now be given, are interesting, and seemed worthy of extended notice. The events which produced the movement in the heart of an old and polished European nation, and the causes which prompted these people to seek a refuge and home on the western continent, are quite as legitimate a subject of local American history, as the oftrepeated relation of the exodus of the pilgrim fathers from Europe, and their landing at Plymouth rock.

Persecution and religious intolerance drove the Puritans to seek an asylum from civil and ecclesiastical oppression, andto fix themselves as the plantersof a new colony, ona lone and desolate shore, surrounded by an unbroken wilderness, while the same illegitimate emanations from the religion of the cross compelled the German Palatines to plant themselves in an exposed and wilderness frontier, as an out-post and van-guard, to protect and cover the older settlements in their rear from Indian assaults and depredations, and the not much less refined warfare carried on by a neighboring European colony, whose relentless cruelties, unmitigated barbarities and bigoted intolerance, they and their fathers had so often before seen, suffered and tasted.

We are not only able to name the first European settlers, the pioneers of the upper valley, but we can trace the descendants of most of them, as being still inhabitants of the county, while some of those families, from emigration or other causes have become entirely extinct, and the name is no longer known among us. Although there now are numerous descendants of the female branch of the Herkimer family in the county, it is believed there is not, at this time, one inhabitant in it bearing that name. With perhaps two or three exceptions, the chapter of biographies of the Palatine families, will attract but little interest out of or beyond a confined locality. As a whole the subject is worthy the attention and labor bestowed in getting it up. It will be noticed that several individuals of these families have held prominent official stations in the county. From the first settlement of the valley, under the Burnetsfield patent, to the outbreak of the revolution, many German settlers came into the upper valley, some from Schoharie county, and the lower valley, now Montgomery county, others from New York and the shores of the Hudson river, a few from New Jersey, and probably several of the third emigration of the Palatines, who arrived in New York in 1722. I have not been able, as yet, to learn the names of a single family of English descent, settled in the German

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »