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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 126: The Village of Herkimer.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1778-1797 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

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The great flat, settled by Palatines, 1720-1725 — Known as "Palatine Village" — Burnetsfield Patent of 1725 — French and Indian raid and massacre of 1757 — Fort Dayton built here, 1776 — Start of march of Tryon County Militia to Oriskany battlefield, August 4, 1777 — Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer western American outposts in 1781 — Washington here in 1783 — Herkimer County formed in 1791, with Herkimer, the county seat — Herkimer County in the Civil War — Industrial development — First wood pulp paper made here in 1866 by Warner Miller, elected united states senator in 1881 — 1885, Mohawk and Malone Railroad first link completed — 1886, Founding of largest desk factory in the world — Rome to Little Falls electric line — 1902, Mohawk and Oneonta Railroad — Herkimer County Historical Society — West Canada Creek and Kuyahoora Trail — Mirror Lake and Hasenclever Hills — Fort Herkimer Church — Statues General Herkimer and General Spinner — "Herkimer led, Herkimer leads."

Herkimer lies at a strategic point as far as the roads and streams are concerned. The second largest tributary of the Mohawk — the West Canada Creek, or Kuyahoora — flows along the eastern side of the town into the Mohawk about one mile west of Fort Herkimer Church. The Kuyahoora Trail runs northward to the St. Lawrence and northern New York into the Adirondacks, branching at Hinckley northward to the Black River, Thousand Islands, Fulton Chain, Piseco Lake, Lake Pleasant and points further north. The Mohawk and Malone Railroad branch of the New York Central follows the West Canada north to Remsen.

Southward, the Leatherstocking Trail runs to Richfield Springs, Otsego Lake, Cooperstown, Oneonta and the Susquehanna, while the Mohawk and Oneonta Railroad (electric) follows this popular and important touring route to Richfield Springs, where it diverges, running due south to Index (with branch to Cooperstown and Otsego Lake) and thence, to Oneonta. West Canada Creek and these railroads and highways are mentioned later in this chapter on the Village of Herkimer.

[Map of Herkimer County]

Herkimer is the county seat of Herkimer County. It is of city size, having, with East Herkimer, a 1925 population of about 13,000. Herkimer is an important Mohawk Valley industrial community and business, banking and trading center, being situated in the midst of a rich agricultural and dairying section.

Herkimer and its neighborhood is of great historic importance. The whole upper valley region, which was settled by Palatine Germans, was called German Flats, in Colonial days. Here was the Palatine Village which was wiped out by the terrible French and Indian massacre in 1757, during the Great French War.

In Revolutionary times, Fort Dayton was located at Herkimer, while Fort Herkimer was diagonally southeast on the south side of the Mohawk. From Fort Dayton, General Herkimer started his fateful march to Oriskany. These two forts and the hardy American pioneers here located formed a bulwark of defense of this exposed frontier in the bloody and terrible years which befell the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution. The splendid pioneer Revolutionary stock ever since here represented has had much to do with the upbuilding of Herkimer and its section. The town takes its name from General Nicholas Herkimer, the hero of Oriskany. From this fact Herkimer takes its inspiring slogan — "Herkimer Led — Herkimer Leads."

Herkimer lies in the belt of Hudson River shale surface rock, which covers most of the upper Mohawk Valley. There are available quarry outcrops of building stone here.

[Photo: Mirror Lake, Herkimer]

At the northern village limits, on the west side of the West Canada lies pretty little Mirror Lake, the only lakelet lying near the Mohawk Turnpike with the exception of Sanders Lake at Scotia and the little ponds of the Noses.

Road to Fort Herkimer Church

Fort Herkimer Church (1767) lies on the south shore about two miles southeast of the center of Herkimer and is generally reached (1924) by automobiles by crossing east bridge. This is one of the most important historical structures in the state and the tourist should visit it and its picturesque locality. It is the only remaining portion of a Colonial and Revolutionary army post standing on the north and south shore Mohawk Turnpikes. Fort Herkimer Church can also be reached over the south shore highway from Mohawk and Little Falls.

