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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 54: 1772. Tryon County Religious Allegiance Document.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 688-698 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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A peculiar, previously unpublished paper, swearing allegiance to George Third, on the grounds of Protestantism, as against Stuart pretensions — a seeming trick to stem the rising Whig tide along the Mohawk — signed by leading Whigs and Tories of Tryon County — Brief sketches of the signers — A final feature of colonial days, in the Mohawk Valley, and an evidence of the temporary general good feeling created by Sir William Johnson in the erection of Tryon County.

The following curious document hangs on the walls of the Fort Rensselaer Club in the old Van Alstyne House in Canajoharie. It is not known from what source it came. This parchment is one of the most important Colonial papers relating to the Mohawk Valley. It has never been previously published to the author's knowledge. The document takes on unusual interest and historical value because it bears the signatures of the greater part of the leading Whig and Tory leaders of the Mohawk Valley in the troubled times just antedating the beginning of the Revolution. An illustration, of that part of the document bearing the signatures, accompanies this chapter.

To the student of history, this Tryon County paper looks like a trick to get the Valley patriot leaders to swear allegiance to King George on account of his religion — an oath to support a Protestant monarch, which later might be construed into a blanket oath of allegiance and endorsement of all the acts of the English sovereign and the English government. Perhaps the mask and the trick were recognized by the Whig signers. If so they probably regarded their signing as a mere formality done to please Sir William Johnson. They may have considered the document to be in no way binding on their political acts.

The year 1772 seems to have been one of comparatively good feeling in the Tryon County region of the Mohawk Valley. Early in that year, Sir William Johnson had secured the setting up of Tryon County with Johnstown as its county seat. Johnstown was very centrally located for the inhabitants of Tryon County and the fact, alone, that the County people could now make an easy and comparatively short journey to the new county seat, in itself, was enough to add to Sir William's popularity. Doubtless, the Whigs felt like pleasing their old friend and so signed this paper.

1772 had been a noteworthy year for the Mohawk Valley. Governor Tryon, with a brilliant party of Provincial aristocrats, had visited Sir William at Johnson Hall, where the Governor's council had also met. Three impressive reviews of the complete military forces of the new County of Tryon had been held at Johnstown, German Flats (Fort Herkimer) and Burnetsfield (present Herkimer). Social events probably had made the Hall a brilliant and lively center for the Tory aristocracy and the Valley Whig leaders. It is not surprising that all parties and their leaders united, in a feeling of good will, and signed this curious piece of jumbled verbosity. The document, in verbatim form, and its signatures, follow:

