WEISER'S DORF - CONRAD WEISER - HIS DAUGHTER - JOHN PETER G. MUHLENBERG - CONRAD WEISER, JR. - SETTLERS OF THE DORF - RELICS OF THE PAST - REFORMED CHURCH - ITS EARLY HISTORY - ED..ICE REUILT IN 1785 - PETITION TO ASSEMBLY - PASTORS' REFORMED CHURCH - LUTHERAN CHURCH - METHODIST - EPISCOPAL - THE TRUE REFORMED CHURCH - MIDDLE FORT - DESCRIPTION - ZIELIE FAMILY - COLONEL ZIELIE - HIS CHILDREN - JPETER SWART - LOW DUTCH BECKERS - BORST FAMILY - GRIST MILLS - LOUCK'S FAMILY - ECKERSON'S - FIRST MERCHANT - GRIST MILL - BELLINGER FAMILY - HARTMAN'S DORF - RICHTMYER FAMILY - ALEXANDER BOYD - J.M. SCRIBNER - JOHN HINMAN - NATHAN HINMAN - JONATHAN DANFORTH - ATCHINSON HOUSE - FREEMIRE HOUSE - MERCHANTS - FREEMAN STANTER - JOHN P. BELLINGER - D. D. DODGE - GENERAL DANFORTH - PHYSICIANS - LEGAL FRATERNITY - HON. LYMAN SANFORD - NATIONAL BANK - MASONIC LODGE - I.O.G.T. - G.A.R. POST - INCORPORATION - HUNTER'S LAND - SUPERVISORS - BOUNDARIES.
In approaching Middleburgh village from Schoharie by the valley road, one is not so much impressed with the beauty of the scenery as when passing over the hill from Cobleskill valley, by way of the poorhouse, there is presented one of those placid landscapes, for which Schoharie County is noted. The broad well kept flats that stretch from the giant evergreen hills upon the west, to the sloping ones and the cliff on the east, are dotted here and there with spacious residences and outerbuildings that bespeak the wealth and prosperity of the occupants, and present a winning picture of plenty and contentment. Old Mohegontee (Judge Brown, in his pamphlet history, gives the following names to the three mountains: Mohegan, Conegena, and Onisto Graw) stands out boldly as a terminus of a chain of picturesque hills, while Ocongena and Onistagrawa, in romantic contrast, look down upon the quiet scene below and give the whole, grandeur and sublimity such as mountains only can give to rural sceneries. Upon their lofty summits and along their sides, the Aborigines of the county wandered for the deer, fox, and bear, while at their bases was reared the wigwam, to which the first settlers of civilization in the valley, resorted for succor, in the winter of 1713, when they sought the "promised land" as refugees from the toils which selfish officials had woven to entrap them and make them unwilling servants to a monied aristocracy.
Here where the pleasant village now stands, the "seditious" Conrad Weiser made a choice for his settlement, which alone was evidence enough that he was not as ignorant as tradition and royal officials have represented him to be.
By consulting the second chapter of this work, we find that during the land difficulties, Weiser and his followers left the valley and settled in Pennsylvania about the year 1722. There the old man died and was buried a few miles from Reading, within a plot of ground marked out by himself. He was a prominent man in his neighborhood, and much esteemed by all who knew him. His daughter, Anna Maria, married Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg D.D., the founder of the Lutheran Church in America.
John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg was a son who gave the world a glorious example of true patriotism.
He was educated for the ministry and ordained in the year 1768, and at the outbreak of the Revolution, was stationed at Woodstock, Virginia. Of him, Lossing in his Field-book of the Revolution says:- "In 1774 he was chairman of the committee of safety in his county, and was also elected a member of the House of Burgesses. At the close of 1775, he was elected colonel of a Virginia regiment when he laid aside his pastoral character. In concluding his farewell sermon, he said, that in the language of Holy Writ, 'There was a time for all things; a time to preach, and a time to pray, but those times had passed away,' and then in a voice that echoed like a trumpet-blast through the church, he said ' that there was a time to fight, and that time had now come!" Then laying aside his sacerdotal gown, he stood before his flock in the full regimental dress of a Virginia Colonel. He ordered the drums to be beaten at the church door for recruits, and almost his entire male audience that were capable of bearing arms joined his standard. Nearly three hundred men enlisted under his banner on that day. He was in the battle at Charlestown, in 1776, and served with fidelity in the Southern campaign that year. Congress promoted him to rank of Brigadeier-Gnereal, in February 1777, and he was ordered to take charge of all the Continental troops of the Virginia line in that State. He joined the army of Washington, and was with him in all his movements until the year 1779. By close of that year he was again ordered to take command of the Virginia troops, and was active until the attack of Cornwallis at Yorkstown. At the close of the war he was elevated to the rank of Major-General. He removed to Pennsylvania, and in various civil capacities served the State. He was a member of the first and third Congresses, and in 1802 was made collector of the port of Philadelphia. He remained in that office until his death, which occurred at his country-seat, near Philadelphia, on the first of October (his birthday), 1807, at the age of sixty-one years."
John Conrad, Sr., was an Indian interpreter and agent and was succeeded by his son, John Conrad, whom it will be remembered was tutored as an interpreter while living here, for which Adam Vroman made a charge against his father to Governor Hunter in 1715. Young Weiser was employed by the government for many years as such, and was often in the company of Washington in making treaties with the Indians. Tradition says that when Washington was enroute as President, of the United States, to the city of New York, he traveled many miles out of his way to visit the grave of his much esteemed friend.
We find the descendants of the Weiser family quite numerous and occupying prominent positions; and when we look upon the life of General Muhlenberg we cannot but believe that the spirit of Weiser was inherited by him, which was called "rebellious, seditious and obstinate, an outgrowth of ignorance," when the family lived at the camps and in the Schoharie valley It is to such spirits we are indebted for our political and religious liberties, and upon which oppression has always tried to trample.
We might with propriety here state that all of the descendants of the followers of Weiser, were true patriots in the Revolution without single exception to our knowledge.
There was one of the Beckers that removed with Weiser, whose last heir it has been supposed, died several years ago leaving a vast property which has remained without an ownership since, but it is a mistake, as the family now lives near Philadelphia ate more numerous than those of the Schoharie settlement to-day. The progenitor of the High Dutch family and brother of Johannes, who settled on Fox's creek.
When the Germans came to the valley there were a small number of Mohegans living to the north of the confluence of the Little Schoharie, with the main stream. There could not have been many, yet it must have been in their hospitable wigwams they found shelter after their dreary march through the deep snow, from Livingston's manor. This portion of the Schoharie tribe dwindled away to a few in number, and the land they occupied was taken by the Zielies and Eckersons as early as 1730, and perhaps earlier. The Indians gave away as the whites increased, and at last congregated at and near the castle in Vromansland where they were in 1750, with the exception of a few straggling ones, found here and there along the streams. Queen Anne had directed implements of all kinds to be sent from England with the Germans, but it can not be supposed Weiser and his followers were allowed to share in them since they mutinied and left the Camps, "against repeated orders," but were forced to depend upon their ingenuity and that of the Indians in building without them, and when Spring came, to plant for a better subsistence than "roots and herbs."
Although they were destitute for while, it was not long before they managed to obtain the necessary utensils to till the ground and build their huts and from the tenor Adam Vroman's letter to Governor Hunter, bearing date July, 1715, they had horses, and that they drove them upon his grain in the night, beside "tied bells upon their necks and drove them to and fro." Judge Brown tells us, "nine of them owned the first horse, which was gray," but we find in little over two years after they settled here, they had "horses." Perhaps the Judge had not referenced to Weiser and his clan, but to those who came after by the way of Albany and the Helleberg, and settled lower down the valley, but his dates correspond nearer to this settlement, yet in them he is inaccurate. Weiser located to the east of the present Methodist church, and we are fully convinced after a careful study of the matter, that another settlement was made by his followers to the west, where the Reformed church now stands. It may and may not have been directly under his charge as "list master" or business man, it matters not. There was a settlement made, but there being so many people upon a small space of ground of the settlement broke up in a few years, as Hartman's dorf did, for broader fields, that each could ply their vocations as farmers, principally, more extensive. That together with Weiser's proper and Hartman's made three settlements within a distance of less than two miles, and contained at least one hundred and sixty families according to tradition and documents heretofore copied. Thus the practical reader will see at once that they could not subsist without great inconvenience, and would, as soon as possible, divide and settle upon farms. They did so, and by the year 1730 the whole valley was, as far down the island opposite the present village of Sloansville, taken up by them and new comers, and under a fair state of cultivation. Many that came with the first parties, removed to the Mohawk, while others from there came here, especially during the land troubles. They were for the first few years a very much uneasy people, and made it so for those around them. Not only for Adam Vroman, but for the Indians, and officials both district and colonial. They firmly believed they were to be entrapped by land sharks, and were not far from right, and finding they could not obtain a "redress of their grievances," many of them left the valley for ever, which satisfied the honorable government officials that it was better to give way to many of their foibles, especially than lose "so valuable an acquisition to the frontier," which was experienced by those that remained in the purchase of land at a nominal sum, with an assurance of peaceble possession.
It was not imagined that Weiser's dorf was left tenantless upon the removal of the discouraged party, as we find the Dillebacks (Dillenbecks), Earharts, Zehs, Weavers, Casslemans, Segendorfs, Borsts, Schaeffers, Loucks, Rickards, Ingolds and Conradt families remained and were joined a few years later by the Eckersons, Zielies, and at a later date by other progenitors of those who were actors in the Revolutionary scenes living near, not above mentioned. The history of the village and valley from 1722 to the Revolutionary struggle has but little interest. The forest was felled and the productive fields became broader, the rude huts replaced by comfortable houses, large barns took the place of barracks and stacks, and prosperity and contentment marked its course and abode at every turn. The occupants of the hamlet for the first few years of their settlement owned plots of ground upon the interval from which they obtained their supplies, but as their sons and daughters united to form other families they increased their acreage by purchasing of those who at an early date took advantage of the prospect and purchased of Governor Hunter. Many of those farms have been handed down from one generation to another for the space of one hundred and fifty years, and judging by the temperate, economical habits and pride of family another generation will enjoy the fruits of their forefathers' labors without passing to other hands. There are but few relics now to be seen that time has spared, to link the early settlement of this place with the present. The Reformed church as an organization - and a portion of the building used during the struggle for Independence as a fort, are the only objects that we meet. The old stone house near the Methodist church is one that our nearer fathers reared after they passed through the fiery ordeal of a war made sacred in the annals of history by their sacrifice of life, blood, and fortunes, upon the corner-stone of America's temple of liberty! It is as a footprint of the hunted patriots in the ashes of devastation, after they eluded the vengeance of a mercenary, blood-thirsty foe! It has been spared to us as the corner-stone of the re-building or second settlement of Weiser's dorf, as it will be remembered that the walls of the old brick church were all that was left of the village after Johnson and Brant's exit from the valley. But before we consider the events of that day let us go back to earlier times and peer into the darkness of the past, between the removal of Weiser and his followers, and the Revolution.
In making the attempt, we regret exceedingly that the few records that are left of those days are indeed but feeble tapers to lead us accordingly, without stumbling, through the changes that circumstances required the sturdy yeoman to make. We cannot but admit, as all evidence establishes the fact, that Weiser's dorf was the first white settlement in the County, and that it was made in 1713, by High Dutch, while Vromansland was settled by Low Dutch in 1714 or 1715.
Reformed Dutch Church - Knowing the natural propensity of the High and Low Dutch to the observance of religious rites and duties, we cannot believe they lived in the valley from 1713 to the year 1732, when this church as thought by many was founded, without religious services and an organization. Nor do we think they remained so up to the year 1728, when the Schoharie church was organized, and attended there. As the latter was founded but eight years at least after the settlement of the dorf in which it was organized, we cannot see any reason why this dorf was not active, for these settlers were as able financially, as energetic, in a business point of view, and as religious as any other. We find that the people of this place and Vromansland in after years, beside maintaining this church, assisted in that of Fox's Creek. To conclude we cannot but think that the Middleburgh Reformed Church was the parent church of the Schoharie settlements, and was founded long years before an edifice was erected, unless they build a rude house of worship, previous to the one that was burned by Johnson and Brant in 1780, of which we have not the least knowledge. We cannot but think it was organized as early as 1714 or 1716. The early churches of the border settlements had no regular organized services, as at present, but perhaps they bought their organizations with them from Germany. Their first religious proceedings were not recorded, as a general thing and if at all, they were kept in a rude unbusiness-like manner, and became lost. As we intimated before, we have faint light to guide us in the early history of the church.