Herkimer, Industrial

Herkimer is the county seat of Herkimer County, incorporated as a village in 1807. In 1910 about 25 per cent of the population was of foreign birth, Poles, Italians and Slovaks predominating.

Interurban trolleys connect with Little Falls, Rome, Utica, Oneonta. A number of residents of Herkimer are employed at Ilion, three miles distant. The adjacent farming section is devoted to general agriculture, to stock raising and to dairying. Herkimer has a hospital, sewers and municipally owned water and electric lighting systems. In 1912 in Herkimer there were 21 factories, with 1,613 operatives.

Herkimer has the largest desk factory in the United States. In 1912 the only industry employing over 1,000 hands was desk making, with 1,049 operatives.

In 1919 Herkimer had 34 factories, with 1,472 workers; 3,546 horsepower; $4,133,000 capital; annual manufactures valued at $3,933,000 (U. S. Census Report). In 1924 Herkimer's manufactures were desks, knit goods, furniture, air rifles, nut picks, nut crackers, bookcases, paper fibre, gloves, etc. The large amount of flat land here, both for residential building and for industrial plants close to railroads and waterway, gives Herkimer many advantages for manufacturing. Address Chamber of Commerce, Herkimer, N. Y., for information desired along these lines.

A Barge Canal terminal dock is located at Herkimer and a dam is here situated in the river.

Shoemaker Hill, 1,200 Ft. — The Hasenclever Hills, 1,420 Ft.

Shoemaker Hill, opposite Herkimer, and east of Mohawk, rises to a commanding height of 1,200 ft. sea elevation, and 817 ft. above the Mohawk. It is a westward extension of Mt. Okwari, 1,380 ft. sea elevation.

The Hasenclever Hills border Herkimer on the north and west. Hasenclever Hill (about 6 miles n. w. of Herkimer) has an elevation of 1,420 ft. or 1,033 ft. above the Mohawk. This range runs north about 8 miles and then turns west and forms Bell Hill, 1,582 ft.; Smith Hill, 1,207 ft.; Marcy Hill, 1,260 ft., all of which are north and northeast of Utica. Oak Hill (980 ft. sea elevation and 600 ft. above the Mohawk) is the southern summit rising steeply directly from the Mohawk to the west of Herkimer and opposite Ilion and Frankfort. The Hasenclever Hills from the western divide of the lower course of the West Canada Creek.

Herkimer and Herkimer County

Herkimer is the county seat of Herkimer County, which takes its name from the American brigadier-general, Nicholas Herkimer, who was mortally wounded at the battle of Oriskany [see Oriskany] August 6, 1777. The county, outside of the manufacturing towns, is principally devoted to dairying. The upper part extends far into the western Adirondack region and includes many of its lakes and summer resorts. The northern part is in the Black River watershed, the central in the Mohawk watershed and the extreme south in the Susquehanna watershed. Nineteen hundred and ten population Herkimer County, 56,356; 1915, 64,109; 1920, 64,962; area, 934,000 acres.

(See Hardin's "History of Herkimer County" and Benton's "History of Herkimer County and the Upper Mohawk Valley.") [i.e, Nathaniel S. Benton, A History of Herkimer County: including the Upper Mohawk Valley, from the earliest period to the present time, etc.]

The Herkimer-Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort Civic Community

Herkimer, Mohawk, Ilion and Frankfort, forming an important manufacturing community running for five miles along the Mohawk, contain many large industries and have a 1920 population of 27,739. It is a rapidly growing group of towns. The history of Mohawk, Ilion and Frankfort is largely that of their sister town of Herkimer, which is the oldest village and is here so written for this entire community, which is a direct outgrowth from the Palatine German settlements along the Upper Mohawk under the Indian purchase of 1722 and the Burnetsfield Patent of 1725.