* * * * *

I. A. B. do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithfull and bear true Allegiance to his Majesty King George the third so help me God. I. A. B. do swear that I do from my Heart abhor, detest, and abjure as impious and Heretical that damnable Doctrine and Position, that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Power or any other authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or murthered by their Subjects or any other whatsoever, and I do declare that no foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiority, Preeminence or Authority, Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm so help me God. I. A. B. do truly and Sincerely acknowledge, profess, Testify and Declare in my Conscience before God and the World that our Sovereign Lord King George is Lawful & rightful King of this Realm and all other his Majesty's Dominions & Countries thereunto belonging, and I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I do believe in my conscience that not any of the Decendants of the person who pretended to be the Prince of Wales during the lifetime of the late King James the Second and since his decease pretended to be and took upon himself the Stile & Title of King James the third of England or of Scotland by the name of James the Eight or the Stile and title of King of Great Britain hath any Right or Title whatsoever to the Crown of this Realm or any other the Dominions thereunto belonging and I do renounce, refuse & abjure any Allegiance or Obediance to any of them and I do swear that I will bear faith and true allegiance to his Majesty King George and him will defend to the utmost of my Power against all Traterous Conspiracies and Attempts whatsoever which shall be made against his Person, Crown or Dignity & Title do my utmost endeavor to disclose and make known to his Majesty and his Successors all Treasons & Traiterous Conspiracies which I shall know to be against him or any of them and I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power to Support, maintain and defend the Succession of the Crown against the Decendants of the said James & against all other Persons whatsoever which succession by an Act entitled (an Act for the further limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights & Liberties of the subjects) is and stand limited to the Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess, Dowager of Hanover and the Heirs of her body being Protestants and all these things I do plainly & Sincerely acknowledge & Swear according to the express words by me Spoken & according to the plain common Sense & understanding of the same Words without any Equivocation Evasion or secret Reservation whatsoever and I do make this Recognition Acknowledgement Abjuration, Remuneration & Promise heartily, willingly and Truly upon the true faith of a Christian so help me God. I. A. B. do solemnly & sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify & Declare that I do believe that in The Sacrament of the Lords supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the Elements of Bread & Wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ or after the Consecration thereof by any Persons whatsover, & that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint & the Sacrifices of the Mass as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are supersticious and Idolatrous & I do solemnly in the Presence of God Profess, Testify & Declare that I do make this Declaration and every part thereof in the plain & ordinary sense of the Words rid unto me as they are commonly understood by English Protestants without any Evasion Equivocation or mental Reservation whatsoever & without any dispensation already granted me for this purpose by the Pope or any other authority or Person whatsoever or without thinking that I can be acquitted before God or Man or absolved of this Declaration or any part thereof altho the Pope or any other person or persons or power whatsoever should dispence with or annul the same or declare that it was Null & Void from the beginning.

"Werner Deygert, Harmanes Van Slyck, John Dielbe, Henri B. Merckel Jur., Arent Brouwer, Peter Ehl, John Eisenlord, Adam Loucks, John Petry, Samel Petri, Peter Bellinger, Willm. Deygert, George Henrich Ball, Adam Young, Frederick Bellenger, Willem Connighem, Adam Staring, Nichs. Herchimer, Jacob Reshor, Johan C. Petry, John Demuth, Johann Bellinger, John Brown, Barent B. Wempel, Volket Veder, Samuel Pettingell, John Dackstetter, Nelles Vroman, Frederick Fisher, Henry Hees, Abraham D. Quackenbush, Cornelius Smith, Hendrick Vrooman Jun., Peter Cooper Junr., Peter Groot, Cornelius Alstine, John Kline, Nathell. Hillyer, Barent Dredener, Edw. Wall, Dietrich Petri, Petter Weber, Johan Dliem (?), J. Roorbach, Leond. Gansvoort, Guy Johnson, John Butler, Hendrick Frey, Jelles Fonda, Joseph Chew, John Frey, John Johnson, Peter Martin, Peter Conyne, Robt. Adams, Peter Ten Broeck, Frederick Young, Hendrick Hansen, Barent Hansen, Gilbert Tice, Arent Bradt, John Bowen, Adam Zeele, John Fonda, Willm. Byme, Danl. Claus, John Salltsman, John Hansen, Chrisr. P. Yates.

"December 8, 1772."

[Photo: List of names of leading Tryon County men signed to a document of 1773 supporting George the Third as the Protestant King of England, against the Stuart Pretenders.]

The foregoing names constitute a virtual cast of characters of the Revolutionary drama of Tryon County. The leading Whig, or Patriot and Tory, or Loyalist actors are all represented in the signatures to this very unusual document. Sir William Johnson's name does not appear, which is a fateful circumstance suggestive of the fact that the great figure of Colonial times, on the stage of the Mohawk Valley, would not survive to appear in its greatest drama of life, politics, warfare and national destiny. The Tories are represented by Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William; Colonel Guy Johnson and Colonel Daniel Claus, his sonsin-law; Colonel John Butler, father of the demoniacal Captain Walter Butler of bloody Revolutionary Valley raids; Colonel Hendrick Frey, who, while a Loyalist, bore no active part in the Revolution; Gilbert Tice, the first innkeeper of Johnstown, and, perhaps, one or two others.

