Schoharie County NYGenWeb Site
Village of Cobleskill WEB site
The author autographed this copy for my great
grandmother, Josephine Williams Nethaway.
Josephine was the great grand-daughter of David Williams, "Captor of Major Andre".
Roger P. Smith, August, 1997
"SCHOHARIE COUNTY IN THE REVOLUTION"
The Psychology of the Times; the Noble Part Acted by Captain Christian Brown and His Company; the Founding of Fort Duboise at Cobleskill.........
Being an address delivered by Judge Dow Beekman at a meeting of Captain Christian Brown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on September 10th, 1920, at Cobleskill, New York
Reprinted From the Cobleskill Index of September 16th, 1920.
LOCAL HISTORY Valuable Address Delivered by Judge Beekman Before the Local D.A.R. Chapter
PICTURE OF "THE TIMES THAT TRIED MEN'S SOULS,"
AS APPLIED TO COBLESKILL AND VICINITY
The feature of the first meeting of Capt. Christian Brown Capter D.A.R. held this fall was the historical address of Judge Dow Beekman. The address is so filled with local historical matter, of great interest and permanent value that the Index is pleased to publish it in full:
Madam Regent and Ladies of Christian Brown Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
History gives a distinct place to the part played by the Schoharie Settlements in the Revolutionary and ante-Revolutionary period. The terms "Schoharie District," "Schoharie Settlements," the "Schoharie Region" refer to the territory which is practically comprised within the present lines of Schoharie County: however referring to the exact civil divisions, it should be remembered that Albany County prior to the Revolution, embraced practically all the state lying northerly and westerly of the County of Ulster and Dutchess.
In 1772 Tryon County was taken from Albany County and named in honor of the Colonial Governor, William Tryon. It embraced all that part of the state lying westerly of a line running North and South through the westerly part of the present county of Schoharie. Thus during the Revolution the section comprising the whole of the present towns of Esperance, Cobleskill, Schoharie, Wright, Middleburgh, Fulton, Broome, Blenheim, Gilboa and Conesville and the easterly portion of Carlisle, Seward, Richmondville, Summit and Jefferson were within the County of Albany. The westerly parts of the towns last mentioned and the whole of the town of Sharon were in Tryon County. In 1784 the people decided to blot out the name of the British Governor and the name, "Tryon" was changed to "Montgomery" in honor of the hero of Quebec. In 1791 Otsego County was erected from Montgomery and in 1795 Schoharie County was formed from Albany and Otsego.
In considering the events which took place immediately prior to and during the period of the American Revolution., in the Schoharie Settlements included within the boundaries of what now constitutes Schoharie County, we must ever bear in mind the following circumstances.
First: That prior to the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1762 approximately and during that war the people of this state were loyal to the British crown. During that war the American Colonists fought as Allies of the British along with the Indians of the Six Nations.
Second: That General Sir William Johnson probably had greater influence not only with the Indians but with the early inhabitants, than any other man in the state of New York west of Albany. As "His Britannic Majesty's Superintendent of Indian affairs in North America," or "Royal Agent" as he was commonly called, Sir William, had gained unbounded sway over the Indian tribes, because through him the bounties of the English Government were dispensed to the Indians, and by his studious observance of and respect for many of their customs he had ingratiated himself personnally into their good graces, while on account of his wealth, native abilities and high official station he also commanded the respect of the settlers and impressed them with the power and grandeur of the British nation. He assiduously cultivated the belief that the British army and navy were invincible, and, in short, did everything to keep the people in the region well disposed toward the crown. Against all these influences nothing but resolute hearts, clear heads and the dynamic power of the love of liberty and independence could prevail.
When newspapers were few and contained only the most meager details and circulated mainly in the cities and at long intervals at that, the colonists in the frontier sections could learn only the general outlines of the measures passed by the British Parliament in the attempt gradually to weld the fetters upon the liberties of the colonists. Probably their information was gained mainly by word of mouth as the news was passed from settlement to settlement. There were no propaganda campaigns by flaming posters, banners inscribed with inspiring slogans, copies of telegrams speaking the last word of hope or alarm, no multi-colored announcements in letters as large and high as the human stature catching the eye of the citizen from every vantage point in every hamlet and along every highway.