1907 — Herkimer Centennial

[Photo: Statue of General Herkimer, the Hero of Oriskany]

In 1907 Herkimer held the centennial celebration of its village charter, the most prominent feature of which was the unveiling, in Myers Park, of the spirited statue of General Nicholas Herkimer. The sculptor was Burr Miller, a native of Herkimer, and the statue was presented to the village by the sculptor's father, Hon. Warner Miller, a distinguished citizen of Herkimer and a former U. S. Senator from New York.

[Photo: [Statue of] General Spinner]

In Myers Park also stands a statue of Gen. Francis E. Spinner, Treasurer of the United States under Lincoln, whose famous signature adorns the pedestal as it did the Civil war greenbacks. This statue was the gift of the women employes of the Treasury department under Spinner. Gen. Francis E. Spinner was the son of Rev. John P. Spinner (the famous local dominie of the early nineteenth century) and was born in Mohawk in 1802; died 1890. Gen. Spinner was a resident of Mohawk where his old home stands (1924). He was a prominent local political and financial figure and a major-general of New York State Militia. Gen. Spinner was the first one to employ women in U. S. Government positions.

Herkimer County Historical Society

[Photo: Herkimer Library]

The Herkimer County Historical Society (organized 1896) has here an important historical collection, open free to the public, which the visitor should see. The society is located on the top floor of Herkimer Library, formerly the residence of Judge Robert Earl. It is open free to the public. Here is General Herkimer's sword and the Bible from which he read on his death bed. Here also is the flag of the 34th New York Volunteers (the Herkimer County Civil War Regiment) and one of the first (1874) commercial typewriters produced by the Remington Typewriter Company.

On the lawn in front of the Court House is a marker commemorating the site of Fort Dayton (1776-1783) and also one showing the Civil war records of the 34th New York Volunteers.

[Photo: Herkimer Reformed Church]

Herkimer Reformed Church was erected in 1835 and is surrounded by its ancient burial ground. It celebrated the 200th anniversary of its organization as a church society in 1923, this important occasion also commemorating the 200th anniversary of Palatine settlement in this section.

First American Wood Pulp Paper Made Here, 1866

One of the valley's first water power developments was made at Herkimer in 1833, when the Herkimer Manufacturing and Hydraulic Company was formed (with a capital of $100,000) to erect a dam and power canal here on West Canada Creek.

The first wood pulp paper made in America was manufactured here in Herkimer in 1866 by Warner Miller, later United States Senator from New York State (1881-1887). Previous to this time newspaper was made of rags or of rye straw and this was the beginning of a tremendous development of the paper industry.

Herkimer is the seat of the largest desk making industry in the world, which began with the making of typewriter cabinets (for the Remington typewriter works in Ilion) in 1886.

Herkimer, Historical, 1722-1922

The following is a condensed historical sketch of the region known in the Revolution as Burnetsfield or "German Flatts," comprised within the limits of the Burnet patent of 1725. It covers present Herkimer-Fort Herkimer-Mohawk-Ilion-Frankfort section of the Mohawk River.

Palatine German Settlement, 1720-1725

The Palatine German settlements of Stone Arabia (about 1712) and of German Flats (about 1720-1725) form the two most important German settlements on the Mohawk, that of Stone Arabia being the first along our river and the German Flats settlements being the first white locations in the upper Mohawk Valley. It is probable that the Palatines settled on and opposite the West Canada Creek as early as 1720, as they are known to have come here and made individual purchases of land from the Mohawks as early as 1720.

Palatine Germans settled along the Schoharie River and at Stone Arabia, Montgomery County, in 1712.

The Palatine settlement at German Flats is of great historical importance because for over sixty years (1722-1783) it formed the outpost of the old New York frontier and in that period it suffered terribly from fourteen years of warfare in the French-Indian war (1754-1760) and in the Revolutionary war (1775-1783). In fact, as he said, Gov. Burnet settled these Palatine pioneers here as an outpost to meet the first hostile French blow from Canada, by way of the Black River or Oswego.

