This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.


Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 57

History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 57: 1775, Beginnings of the Revolution in the Mohawk Valley.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 725-738 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]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

Go back to: Chapter 56 | ahead to: Chapter 58

Formation of the Tryon County Committee of Safety — First full meeting of the committee at Fall Hill, June 2, 1775 — Membership of the committee — Declaration of rights by the settlers of Cherry Valley and New Town Martin, July 13, 1775 — Sir John Johnson's and Colonel Guy Johnson's Tory activities — Mohawk Indian apprehensions — Patriot activities — clashes between Whigs and Tories.

Developments around Boston in the Spring of 1775, brought the hitherto bloodless conflict to a trial of arms between American Whigs and the Loyalists and the redcoated British soldiery. Within two months, a succession of events about the New England metropolis had forced the patriots to fight or surrender all thought of liberty. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars fought the American farmers at Lexington and Concord and were compelled to retreat to the city of Boston for safety. The news roused the whole country to action and everywhere preparations were made for war with the mother country. The excitement of the day spread even into the remote frontier of the Mohawk Valley and the Tryon County patriots prepared for action.

In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Thirteen Colonies were all represented by delegates. Congress accepted the forces about Boston as the Continental Army and appointed George Washington as its Commander in Chief. Washington assumed command on July 3, 1775. Everywhere the patriots now organized for defense.

The New York Provincial Assembly met in New York, on January 10, 1775, it sat until April 3, 1775, when it was adjourned never to meet again. Attempts to get its members to endorse the action of the Continental Congress all failed, two of them by only one vote. On May 22, 1775, a Provincial Congress met in the city of New York. It was entirely Whig in sentiment. All the counties of the Province, except Tryon, were represent; Tryon was then still dominated by the Tory Johnson party and its militia. Albany County was represented, including several delegated from Schenectady Township. The body assumed the functions of a Provincial government and entirely ignored the Governor and his Council.

In Tryon County and in Schenectady Township, early in 1775, Committees of Safety were formed to direct both civic and military matters and to prepare for the impending conflict. These Committees were formed to act in concert with similar bodies at Albany and New York, as well as to cooperate with the New York Provincial and the Continental congresses. The Schenectady Committee held its first meeting on May 6th. The Tryon County Committee of Safety met for the first time as a county body on May 24, as detailed later. The Schenectady Committee of Safety's meetings during 1775 are given in the next chapter.

The Johnson party early in 1775 published a set of resolutions approving English acts and went about securing signatures, which excited the indignation of the majority of the Tryon county population who were Whigs. Most of the Tryon county officials signed the Johnson petition. The Whigs held meetings and the first one, of three hundred patriots, assembled at Caughnawaga to raise a liberty pole. This was broken up by an armed party of Tories headed by Sir John Johnson. Young Jacob Sammons interrupted a fiery speech of Col. Guy Johnson and was severely beaten by the Tories.

Further patriotic meetings were held and at the second held at the house of Adam Loucks in Palatine, a committee to correspond with those of other districts was formed. Johnson now armed further his fortifications at the Hall and organized and equipped his Tory Scotch highlanders. In view of these affairs the Palatine committee addressed a letter to the Albany committee setting forth the situation in the county and asking that the shipment of ammunition into it from Albany be supervised so that the Tories could not further arm themselves. Evidences soon appeared that Johnson was endeavoring to secure the support of the Six Nations. His personal army now amounted to 500 men and he had cut off free communication between Albany and the upper valley settlements. The Palatine committee, May 21, protested against Johnson's course and the German Flats and Kingsland districts were invited to cooperate with them.

May 24, 1775, the committees of all the districts but Mohawk met at the house of William Seeber in Canajoharie (at Fort Plain) and adopted resolutions of united action between the districts. Delegates were sent to Albany and Schenectady to confer with those committees. This was the first meeting of the Tryon County Committee of Safety and was held close to the site of the later fortification. May 25, the Tryon county and Albany committees held a council with the Mohawks at Guy Park without apparent results. On May 29, again at the house of William Seeber, near Fort Plain, a resolution was passed prohibiting all trade with persons who had not signed the article of association and slaves were not to be allowed off their master's premises without a permit. Any person disobeying these instructions was to be considered an enemy of the patriot cause. The first full meeting of the county committee was held in the western part of the Canajoharie district, June 2, 1775, at the house of Warner Tygert a neighbor and relative of General Herkimer. The names of the committee at that meeting follow:

Canajoharie District — Nicholas Herkimer, Ebenezer Cox, William Seeber, John Moore, Samuel Campbell, Samuel Clyde, Thomas Henry, John Pickard.