Contrast those times with the present when we read the history of the world in the newspaper headlines morning, noon and evening and the people of the whole nation from ocean to ocean are thinking about the same things, at the same hour - and, in critical times the composite judgment of the nation is announced within a few hours.
How many weeks do you suppose it was before Captain Christian Brown heard of the passage of the Stamp Act? How many days do you suppose it was after the 19th day of April, 1775, that he learned of the battles of Lexington and Concord? The possession of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10th, 1775 was an important event to hearten the wavering colonists in the remote settlements and the manner in which Col. Ethan Allen took possession was dramatic in the highest degree. But we can wonder how, in what language, when and where Captain Brown heard it. How he would have enthused his Whig compatriots if he could have showd them the headlines filling half the front page in the morning paper: "FORT TICONDEROGA TAKEN BY ETHAN ALLEN IN THE NAME OF THE GREAT JEHOVAH AND THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS."
When the crisis came the division of the people into Whigs and Tories was gradually taking place, some declaring at once on which side they took their stand and others watching to see how the tide was flowing, waiting to see which side would be victorious.
Many who had prospered under the British rule, or who were connected by blood or united in interest with the English, considering the difficulty the colonists would have in organizing and equipping an army, the lack of guns and ammunition, the dearth of trained soldiers and the lack of means of communication and co-operation, were inclined to believe the boast of General Gage previous to the batle of Lexington, that "five regiments of British infantry could march from Maine to Georgia.
I speak of these things to show the psychology of the situation and how the resolute patriots saw only the vision of "independence and liberty" and dismissed from their minds all questions of expediency and all fear of hardship, danger and possible defeat.
Contemplate how simply they lived in the frontier settlements. At the beginning of the Revolution many had erected substantial dwellings, but the majority of the homes aimed at comfort rather than ornamentation. Simple was their furniture and plain their fare and apparel.
In the locality of Cobleskill author Simms says the inhabitants were scattered over a distance of three miles along the "Otsgaragee" so named by the Indians from the wild hemp which grew along the stream. Their neighbors were far from "near," thus depriving them of the comforts of social companionship. However, the same writer is authority for the statement that without exception they were Whigs, a distinction in which this locality has a right to take much pride. They had at least the comfort when occasion called them together, to be of one mind about the great questions of the day.
While the learning of books and the schools was possessed by few, nevertheless that vigor of mind and spirit, which is bred by self-reliance and living close to nature and constantly facing physical peril with bravery, inspired in them the same lofty ideals and devotion to principle which have characterized the outstanding men of all ages and climes.
As the family gathered before the great fireplace piled high with the wealth of crackling logs, in the dim twilight of the glowing flames they had to think out their problems without the aid of books. No doubt their minds mainly dwelt upon the practical demands of the hour, but their longings and aspirations were as boundless as ours in these days of our boasted education and culture. They were empire builders, laying the foundations, each year marked some improvement, some new advance in some line, from the forest to the clearing, from the log house to the frame or stone dwelling, from the narrow trail to the highway, from grinding their grain by hand to the finer product of the mill, from the itinerant schoolmaster and preacher to the school house and church.
All this was the fruit of their own industry and endeavor after much hardship and with no assistance from the so called "Mother Country." They had thus far fought their own battles subdued the wilderness and the beasts of the forest and lived in peace with the people of the "Long House." In the French war they had shown themselves staunch and loyal supporters of the English Government, and now they thought, "can it be possible that having built up colony after colony, to the profit and glory of Great Britain, we are to be treated as slaves subject to the will of a parliament in which we have not had a single voice? If that is the case we will fight."
The position of the Schoharie settlements was particularly difficult and hazardous - for during the war of the Revolution these settlements were the westerly and southerly frontiers of the Albany District, and Albany was a critical pivotal point.
Repeatedly they were objects of the raids from the Charlotte Valley, the head waters of the Delaware river, and the Susquehanna Valley.
The western tribes reinforced by the English and Tories were constantly prying and sprying about the hills over-looking the valleys, to catch the colonists unprepared.