Burnetsfield Patent, 1725

On July 9, 1722, Governor William Burnet purchased of the Mohawks the lands lying westward along the river from Little Falls to Utica, which constituted the Burnetsfield patent of April 30, 1725.

The grants of lands, under this historic patent of Burnetsfield, were made to 94 persons representing 38 families and covered 9,400 acres, as each patentee received 100 acres. Wives and widows received grants as well as males of full age. The family names of the patentees were:

Beerman, Bowman, Dacksteder, Edich, Edigh, Editch, Erghemar, Feller, Felmore, Fols, For, Heger, Helmer, Herter, Hess, Hoss, Keslaer, Kast, Koons, Korsing, Koues, Lant, Mayor, Miller, Orendros, Orendorf, Pears, Pell, Pellinger, Petri, Poenradt, Reele, Rickert, Shoemaker, Smith, Speis, Spoon, Staring, Temouth, Veldelent, Wever, Welleven.

Many valley families will here recognize the spelling or misspelling of their names. Erghemar represented the name of Herkimer, Johan Jost Herkimer, and his father, Jurgh Herkimer, being patentees. Johan Jost Herkimer was the father of General Nicholas Herkimer.

Settlement of Herkimer, 1722-1725 — Great Flat, German Flatts, Stone Ridge, Burnetsfield, Palatine Village

Under the Burnetsfield patent, most of the 100 acre farms had a narrow frontage on the river and ran back to or up the hills, thus giving all a share in the fertile river flats. On the Great Flat of Herkimer, the land was here divided into 30 acre plots and certain settlers were given a 30 acre flat lot here and a 70 acre wood lot elsewhere. This brought a considerable population (for the time and place) within a narrow space and gave the place the name of Palatine Village. Governor Burnet desired to have the settlement called Burnetsfield, in his honor, and it was so called officially. The stone outcrop, on the present village site, gave the place the name of Stone Ridge and it was also referred to as German Flats, a name then applied both to the whole 24 miles of Palatine Mohawk River settlement or to any of its parts. Herkimer is frequently referred to before the Revolution, by any one of these five names. It was generally called German Flats or Fort Dayton during the Revolution.

Those granted lands under the Burnetsfield patent on the site of present Herkimer were Palatine families by the names of Bowman, Dacksteder, Feller, Fols, Helmer, Kast, Koons, Lant, Mayor, Pellinger, Petri, Reele, Rickert, Smith, Staring, Temouth, Veldelent, Weaver.

From the Palatine settlement until the beginning of the French war, the population of German Flats grew rapidly and at the beginning of hostilities in 1754, this was one of the most thickly settled sections along the Mohawk.

[Photo: The West Canada Creek]

The Fort Herkimer Reformed Dutch Church of logs was built about 1723. In present Herkimer a church of logs was first built, followed by a Reformed Dutch frame church of octagon shape and here a grist mill was located on West Canada Creek. The farm crops were great, the cattle thrived, the settlers grew rich, the population increased and the settlements extended yearly in every direction. There were probably a thousand or more people living and working along the river on the German Flatts at the beginning of the French war in 1754. A ford at Herkimer connected the north and south shore settlements and the two Colonial neighborhood centers of Palatine Village (Herkimer), on the north bank, and that of Herkimer's (Fort Herkimer) on the south bank.

Herkimer Massacre, November 12, 1757

The great French and Indian war (1754-1760) vitally affected the Mohawk Valley part of the old New York frontier. Its men were enrolled in the Schenectady battalion of the Albany County Militia and served in the valley forts or were called out on the military expeditions under General (Sir William) Johnson. Fort Herkimer was built and garrisoned with 250 men in 1756. In 1756 the English forts at the Wood Creek portage of the Mohawk (present Rome) were captured and burned by the French.

The settlers had erected five blockhouses to guard the settlement of sixty houses on the north side of the river. On the 11th of November, 1757, an Oneida Indian brought news of the approach of a French-Indian raiding party but was laughed at by the German settlers, who had the same attitude in the face of impending danger as the Schenectady Dutchmen when rumors reached them of approaching Indians prior to the Schenectady massacre.