The great majority of the men of old Tryon County, here represented, were Whigs or Patriots, as they termed themselves, or "rebels", as they were called by their Tory neighbors.

Werner Deygert was a brother-in-law of General Nicholas Herkimer and a member of the Canajoharie District Committee of the Tryon County Committee of Safety. He was slain in Brant's Fort Plain raid of 1780. He lived at Fall Hill.

Major Harmanes Van Slyck was a son of Captain Harmanus Van Slyck of Schenectady, who settled in Palatine township close to the Mohawk River, where he built a house and mill, following the granting of the Van Slyck patent of 1716. Major Van Slyck was a great-grandson of Cornelis Antonsen Van Slyck, the famous Dutch trader among the Mohawks, and Indian interpreter, who married Ots-toch, the Mohawk Indian "Queen of Hog Island," (in the river opposite Schenectady). Harmanes Van Slyck was a member of the Palatine District Committee of the Tryon County Committee of Safety and major in the Palatine Regiment of the Tryon County Militia. He was killed at the battle of Oriskany.

Peter Ehle was a son of Rev. John Jacob Ehle who was a pastor of the Stone Arabia Reformed Church and other Mohawk Valley churches as early as 1725. In 1727, Dominie Ehle built the Ehle stone house in present Nelliston. His son, Peter Ehle, built the larger addition in 1752.

John Eisenlord was the secretary of the Tryon County Committee of Safety, a major in the Palatine District Regiment and a man of education and ability. He was one of the many patriot leaders who were slain at the battle of Oriskany.

Adam Loucks kept the tavern in Stone Arabia where the first meeting of the Palatine District Committee of Safety was held on August 27th, 1777. He was elected a justice of Tryon County in 1773.

Peter Bellinger was later Colonel of the German Flats Regiment of Tryon County Militia, and a leader among the patriots of that section of the Mohawk Valley. He married Delia Herkimer, sister of General Herkimer, and fought with his regiment at Oriskany.

George Henrich Ball was a brother-in-law of General Nicholas Herkimer and a Captain in the Canajoharie Regiment of Tryon County Militia. His name is also spelled Bell. He was severely wounded at Oriskany. Capt. Ball was appointed a justice of the peace of Tryon County in 1778.

John Petrie was a son of Johan Joost Petrie, the original patentee of German Flats. John Petrie was a member of the German Flats Committee. He is listed on the Oriskany roster as having been killed at the battle of Oriskany, which could not have been so, as he was appointed a delegate to the State Convention from Tryon County in 1779. There is a John Petrie listed in the enlisted men of the 4th (German Flats and Kingsland) Regiment of the Tryon County militia. There are a number of instances of several soldiers bearing the same name in our Valley militia. It is not always possible to distinguish between them.

Frederick Bellinger, a brother of Peter Bellinger, was Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th (German Flats) Tryon County Militia Regiment. He was captured at Oriskany and taken to Canada.

There was a William Cunningham who was a private in Col. Klock's 2nd (Palatine) Tryon County Regiment. He was apparently an ardent and active patriot during the Revolution.

Nicholas Herkimer was the leading Revolutionary patriot of Tryon County and member of the Tryon County Committee of Safety from the Canajoharie district and Brigadier-General of the Tryon County Militia. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Oriskany.

John Adam Staring was a pioneer of the German Flats district. Whether he was the Adam Staring who signed this paper is not known. An Adam Staring was a private in Col. Bellinger's Fourth (German Flats) Tryon County Regiment.

John Demuth was an enlisted man in the Fourth (German Flats) Tryon County Regiment.

Johannes Bellinger was an original patentee of the Burnetsfield Patent and a pioneer settler of the German Flats section. He may have been the Johann Bellinger here listed.