The forefathers of the Schoharie settlements guarded the frontier and protected Albany on the West as the brave and alert men of the Mohawk Valley did the same on the north.
There was no safety day or night. Every mountain top was an observation post for Indian or Tory to watch the movements of the inhabitants.
"Seth's Henry's" war club left at the foot of the Onistagrawa mountain, when he killed and scalped Ephraim Vrooman told the story, by the notches thereon, that he alone had taken 35 scalps and 40 prisioners. If his bloody record was not equalled by many, nevertheless there were many of his race who vied with him in bloody achievements.
In those days the women were as brave and fearless as the men because they shared all the dangers of the time. While they did not go out on Scout duty or act as Militia away from the forts they well knew how to handle the extra rifle which was left at home by the fireplace or standing ready for use beside the door of the dwelling.
You as Daughters of the American Revolution may well recall the incident when in October 1780 Sir John Johnson and Chief Joseph Brant with over a thousand Royalists and Indians suddenly appeared in the southern end of Fulton Valley in the defile of the hills at the base of the Otegusberg, "the Panther Mountain," and hastened down the valley to strike the sudden blow in the attempt to capture the Middle Fort. They made a detour South easterly of the upper Fort, hoping to escape observation from that garrison and thus in the early morning take the Middle Fort by complete surprise. However, their rear guards were observed and the sentinel caused the signal well understood in the valley, to be given. The brass cannon was thrice fired to herald to the Middle Fort the message of the approach of immediate danger. The alarm signal told its story in no uncertain language for when the hostile forces reached the Middle Fort the garrison was ready to meet the foe. While the battle was waxing hot and furious that glorious example of Colonial womanhood, Angelica Vroman (known to her friends as Engeltie) as the bullets grow scarce takes bullet mould and iron spoon and hastens to her father's tent within the stockade and amid the noise and tumult of battle moulds a fresh supply to replenish the bullet pouches. Her equally glorious neighbor, Susannah, wife of Bartholomew Vroman sees her moment of service and as Livingston, the gunner, is delayed in finding his flint to fire the nine pounder, she hastens to the stone house, brings a live coal and lays it on the fuse and the message of the gun echoes from hill to hill.
Those women had a worthy peer at the Upper Fort at the same hour. While the battle was in progress at the Middle Fort and the sound of the cannon and the angry glares of the flames of the dwellings set on fire by the Indians aroused the fears of the garrison at the Upper Fort that the infuriated savages would return to the Upper Fort to take vengeance on them, Captain Hager in command of the Upper Fort as a measure of safety and precaution ordered all women within the stockade to take refuge in the cellar of that little fortress, but among them was one royal undaunted soul, Mary Haggidorn, who refused to obey her captain with the defiant words: "I shall not go into that cellar. Should the enemy come, I will take a spear which I can use as well as any man and help defend the fort." True to her word she took a spear and stood fearlessly at the stockade until it was learned that the enemy instead of returning to the Upper Fort had passed down the valley to the Lower Fort.
As throwing further light on the bravery of Susannah Vroman, it may be added that she helped take care of the wounded as they were brought into the fort and at one time as she stood in an exposed position near the entrance, one Samuel Reynolds, a continental soldier from New Jersey said to her, trying to save her from danger, "Susannah, get away from here or you will be shot." How acute the peril was, is shown by the sequel, that in an instant a ball hit Reynolds, entering his head and killed him. Think of the cool bravery of the wife of Peter Vroman whose dwelling was attacked in November, 1781, near the Upper Fort in Fulton valley. Her husband on hearing the report of the guns of the attacking party hastens to the Upper Fort for assistance. Soon after he leaves, Mrs. Vroman from an upper window sees the horrible death of her husband's father, Isaac Vroman, as the Indians kill him with their war clubs and take his scalp. The Indians then break into the dwelling and she comes down from her upper chamber and faces them alone. What power of self-command, what resolute bravery and indomitable spirit must have been hers, to stand there alone and address them in their own dialect and dissuade them from further violence and thus save her life. The fortitude of Mrs. Sebastian France (I wish history had preserved her maiden name) whose home was in the present town of Seward, was equally remarkable. She went deliberately into the very midst of the crew of Indians of whom the blood-thirsty Seth's Henry was one, after they were frenzied by the murder of Michael Merckley (or "Mericle" or "Mercle" or "Marcley") and the murder of his niece the beautiful Catherine Merckley, to atempt to save her children at the almost certain cost of her own life - but her mother love gave no thought of her own life when her children were in peril. Can we imagine her strength as well as her anguish, when, after a perley with the savages, she bore into her dwelling the body of her murdered son, his blood dripping upon her clothing, and then with her little daughter, Betsey, and her three younger children clinging to her she hastened into the gloom of the forest to escape from death at the hands of the inhuman fiends who thus made war against helpless women and children. We may stop to remark: How thin the veneer of modern civilization seems when we reflect that 134 years afterwards the same quality of cruelty was displayed in Belgium and in the sinking of the Lusitania.