Corwin's Manual says, Henrick Hager preached in Schoharie between 1711 and 1717 as a missionary. Undoubtedly he came as soon as a settlement was formed, and appearing among a people who religious by birth, he formed or re-formed an organization among them. There being deep enmity existing between the Germans and their Holland neighbors, at a time, and for several years we are led to believe the latter were not admitted in their society, but numbering several families, and being also a religious people, they held meeting in their own neighborhood, and perhaps formed an organization. Upon the coming of the Zielie and Eckerson families, who settled among the Germans, and the removal of Weiser and his excitable followers, a friendly feeling was courted and in the course of a few years, the High and Low Dutch worshipped together, and when a new church edifice was to be built, they united in the erection of it. A few years later the Low Dutch gained the entire control of it, and the High Dutch society was consumed by them. It was after, or when the Low Dutch began to control or obtain a foot-hold, that the dates of 1732 and 1773, which we have relating to the church, began to appear, which has given the impression the church was then formed. Thus, regardless of which branch was first formed, since they merged into one, and this settlement being at least five years the senior of Fox's dorf, the present Reformed church must be the parent of the valley.
Through the politeness to present, and care to preserve, Mr. Hiram Zielie, of Webster City, Iowa, a grandson of Martinus Zielie, has furnished us with a few facts as recorded in his grandfather's Low Dutch Bible. Upon the flyleaf it says, "Our new brick church was dedicated on December the 18th day, 1737. Text from the Acts of the Apostles, 7th chapter 47 to 50th verses inclusive. Rev. Dominie Snider Preacher." Tradition has told us the building was of stone and "built after the model of the ancient Dutch church in Albany, with steeple rising from the center, but reference was had to the Fox's dorf church in the style of the building. From French's history we learn that Johannes Schaffer, Hendrick, Conradt, and Johannes Ingold, sold fourteen acres of land to Jonas LeRoy and Peter Spies for the support of the Middle church on January 3, 1737.
Now the question is, was it a High or Low Dutch church originally. It is thought by many to have been the later. We are of the opinion that it was the former, from the fact that if it had been a Low Dutch, the building would have been placed upon the Low Dutch ground, upon which the present church stands. Without doubt both branches worshipped within the same building at this time.
The ground upon which the building was placed, was that, or a part of it, which was the "bone of contention" between the Palatines, Schuyler and others who purchased it of Hunter in 1714. It will be remembered the Germans refused to quit the land or to pay rent. They build their houses upon it, and the church also, and did not receive a title of the church property until years after. By a quit-claim deed now in the possession of Henry Cady, bearing date the "18th of June, in the twenty-0size year of His Majesty's reign, Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-three, for the sum of Five shillings current money of New York," twenty-seven acres of land were conveyed to Myndert Schuyler, Margaret Livingston, Philip Livingston, Philip Schuyler and Johannes Bough (Bouck) of Albany, to Johannes Schuyler, minister; Bartholomew Vroman, Josias Swart and Thomas Eckerson, elders; Johannes Becker, Jun., rector; O. Zielie and David Laroway, deacons; for church purposes. The land was divided into small lots, and many of them are still owned by the church, being leased to occupants at a yearly rental. As the Reformed Church at Schoharie was organized as a "High Dutch," and soon wafted over to the control of the low Dutch, so we think it was the case with this organization. The Low Dutch founded here, among whom were the Vromans, Zielies, Beckers and Holland Eckersons, were more business men than the Germans. The latter had not but of late, been commanders of affairs, but objects of command, and knew but little of transacting business, while with the Low Dutch it was the reverse. When the church was burned in 1780, all religious services were performed in the middle fort, and after peace was proclaimed, and as soon as the settlers recuperated in a measure their losses, effort were made to re-build. In the spring of 1785, the work commenced and occupied the summer months of 1786 and '87, in its completion. The control of church affairs at this time, was entirely under the Low Dutch, and the new building was placed upon the fourteen acres purchased in 1737, for the "support of the Dutch church." The people being poor, timber and other materials were donated by them, as also labor and rum, the latter to revive drooping spirits. Col. Peter Vroman, the hero of the middle fort, was the treasurer, and to show his manner of doing business and the materials he thought necessary to build a church in those days, we will copy from a few "items of interest," as kindly furnished us by Mr. A.B. Richmond, of Canajoharie, and Henry Cady, of Schoharie, besides papers relating to the building, etc. of the church:-
"10 galon RUM" and "4 Gallons of rum and eighteen drinks" were charged against the church. Peter Vroman refused to allow the eighteen drinks. "1 pound tobaco" stores, lumber and wood were contributed by different ones, each allowed a certain sum for the same. A petition was forwarded to the legislature for aid, bearing date "18 Oct., 1784," stating that "Sir John Johnson with a party of British Regular troops, Tories and Indians, on the 17th day of Oct., 1780, Came and almost destroyed the settlement of Schoharry by fire and other ways, among which was the church of your petitioners, which was intirely burnt and destroyed on the said day which was valued at five hundred pounds, etc."
Another was forwarded to the city officials of Albany, asking the privilege of circulating a subscription to aid the building of the church, bearing the date 1785; also a general subscription and petition "To the publick," asking "aid in re-building church destroyed by the enemy," dated 1785.
The edifice was nearly three years in the building, it being commenced in the fall of 1784, and finished in the summer of 1787. The funds were chiefly obtained by subscriptions circulated in every direction, and the work performed by the people of the vicinity, under Philip Schuyler, "carpenter and joiner." Tradition tells us the iron figures, 1786, placed upon the front of the belfry, were the work of one Lutwig Schneider, a blacksmith, who also made the "stays" placed upon the brick walls.
Josiah Dodge, the progenitor of the present Dodge family of the town, was entrusted with the contract to supply the necessary timbers required in the construction of the church for which he gave the following receipt:-
"Schoharry, July 7, 1786," Rec'd of Johannes H. Becker, Peter Zielie and Peter Vroman of the Reformed Low Dutch Church , the full sum of twenty-two pounds ten shillings, being in full for cutting the timber for the church I say Rec'd by me."
From time "immemorial" the organization owned an old-fashioned chest, quite probably brought from Germany or Holland by some of the first settlers, in which the funds of the church and documents were kept. For long years it was in the Becker family, and held by them through the Revolution, and down to within the last forty years. It disappeared, however, and at the present time, is not to be found, while the papers relating to the church, that so long found a secure place within its "tills," are scattered here and there, and are made in many cases, articles of barter among the collectors of old relics. However, a few of the many are in the possession of the officers of the church, that are valuable through the associations connected with them, and the organization to which they properly belong. Among them is one that refers to the old chest, which reads: --
" Scohare, June 1st, 1789. This day counted the Money Which is in the Chichst of the Low Dudtch Church. Two pound thirteen Shillings.
JOHN J. BECKER,
JOHN A. BECKER."
Also the charter bearing date, 21st of October, 1797, which is upon parchment, asn signed by "Rynier VanNese, minister; Pieter Zielie, Adam Vroman, Jacob Hager, and Peter Swart, elders; John A. Becker, John P. Becker, Martinus Vroman, Jr., and Johannes Hager, deacons." There are also others, many of which are written in Dutch.
Pastors of the Reformed Church. -- As the first records of the church are lost, it is impossible to arrive at any accuracy in regard to them. The "Reformed Church Manaul" gives the date of organization, 1732, and it may be correct, but we have our doubts, and believe light will yet be given to prove it an error. It also says the first pastor was Schuyler (Johannes,) who was the Schoharie Reformed pastor from 1736, to 1755, and again from 1766, to his death. We have found through the Zielie Bible, Doninie Snyder was the preacher at the dedication, and by tradition coming through the Eckerson family, that Snyder was the first resident pastor of this church. Ministers were not plenty at that day, and if Schuyler was, or was to be the regular pastor, we think he would have performed the service. If we were to make the list of pastors, it would be headed with Henry Hager* (*Corwin's Manual) from 1713 to 1720, also John Frederick Hager, and John Jacob Ehle and George Weiss, as missionaries, until the pastorate of Dominie Snyder commenced, in 1732, and perhaps earlier. Between this date and 1763, this church, as did the Schoharie and others, ranged itself with the "Dutch Reformed church," to form an "American Ecclesiastical Indicatory."
During Schuyler's first pastorate at Schoharie, we think Dominie Snyder officiated here, and may have been the High Dutch minister, as it is said by many of the old families, that they were told by their aged grandparents, that Snyder was here a long term of years. If Schuyler preached here within that period, he doubtless preached to the Low Dutch branch, but we think Snyder was the regular minister, and both High and Low Dutch worshipped together at this time. Upon Schuyler's re-call at Schoharie, in 1766, he then took charge of this church, in connection, and officiated until his death, in 1778. If Schuyler had charge of this church from 1736 to 1755, and the connection between the two churches continued, then Johannes Mauritinus Goetchins labored here from 1757, to 1760, Abraham Rosenkrantz to 1765, and followed here by Schuyler, in 1766. Schuyler dying in 1778, a young man officiated occasionally, by the name of Schneyder, until the invasion of Johnson and Brant, when the people were so thrown in confusion and poverty, that church matters stood still until peace was proclaimed. The next and first resident pastor was Rynier VanNess, from Long Island, who remained to the coming of DeVoe, in 1808, who preached. The latter remained to the year 1815, and from that to the present time we will accept the list given in the Manual.
1816 - 1827 - J. F. Schermehorn 1827 - 1833 - J. Garretson 1834 - 1838 - J. B. Steele 1840 - 1842 - Joshua Boyd 1842 - 1845 - I. Messerreau, Presbyterian Sunday school 1845 - 1852 - Jacob West 1852 - 1854 - I. M. Sec. 1855 - 1863 - E. Vedder 1863 - W. E. Bogardus 1863 - 1870 - John L. Lott, D.D. 1870 - 1876 - Sanford W. Roe, D.D. 1876 - 1880 - J. S. Gardner 1880 Elbert N. Sebring, present pastor.
The church at the present time, is one of the leading ones of the County in earnest interest, liberality, and promptness of duty to all religious demands, without that boisterous display that is so often practiced by many of our modern churches, and which reverts the desired and intended aim. The membership numbers one hundred and fifteen, among whom are many of the leading families of the community, who take a just pride in the ancient organization and church edifice. The exterior of the building is the same as when first built, with the exception of a portion of the steeple which was remodeled in a measure in 1813, when the first bell was purchased and placed within it. The interior has been changed at different times, to suit the changing taste of the acting generations, and has lost nearly all of its originality, except in the height of the gallery, which remains the same, and gives to the whole an ancient appearance. The report of the church for the year ending the 1st of April, 1882, was as follows: --
Number of families, 90. Died, 1 Total in communion, 115. Number of catechumens, 20. Total number of Sunday School scholars, 100. Contributions for religious and benevolent purposes, $58.25. For congregational purposes, $1,063.39. Present officers: -- Elders, Peter S. Danforth, M. Geurnsey, W. G. Becker, James Lawyer, M. D., George L. Danforth. Deacons, George W. Zeh, George W. Dodge, W. E. Bassler, Jacob L. Engle, Joseph Jenks.
Referring thus to the Reformed church, we will give notice here of the remaining churches, although they are of a more recent date, and then run back to objects of long ago, when many of those who lie sleeping beneath the green turf of the ancient cemetery, were
The Lutheran Church - Upon the records we read:
"St Marks Evangelican Lutheran church was founded the 17th May, A. D., 1824, Rev. Geo. A. Lintner, A. M. pastor."
"Elders -- Andreas Loucks, Abraham Lawyer, Joseph Borst.
"Deacons -- Wilhelmus Bouck, Jeremiah Loucks, Abram Haines.
"Trustees -- Jacob Livingston, William C. Bouck, Joseph I. Borst,Thomas Bouck, Abram Haines, Joseph Bouck, Philip Bergh, Jun., Freeman Stanton, John Henry.
"Architect -- James Rider.
"Other foundations can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. Ist Cor. iii 2" This congregation, originally was in connection with Schoharie, Cobleskill and Breakabeen, but at the close of Dr. Lintner's pastorate, which was fifteen years, it became a separate charge with Breakabeen and after became independent. The first house of worship was erected in 1824, and was dedicated on the 30th of October of that year. The building was burned on the 1st of April, 1855, and was not replaced until the year 1870, when the present structure was erected. The society worshipped in the intervening time in the school house, and other churches. The records from Dr. Lintner's pastorate to the year 1860, are not complete, and while we know of the pastors that followed him, we are unable to tell their given names and the years in which they labored.