A party of 300 French marines, Canadians and Indians, commanded by M. DeBelletre, marched down the Black River Trail to destroy the German Flats frontier settlement. They encamped about opposite Utica on November 11, 1757, and the next day the raiders moved on the first blockhouse, which surrendered after brisk firing on both sides. The other four blockhouses surrendered. Many of the people fled to the ford to Fort Herkimer across which 100 escaped. Forty men, women and children were killed or murdered and 150 were carried captive to Canada. The greater part of the German Flats farm buildings were burned in this raid and the farm stock killed or driven off. Following this bloody foray, Burnetsfield was deserted by a great part of its population, which moved down the river.

This region was again ravaged by Canadian French and Indian raiders April 30, 1758, when a large war party attacked the south side, murdered 30 settlers and almost completed the previous year's destruction. Captain (later General) Nicholas Herkimer was in command of Fort Herkimer and sent out a company of the garrison which defeated and drove off the enemy after a sharp battle in which fifteen of the enemy were killed and one of the garrison command was wounded.

In 1758 Fort Stanwix was built at present Rome, Palatine Germans of the German Flats being engaged in its construction.

Following the terrible devastation of the great French war (1754-1760) a period of reconstruction ensued here, which was still in process at the outbreak of the Revolution (1775).

Tryon County, 1772

The Mohawk Valley formed a part of Albany County until 1772, when Tryon County was erected, embracing all of the state westward of a north and south line crossing the Mohawk at Kinquariones, west of Hoffman's Ferry. Five county districts were formed. Mohawk, Canajoharie and Palatine districts were east of Fall Hill, while to its west, German Flatts district lay on the south side and Kingsland district on the north side of the Mohawk. Kingsland and German Flatts districts acted as one, civilly and militarily during the Revolution, and the section was strongly "Whig", or patriotic.

At a council held at German Flats, on June 28, 1775, between the Oneida and Tuscarora Indians and the local Committee of Safety and an Albany patriot delegation, a large part of the Indians present pledged their neutrality in the approaching war. Kirkland, the Oneida missionary, largely influenced this action as well as later bringing the majority of the Oneidas to fight on the Continental side.

Fort Dayton, 1776

Realizing the importance of the defense of their valley frontier against attack from Canada, the American Army of the North (with headquarters at Albany) constructed a number of Mohawk Valley forts in 1776, including the construction of Fort Dayton at Herkimer and Fort Herkimer, surrounding the present Fort Herkimer Church. Both works were under the supervision of Col. Elias Dayton, in whose honor the Herkimer fort was named.

The Oriskany Campaign, August 2-23, 1777

The campaign of 1777, ending in the American conquest of Gen. Burgoyne's British army at Saratoga, is closely related to the Mohawk Valley and Fort Dayton at present Herkimer. Here the American armies mobilized which defeated and drove off (from before Fort Stanwix) the British expedition under Gen. St. Leger in his attempt to join Gen. Burgoyne at Albany. The defeat of St. Leger was the prime cause of the surrender of Burgoyne, which made American independence eventually possible.

In June and July of 1777 news reached the valley forts of St. Leger's approach by way of Oswego and Oneida Lake to the Mohawk at Fort Stanwix (present Rome).

On June 17, 1777, Gen. Herkimer (commanding the valley militia west of Schenectady borough) called out for field service all the Tryon County men of military age (then between 16 and 60), who were not serving in American armies elsewhere.

Fort Stanwix, located at present Rome, was garrisoned by 500 men under Gen. Gansevoort, who were reinforced by 200 from Fort Dayton (convoying river supply boats) on August 2. As they entered Fort Stanwix it was surrounded by the enemy, 1,600 strong. The reinforcements brought news of the adoption by Congress of a national banner on June 14, 1777. Officers of the fort made a banner following the Congressional design and on August 3, 1777, first hoisted and flew the American flag from Fort Stanwix on the site of present Rome. This was the first raising of an American battleflag.