The bravery of another Revolutionary woman can not be told better than in the language of our able Historian William E. Roscoe in his history of Schoharie county, published in 1882.
Speaking of the mountain anciently called "Owelus-Sowlus" and later "Karker Mountain," in the town of Carlisle he says - "Around this mountain cluster the Revolutionary associations connected with the town of Carlisle. Here upon its sides were experienced all the hopes and fears, joys and sorrow, anxieties and aspirations peculiar to the Revolutionary days of the patriotic Karker, Young and Brown families. John P. Karker and sons were scouts during the war, leaving home and traversing the country day and night to watch the movements of the prowling foe, carrying messages and doing other dangerous and important services. Madam Karker during the early part of the war remained at home, while her nearest neighbors were ever watchful of her family's actions and thirsting for their blood. She remained here regardless of danger as a barricade to her fireside. Night after night she retired to a tree, which is still standing and laid down upon the cold damp ground to sleep, fearful of being captured if she remained in the house. Two of her neighbors, fit companions of incarnate fiends, sought to capture and slay her while her husband and sons were away, but being apprised of their design she fled to the mountain and hid beneath a shelving rock with a babe at her breast. Her pursuers were often in sight and once stood upon the rock beneath which she lay concealed. At one time the babe was restless and for fear it would betray her, she put a handkerchief in its mouth and nearly suffocated it before the Tories retired.
While there are many other incidents showing the noble part played by our Revolutionary foremothers those of whom we have spoken were the type of substantially all who espoused the patriot cause. However, there is one incident which shows that the woman of the early colonial frontier could assert herself in the discussion of the problems of the period and indeed shine in diplomacy. As I have said, at the beginning of the French and Indian war both the French and English tried to win to their side in the approaching conflict the support of the Indian tribes. Accordingly a council of the tribes was held where "Boyd's Mill" formerly stood in the town of Middleburgh where each side could present their claims. As the scene of this council was very near my own home I like to picture the scene and I ask you to follow me for a moment as imagination fills in the setting of the historical facts. The place of the meeting of the Red Men is well chosen. It is on the easterly bank of the river with the level flats stretching away to the east. The sound of the water can be heard as it rushes over the lime stone rocks, while above the green clad "Ou-con-ge-na," the "Rattlesnake Mountain," towers in the west and casts its shadow in the twilight. Over the different trails the messengers of the various tribes enter the valley; some journeying over the Charlotte trail, come down the valley, others from the south over the Catskill trail wind down past the Hohegonter hill, others in Indian file advancing up the valley to the place of meeting, others come over the mountains perhaps from Otsgaragee, camp on the way to feast on the deer and those already at the council place see the curling smoke rising from the tree tops on that summit of the hill, plainly telling of the approach of another tribe. Day after day brings fresh arrivals of the chiefs and their warriors. The white men prudently mingle with the Red men and cultivate friendship. Finally the council fire is lighted and the mute circle around the blazing flame solemnly awaits the time when some venerable chief shall consider the moment ripe to pour forth his words of wisdom. See Abraham, the Schoharie chief, slowly arising probably feeling that since the council is on the ancient hunting grounds of his tribe he should give words of welcome to those who had journeyed so far to the "To-wos-schohr." When he says "I have spoken," others of the ensign of the Tortoise, Wolf and Bear follow each other. It seems that some are in favor of joining the French. The Indians and the High Dutch and Low Dutch inhabitants with intense interest listen as Queter, an Oquago