1824 - 1839 - Rev. George A. Lintner. 1834 - 1844 - Rev.--Leper Rev. Crounse. Rev. Levi Sternbergh. Rev.-Conell. Rev. English. 1860 - 1865 - Adam Martin. 1865 - 1871 - David Swope. 1871 - 1873 - E. S. Sprecker. 1873 - 1876 - C. P. Witacar. 1876 J. D. Harkey, present pastor.
The officers are: --
Elders - E. Van Aucken, J. E. Young, D. D. Gouck, L. S. Wells.
Deacons - G. N. Frisbee, Emmet Haines, H. M. Marcellus, John Rickard
Trustees - Jacob Neville, N. Manning, G. N. Frisbee.
The Lutheran Sabbath school under the superintendence of Mr. J. E. Young, editor of the Middleburgh Gazette, is a marked feature of the church's spirit and consists of one hundred and twenty-five teachers and scholars.
The Methodist Church - The Methodist Church edifice is the largest and most costly structure for divine worship in the County. While this society's existence has been short in comparison with the Reformed and Lutheran, yet its present prosperous condition exhibits the energy and spirit that is so becoming in the laborers of the "vineyard." The first notice of an organization was read by Rev. John W. Dennison in the school house of District To. 7, of this town on the 1st day of December, of 1832,and on the 9th of the same month the following were elected trustees:
Malachi Potter, Anthony Engle, Peter W. Mann, James Sternberg, Harvey Watson.
An edifice was built at the head of Main street in the same year, which became too small for the congregation, and which forced the society to build the present structure in 1875, at a cost of thirty five thousand dollars. Through the labors and courtesy of Rev. James L. Atwell, the present pastor, we find the records complete. Among them is a list of the Presiding Elders of the Albany District, since the year 1832. As a goodly share of the County is in his jurisdiction, under the Methodistical system we will here give them, with the year in which they presided,
1832 - 1835 - Henry Stead. 1836 - 1839 - Miner Sherman. 1840 - 1843 - Charles Sherman. 1844 - 1847 - Ephraim Gorse. 1848 - John Lindsey died. - John Clark was elected to fill vacancy and remained till 1851. 1852 - 1855 - Truman Seymour. 1856 - 1859 - Henry L. Starks. 1860 - 1863 - William Griffin, D. D. 1864 - 1867 - Rodman H. Robinson 1868 - 1871 - Samuel Meredith. 1872 - 1875 - Chester F. Burget. 1876 - 1879 - Homer Eaton, D. D. 1880 - J. L. Sawyer, present incumbent. The pastors of the congregation have been as follows: -- 1832 - John Harlam and John Dennison. 1833 - William Ames. 1834 - James R. Goodrich. 1835 - Roswell Kelly and Henry Williams. 1836 - Roswell Kelly and Henry Burton. 1837 - 1838 - Henry Coleman and Peter W. Smith. 1839 - Henry Williams, Valentine Brown and Joseph Crounse. 1840-1841-Hiram Chase. 1842 - David Poor, Isaac DeVoe. 1843 - David Poor, Charles Gilbert. 1844 - Amos Osborne, 1845 - 1846 - Madley Witherell. 1847 - 1848 -Charles E. Giddings. 1849 - 1850 - John W. Belknap. 1851 - 1852 - Charles DeVoe. 1853 - 1854 - Bishop Isbell. 1855 - 1856 - J. D. Burnham. 1857 - 1858 - Selah W. Brown. 1859 - 1860 - John Pegg. 1861 - 1862 - William Clark. 1863 - 1864 - Horace L. Grant. 1865 - 1866 - 1867 - Jeremiah S. Hart. 1868 - 1869 - Aaron D. Heaxt. 1870 - 1871 - James B. Wood. 1872 - 1874 - John A. Savage. The foregoing officiated in the old church while the following have officiated in the new 1875 - Sylvester W. Clemins. 1876 - 1877 - Charles F. Noble. 1878 - 1880 - John L. Atwell, present pastor. The class-leaders are at present (1881): H.D. Wells, M.D., S. Requa, John H. Cornell, L. D. Mann, E. Winegar, John Avery, M. Rickard. The trustees are: - H. D. Wells, M. D. Almerin Cornell, J. H. Malory, G. E. Borst, W. H. Albro. The Stewards are: -- | G. S. Lynes, J. H. Cornell, A. L. Vroman, Harvey Borst, George W. Vroman, R. F. Noxin, C. A. White, J. B. Niffin, Austin France.
The church membership is 310, and the Sabbath school, under the superintendence of Austin France, is the largest and most interesting in the County, numbering twenty-eight officers and teachers and three hundred and ten scholars.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church. - From the records of this church we copy the following:
"The first service of the Episcopal church, held at Middleburgh, seems to have been about the year 1852, by a missionary stationed at Schoharie, who used to come over occasionally, bringing a melodian and singer with him, and officiated in the Methodist house of worship, then standing near the old Dutch grave-yard.
REV. M. HAYDEN.
"In the year 1853, the Rev. M. Porter, of Schoharie, began to hold regular services here. In the year 1854, owing to the influence of Mr. and Mrs. David Beckman, M. Porter was induced to remove to Middleburgh, and the project of building a church was set on foot.
"For the building of the church, a subscription was raised by general contributions in the village, on the understanding that the edifice was also to be used for school purposes, under the auspices of the Episcopal church, but that the religious instruction imparted in said school, if any, was not to be distinctively Episcopalian, in other words, it was not to be a parish school.
"In addition to the amount locally contributed, the sum of about five hundred dollars was received from the church authorities of the diocese of New York, to aid in the erection of the building.
"The service books (now in use in the church,) and the communion plate, were donated by members of the family of the late Bishop Wainwright, of New York, and the organization took the name of the Wainwright Institute and Chapel, but was subsequently changed to St. Luke's church of Middleburgh.
"Mr. Porter taught a school during his incumbency. The church was finished in the autumn of 1855.
"Mr. Porter was succeeded by Rev. Mr. McIlwaine, who did not continue the school. He remained but five months, and was followed by Rev. Mr. Hedges, who, with his wife, conducted the school with success.
"He remained two years, and owing to ill health, resigned, and the Rev. M. Bishop succeeded him, who was in Deacon's orders. The next rector was Rev. T. K. Coleman, who remained two years.
"After some years, Rev. Edwin Slade came as a missionary, and in April, 1868, was elected rector.
"During his incumbency, the Rectory was built, and in 1870, he left the Parish. 1872 brought Rev. George G. Jones, who closed his connection in 1873, and was succeeded in that year, by Rev. Joseph E. Lindholm, who remained until October, 1875. In the latter year, Rev. M. Nisbett followed, and closed his term in 1879.
"In October, 1879, the Rev. H. C. E. Costelle took charge.
In the latter part of 1879, a class for catechetical instruction was formed with four children, which grew to a Sabbath-school, and at this time, March 1, 1881, is not in order."
The officers are:
Wardens - Samuel Dennison, William H. Engle.
Vestrymen - Joseph J. Efner, Charles Bouck, Ralph P. Hyde, and others.
The True Reformed Church. - The organization of the above church is not now kept up, but about the year 1836 it was one of the working congregations of the place. In that year the present dilapidated church edifice was built, but the pulpit has never been supplied by a resident pastor. Henry and Marcus Bellinger, of Sharon, were the main pastors, in connection with other churches scattered around the eastern part of the State. The latter gentleman, a short time previous to his death, in a conversation with the writer, claimed this charge as a monument of his labors in the cause of Christ. While their strict Calvanistic doctrines are looked upon as peculiar by the majority of the Biblical scholars of the nineteenth century, we find large congregations here and there that closely adhere to them and hold a power but little realized by those of unlike religious sentiments.
Middle Fort. -- We have thus given considerable space to the affairs relating to the Reformed church, as the organization is the oldest landmark in the town, and around the history of which there has been a cloud of doubts. We will now turn to the next object of interest, the old Fort, which recalls the stirring events of the Revolution and awakens a deep, deserving pride of patriotic ancestry.
The portion of the building that remains was the wing or kitchen part of Johannes Becker's mansion, and was first barricaded with rails and timbers, to serve as a fort on the threatened invasion of Captain McDonald and Crysler in August, 1777. The militia and continental soldiers that assembled here upon that day marched up the valley to meet the foe, as stated in Chapter III, and the miniature fort was not utilized upon the occasion, except to shelter the patriots upon their return. Being centrally situated and in the midst of a prosperous farming section, when the authorities located buildings for defense, later in the fall of 1777, this house was chosen and made as impregnable as their means and material would allow. By looking over the ground and bearing in mind the number of citizens and soldiers that frequently assembled here, besides what tradition tells us, there must have been nearly three acres enclosed within the pickets.
The barn belonging to the farm was enclosed and stood about ten rods to the east of the house and was used as barracks for the soldiers together with another building built for the same purpose to the south of it. The citizens built huts for their own accomodation within the enclosure, and to them they resorted each night for safety. By the side of the house, which was about thirty by fifty and joined the wing on the south, was a staging or cupola that overlooked the valley and in which the patriots stood upon the eventful 17th of October, and directed their death dealing missiles in the enemy's ranks. "Upon the Northeast and Southwest corners of the enclosure," says author Simms, "were block houses where cannons were mounted." "A brass nine-pound cannon was mounted on the southwest and an iron one at the diagonal corner, each of which as the block houses projected, commanded two sides of the inclosure."
An oven was built in which forty loaves of bread could be baked at a time, and in which, weekly, were put the neighborhood's bakings. An old lady tells us, her mother looked back to the time spent in the old fort with the most pleasing recollection. We have numbered no less than ten marriages that tradition tells us were contracted here between the sturdy soldiery and the buxom, warm-hearted girls that necessity compelled to remain a goodly share of the time at the fort. Here we may say that a better opportunity of selecting a "help meet" could not be presented, and a better class to select from was not to be found. It is a fact worthy to be brought to notice that the girls and women of those days were, exceptionally, robust, vigorous, healthy, and through the teachings of their religious mothers, conscientious to a fault, tidy and industrious, affable and exemplary. Beneath the present building was the magazine that was so faithfully guarded by Colonel Vroman upon the day of battle, and which held such a meagre supply of powder that the Colonel was fearful of the consequences in letting his men know the fact.
He stood firm and dealt it our himself, saying each time, "there is plenty left"--"fire away and make each shot count!" When we consider the strength of the foe, at least four to one--and the destitution of the garrison, powder, bullets and nearly everything, we cannot but admire the patriot's courage and fortitude there displayed, and not wonder at the fears Major Woolsey entertained of making an effort to oppose the blood-thirsty foe. But they were brave hears, not petted by honors of position, but by hardship and privations, that swelled in contempt and disdain, to falter in their purpose of opposing the desecrators of their homes and firesides. The main force of the enemy marched direct to the east of the garrison from the old church they burned, (which stood about four rods back of Wallace Rickard's residence) and took their station upon a knoll a little north of east, and upon lower ground to the north of it, and threatened the annhilation of the little fort. Why a greater effort was not made to force the patriots to surrender is a mystery, as their army was sufficient to have stopped all communication with the upper and lower forts,and inevitably have starved them out, if a surrender could not have been effected in any other way. Undoubtedly the obstinacy the patriots displayed in firing upon the flag of truce, before it was fairly started, led Johnson to believe they were assured they could cope successfully with him. Simms in his "Border Wars" says, of the effect the British guns had upon the garrison: "Three shells were well thrown from this position by the enemy at the fort and many cannon shot were fired, but with less precision, the most of them passing entirely over the destined object. The first shell fired sang in the air like a pigeon, and exploded directly over the house and as its fragments fell upon the roof, Mrs. Richtmyer, an old lady, then in an upper room, who had been an invalid and unable to rise alone from her bed for a long time,was so frightened thashe sprang from it, and went below, surviving the effect but a short time. The second fell within the pickets near the well, and while the fuse was burning off and the ball dancing in a mud-hole, every person exposed to its explosion had ample time to gain a respectful distance, and it scattered its fragments without injuring any one. The third fell through the roof of the main building and lodging on a pile of feather beds in the chamber, exploded, tearing the beds to pieces, doing little other mischief, except that of frightening Christian Rickard, an old bachelor, who chanced to be in the room, almost to death. The explosion completely filled the room with feathers, and groping his way down stairs, Rickard made his appearance below, where many of the women and children were, covered with feathers, and spitting out down from his mouth, which sudden fear had caused him to open too widely for such an atmosphere. When asked what had happened, he replied in Low Dutch--"I think the devil is in the chamber, for the feathers fly around so I cannot see."