On August 4, 1777, the Tryon County Militia mobilized at Fort Dayton to a strength of about 900 men. A marker in Herkimer shows the site of Fort Dayton and of this mobilization.

The March to Oriskany from Fort Dayton (Herkimer), August 4-6, 1777

On August 4, 1777, Gen. Herkimer led his regiment from Fort Dayton and began the fateful march to Oriskany. He followed the north shore road and encamped that night west of Staring Creek. One of the markers placed along Herkimer's march by the valley D. A. R. in 1912, here marks the camp site.

On August 5 the march was resumed and the American soldiers crossed the ford at Old Fort Schuyler (present Utica) and encamped that night between the Sauquoit and Oriskany Creeks (between Whitesboro and Oriskany). This site is located by D. A. R. markers.

As related (under Oriskany Battlefield Monument) General Herkimer was forced to begin battle before his preparations were completed, by the clamor of vain, inexperienced, excited officers and impatient men. The ambush of Oriskany resulted. Herkimer was severely wounded, at the first fire, but directed the battle to a successful issue. After a bloody fight the Americans drove the enemy away, with great loss on both sides. See "Chapter 61 — 1777. Battle of Oriskany."

On August 16, 1777, General Herkimer died of his wound at his home below Little Falls.

By a heroic feat of scouting, through the woods from Fort Stanwix to Fort Dayton, Col. Willett and Lieut. Stockwell passed through the enemy lines and down the valley.

Gen. Benedict Arnold (the brave soldier and later traitor) volunteered with 800 men for this service and marched up the valley to Fort Herkimer and Fort Dayton. Here he recruited his army to 1,200 men and marched on Fort Stanwix. The enemy, weakened by their Oriskany losses, fled (August 22, 1777) before his approach and the menace to the valley and the aid to the British at Saratoga was eliminated and eventually American independence was assured.

Capture of Walter Butler

Gen. St. Leger's British army was so cut up by the Oriskany battle that he did not dare proceed down the valley, to join Gen. Burgoyne at Saratoga, and leave Fort Stanwix in his rear. He tried to rouse the valley Tories by sending the fiend Walter Butler with a party of spies and scouts down the river. On the night of August 17 fourteen of this enemy party, including Butler, were captured at the Shoemaker house in present Mohawk. Butler was sentenced to death but reprieved and imprisoned at Albany, from which place he escaped the next year and perpetrated the Cherry Valley massacre with Brant.

Hanyost Schuyler's Scare Story

Among the spies taken here was a valley Tory named Schuyler, who was sentenced to be hung. His mother plead for his life with Gen. Arnold, then at Fort Dayton. The General agreed to spare the spy's life if his brother, Hanyost Schuyler, an eccentric character, would carry a tale to the Indians besieging Fort Stanwix, telling of a vast American army coming up the valley to relieve the fort. Hanyost agreed and a neutral Oneida was sent with him. An American soldier shot several holes through Hanyost's coattails and he was sent on his mission, which he performed so well that the hostile Indians, after hearing his stories of the approaching great army, fled back to Fort Oswego and the British, Tories and Hessians had to follow in great haste, pursued by the Americans.

Gen. Arnold's regiment marched back down the valley and added to the strength of the army which conquered the British at Saratoga and where Arnold played such a glorious part in the American victory.

Brant's Indian Raid of 1778

On August 1, 1778, a large party of Tories and Indians under Brant raided the upper valley and burned 125 houses, barns and mills and drove off over 500 horses and cattle and 300 sheep. The famous scout, Adam Helmer, came in touch with the enemy south of the Mohawk rode fifteen miles to German Flats, warning the settlers, who escaped to Forts Dayton and Herkimer, and so only two pioneers were killed.

Forts Dayton and Herkimer, Frontier Posts, 1781-1783

In the spring of 1781, a disastrous fire damaged Fort Stanwix (at present Rome) to such an extent that the post was abandoned. The troops marched down to garrison Forts Dayton, Herkimer and Fort Plain. From this time until peace was declared in 1783, Forts Dayton and Herkimer were the most advanced posts on the New York frontier.