Kingsland and German Flats Districts — Edward Wall, William Petry, John Petry, Marcus Petry, Augustinus Hess, Frederick Ahrendorf, George Wents, Michael E. Ittig, Frederick Fox, George Herkimer, Duncan McDougall, Frederick Hilmer, John Franck.

Mohawk District — John Marlett, John Bliven, Abraham Van Horn, Adam Fonda, Frederick Fisher, Sampson Sammons, William Schuyler, Volkert Veeder, James McMaster, Daniel Lane.

Palatine District — Isaac Paris, John Frey, Christopher P. Yates, Andrew Fink, Jr., Andrew Reeber, Peter Waggoner, Daniel McDougall, Jacob Klock, George Ecker, Jr., Harmanus Van Slyck, Christopher W. Fox and Anthony Van Vechten.

Of the members from the Canajoharie district, Herkimer lived in the present town of Danube, Cox, Seeber and Pickard in Minden, Henry in Harpersfield and Campbell and Clyde in Cherry Valley.

Christopher P. Yates was chosen chairman of the county committee and Edward Wall and Nicholas Herkimer were selected to deliver a letter of protest to Col. Guy Johnson against his Tory stand. Col. Johnson returned a politic but non-committal letter to this deputation. He appointed a council at German Flats but did not hold it, but went on to Fort Stanwix, taking with him his family, a number of dependents and a great body of Mohawk Indians, who left their valley homes never to return except in war parties and against their old neighbors.

On June 11, 1775, the committee chose Christopher P. Yates and John Marlett as delegates to the provincial congress. This meeting was held at the house of Gose Van Alstine (now the Fort Rensselaer Club of Canajoharie). Rev. Mr. Kirkland arranged a council of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras with the committe and Albany delegates at German Flats, June 28, 1775, which largely resulted in the friendly attitude of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras during the war.

[Photo: Van Alstyne House, 1750.]

July 3 the committee granted the petition of certain settlers for permission to form themselves into militia companies. The Tory mayor of Albany, who was fleeing west, was stopped by Capt. George Herkimer and the rangers and his batteau was searched but nothing contraband was found. By this time Guy Johnson and his party had pushed on to Ontario, far beyond the reach of angry patriots, and wrote back a hostile letter in reply to a pacific one sent him by the provincial congress. From Oswego Johnson went to Montreal accompanied by many warriors of the Six Nations. The Tryon county settlers feared that he would soon collect an army, and cooperating with John Johnson, sweep the valley of the patriots. The committee now assumed the civic and military functions of the county and began to have trouble with John Johnson over its assumption of the sheriff's duties and use of the jail and also over the formation of patriot companies in the vicinity of the Hall.

Late in the Spring of 1775 Colonel Frederick Visscher (a prominent and efficient American officer) paraded his regiment of Tryon County Militia at Caughnawaga for training. Sir John Johnson and Lady Johnson were riding through the village in their coach. The Tory baronet alighted and ordered Visscher to dismiss his troops. Johnson and Visscher had a struggle, in which Johnson threatened to shoot and stab the patriot colonel. Sir John made off when a young Irish militiaman told him: "If ye offer to lift a finger against my master, I'll blow ye through."

At Johnstown, in 1775, occurred what is said to have been the first shot fired in New York Colony at the beginning of the Revolution. The Tory Sheriff White arrested Jacob Fonda of Caughnawaga (present Fonda) because of his ardent patriotic sentiments and brought him to the Johnstown jail. A party of Whigs broke into the jail and released Fonda and then went to take White, who was at Mattice's tavern. The Tory official fired from a window at the approaching patriots. He then hid in a chimney and escaped capture, but was later caught and imprisoned at Albany.

Probably the foregoing were but a few of the verbal and physical clashes, brawls and fist fights which attended this period of intensely bitter feeling. The Whig and Tory divisions separated the people of all classes, from the highest to the lowest. Families were divided and brother hated brother and fathers were estranged from sons because of the approaching conflict. Never before or since, in the history of America, has there been such an era of bitter feeling and savage hatreds as that which existed in the American colonies just prior to the hostilities of the Revolution.