chief, in the interest of the French, in deep gutteral tones unfolds the reasons why alliance with the French will be for the best interest of the tribes. He pleads for the exchange of Wampum belts signifying friendship and union. He pauses a moment and then with stately tread advances to a log on which he lays an iron wedge and raising his head with dignity he exclaims, alluding to the French: "We are like that, strong and can not be broken." All have not understood the chief. There are mutterings and murmurings as some turn to their neighbors sitting on the ground and ask the meaning. Then up stands Mrs Josiah Swart who understands his dialect. She advances nearer the council fire and interprets his language as well as the symbol of the iron wedge. Then while all eyes are turned toward her she discloses that she sympathizes with the British and is equal to the occasion in expressing her mind in the imagery of the Indian language. Stepping forward with simple dignity first she glances around the large circle, then taking a gold coin from her pocket and holding it aloft where all can see she looks the Oquago chief in the eye and her clear voice rings out the words: "We (meaning the English) are like that which is equally strong and can outlive your symbol, for if both are buried in the gound, the rust will destroy yours, while ours will come out as strong and bright as ever." History records that while other addresses were delivered on this occasion, the argument of Mrs. Swart was pronounced by the red and white men alike as the best of any and her cause triumphed.
Thus on the Schoharie frontier 166 years ago, was one of the best arguments in favor of Woman's capacity for suffrage exemplified.
To you as Daughters of the American Revolution, permit me to say that you rightly chose a name honored in this county to designate your chapter. How important it was to hold this Cobleskill valley and the hills of Dorlach and the Schoharie valley, I have already discussed. Captain Christian Brown of the 15th NY militia valiantly did his part in repelling the enemy and protecting the patriots, while for seven years they continued to raise the wheat, the cattle and the sheep, to feed and clothe the armies, - for then these things were as important as in the last war. He stands out in history among the sturdy men whose distinguished services laid the foundations of our republic. While the battle of Cobleskill as compared with the battles of latter years was on a small scale, nevertheless along with engagements at Ft. Stanwix, Oriskany and in the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys it helped to prevent the British from taking possession of the country lying contiguous to the head of navigation on the Hudson, in the vicinity of Albany. Again, the same qualities of strategy, bravery and the fortitude to contest the ground against an overwhelming foe, were required as if thousands had been engaged.
Remember that when in May, 1778, the battle of Cobleskill occurred, Captains Brown and Patrick, Lieut. Jacob Borst, Nicholas Warner, George Warner, Jr., George Freemire, John Shafer, Lawrence Lawyer, John Zeh, Martinus Fester, John Fester, Jocob Freemire, John Freemire, Jacob Shafer, Peter Shafer, Henry Shafer and Leonard King and their comrades - only about 57 in all, - were attacked by over six times their number, and that the hostile forces had as leaders the most merciless enemies of the colonists - the sagacious chief Joseph Brant, the notorious Tory, Christopher Service and the bloodthirsty Seth's Henry. Also remember that that immortal patriot band fought till twenty-two gave up their lives and six were wounded and two made prisoners. While history does not give the total number of the enemy killed, it is said that at least twenty-five were buried in one grave and many of the enemy who were wounded, died in their retreat to Canada. Their loss doubtless far exceeded that of the colonists and taught them the fighting metal of Captain Brown's men. The survivors who dwelt in this district continued as the defenders of the region and notably helped repel the attack of a band of Indians on Cobleskill in September, 1781 when they took the settlement by surprise but were finally put to flight by a sortie from Fort Duboise in which Shafer and King bore a conspicous part.