Through Mrs. Van Slyck, a daughter of Colonel Vroman, Author Simms relates an incident that occurred in the Fort that was another example of American valor and patriotism, worthy to be inscribed upon our country's tablets of honor. Nicholas Sloughter, who acquired the reputation of a good soldier, had a very sick child in the fort, and as he was leaving it with a party ofvolunteers under Murphy, was told that his child appeared to be dying, and he had better remain. "I can do the child no good," was his reply. "My duty is to protect the living as well as the dying." Though it may seem to have been unfeeling in the soldier, yet Duty was his watchword, and domestic cares and affections were sacrificed and laid upon his country's altar, as the price of her liberty and independence.
Parties were sent out from the fort through the day to capture straggling enemies and save property that was being burned by the revengeful Tories, but little could be accomplished as the force drew together, and to attack them in the open fields would have been a foolish attempt. We find each did their duty well, and those mentioned by the historian Simms, whole decendants are still in the valley were Lieutenant Martinus Zielie, and his cousin Martinus Zielie, Nicholas Sloughter, John Wilber, Major Eckerson, Timothy Murphy, Peter VanSlyck, Bartholomew Vroman, Joachim Folluck, Susanna Vroman, David Elerson, George Richtmyer, Dr. John King and the brave Colonel Vroman.
The old fort and grounds are now owned by David Zeh, whose care of them is commendable, but the ancient walls begin to crack and totter, and soon will fall, and pass from view.
Firing upon the Flag -- We are informed by the grandsons of Martinus Zielie that when the flag of truce advanced from General Johnson's ranks, towards the fort, that Zielie himself fired upon it, as he stood by the side of Murphy. When Woolsey reprimanded him for so doing Murphy shouted "You be damned." When the act was repeated by Murphy he swore he would blow "his (Woolsey's) damned brains out before the flag should enter."
When Zielie fired upon the flag, he did so by Murphy's order, the latter withheld his own to repel the Major if he made an attempt to carry his threat of "running them through" with his sword if they repeated the act. The second time the flag advanced, Murphy was maddened to a high pitch and fired upon it himself, at the same time daring Woolsey to attempt to execute his threat. By the side ofMurphy and Zielie stood Elerson and Bartholomew Vroman, either of whom would have dispatched the Major if he had attempted to injure Murphy. Martinus Zielie died near Auburn, N. Y., November 2, 1833, in the eighty ninth year of his age. His children removed to Wisconsin and Iowa, and ever regretted, as they had a right to, the absence of the father's name in history in connection with the events of the 17th of October, 1780.
Zielie Family and House.--At what particular time the Zielie family came to the Schoharie valley, we are unable to learn for certainty, but at some time previous to 1732. They were Hollanders, and children of Peter Zielie and Cornelia Dawen, who first settled upon Long Island, at a very early date. We find two brothers, Peter andDavid, who came to the valley about the year 1725, were the first ones bearing the name in Schoharie. Peter married Engeltie Vroman, daughter of Peter, as noticed in Chapter XIII. The former had ten children and the latter seven.
The property the family possessed lay around the present old stone house, called the "Zielie house," and during the Revolution, it was in the possession of Peter U, (sometimes written Peter W.) and afterwards became the property of his brother, Johannes. When Johnson and Brant's forces came in sight of the village, the Zielie family were at home, and each member hastily caught up some article of furniture, and ran to the fort. An old negro, then a slave, belonging to the family, took down a looking-glass he knew was highly prized by them, it having been brought from Holland many years before, and ran for dear life. Being rather clumsy, he tripped, fell upon the glass and cracked it. It was preserved, however, and fell into the hands of Martinus Zielie, brother of Peter, above mentioned, and upon his removal to Cayuga county, and his children to the distant west, it was taken along, and now can be seen at the home of Hiram Zielie, a grandson of Martinus, in Webster City, Iowa. The glass fell from the frame a few years ago, and broke in several pieces, but the largest was placed in a neat oval frame, and is much prized by the family. Colonel Peter W. Zielie, was the Peter U. above referred to, and lived after the war upon the farm now occupied by Hezekiah Swart. He had but two children, both daughters. Cornelia married Johannes Becker, son of Johannes, the owner of the stone fort. Upon the death of Mr. Becker, by drowning, she married VanEpps. The other daughter, Elizabeth, married Tunis Swart. Not having a son, the Colonel adopted his nephew, Peter Swart, the father of Mrs. J. M. Scribner, the late Tunis Swart, of Schoharie, and Peter Z.Swart, Mrs. George Danforth, and Mrs. Benoni Spafford. The old German clock, owned by Colonel Zielie, is now in the possession of Mrs. Scribner, and is a relic of great worth. Its movements are as "good as new," after a continued use of at least, one hundred and twenty-five years, if not one hundred and fifty. It was recased, as were many others in the valley, by one "Vogel," who was a dealer in clocks, (and undoubtedly the first "Jeweler" in the valley,) for many and long years ago. The Low Dutch Beckers, of Middleburgh, the Zielies, Swarts, Eckerson and Vroman families, became wonderously mixed up in marriage, as will be seen by noticing each family lineage. These families were, in early times, the aristocrats of the valley, having come here with abundant means; but through the losses occasioned by Indian and Tory invasions, they were reduced to a level with their German neighbors, which, doubtless mitigated in a measure, the ill feeling that was early sown and nourished towards each other.
The Borst Family.--Besides the families already mentioned, that were early settlers, and of which decendants may still be found, were the Borsts. They came as early as 1713 or 1714, and were Germans. The head of the family we believe to have been Jacob, whose sons were Joseph and Jacob, of Cobleskill, and Peter, of this town. They settled where James W. Davis now resides. Peter built a grist-mill a short time previous to the Revolution, which stood till the year 1795. That year the present "Davis mill" was built, and is now an interesting relic of other days. The frame is chiefly pine, and so well constructed that, upon the abutments being washed away a few years ago, the building sagged but one-half of an inch. The flooring was also pine, split out of large pine logs, to the thickness of three inches. One Forsyth was the builder, and tradition says he was assisted by one hundred men, in its erection.
Peter's son Peter, called "Tauty," followed him in the milling business , who was brother to Michael, the inn-keeper near the reformed church. The second Peter's son, Peter P., was also a miller, and brother of Milton Borst, now of the Cobleskill mill. William and Peter, sons of the last Peter P., are now owners of the mill above, of late years known as the "Borst mill." Mr. J. W. Davis purchased the old "Borst mill" property in 1858, after it had been in the Borst family's possession, at least one hundred and thirty years, and he is anticipating a gala day when the centennial year of the present structure arrives. During the war, this immediate neighborhood was in sympathy with the royal cause, and the old mill was left standing to furnish supplies, and to it, the citizens of all principles were compelled to come, after the Eckerson mill was burnt. One of the family lived upon the farm now owned and occupied by Peter Zeh, and was true to the colonial cause. When Johnson's army was marching down the valley, on the 17th, Colonel Vroman dispatched Joseph Borst, as on, then a lad of fourteen, to Albany on horseback for assistance, but he did not return until the next day, and another messenger was sent as soon as the force left the valley.
The daughter of yound Borst becamethe wife of Jacob Becker,and mother of the late David Becker and the present Hamilton, who is the only one left to perpetuate the patriotism of Jacob's branch of the family. William, a brother of "Tauty," settled in Cobleskill, and was the father of the late Marcus and William Borst, Mrs. William Angle, Mrs. John Zielie, of Sharon, and Mrs. Marcus Sternburgh, of Cobleskill. Michael, for a number of years, kept a tavern near the Reformed church, and a store where Duryea Beekman's residence stands, and after that removed to Breakabeen, and from there to Cobleskill. His children were John B., Peter M., Alexander, Michael, Jr., Elisha, William, and Mrs. Daniel Dodge.
The Becker Family.--As we before mentioned, the first and only Low Dutch Becker that settled in the valley did so upon the farm where the old stone fort now stands. Johannes was the father and came from Schenectady, sometime previous to 1737. He had two sons, Peter and Johannes, Jr. Peter married a Vedder, of Schenectady, and upon her death, Maria Vroman, daughter of Jonas Vroman. His children were, Henry who married Agnes Eckerson, and settled at "Schoharie Hill," now Prattsville, Adam, Jonas, Mrs. Bignell, and Mrs. John Becker. Johannes married Cornelia, daughter of Col. Zielie and their children were Storm, John and Harmonus. This family was firm in patriotism and did a vast amount of duty through the struggle, and became connected with all the leading families of the valley.
The Loucks Family.--A few years after the settlement of the Germans, the Loucks family removed from the Camps and settled upon the lands now occupied by John P. Loucks. This family came over from Germany with the immigration of 1710, but remained a short distance below the "camps," until, perhaps a final settlement of the land difficulties was made.
We are not certain what the head of the family name was, but believe it to have been Philip, and are led to think he possessed considerable property for those times. We find he purchased the land at this place of the Freemire, or Frimire family, who afterwards settled in Cobleskill. The old gentleman also purchased lands in the present town of Sharon, upon which his decendants are settled at the present time, as we will notice in the chapter upon that town. We find there were four sons, Peter, Cornelius, Andrew andWilliam. Cornelius settled in Sharon, and the other brothers in this town. Andrew was the chorister in the Lutheran church at Schoharie, to whom Author Simms referred, and his children were Jeremiah, William and Mrs. William P. Loucks, of Sharon. Jeremiah was in the fort upon the 18th of October, and received a wound upon the head. He was the father of Henry J. Loucks, who resides upon the parental farm at the present time. William the brother retained the old place and was the father of the present owner and occupant, John P. Loucks. William, the brother of Andrew the singer, was an inveterate Tory as were the most of his family. He lived nearly opposite of Henry J. Loucks' present residence. His children were Andrew and Peter, of Sharon, Jeremiah of Middleburgh, and mrs. John Ingold, Jr., of Schoharie. His children by his second wife were John W., Jacob, Henry, William W., David, Mrs. Storm Becker and Mrs. William Borst. The sons nearly all settled in Sharon.
When Johnson invaded the valley in 1780, all of the Loucks' buildings were burned with the exception of William's, which proved to be a resting place and supply station for Indians and prowling Tories throughout the war. There were quite a number of families in this neighborhood that sympathized with the Crown, and gave needed assistance to the enemy.
The Eckerson Family. First Merchants and Millers.--At some time previous to 1700 three brothers came to America from Holland, Thomas, Cornelius and John Eckerson. They brought with them, the family tradition says, a cargo of goods, but were shipwrecked when near New York Harbor and lost them all. Being of a wealthy family they were again supplied with goods and traded in New York City for a while, when John settled upon Long Island, and Thomas and Cornelius wandered to the Schoharie valley and settled at Weiser's dort, when quite advanced in years. We think their settlement here was about the year 1725, at least as early s that date. They engaged in trade, building a brick store upon the grounds now occupied by the residence of Dr. Linas Wells and a residence nearly opposite. The buildings stood at the time of the invasion of Colonel Johnson, and were burned. Whether the settlers manufactured the bricks used in these buildings and the church built in 1737, or not, we are unable to say, but undoubtedly did, as to cart them from Albany to Schenectady, would have been a very tedious job, beside being expensive as they had not the roads, or necessary wagons etc., to transfer such heavy articles without great labor and untold inconveniences. As they had other tradesmen it is quite likely they had brickmakers.
Cornelius Eckerson was unmarried, but Thomas was fortunate at least in a financial point of view s well as in influence, to marry the daughter of a wealthy man and government official. His children were four sons and four daughters, namely, Thomas, Cornelius, Tunis, John, Agenes, Mrs. Henry Becker, who settled at Prattsville, Elizabeth, (Mrs. John Zielie,) Maria, (Mrs. Martinus Zielie) and Anna, (Mrs. Silas Gray, of Johnstown,) who husband was a Colonel of the Revolution, stationed part of the time at the "middle fort." All of these children, tradition tells us, were married during the war.
Thomas Jr., as he will hereafter be called, married Margaret Slingerland, of Albany. The Eckersons were a business family, and were connected with all brances of industry that were started in the valley, as well as foremost in the church. The first mill at this place was built by them, and we find they possessed the present site of Steven's mill, near the stone fort at Schoharie, at an early date, and we think built the one that stood there in the Revolution. They were large land-holders, and when the revolution commenced, were very wealthy for people of the frontier. Thomas Jr., was commissioned Major, and proved a loyal and efficient officer. Through some unknown cause, many of the descendants of this family have changed the name somewhat, by dropping the son, and writing only Ecker, while others go still farther and drop the E, and supply with A, making it Acker.