John Brown was probably the famous Col. John Brown of the Revolution, who was slain while leading his men at the battle of Stone Arabia, Oct. 19, 1780. Although a native of Massachusetts, he started the practice of law at Caughnawaga (present Fonda) after his graduation from Yale in 1771. He was doubtless located there and acting as a King's attorney in 1772, when this paper was signed.

Abraham D. Quackenbush was probably a citizen of present Glen township, then in the old Mohawk district of Tryon County. An "Abrahand Quacenbosh" was a lieutenant in the 3rd (Mohawk District) Tryon County Regiment, who probably was the above signer.

Cornelius Smith's name appears among the enlisted men of the Tryon County Militia associated exempts, consisting of disabled men or men too old for regular military duty — that is over sixty years of age.

A Henry H. Vrooman was a lieutenant in the Third (Mohawk District) Tryon County Militia Regiment. A Hendrick Vrooman, of present Mohawk township, is on the Oriskany Roster.

Barent B. Wemple was a prominent resident of Caughnawaga where he conducted a mill and tavern. He died before the Revolution, after which his widow, Peggy (Fonda) Wemple, continued his business affairs. She was a strongly patriotic woman.

Volkert Veder was a prominent patriot and Revolutionary officer who lived at the western end of Caughnawaga (Fonda), where he conducted a mill. He was Lieutenant-Colonel of the Fifth Albany County Militia and later of Col. Fisher's Third (Mohawk District) Tryon County Militia, when he fought at Oriskany.

Samuel Pettingell was later a prominent Revolutionary patriot and farmer of the present town of Florida, Montgomery County. He was a captain in Col. Frederick Fisher's Third (Mohawk District) Tryon County Militia Regiment and fought at Oriskany.

There was a John Dachsteter enlisted in Col. Bellinger's Fourth (German Flats) Tryon County Militia Regiment. He fought at Oriskany.

Frederick Fisher was a prominent Revolutionary officer and patriot. He was a member of the Mohawk District Committee of Safety and Colonel of the Third (Mohawk District) Tryon County Militia Regiment. He was wounded at Oriskany. Later he was scalped and badly wounded at his house west of Tribes Hill, in Johnson's raid of May 22, 1780. The name Fisher was derived from the original Holland Dutch name Visscher and Col. Fisher's name is frequently spelled Col. Frederick Visscher.

A Hendrick Hees claimed land bounty rights as a member of Col. Klock's Second (Palatine) Regiment of Tryon County Militia. The Hees family was a Holland Dutch family of Stone Arabia.

A Lieutenant Petrus Groot of Amsterdam township fought with the 3rd (Mohawk District) Tryon County Regiment at Oriskany.

Cornelius Van Alstine appears as an enlisted man in the First (Canajoharie District) Tryon County Militia Regiment. He lived at present Canajoharie village. This is one of the few instances of the use of this Holland Dutch name without its "Van."

John Kline was probably a member of the Holland Dutch family by that name then resident in the Mohawk District, probably in the present Amsterdam section.

Edward Wall was Sir William Johnson's schoolmaster, as his pretentious signature flourishes would indicate.

Diterich Petry is down as an enlisted man on the muster roll of the Fourth or German Flats District Regiment of the Tryon County Militia. Peter Weber was a lieutenant in the same regiment.

Leonard Gansvoort was a lawyer and a member of the Albany Holland Dutch Gansevoort family. He may have been resident in Johnstown in 1772.

Guy Johnson was the nephew of Sir William Johnson, who married the latter's daughter, Mary or Molly. He was Provincial Indian commissioner, following Sir William's death in 1774. He is one of the few prominent Tories of Tryon County here listed. Guy Johnson was one of the first three judges of Tryon County, being elected in 1773.

John Butler was the well known Tory Col. John Butler of the Revolutionary War. He was commander at the Wyoming massacre and was the father of the notorious Tory Revolutionary murderer Captain Walter Butler. John Butler, Guy Johnson and Peter Conyne were the first judges of Tryon County, elected in 1773.