An incident in connection with George Warner Junior is worthy of note. In July 1782 he was taken unawares while working with his horses in his fields and captured by the Tory Captain Chrysler and his band of marauders and marched in fetters to Niagara. The Tory captain was very cruel in his treatment of Warner but he could not break his spirit. Their long journey took them by the shores of Seneca Lake and while they were in camp one night near the outlet of that lake, Chrysler sought to enjoy the discouragement and suffering of the prisoners by telling them that the King would soon conquer the rebels. The fear of angering his captor did not prevent Warner from answering the taunt and at the risk of his life he replied: "I do not believe the King will ever conquer the colonies. In the French war, Great Britian and America united were hardly able to compete with France and now since France and America are united, I do not believe it possible for England to conquer them." As a result Warner was bound more tightly and in the morning Chrysler, still angry said: "For those cursed words you will hang at noon," and with a rope coiled about his neck he was led along the western trail, till towards noon when by some unexplained change in the minds and intentions of his captors, the rope was removed and they were content to anticipate the bounty of eight dollars for a living prisoner instead of a prisoner's scalp on arrival at Niagara. The conduct of Warner recalls the similar spirit of Freegift Patchin the fifer boy of Blenheim who also was captured by Brant in April 1780. When he arrived at Niagara he was taken before Col. John Butler at the Fort. Col. Butler addressed insulting remarks to the prisoners and turning to Patchin asked him if he did not think that "by and by the Indians would compel a general surrender of the Yankees." Patchin had been badly wounded in the forehead by the blow of a hatchet while he was running the gauntlet but his mind was evidently working and he replied: "I do not wish to answer for fear of giving offense." The colonel was not satisfied with the reply, which, while it was polite, gave no evidence of conciliation, and demanded and answer. The young man showed that he was fit to stand before kings by his reply: "If I must answer you, it is to say, no, you might as well think to empty the adjoining lake of its waters with a bucket as to conquer the Yankees in that way." Col. Butler's violent temper burst forth at the reply but a manly British officer who could not fail to admire the spirit of Patchin, interposed in his behalf. However the brave boy was confined in irons in the fort for nearly two years. Recurring to the events at Cobleskill, the fact that George Warner Senior was one of the committee of safety of the Schoharie settlement and one of the most influential and resolute patriots of the valley, singled him out to the enemy as a man whose capture of death was eminently desirable. His two sons George and Nicholas were also towers of strength. His house which at the time of the battle was the temporary fortress of the little band who checked the enemy, was the first house in the Schoharie settlement to be burned.
The venerable Warner's son Nicholas in October, 1780, later distinguished himself as one of the Sharp Shooters stationed in the tower of the Lower Fort at the time of Col. Johnson's invasion. After the Cobleskill battle the settlers saw the necessity of a Fort as the center of defense and offense and Fort Duboise was erected and did good service. The date of its erection is somewhat uncertain. Simms says "Early in the year 1781 a block house was erected in Kneiskern's Dorf. A block house similar to the one called Fort Plain was erected that spring near the dwelling of Jacob Shafer in Cobleskill about one half mile east of Cobleskill village. This block house was erected by Capt. Duboise of Catskill and was called Fort Duboise. It was surrounded by a deep moat which was partly filled with water from a brook running near. About half an acre of ground on which stood the dwelling of Shafer was embraced in the enclosure and surrounded by pickets. The gate or principal entrance was on the eastern side."
George H. Warner in the "Military Records of Schoharie County Veterans of the Four Wars," after giving a brief account of the battle of Cobleskill on May 29, 1778, says "From this time forth the small military force was re-inforced by different bodies of Militia from adjoining districts. Late in the year a block house was erected under the supervision of Col. Duboise at the present eastern limits of the village of Cobleskill and during the winter this officer made the headquarters of his regiment at Schoharie." On another page in his work he gives the date of the erection of the block house as 1781.
I have in my possession an order never heretofore published, of Col. Peter Vroman which has come down to me through the direct descendants of Captain George Richtmyer of the 3rd Company of the 15th regiment of Militia of New York, which reads as follows: "Schohary, June 11, 1779. Sir- You will remain at Fort Duboise with the party under your command and take necessary steps in defending that post and keeping out necessary Scouts until a further order from me. The Continental troops stationed here are mostly marched to Schenectady and the rest will soon I expect. I have some of our militia now on Scout and are obliged to order more of them in the forts. As soon as the militia from Albany arrive here I will have those of my regiment now at Cobus Kill under your command belonging in Schohary all releaved.