Rev. R. Randal Hoes, a descendant of the family, says: "The founder of the family in this country was Jan Thomaszen, of New York City. About the year 1692, he assumed the surname Eckerson, which was retained by his children as the family name. It is variously spelled in the New York Dutch Church records as Echons, Eckens, Eckeson, Etkins and Ekkisse, with several other slight modifications."
It is doubtful whether there was an earlier resident merchant at Weiser's dorf, than Eckerson. Indian traders occasionally visited the valley, from 1711 to 1740, and supplied the people with such goods as they desired, or which their merchants did not possess. Adam Vroman, of Schenectady, Johannes Lawyer, and Derick Swart, were early traders, and perhaps the Eckersons sallied out as such, and were led to settle down in the valley, lured by the beauty of scenery and the fair prospects of controlling a lucrative trade.
The grist-mill they built, stood a few rods below the present Reformed church sheds. A portion of the dam has been discovered of late, by the washing away of the bank, and exposing timbers used in the construction. They were perfectly sound.
The mill was burned by Johnson's force, and re-built soon after the close of the war, but was destroyed by a flood. Part of the dam was used for several years after, for sawing, and still later to run a machine in the manufacture of nails. A freshet, nearly sixty years ago, washed the old mark away.
The son Tunis, died in 1797, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried in the old graveyard, beneath a rude stone, upon which his name, age and death are inscribed, and nearly obliterated by the moss of years. Not far distant is a large slab of sandstone, of ancient design, that marks the grave of Cornelia Van Dyke, who was born in 1724, and died in 1772.
Hartman's Dorf.--Of Hartman's dorf, little can be gleaned, beyone what too officious tradition tells. We believe it was settled in the spring of 1713, and was the land spoken of in the petition of 1720, copied in the first chapter of this work, as "they were obliged to solicit all the Indian Kings there adjoining, for more land, which they willingly granted "em." The first lands purchased or "solicited" of the Indians were where Middleburgh now stands, which proved only enough for the "fifty families" that came with Weiser, who we believe formed two settlements, one around the first church and one where the present Reformed church stands. As the "remainder of the people" came it became necessary to obtain more land, and consequently, Hartman's and the Feek and Crysler settlements were made.
Tradition tell us through the late Judge Brown that this "Dorf" consisted of about sixty-five houses, also that "here were the first apple trees planted to an orchard in Schoharie by Hans Wilhelm Kemmer." This dorf was named after Harman Winedecker, a list-master at the camps. Undoubtedly he brought those that were under his supervision there with him to form this settlement. It stood upon the high ground to the south, nearly two miles from Weiser's town. It is somewhat singular that this and Garlock's dorf, the two largest of the valley, were swept out of existence leaving but a few marks, either by paper or otherwise. It is thought by many that the residents of the settlement went away with Weiser and his followers. If tradition is correct Weiser's settlement consisted of about sixty families at that time, and that number only followed him to Pennsylvania in 1722. Then where did they go? We think as the land which they occupied proved less fertile than the flats, and not perhaps willing to accede to the owners' price, they disbanded and united with their brethren in other dorfs and upon the Mohawk, leaving only the Bellinger and Rickard families in the dorf. In this way, perhaps, together with new arrivals from the camps and Germany the Weiser settlement was continued and other dorfs were formed after the exit of 1722.
As before stated, but few marks are left of this dorf. The largest portion of the settlement was upon the Bellinger brothers' farm, and principally stood to the east and south-east of their farm buildings. In plowing the grounds the location of many houses can be detected, and various household implements have been found around the original sites. We have been shown a lead spoon that was very much corroded, but still retaining its ancient shape. The "bowl: is broader and deeper than those of recent manufacture, and the stem or handle much shorter. The Bellingers have also found knives that were nearly destroyed by rust, but of sufficient form to give an idea of their "style" and workmanship. One that undoubtedly has many times divided the venison "steak" and quartered many smoking johnny-cakes for the hungry Palatine, is yet in a good state of preservation, and proves to be of superior temper. The blade is short and narrow, and plainly shows it was a "home-made" article, as well as the spoon. Those relics are of great value, as they are all that is left of the utensils used by the settlers of Hartman's dorf. Several old apple tree stumps still remain that were, according to Judge Brown, the first trees planted in Schoharie.
The Bellinger brothers assure us that the first wheat sown or planted in the County was in the lot between the barn and highway.
Judge Brown says, in referring to Garlock's dorf:--"Here was an Indian Castle, though on the west side of the Schoharie creek, in which Lambert Sternbergh raised the first wheat that was ever raised in Schoharie." It is evident that Garlock's dorf was not settled as early as this dorf, that it was at least five years its junior, and it is not at all probable that the settlers were five, four, or three years in the valley before they experimented on the raising of wheat. If we are to believe that wheat was first raised at Garlock's, we are also to believe it was planted within the pickets of the castle, as stated, but when we consider that the castle was not built until after 1750, it will be seen that the Judge was in error. Lambert Sternbergh may have planted the first wheat, but was a resident of this dorf, and when Kneiskern's dorf was formed in 1728 and 1729, removed there and occupied in part the land upon which the castle was afterwards built, but previous to the removal, hundreds of bushels of wheat must have been raised yearly in the valley. The Judge was misinformed or misunderstood in this case, and without doubt the Bellinger tradition that has been handed down from one generation to another is correct.
The amount of wheat received from a skipple (one peck) planted, was eighty-three, as told by Brown and the Bellinger tradition showing that the same "planting" and result of harvesting was referred to by both.
But two families that first settled here remain upon the original ground. The Rickard or Rickert family is one, and was quite numerous in that day. As before stated, one family settled upon the Reformed church grounds and removed to Brunnen dorf with the Schaeffer's. One at least wandered to Pennsylvania with Weiser, and the other settled in this dorf near the mountain. Each family from that day to the present have been independent of each other and long years ago were referred to as the Hartman Rickerts, and Fountaintown Reckerts, and each at the present time trace their ancestry back to those dorfs, and still claim relationship.
The Bellinger Family.--Among the first settlers of this town, was a Bellinger family. Three bearing that name, came over in 1710, whose names were Frederick, Henry, and Marcus, and settled upon lands now owned by John I., David and William J. Bellinger. One of the three settled upon the Mohawk, below Spraker's Basin, and one where Utica now stands. Marcus remained here and had one son, Johnannes, from whom sprang the present Bellingers of the County. The sons of Johannes were Marcus, Peter and John. The latter settled in Sharon, Peter upon the Cobleskill, and Marcus retained the old homestead in Hartman's Dorf. He was Supervisor of "Schoharie" from 1767 to 1796, through all the forms of government that were in force during those years. His sons were Henry, the father of the present Marcus, and John M., the father of the present brothers that occupy the original homestead as before intimated. His children are David, William J., John I., Alexander, Mrs. Alexander Bouck, and Mrs. Philip Richtmyer. Each one of the children had large families, and with few exceptions, their descendants possess large estates, it being characteristic of the family to accumulate wealth.
The three that came across the ocean, were brothers and young men, and in after years, we find these Mohawk and Sharon Bellingers intermarried.
David, John I., and William J., living upon the east side of the creek, are sons of John M., and the lands upon which they reside, have been in the possession of the family at least one hundred and sixty-eight years.
The day Johnson was before the "middle fort" trying to gain admittance, Marcus Bellinger was on his way from the "lower" to the "middle fort" with a bag of powder upon his back, and when he gained his residence, which stood near the present one, he saw the smoke rising from the burning buildings above, and concluded he would be unable to reach the fort. He ran to the woods at the foot of the mountain and secreted himself until the enemy had passed down the valley. They burned his residence and barracks, which stood near, and one of the burnt posts still remains as sound as if but recently set.
Among the interesting relics of the past held by the family is a cannon ball, picked up upon the farm, that weighs over sixteen pounds. It must have been one left by Johnson and "Brant, as the patriots had no use for such a projectile, from the fact that their guns were too small to carry it. Another "grim monster" of devastation and death may be seen at this place in the shape of an Indian tomohawk, that has the bowl of a pipe upon the back and a hole through the handle, to perform a double duty. After peace was proclaimed, Marcus Bellinger built the present residence, and for many eyars kept a tavern, as did his son, John M. The ball-room is overhead, and the well-worn floor tells us it was used much by the youngsters of those days, who took special pains to "hoe it down" without any regard to such grace and dignity as are implied in the poet's ideal dance when they "tripped the light fantastic toe."
Referring to relics, there are many still in the valley that date back to the first settlers, and are treasured, as they should be, by the descendants of the bold pioneers.
But a short distance from the old middle fort, Mr. Zeh, the present owner, dug a well, a few years ago, and at the depth of fourteen feet, came upon a thick layer of leaves in perfect form but upon being exposed to the air, they crumbled to dust. Among the leaves were butternuts, that looked as sound as if they had lain but a season in water. Many arrow heads and Indian trinkets have been found near the fort, from time to time, especially upon the side-hill, to the east, which are treasured up by the citizens as sacred relics of Revolutionary days.
Among those that occupy the lands of Hartman's dorf, and perhaps purchased of the first settlers were the Richtmyer family.
The Richtmyer Family.--Three brothers, Peter, George and Christian, came from Germany together, about the year 1745 and settled at Hartman's dorf, upon the farm now owned and occupied by George Richtmyer. At a later date Peter settled in the present town of Conesville, and the two brothers divided the farm, George taking the south side of the brook and Christian the north. During the Revolution these famlies were staunch patriots, performing the trust of scout when not in service elsewhere. George received a Captain's commission in October, 1775, of the third company, and was at Bemis Heights and in every engagement that occurred in the valley. Christian was the most trusted scout, and waas a special friend of Murphy and Tuffs, with whom many daring exploits were performed. He assumed the character of a spy and entered the British lines at Saratoga under the guise of a Hessian and accomplished his trust with safety and success. Perhaps there was not another one in the Schoharie valley that performed more hazardous duties than did Christian Richtmyer, and we are, by careful searching, assured none have been less referred to. Being quiet and reserved he did the work while others gained the praise, and soon after peace was proclaimed, ere he fairly breathed the pure air of freedom and rested his jaded limbs, disease, contracted by exposures, laid him in his grave. Two of his sons, Conrad and William, settled in Cobleskill in 1794, as stated in that chapter.
Captain George Richtmyer re-built his residence at the close of the war, and reared a large family, as follows:--David, who settled upon the Mohawk, Abram, in the Kilmer neighborhood of Cobleskill, Conradt and Henry, near Carlisle Centre, Mrs. David Becker, of Fox's creek, Mrs. John Jost Warner, of Schoharie, and George, Jr., who retained the old place, and was followed by his son, Peter, who kept a tavern for many years after John M. Bellinger closed his. George, the son of Peter, now occupies the place, and is the fourth generation in which the farm has been in their possession.
Mrs. Christian Richtmyer was in the "middle fort" the day of Johnson's invasion, and feeling indisposed--undoubtedly through fear--she lay upon one of her feather-beds that was taken there for safety--in the attic. As the bombs flew over the house she became frightened, and while descending the stairs, the bomb that hustled Rickard out of his retreat also tore open the bed she had just left, and scattered the feathers around the room. The same bed is now in the Loucks family, and through a machine renovation but a short time since, was made "as good as new.".
Rebuilding of the village.--Having referred to settlers and matters of dates before and during the war, let us consider the re-building of the village, and the changes made by the onward march of intelligence.
As we have already stated, the people were made poor by the war, we may say with propriety, except in land. That remained, uninjured, but stripped of all improvements, and still theirs by title, yet they were poor, as a class, not having anything with which to bear the expenses of re-building. The Eckersons re-built a mansion and store. The store was abandoned and the "Inn" only, continued by the family. In 1811, one Watkins was the proprietor, and was followed successively by Dewitt and Knowlton. The building was chiefly built of the brick that was in the first storehouse that stood upon Dr. Linas Wells' grounds, and was burnt by Johnson. Many of the same were used in the construction of Dr. Henry Wells' present residence, and Zielie's, the present store-house near the site of the old village. The Low Dutch being in control of the Reformed church, they superintended the erection of the edifice and placed it upon the grounds purchased by them in 1737, for the support of the "Low Dutch church of Middletown and Schoharie." Having thus erected the church near the creek, the settlement naturally drew towards it and in a few years quite a village was formed around it.