Hendrick Frey was a colonel of militia and had served with honor in the French and Indian War. While a Tory or Royalist, he took no active part in the war but remained unmolested at his home at present Canajoharie throughout the hostilities.

Jelles Fonda was an Indian officer under Sir William Johnson in the French and Indian war. He was a leading Valley merchant with stores and factories at present Fonda and at Schenck's Hollow (Montgomery County farm). He was a major of militia but seems to have become incapacitated by reason of a wounded or ailing leg. It was probably then that he became captain of a company of associated exempts, a home guard organization. Fonda was one of the four assistant judges of Tryon County, elected in 1773.

Joseph Chew was one of the six justices of Tryon County, elected in 1773.

John Frey was a prominent Tryon County patriot, member of the Committee of Safety, brigade major in the Tryon County Militia, and later the first elected sheriff of Tryon County. He lived in Fort Frey, at present Palatine Bridge, and was a brother of Col. Hendrick Frey. He was elected one of the six justices of the peace of Tryon County in 1773.

John Johnson was Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson, whose career is covered in various chapters of this work. He was one of the four assistant judges of Tryon County, elected in 1773.

Peter Martin was the pioneer of the section called New Town Martin in present Otsego County.

Peter Conyne was one of the judges of Tryon County, elected in 1773.

Robert Adams was one of Johnstown's first merchants, who later removed to Cherry Valley where he was slain in the massacre of 1778.

There were twenty-three Ten Broecks listed in the American Revolutionary army service. There is a Peter Ten Broeck listed in the Eighth Albany County Militia Regiment. Peter Ten Broeck was one of the six justices of Tryon County elected in 1773. He was later a major in the American service.

Frederick Young was a prominent resident of the Ames section of the town of Canajoharie, prior to the Revolution, and a road commissioner of the Canajoharie district in 1773 when the Canajoharie-Sharon Springs-Cherry Valley road was built. Young was elected one of the six justices of Tryon County in 1773.

Hendrich Hansen was of the town of Mohawk Holland Dutch family of that name. He was a captain of militia in 1760. Barent Hansen is listed among the Tryon County Revolutionary Associated exempts, (home guard). John Hansen was probably of the same family.

Gilbert Tice was the first tavern keeper of Johnstown and a strong Tory.

Arent Bradt was of the numerous Holland Dutch family of that name resident in and around Schenectady. Arent A. Bradt and Arent S. Bradt were both enrolled as enlisted men in the Second Albany County Militia Regiment (from Schenectady Township). As the signers of this document were evidently prominent citizens of Tryon County at the time, Arent Bradt was probably then resident somewhere within the county.

Adam Zeele (Zielley) was a member of the Stone Arabia family, of Holland Dutch descent, of that name.

Daniel Claus was a Tory Colonel and a son-in-law of Sir William Johnson, having married Anna or Nancy Johnson. He was an active Tory. Claus was one of the four assistant judges of Tryon County elected in 1773.

John Saltsman was probably of the Stone Arabia section, where the Saltsman family has since been numerous. There was a John Saltsman enlisted in the First Line Regiment which was formed in the Albany neighborhood. John Saltsman fought at Oriskany.

Christopher P. Yates was one of the most prominent patriots of Tryon County — a man of education and much force of character. He was major in the First New York Line in 1776, a delegate to the first and third provincial congresses. In 1777, he became clerk of Tryon County, continuing in the office until 1800. He married Maria, sister of Col. Hendrick Frey and Major John Frey.

* * * * *

And so the curtain came down on Colonial days in the Mohawk Valley. Sir William Johnson's death, on July 11, 1774, closed the drama of savagery and civilization of the white man's early days along the Mohawk.

The first act of the bloody and violent tragedy of the Revolution opened with the meeting of the Palatine Committee of Safety at Stone Arabia, on August 27, 1774, but six weeks after the death of Sir William, the Mohawk Valley's greatest Colonial figure.

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