On July 2, 1781, a party of 50 American rangers, under Capt. Woodworth, left Fort Dayton to scout along West Canada Creek. They were ambushed by a large party of Indians at present Kast's Bridge (3 m. n.) and after a fierce fight, 35 were killed, including their commander. The site will doubtless later be marked. In 1781, 60 Indians and Tories attacked the blockhouse of a farmer named Christian Schell, five miles north of Fort Dayton. The old farmer, his wife and six sons successfully defended their home and drove off the enemy after killing 11, wounding 15 and capturing McDonald, the Tory commander.

Battle of West Canada Creek, October 30, 1781

Following the defeat of Ross and Butler's 700 British-Tory-Indian raiding party at Johnstown, October 25, 1781, the American commander, Col. Willett, pursued the enemy, coming up the valley. Securing reinforcements from Forts Dayton and Herkimer, he left Fort Dayton October 27, with 450 men and started up the West Canada Creek, after the enemy who were fleeing to Canada over an upland trail.

Tory Fiend Butler Killed

October 30, 1781, Willett's pursuing regiment caught up with the rear guard, near Black Creek outlet, near the upper end of the present Hinckley reservoir on the West Canada Creek (22 m. airline n. of Herkimer). A sharp skirmish ensued, in which 25 of the enemy and one American were slain. An Oneida company of scouts were with Willett and one of them here shot and killed the notorious Tory villain and murderer, Capt. Walter Butler, who committed such bloody atrocities at Cherry Valley and elsewhere in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution.

Col. Willett returned with his command to Fort Dayton November 2, 1781. During his absence news had arrived of the surrender of Cornwallis (October 19, 1781) but the survivors along the Mohawk hailed the news of Butler's death more joyfully than they did that of the final British defeat at Yorktown. The heroic farmer-soldiers and their families prepared a feast at Fort Dayton for Willett and his valley warriors, which was probably the most joyful jollification ever held along the Mohawk. During this campaign, from the time Willett left Fort Plain, his men marched over 150 miles in one week, which shows what hardened athletes the Revolutionary soldiers of that day were.

In July, 1782, a force of 600 Tories and Indians raided the south shore of German Flats, burning all the buildings erected since the raid of 1778. The attack on Fort Herkimer was beaten off.

In July, 1783, Washington toured the Mohawk Valley and stopped at Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer and also at the old Shoemaker house in Mohawk.

Herkimer County Seat, 1791

In 1791 Herkimer County was set off from Montgomery County and Herkimer was made the county seat. In 1797 Herkimer Village had a court house, jail and Reformed Dutch Church, 40 dwelling houses and a population of about 250. It was then probably the third town in the valley in size, being next to Schenectady and Johnstown. Herkimer had a slow growth as a county seat and market town until about 1866, when manufacturing began. Its present rapid development began with the beginning of the manufacture of desks here in 1886.

Herkimer, Military, 1861-5, 1917-8

The principal Civil war organizations largely recruited from Herkimer County were the 34th Infantry, N. Y. Volunteers, five companies of which came from this county; 97th Infantry, N. Y. V., five companies of which were largely Herkimer County men; 121st Infantry, N. Y. V., from Herkimer and Otsego counties; 152nd Infantry, N. Y. V., from Otsego and 360 men from Herkimer; 16th Artillery (over 100 men); 14th Infantry; 26th Infantry; 1st Light Artillery (Batt. A); 2nd Light Artillery (Batt. K); 2nd Rifles; 18th N. Y. Cavalry. The county civil war camp was at Mohawk. A marker commemorating the 34th Infantry, N. Y. Vols., was erected here in 1921.

[Photo: 34th N. Y. Volunteers Marker]

The flag of the 34th Vols, is in the Herkimer County Historical Society collections in the Library Building.