Michael Borst built an inn to the north of the church, that was for many years a terror to the moral part of the community. The present residence of Mrs. John M. Scribner was built soon after 1790 by Michael Borst, as a first class residence, and still stands as a creditable relic of the march, progress made, after peace and freedom spread their exhilarating influences over the valley. Immediately after the war closed, Alexander Boyd came to the place and engaged in business and proved to be a very energetic and useful man. He was born in Philadelphia, of Irish parentage, and while a young man located in Albany and came from that city to this place. He labored for the Eckerson's on the mill for a while, and about the year 1800, built a mill where William and Peter Borst's mill now stands. The old building yet stands and is used as a wagon house by the Borst brothers.
Mr. Boyd was quite a politician, as we find him in 1813 to 1815 in Congress, and at different times holding local offices, and we may here mention the fact that during the campaign of General Jackson's second election, Mr. Boyd was considered the most obstinate man in the County. Colonel William Dietz, of Schoharie, was upon the Electoral ticket and the County endeavored to give the largest majority, according to numbers, of any county in the State. Middleburgh was to do her best and upon election day gave every vote cast in the town for Dietz, with but one exception. Alexander Boyd refused to desert his Federal principles for etiquette, and cast his ballot for Henry Clay. Among papers in the possession of Henry Cady we find the following, penned by Boyd, bearing date March 5, 1822:--
"For value received I promise to deliver unto Peter Vroman a Good new Iron Shod two horse wagon on or before the first of August next as witnessed my hand
Wagons at that time for farm use were made with and without a tire. The first "iron shod" wagon wheels were made by bolting the tire on in sections instead of being welded together as now. He built the grist-mill at Cobleskill in 1830 and engaged in all kinds of business in which profit was to be gained. The wife of Jehiel Larkin, of Sloansville, is a daughter of Mr. Boyd and we believe the only member of the family in the County. Mr. Boyd hired workmen to manufacture wagons and did a heavy business for those times. But very few light wagons were made, especially buggies, and if it were possible for him to appear before the repository of McGraw & Barney and examine the workmanship of those mechanics, he would consider their slender work as but "reeds in the wind."
J. M. Scribner purchased the Boyd mill property and built a large grist and paper mill in 1855. In justice to worth, we cannot pass by without giving notice of Mr. Scribner as he was as talented a business man as the County ever claimed. He was born in the town of Washington, Orange County, Vermont, in 1805, and graduated at Union College in 1833. He studied for the ministry and attended the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1836. His first charge was at the Reformed church and Gallupville, where he labored from 1836 to 1839. He removed to Walden, Orange county, in the latter year and remained three years. Finding a broad field for usefulness which was more congenial to his health and taste, he took charge of the Auburn Female Seminary, and after, of the Rochester Female School and returned to Middleburgh in 1845, and engaged his mind upon Mathematics, in which branch of science he proved himself without a superior. His work on "Mensuration," the "Ready Reckoner," "Scribner's Engineers' and Mechanics" Companion," "Engineers'Pocket Table-book," and other mathematical works, have gained for him an enviable and enduring reputation as a superior mathematician. The first edition of his "Engineers' and Mechanics' Companion," appeared in 1845, and to give an idea of the value of the work we will here state that the fourteenth edition was published in 1866. Mr. Scribner was a thorough business man possessing the qualities to originate and drive an enterprise to the advantage of the community. He was a terse writer, active and practical thinker, and in all his relations with the business world he based every act upon principles of right and honesty. During his last years he was engaged in the manufacture of straw paper, having leased the "Richmondville mill" for a term of years, and carried the enterprise on with success. He was one of the originators of the Schoharie Valley Railroad and long a director of the same. His death occurred December 20, 1880, after a short illness. The Classis of Schoharie held a meeting at Middleburgh on the 22d of December, and passed appropriate resolutions expressive of his worth, and the loss of the church and community in his death.
John Hinman.--A short distance above "Bull's Head," there lived for many years John Hinman who was a Yankee, and as competent to build a house, threshing machine, or plead a case in a justice court, as to make a wagon and iron it. He left his parents, then living in Lebanon, Conn., when but a lad, to seek his fortune in the western wilds, and after drifting here and there, settled in this village about the year 1816. After being absent from home three years, he wrote to his mother, saying: "Mother, I have thirteen linen shirts," which was his entire stock of worldly goods. In answer which was equally as laconic, she wrote: "John, you have done well." In the course of time he married a daughter of Frederick Pausley, and settled down to business. He made the first threshing machines manufactured in the County, which were his own invention. The power was a "sweep," and driven by one horse, which will be remembered by those who memories carry them back fifty years ago. Upon the opening of John O"Brien's law office, Hinman began to read law and fitte himself to try civil cases. Upon the decease of Mrs. Hinman, he married her sister who became the mother of Nathan P. and Chauncey W. Hinman, who connection with the bar of the County has been conspicuous. The education of those two gentlemen was undoubtedly as meager as any of the present bar, not having any better opportunities than were offered by the district school of the village, which was at that time of very low grade. It is with characteristic humor they both refer to their "schooling" as being "baked," from the fact that it was one of the common modes of punishment for the mischievous, to compel them to lie down upon the floor and put the head beneath the box-stove and remain there in a scorching heat, until the teacher felt disposed to release them. The venerable H. H. Marsellus, upon taking the school, was more humane and handed his name down in grateful remembrance by adopting the "toe the crack and stoop over" penalty.
Nathan P. Hinman was born in the village and entered the law office of William H. Engle, and after that of Sanford & Danforth. Upon being admitted to the bar he formed a connection with Major Houck, at Schoharie village, which ceased upon the death of that gentleman. He remained alone until his brother was admitted, when a co-partnership was formed and continued to the year 1872, when Nathan withdrew and removed to Albany City, where he is now located. Mr. Hinman beside being well read in law and possessing a keen perception, is without doubt the most natural orator that has graced the Schoharie County bar. His language is plain, free from inflated expression, and comes with such unusual ease and fluency as to win interest, and with such fervency as to excite, which, coupled with sagacious reasoning through a pleasing voice, makes him a force before a jury or audience that brother professionals find hard to overcome.
Upon the building of the bridge in 1813, the village that was in two parts began to connect by the erection of a portion of the present Atchinson House and others, whose ancient appearance bespeak the date of their erection. Stores and inns occupied the open space, and as each year rolled around we find additions were made until the ancient High Dutch and more youthful Low Dutch villages were united. By an act of the Legislature in 1813, William C. Bouck, Thomas P. Danforth, Peter Swart, John Gebhard, Peter Swart, Jr., and Peter Shafer, Jr., were made a corporate body for the building of the bridge. During that season the work was commenced but the structure was not finished until the year 1819. Thomas P. Danforth became the owner and his heirs still hold the property, from which a paying dividend is yearly realized.
The turnpike known as the "Loonenbergh road," running through the village, and built by legislative act of 1802, was built by issuing stock certificates, of which Mr. Danforth purchased the controlling influence. For long years the turnpike was called "Paine Danforth's road," and over its bed a vast amount of business has been done. The old bridge, and other structures that span the stream, are monuments of honest workmanship. Sixty-eight years of constant use have passed away -- many rushing floods passed through its arches, with the power and strength equalled only by the hand of the Omnipotent that ruled them, and yet, we find the old bridge still firm as a rock.
Danforth. -- About the year 1793, Jonathan Danforth, from Connecticut, settled here after a short sojourn in the city of Albany. Upon the formation of the County in 1795, he was appointed one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. He had two sons, George and Thomas Paine. The former studied law and after a successful practice, died in Savannah, Ga. The late General George E. Danforth and ex-Judge Peter S., were sons. Thomas P. Danforth was appointed Assistant Judge of Common Pleas in 1823, and was father of the Dr. Volney Danforth and John J., who removed to Amsterdam and died without heirs, in the year 1830.
Engle. -- Martinus Engle settled upon the Bouck Brothers' present farm soon after the Revolution, and was succeeded by Anthony Engle, of Berne, Albany county, who was the progenitor of the present Engle family of the town with the exception of William H. Engle, who is a nephew of Anthony.
Atchinson House. -- Immediately after business began to be brisk upon the road, Daniel Dodge built an inn which is a portion of the Atchinson House. Mr. Dodge dying, the property was occupied by Cyrus Smith, who was afterwards elected Sheriff of the County (1840) and removed in 1842, when it was run by Mrs. Dodge and her son, (the late Daniel D. Dodge,) upon the son becoming capable of assisting in the management. They were followed by John Foland, James McDonald, Judge N. T. Rossetter, John Shafer, _____ Lowe, S. S. Mitchel, and the present proprietor, E. D. Atchinson, who took possession in the spring of 1863.
Freemire House. -- The present hotel familiarly called the Freemire House, was built by Peter Farran, who was for some years a merchant, after the year 1830. William M. Holton followed and vacated the premises upon his election as County Clerk. _____ Demarrah succeeded, who gave place to Nicholas Snyder. E. D. Atchi;nson became the proprietor and vacated for the present host, A. J. Freemire, in 1863.
These two hotels are spacious and have become summer resorts for people living in the city. The custom of depending entirely upon the proceeds of the bar for support, and allowing a motley squad of intemperate loungers the freedom of the premises, as of early days, has been abandoned, and quiet, home-like hospitality adopted.
Merchants. -- As we have already stated, Thomas and Cornelius Eckerson were without doubt the first resident merchants of the town, and the business was continued by some portion of the family up to the year 1800. Many small dealers from that time to the present have located here and passed on in a short time to other fields, whom we will not mention. The leading substantial tradesmen, we are informed, from time to time, have been:--
Peter Farran. Freeman Stanton. Daniel D. Dodge. Peyton N. Ferrell. John P. Bellinger. Jacob Becker, who was followed by his sons, David and Hamilton. James Dexter, flour, feed, hay, straw, etc. The business men at the present time are as follows:-- Dodge & France, (George W. Dodge and Austin France,) general merchants, successors to D. D. Dodge. J. Neville & Co., (J. Neville and Jacob L. Engle,) general merchants, successors to David Becker & Neville. William E. Bassler, general merchant. G. N. Frisbee, general merchant. M. Geurnsey, general merchant. A. Wortheim, clothier. L. S. Rivenburgh, clothier. Jehial Brazee, grocer. William Dunn, merchant tailor. Hamilton Becker, grocer. Joseph Becker, grocer. F. D. Schermerhorn, grocer. John H. Cornell, grocer. J. B. Badgley, druggist. John T. Dunn, druggist. S. Hutchings, hardware. Frank Durham, hardware. George Pechtle, jeweler. H. J. Stevenson, jeweler. J. Souer, furniture. Frank Straub, barber. George E. Borst, harness dealer. James Becker, harness dealer. Barney & Dennison, carriage manufacturers, successors to Barney & McGraw. J. M. Roney, carriage manufacturer. A. M. Smith, carriage manufacturer. Tompkins Bros., foundrymen. Hadley Snyder, dentist. M. Borst, dentist. J. C. Blodgett, tanner. _____ Williams, tanner. George Rockerfellow, planing mill. S. Requea, general agent and manager, Middleburgh Blue Stone Company.
The Middleburgh Paper Mill was built by Dr. S. B. Wells and Renelo D. Chase, in 1853, and has been a successful affair, especially under the present proprietors, Franklin Krum and J. O. Williams, of Schoharie C. H.
Among the many worthy men engaged in business in this place, none was superior in ability and honor to Freeman Stanton, who died in 1871. The Albany Argus thus notices his life: --
"He was born on the 11th of March, 1796, in Montgomery county, and was the son of John Stanton, who left nine children. By the death of the subject of this sketch, the last of that large family of children has gone down to the grave. Mr. Stanton, in his boyhood, received for those early days what was called a good common school education, and became a clerk in the village store of George Smith, Esq., at Minaville. It was here that Mr. Stanton made the acquaintance of General Jay Cady and the late Judge Paige. That acquaintance ripened into friendship, and for over half a century General Cady and Mr. Stanton have been as brothers. Soon after Mr. Stanton became of age, he removed to Middleburgh, and commenced mercantile business, in which he continued for over thirty years, when he retired to his farm about one mile out of the village of Middleburgh. He married soon after he commenced business, the daughter of Abram Lawyer. Mrs. Stanton died about a year since. In 1824 he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and immediately attracted the attention of the sagacious statesman at Albany, as a young man of sound judgment, and more than ordinary sagacity; and such men as Marcy, Flagg, Hoffman, Bouck and Crosswell, have sought his counsel and advice. The writer of this obituary remembers well a most interesting interview at which he was present, between Mr. Stanton and Governor Marcy, a short time before the National Democratic Convention, held at Baltimore, in 1852. When the late Governor Bouck received the appointment of Assistant Treasurer at New York City, from the President, he would not accept the position unless Mr. Stanton would agree to go with him and take the place of cashier, giving to Mr. Stanton the privilege of selecting his assistant. On this condition Mr. Stanton accepted the appointment, and most faithfully did he perform the work assigned to him. Mr. Stanton, by his amiable disposition, his kindness of heart, and his many liberal acts, made ardent admirers and devoted friends. He has gone to his grave, it is believed, without an enemy. The entire community feel that a good citizen and a kind neighbor has passed away and will fondly cherish his memory. To his large family of children he has left a rich legacy, for it can be truly said Freeman Stanton was an 'honest man, the noblest work of God.'"