To Capt. Richtmeyer
Sir your humble servant
Peter Vroman Col.
P.S. If there is any danger of an appearance of the enemy it will be very soon as the troops are now on their march therefore keep a good lookout and be on your guard"
The outside is addressed as follows:
"On publick service
It is written on heavy paper as you will observe and folded so that it is in the form of an envelope and the reverse where the edges come together shows the broken red sealing wax impressed with a seal. From this order it would seem that Fort Duboise was in existence on June 11, 1779. The date is perfectly plain and legible. Indeed it does not seem reasonable that the inhabitants of the Cobleskill settlements after the attack of May, 1778, would have been willing to rest content without a fort of some sort until the spring of 1781 - a period of three years while they were constantly subject to attack of the Indians, Royalists and Tories.
The only theory on which the discrepancy of the dates may be reconciled is that perhaps while a fort had been established in 1778 or 1779, the block-house was not erected within the enclusure till 1781.
Many of the forts of that day, all histories agree, were like the Forts in the Schoharie valley - stone or frame dwellings or a church as at the Lower Fort, surrounded at considerable distance by earth works pickets or strong stockades, so as to permit the patriots with their entire families to seek refuge and camp or erect tents or cabins within the protection of the curtilage of the stockade, whenever the scouts or the inhabitants learned of Indians skulking in the neighborhood or were apprehensive of an attack. Frequently during the period of sowing or harvesting of the crops as we read in the histories, the inhabitants made their temporary homes wihin the stockades or forts and went out in the morning to their work armed with their muskets. The construction of the three forts in the Schoharie Valley was begun in 1777 - and no doubt the Fort was built at Cobleskill soon after. At least I consider the order to Capt. Richtmeyer from Col. Peter Vroman as very strong evidence that it was cetainly erected before June 1779 - instead of in 1781.
I will close by giving you the names of those who are recorded in history as serving in Captain Christian Brown's company. There may be errors on account of the fragmentary records but at least the following will serve as subjects for investigation and corroboration or correction by you as Daughters of the American Revolution under the jurisdiction of your chapter. While some of these members also served in other companies the following have been accredited to Captain Brown's company and many are distinguished by courageous deeds the memory of which you should seek to perpetuate.
First Lieut. Hendrick or Henry Borst, Lieut. Jacob Borst, Ensign Johannes or John H. Shafer, Ensign Nicholas Warner, Sergeant William Mann, Sergeant Henry Shafer, Sergeant John Valentine, Sergeant Garret Nicholas, Corporal Lambert Sternberg, corporal Leonard King of Koenig, Corporal Peter Shafer, Jacob Bauch or Bouck, Peter Bauch or Bouck, Joseph Berner, John Bouck, Michael Borst, Jost or Joseph Borst, William Brown, son of the Captain, Adam Berg, John Eckerson, George Ferster or Fester, John Ferster or Fester, Martinus Ferster or Fester, John Freemyer, George Freemyer, Jacob Freemyer, Michael Freemyer, John Holt, Henry Kniskern, John King or Koenig guard of Fort Duboise, Michael King, Christopher King, Charles Kramer, John Grantier, Lawrence Lawyer, Nicholas Lawyer, Jeremiah Mereness, John Merkel, Nicholas Merkel, Adam Shafer,Jr., Diebold Dewalt Shafer, Jacob Shafer, Joseph Shafer, Lambert Shafer, John Shafer,Jr., Simeon Schuyler, John V. Singer, William Snyder, Teunis Swart, Jost or Joseph Warner, George Warner, Jr., John Zeh.
NOTE. Since the delivery of the above address I have been reliably informed that the maiden name of Mrs. Sebastian France was Anna Fritz who was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, in 1733, married in 1752, came with her husband to this country in 1753, settled in the present town of Seward in 1754, and died in 1816. Sebastian France was a member of the committee of Safety and a private in the 3rd Reg't of Albany Co. Militia. Their son, Christopher was engaged to marry Catharine Mercley who was killed by the Indians. The day set for their marriage was two weeks from the day of her death. Several of the most prominent and respected citizens of our county are lineal descendants of Sebastian and Anna France.
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