In the World war the men drafted for the U. S. army from Herkimer County were here assembled and sent forward to their respective encampments. Many Herkimer men were enlisted in Company M, 10th Infantry, N. G. S. N. Y., of Mohawk, and saw service in the World war, 1917-8.

U. S. Senator Warner Miller, 1881-1887

Hon. Warner Miller of Herkimer, was a leading Republican politician of the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. He was aligned with the Blaine faction of the Republican party as against the Conkling faction. U. S. Senators Roscoe Conkling and Thomas C. Platt resigned, in 1881, and then became candidates for re-election. A bitter struggle between the two factions followed in the New York Legislature. Warner Miller and Elbridge G. Lapham were elected over Conkling and Platt, after a battle of 48 ballots, between May 31 and July 17, 1881. Senator Miller was defeated for re-election in 1887. The Republican factional fight, between the "Stalwarts" (Conkling followers) and "Half Breeds" (Miller adherents) is covered in "Chapter 90 — 1865-1900. The Mohawk Valley, from the Close of the Civil war to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century."

Dates of interest in the history of Herkimer, following the Revolution, are as follows: Building of the first West Canada Creek bridge in 1793; Mohawk River improvement with canal lock at Wolf's Rift, 1797; bridge over the Mohawk, 1798; Mohawk Turnpike improvement, 1800; cheese making begun in Fairfield, n. e. of Herkimer, in 1800; 1807, Herkimer chartered a village; 1812-14, War of 1812 period, with great turnpike and river activity; 1817, Herkimer County line moved east from Fall Hill to East Creek; 1817-1825, Erie Canal construction; 1824, division of Reformed Church because all sermons were still preached in German; 1833, hydraulic power canal completed; 1836, opening of the Albany & Schenectady Railroad; 1861-5, Civil war; 1866, first wood pulp paper made here; 1872, knit goods manufacture begun; 1883, West Shore Railroad built; 1885, Mohawk & Malone Railroad completed; 1886, desk industry started; 1895, Utica to Little Falls trolley line completed; 1902, Mohawk and Oneonta (electric railroad) built; 1905, Barge Canal work started; 1907, Herkimer village centennial celebration, Gen. Herkimer statue unveiled; 1912, route of Herkimer's march from Gen. Herkimer Home and Fort Dayton to Oriskany marked by valley D. A. R.; 1917-1918, World war period.

Fort Herkimer Church

Fort Herkimer Church lies on the broad flats between the Mohawk and the slopes of Shoemaker Hill, which rises 817 feet above the river (sea elevation, 1,200 feet). The outlet of the West Canada Creek is one-half mile west and Wolf's Rift, of early Mohawk River navigation, was about one mile east.

Fort Herkimer Reformed Church is one of the most historically important buildings along the Mohawk, and it bore a great part in American Revolutionary history and the making of the nation. It is the sole remaining structure of a Revolutionary fort now standing along the Mohawk Turnpikes, for it formed the central defense of Fort Herkimer, 1776-1783. Other Mohawk Valley remaining forts are the Johnstown jail and the Schoharie Reformed Church, but these are not on the Mohawk Turnpikes.

Fort Herkimer Church is also one of two valley structures now standing which served as Colonial Mohawk Valley forts, the other being Fort Johnson (1749), at the western limits of Amsterdam. (See Fort Johnson).

Fort Herkimer Church is annually visited by many tourists. When the south shore highway is improved this number will greatly increase. It is hoped that later the false ceiling will be removed, thus showing the gallery and resuming its aspect of the end of the period of the alterations in 1812.

In 1923 the Fort Herkimer and the Herkimer churches celebrated the 200th anniversary of the establishment of their respective church societies as well as the 200th anniversary of the settlement of German Flats by Palatine German pioneers.

The Fort Herkimer Church is the only Mohawk River church still retaining its old-time construction, with the high pulpit and sounding board of Colonial days. Its ancient grey stone exterior and its quaint interior naturally seem to bring to mind the spirits of the great forefathers of the Republic who here foregathered in the tragic days of America's national creation.

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