John P. Bellinger. -- Contemporary with Stanton and Dodge, was John P. Bellinger, who removed from Cobleskill about the year 1838, and built the store-house now occupied by his successor, M. Geurnsey. Mr. Bellinger was in trade in Cobleskill for several years, and represented that town in the Board of Supervisors five terms. He was a very successful business man and highly respected as a man of integrity and vim, with broad views and energy sufficient to carry them out with success. He was a son of Peter Bellinger, and grandson of Marcus, the Revolutionary Supervisor. After a number of years of pleasant retirement, he died at a good old age, in August, 1878.
Daniel D. Dodge was a son of Daniel D. Dodge, a former landlord of the "Atchinson House," and a very enterprising man for the day in which he lived. The former early in life engaged in trade, and was for a long term of years one of the substantial business men of the town and County. Upon his death, which occurred in 1878, the Schoharie Republican said: "In the death of Daniel D. Dodge the village of Middleburgh loses one of its most enterprising citizens. His memory will be gratefully and lovingly cherished. He was for many years a successful merchant, and for sixteen years an acting magistrate of the town, discharging the duties of the office with rare ability. He represented his County in the Assembly of the State in 1850, and for some eight years was President of the Middleburgh & Schoharie Railroad."
The Tanning Interest. -- Nearly opposite the Methodist church, at an early day, was a small tannery, perhaps the first one that made a regular business in the place, and which was purchased by the father of the late Zodac Pratt, of Greene county. It was here that the veteran tanner, dairyman and agriculturist was born and received his first instruction in those branches of enterprise in which he afterwards engaged, and which made him one of the prominent men of his day. He early removed to the old time named place "Schoharie Hill," and by his energy established one of the largest tanneries to be found in the State. The business he established drew around him a large force of laborers and tradesmen, causing a thrifty village to spring up, and in honor if its founder it was called Prattsville. Other small tanneries have from time to time succeeded the old one near the church, which it is useless to mention. We will only refer to the large establishments that "were, but are not," that once were the chief business basis of the place.
A Mr. Vroman built these works upon the Polly Hollow creek and did an extensive business up to the year 1857. The "Mill Valley Tannery" was built in 1849 by George E. Danforth and a large business was done for several years. This mill averaged about twenty thousand sides yearly for twenty years, averaging sixteen pounds per side of sole leather. From six to eight thousand cords of bark were yearly used. The works were burnt in 1865, but re-built in a few weeks. General Danforth purchased the Vroman mill in 1857, to extend his business, and removed the buildings to his own. In 1869, Loring Andrews purchased the property and upon his death in 1872, the heirs sold out, and after a portion of the buildings were removed, it came into the possession of the present owner Mr. Miller, who manufactured upper leather.
Since writing the foregoing, General Danforth died suddenly at his home, and in justice to him as a business man and genial townsman we will give a summary of his life. He was born in the village of Middleburgh and educated at Union college. He represented the town upon the board of supervisors in 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, and was Colonel of the Fortieth regiment of State militia for a long time and also General in command of the Eighteenth Brigade. In 1861, he was commissioned by the Governor, Edwin D. Morgan, to raise a regiment in Schoharie and Otsego counties, which he delivered to the government, as the 76th regiment. The year following, Horatio Seymour commissioned him to organize the 134th from Schoharie and Schenectady counties. He has held several prominent and flattering positions beside, in which he displayed marked dignity and ability. In 1852, he married a daughter of the late Gov. W. C. Bouck, who survives him. He was a son of George, and only brother of Peter S. Danforth. On the night of the 21st of April, 1881, he suddenly dropped away in the sixty-third year of his age.
Abraham Keyser. -- Among the many men that were born in the town and became prominent in an official point of view, none are more worthy of a notice than the late Abraham Keyser.
The Keyser family were very early settlers and possessed more than common ability as business men. Mr. Keyser died in Albany City in 1873, at the ripe old age of eighty-nine years. His prominence in connection with the State and county government demands a reference to his history. The Albany Argus upon his death published the following:--
"Mr. Keyser was born in Middleburgh, Schoharie county, April 20, 1784. His father being a farmer, the son was brought up to agricultural pursuits. In 1808 he removed to Schoharie village where his popularity and usefulness soon brought him several local offices. When William C. Bouck was sheriff, Mr. Keyser was appointed under sheriff, and at the expiration of Mr. Bouck's term, Mr. K. was appointed to succeed him in that office. In 1821 Mr. Keyser was elected to the assembly, and was re-elected in 1822. In 1825 he removed to Albany, and in 1826 was elected state treasurer. At that time the treasurer was annually elected by joint ballot of the legislature, and this honor was conferred upon Mr. Keyser for twelve consecutive years. During that period he was intimately associated in the affairs of government with Silas Wright, William L. Marcy, Azariah Flagg, William C. Bouck, and John A. Dix. Those were the palmy days of the old Democratic Albany regency, which for so many years conducted the politics of the State with great success. In 1838 he was appointed treasurer of the American Bible society, which position he held for two years.
"Since that period, he has been in private life, devoting himself to his family. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for over fifty years, and adorned his profession by an exemplary Christian life. He leaves a family of five sons and two daughters. In politics he was always a Democrat. He leaves behind him the record of an honest man and a true Christian."
Physicians. -- The first regular practitioner of whom we have any account was David King, of Kingston. He located here before the Revolution and becoming old, induced James Van Gaasbeck, of the same city, a young man of promise, to locate here and continue his practice, which began about the year 1805 and ended in 1863. During his time several were contemporary with him, of whom we cannot be certain as to the dates of their services.
Dr. Cary, of Schenectady, followed Van Gaasbeck, about the year 1812, and continued till the year 1820.
Dr. Wheeler, came about the latter year, and was followed by Dr. Samuel B. Wells, in 1824, who formed a partnership with him. Wheeler soon removed to Canada.
In 1830, Linas Wells, a brother of Samuel, came and studied in the office and commenced practice in 1836.
Dr. Samuel B. Wells was a student of Dr. Green of Gilboa, and came from Connecticut as a school teacher. He practiced until his death which occurred on the 15th of January, 1870, at the age of seventy-one. The Doctor identified himself with all the interests of the place and accumulated a fine property through his close application to his profession and other extensive business relations.
He was succeeded by his son, Henry D. Wells, who together with his brother Linas continues the practice, established fifty-seven years ago, and with marked success.
Volney Danforth commenced in 1840, and continued until his death in 1880.
John D. Wheeler another skillful physician of the Eclectic school was a student of Dr. Simmons, of Charlotteville. He graduated in 1865 and immediately settled here, and beside attending to an extended practice, he represented the town upon the board of supervisors in 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877. During his residence in Fulton, he was also elected to the same position in 1863. He contracted the "slow but sure disease" and died in 1879, at the age of forty-seven. Beside Doctors Linas and Henry Wells, we find at the present time -
James Lawyer. John Rossman, Jr. C. S. Best. J. W. Ferris.
Each according to their favorite theory, trying to overcome the diseases to which "flesh is heir," and gain the laurels that skill and industry mete to the deserving.
Past Legal Fraternity. -- The first legal gentleman that settled here was John Gebhard, of Schoharie, soon after finishing his studies in the office of his brother, Jacob Gebhard. George Danforth, son of Judge Jonathan Danforth, studied in his office and followed his profession here until ill health compelled a change of climate, which he sought at Savannah, Ga., where he died in 1831.
David F. Sacia also studied in the same office, and was appointed District Attorney for the County in 1821, which office he held for one year. He removed to Canajoharie, Montgomery county.
John O'Brien came and settled here about the year 1818, and removed in 1830 to Durham, Greene county.
Robert McClellan settled here about the year 1828, and was one of the leading members of the bar. He was District Attorney in 1836, and Representative in Congress in this, then the Twenty-fifth District, in 1837 and 1839, and upon his removal to the city of Hudson in 1840 he was elected to the same position from 1841 to 1843.
Contemporary with him was Benoni Spafford, who followed him in the office of District Attorney in 1837. While upon a tour for his health, which was declining, he died at Toledo in 1838.
John C. Smith and Mitchell Sanford came about the year 1839, and the latter was followed by and became connected with his brother, Lyman, in the same year.
Mitchell Sanford was one of those quick, discerning professionals that easily adapt themselves to the position in which they are placed, and when aroused by sarcasm, hurl with ease and grace, the most piercing cuts upon their antagonists. While with his brother, Lyman -- marked care and decorum in all cases won the honor and respect of every court and bar. As we were engaged in the compilation of the "Bar of Schoharie County" we were apprised of the death of the latter, which led us with deep regret to cast a notice of him with those that were, instead of with those that are, and append the following obituary, written by the Judge's partner, William E. Thorne, and published in the Albany Argus of March 24, 1881:--
"Judge Lyman Sanford died at his late residence, at Middleburgh, Schoharie County, on the 14th inst., at the age of sixty-nine years and four months.
"During his life he held many important official positions and offices of trust, and was widely known throughout the State.
"The announcement of his death will be received with universal and profound sorrow wherever he was known.
"Hon. Lyman Sanford was born at Greenville, Greene county, N.Y., on the 13th day of November, 1811, received his early education and was prepared for college at Greenville Academy, in his native village. He entered Union College in 1827 and graduated from that institution in 1831.
"He taught school for one year and then commenced the study of law with his brother-in-law, Hon. Erastus Barnes, at the city of New York, and completed the required course with Hon. Robert McClellan, at Middleburgh, Schoharie County. He was admitted to the bar in 1835, and soon after formed a partnership with his brother, Hon. Mitchell Sanford, and commenced the practice of law at New York City and continued with his brother for about two years, when Hon. Mitchell Sanford removed from the city, and the Judge continued the practice of his profession there alone, until the spring of 1839.
"In 1837 he married Ann E. Bouck, daughter of the late Governor William C. Bouck. In the spring of 1839, he removed to Middleburgh and located his residence, where he remained during the rest of his life.
"In January, 1840, he formed a law partnership with Hon. Peter S. Danforth, ex-Justice of the Supreme Court, which was continued until January, 1856. During the year 1843 he held the office of Adjutant-General of this State. He was elected County Judge of Schoharie County in the fall of 1855, and held that office from the 1st of January, 1856, to January 1, 1864. He continued the practice of his profession until January 1, 1866, when he formed a law partnership with ex-District Attorney William E. Thorne, which continued until his death.
"In 1845 he succeeded his father-in-law, Governor William C. Bouck, as 'financial agent, of 'the Hartwick Seminary,' located at Hartwick, Otsego county, N.Y., and always thereafter took a deep interest in the management and welfare of that institution, and conducted its financial business with such marked ability and zeal that he was continued in that office, from the time of his appointment in 1845, until, on account of failing health, he resigned the position in 1880; he was also elected trustee in 1859, which office he still held at the time of his death; in 1869 he was elected treasurer of the Board of Trustees and continued to hold that office until 1880; he was elected president of the Board of Trustees in 1874, and held that office also until 1880, when his failing health compelled him to resign the office of president, treasurer and financial agent of the corporation, and it is but justice to say that the present prosperous condition of the Hartwick Seminary is largely due to the financial ability, zeal and integrity of Lyman Stanford.
"He was one of the originators of 'the Middleburgh and Schoharie Railroad,' and was a director of that corporation from the time of its organization until the time of his death; he was also the first treasurer and afterward the vice-president of that corporation.
"He was one of the directors and the treasurer of 'the Middleburgh and Schoharie Plank Road,' from the time of its organization until it was abandoned.
"He aided materially and contributed liberally in building up and maintaining every enterprise worthy of having or maintaining in the community in which he lived.
"His bereaved family consists of his widow, his son, Charles L. Sanford, his daughter, Ann E. Martin, wife of Rev. Adam Martin, Professor of the German language and Literature, in the Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, Pa., and his youngest daughter, Mary Sanford.
"His home was a sacred spot, filled with refinement, tenderness, delightful associations and old-fashioned hospitality.
"As a Judge, he was upright and just; as a lawyer, thorough and efficient; as a neighbor, social and obliging; and in both private and public life a man of spotless integrity."
A number of students read law in the several offices of the place from time to time, that located in other sections, without forming a practice here, whom we would be pleased to notice but space forbids.
Of those now in practice, a sketch of each may be found in Chapter VI, under the head of "County Bar."
The First National Bank of Middleburgh was organized on the first day of August, 1880, with a capital of $50,000, under the following as Board of Directors:--
Peter H. Mitchell, President. David Becker. G. N. Frisbee. Jacob Neville. George Dodge. Duryea Beckman. D. C. Dow.
The banking rooms are in the Sanford block and prove a great convenience for the business men of the village and vicinity.
The following are the present officers:--
Duryea Beekman, President. G. N. Frisbee, Vice-President. W. E. Mitchell, Cashier. The following are the present Directors:-- Peter H. Mitchell. David Becker. Nathaniel Manning. George W. Dodge. G. N. Frisbee. Jacob Neville. Duryea Beckman. George L. Danforth. Middleburgh Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. -- This lodge was organized in 1867, it being preceded by an order that faded from existence during the exciting anti-masonic days. In the beginning of the century an "Ames Mark" lodge was organized here by Captain Thomas Machin.
The present lodge is No. 663, and consists of one hundred and twenty-five members.
The following are the present officers:-- William E. Thorne, W. M. Montraville Geurnsey, S. W. John Rossman, J. W. George S. Lynes, S. D. William G. Shafer, J. D. P. Richtmyer, Tiler. Rev. J. S. Harkey, Chaplain. George W. Dodge, Treasurer. John T. Dunn, James Becker, M. of C. William Mitchell, Marshal. A. G. Rosekrans, Organist. Duryea Beckman, Montraville Geurnsey, William H. Albro, Trustees. Hadley Snyder, Harmon A. Vroman, William McGraw, Finance Committee.
Middleburgh Lodge of I. O. G. Templars. -- This society was organized October 18, 1867, and is one of the strongest of the County. The charter members were: --
Charles A. White. James Lawyer. W. D. Wells. W. J. Lounsbury. G. S. Lynas. G. W. Bishop. Rev. J. S. Hart. A. Gardner. George Slater. C. Kline. J. W. Best. Elliot Danforth. J. H. Cornell. C. A. Hinman. H. Wilsey. Rev. D. Swope. Joseph Borst. H. A. Blodgett. C. W. Devol. Aurelia S. Blodgett. Sarah Cornell. Helen E. Watson. Mary H. Wharton. Mary Rosseter. Gertrude H. Moase. Louisa Wilsey. Nellie K. Rosseter. Eva V. Tuttle. The present officers (1881) are: -- W. C. T., C. A. White. W. V. T, Gertrude H. Moase. W. S. Elliot Danforth. W. A. S., Mary A. Wharton. W. F. S., James Lawyer. W. T., H. D. Wells. W. C., Rev. J. S. Hart. P. W. C., Rev. D. Swope. W. M., H. A. Blodgett. D. W. M., Nellie K. Rosseter. W. J. G., Aurelia S. Blodgett. W. O. G., G. S. Lynas. R. H. S., Ellen E. Wilsey. L. H. S., Ellen E. Watson.
G. A. R. Post Stanton. -- This Post was organized September 2, 1878, and named in honor of Jay C. Stanton, of Co. H, 76th Reg. N. Y. S. Volunteers, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Bull Run, August 29, 1862. The following are the charter officers and present members of the organization: --
H. A. Blodgett, Commander. Alonzo Parslow, S. V. C. William C. Brazee, J. V. C. Samuel Dennison, Adjutant. S. L. Rifenburgh, Q. M. Walter Wheeler, Sergeant. Rev. J. S. Harkey, Chaplain. J. K. Alberson, O. D. George W. Bishop, S. M. Edward H. Becker, Q. S. Charles H. Bartholomew. Peter G. Brazee. William J. Blodgett. William H. H. Boorn. John H. Babcock. George W. Babcock. Edward Dennison. William Doty. Orrin Duncan. Reuben Cane. Malachi Coons. Henry Eggleston. George D. Eggleston. Albert Efner. Linard Heal. Leopold Huysong. Lewis B. Hans. John Holmes. David Jackson. David Layton. George McBain. William M. Myers. Albert Nasholts. Leonard Pratt. Jacob Parlianan. John Rorick. Melvin Richmond. Hiram Wright. A. M. Wilday. Henry D. Wood. Martin Wilsey. John D. Rodgers. John S. Smith. John Schram. Edmond Shaver. Calvin Traver. William H. Vroman. Reuben Wiley. Charles H. Wright. Jacob Williams. Levans H. Wilsey. John Whitbeck. David Weyman.
Of the part taken by the town in the late Rebellion we copy from a speech delivered by William E. Thorne upon Decoration day, 1880, at Middleburgh: --
"The town of Middleburgh alone furnished two hundred and eighty-nine volunteers out of a voting population of but seven hundred and forty. Twenty nine of those volunteers who left their homes, bid adieu to affectionate and loving friends, endured the deprivations and hardships of a soldier's fare, and braved death for their country's cause, lost their lives in the service and are still sleeping upon southern soil where their comrades have laid them. But their memories are still fragrant and the recollection of their heroic deeds is still tenderly cherished here."
As in other towns, an accurate record of the amount of money raised by the town to procure soldiers to fill out the quota from time to time was not kept.
Middleburgh Cornet Band. -- This band was organized on the 18th of December, 1876, and consisted of fifteen pieces. Professor Salfred gave the first instructions and by close application to study and practice, the corps have become apt and skilled musicians.
The charter officers were:-- President, J. E. Young. Vice-President, G. B. Hyde. Secretary, P. B. Couchman. Treasurer, W. G. Shafer. Trustees, G. W. Coewell, G. W. Neville, B. W. Chase.
During the winter of 1880 and 1881, several of the prominent citizens of the place, became interested in the incorporation of the village, chief among whom was F. X. Straub. A survey, map and verbal description of the boundaries were made, and in due course of time the following notice appeared, which we here copy, as it gives the boundaries as adopted by a majority of the citizens:--
"Between the hours of Ten A.M., and Three P.M., on the 16th day of April, 1881, at the Hotel kept by E. D. Atchinson, within the territory hereinafter described, an election will be held to determine whether or not the proposed territory described and indicated by the survey, map and verbal description of boundaries left for examination at the place of business of F. X. Straub, in the village and town of Middleburgh, Schoharie county, N.Y., shall be incorporated as a village. The proposed name of such village is "The Village of Middleburgh," and the verbal description of its boundaries is: 'Beginning at a locust tree standing on the East bank of the Schoharie Creek, and on the North line of a piece of land owned by W. H. Engle, lying at the lower end of the village, and running from thence as the needle pointed February 18, 1881; North eighty-four degrees East following the line between David Zeh and Hezekiah L. Manning, 62 chains and 64 links, to a Cedar tree on the said line. Thence South one degree East 68 chains and 50 links to an apple tree on the side-hill, above Cliff Cottage -- thence South 4 degrees East 53 chains and 50 links to a Pine tree in the Cemetery, thence South 77 degrees West 11 chains to a large Pine tree on the East line of the farm occupied by Jonas Bagley -- thence North 60 degrees West 82 chains to an Elm tree on the East bank of the Schoharie Creek -- thence North 29 degrees East 38 chains and 30 links, to the centre of the highway -- fifteen feet west of the west end of the Middleburgh Bridge -- thence North 4 degrees West 45 chains and 40 links to place of beginning, containing seven hundred acres of land.' The amount proposed to be expended the first year of the incorporation, for ordinary expenditures as defined in an act entitled "An act for the incorporation of villages," passed April 20th, 1870, and its amendments is $100."
Signed, George Dodge. G. N. Frisbie. J. E. Young. H. D. Wells. Harrison Hallenbeck. Wm. Dunn. M. Geurnsey. J. L. Engle. David Bassler. W. H. Engle. John H. Mallery. W. E. Thorne. Hadley Snyder. A. J. Freemyer. G. S. Lynes. John H. Cornell. Frank X. Straub. J. B. Badgley. G. L. Danforth. Joseph Becker. W. E. Bassler. J. Neville. D. Beekman. Marvin Scutt. Dr. James Lawyer.The total number of votes cast at the election was two hundred and fifty-eight, of which one hundred and eighty were cast for, and seventy-eight against an incorporation.
Middleburgh has had a long list of officials, and many of them the most prominent, as will be seen by Chapter VI. The early records of the town are not accessible, much to our regret, as we desire the names of supervisors, at least. Those that we are privileged to examine, date back only to 1844, leaving forty-seven years without a record. The following, with the date of service, are the names of the supervisors:--
1844 -- David B. Danforth. 1845 -- Mathew Franklin. 1846 -- do 1847 -- Uriah Rider. 1848 -- Henry Hauver. 1849 -- Stephen Vosburgh. 1850 -- George Bouck. 1851 -- do 1852 -- George W. Tibbits. 1853 -- David Becker. 1854 -- Edward Pinder. 1855 -- George E. Danforth. 1856 -- do 1857 -- do 1858 -- do 1859 -- do 1860 -- do 1861 -- Wm. Shafer. 1862 -- do 1863 -- Peter Z. Swart. 1864 -- Nicholas Beekman. 1865 -- Volney Danforth. 1866 - Hamilton Becker. 1867 - Alex. Bouck. 1868 -- do 1869 -- Bartholomew Becker. 1870 -- Peter Z. Swart. 1871 -- do 1872 -- Nathaniel Manning. 1873 -- John D. Wheeler. 1874 -- do 1875 -- do 1876 -- do 1877 -- John D. Wheeler. 1878 -- Haldey Snyder. 1879 -- do 1880 -- do 1881 -- do 1882 -- do
At the time the lands around Schoharie, including Middleburgh, were surveyed in 1710, they were named in honor of Governor Hunter, by whose orders they were surveyed and explored. But those immediately along the valley, as by custom among the Indians, retained their original name Schorie, or Schoharry, and the country lying east upon higher grounds, for a long distance back, was called Huntersfield. Johannes Lawyer, the second, purchased a large tract in 1768, which is now included in that part of the town called Hunter's Land. The settlement was not made at an early date, and with very few exceptions, until after the Revolution. The Posson family came before that event. The grandfather of Peter W. Posson came from Germany and settled about the year 1760. We will here state that the father of Mrs. Posson, Philip Bartholomew, came over with LaFayette at sixteen years of age and held a captain's commission under him during the war, and when the general returned, Captain Bartholomew, as did hundreds of his soldiers, resigned his commission and became a citizen of the united colonies, and after a few years wandered to this part of the country. We find many from near counties located here, among whom was Jesse H. Alger, from Saratoga county, who came in 1810. After a quiet and successful life, he died in 1867. Daniel Barkman also came about the year 1815, from Rensselaer county, and was elected justice of the peace in 1840. Mr. Barkman held the office up to the year 1876, when age demanded of him retirement, and Merritt McComber, succeeded him. It is a very uncommon occurrence in these days of political jealousies, for one to hold an office that term of years, and it bespeaks confidence, integrity and acknowledged ability of the people in and of the official.
Adam Snyder & Sons we find are engaged in trade and blacksmithing, they bring immigrants from Lorraine in France, but of German origin. They settled here in 1840, and have identified themselves with the business of the place.
Town boundary by act of 1713, "And at that part of said county of Schohary beginning at the place where the Cobleskill road crosses the Punch-kill, thence with a straight line to the northwest corner of a patent grant to Michael Byrne and others, thence with a straight line to the west corner of the house now or late of Jacob Best near the head of the north branch of the West-kill, thence continuing the same line to a tract of land called Blenheim, thence easterly along the northerly bounds of Blenheim, until it strikes Schoharie creek, thence easterly with a straight line to the north east corner of the dwelling house now or late of Moses White, thence with the same line continued to the bounds of the county, thence northerly along the same to the south east corner of the town of Schoharie, thence along the southerly bounds thereof to the place of beginning, shall be and continue a town by the name of Middleburgh."