After Johnson's flight Guy Park was confiscated by the American Revolutionary authorities and later was sold.

* * * * *

On July 13, 1775, the patriot inhabitants of Cherry Valley and New Town Martin met and drew up a declaration of rights, which aligned these somewhat remote settlers with their Tryon County brethren along the Mohawk River. New Town Martin was located within the present limits of Otsego County. There are four additional signatures to this paper which have become obliterated with time. The Declaration of Rights and its signers follow:

We, the undersigned Subscribers, Freeholders and Inhabitants of Cherry Valley and New town martin are persuaded that the preservation of the Rights and Liberties of America depends under the Almighty God on the firm union of its Inhabitants in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety HAVE unanimously formed ourselves into a Company to act in Consort with our fellow Brethren in Maintaining our Constitutional Rights and Privileges in order thereunto HAVE with one Consent Chosen Samuel Cloyd to be our Captain, John Campbell, Jurr., to be our Lieutenant, and James Cannon to be our Ensign and do in the most solemn manner resolve never to become Slaves; and do associate under all the Ties of Religion Honour and Love to our Country to adopt, abide by and obey our aforesaid Officers in all lawful commands and Endeavour to carry into execution whatever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress or our Provential Convention for preserving our Constitution and opposing the execution of the several arbitrary and oppressive Acts of the British Parliament. Witness our hands July the 13th 1775 seventy five.

Jas. Richey, John McCallom, Hugh Mitchall, Wm. Galt, John Willson, Jas. Cambell, ———— Willson, Robt. Anderson, Saml Willson, Henry Dixson, Jas. Dixson, Andrew Willson, H—— Mch——Killip, John M'Killip, Jas. Canon, Grad Canon, Wm. Willson, Wm. Hamilton, Will Mac Killip, Jas. Moor, Samel Campbell, Wm. Mc Glachlin, Saml Willson, J—— Ferguson, J—— Conrad, H——I—— Conrad, Thos. Whelig, Wm. Thomson, A. McCollam, Wm. Dixson, Robt. Johantson, Robt. Hamill, Wm. Hamill, A. Yates, H. Hamill.

* * * * *

The Schoharie settlements were generally patriotic in their sentiments at the opening of the Revolution. The battles between the Whigs and the King's troops, around Boston, in 1775, aroused the Schoharie patriots as they did their brethren along the Mohawk and amid the Cherry Valley Mountains. The Schoharie Whigs "quickly sent a message to Boston with cheering assurance of sympathy besides supplies, such as the rich soil bountifully furnished, and a general military organization was effected."

On October 20, 1775, the Fifteenth Albany County Militia was organized, Schoharie forming a part of that county. Three companies were organized at Schoharie and Colonel Peter Vrooman of Schoharie, became the regiment's Colonel. Other regimental officers were: Lieutenant-Colonel, Peter Zielie; Major, Jost Becker; Major, Thomas Eckerson Jr.; Adjutants, Lawrence Schoolcraft, Peter Ball; Quartermaster, Jacob Winney. A fourth company was organized at Cobleskill in 1777. In 1778, another company was organized at Dorloch, which was assigned to the Fifth Albany County Militia. The roster of the Fifteenth Albany Militia (Schoharie Valley) Regiment is given in the chapter covering the rosters of the Mohawk Valley Revolutionary Militia, which includes that of the Schoharie section.

The original Schoharie Reformed Church is generally known as the Old Stone Fort or the Old Stone Church. It formed the Lower Schoharie Fort of the Revolutionary War and is one of three remaining defenses of the Mohawk Valley during the War for Independence. The others are the Johnstown Jail and the Fort Herkimer Reformed Church. All three are stone buildings of great strength and were therefore chosen as the central defenses of their respective fortifications, the Lower Schoharie Fort, Fort Johnstown, and Fort Herkimer. The Schoharie company that was closely connected with the old Schoharie Stone Fort was Company I of the Fifteenth Albany Regiment. It was composed of the residents of Fox, Brunnen, Kniskern and Becker's dorfs. The officers first selected were: George Mann, Captain; Christian Strubeck, First Lieutenant; John Dominick, Second Lieutenant; Jacob Snyder, Ensign. Later Strubeck was promoted to be Captain and later became a Major, when Peter Snyder became Captain.

* * * * *

The following concerning the apprehensions of the Mohawks and Tory activities in the Mohawk Valley during 1775, is largely taken from Hanson's "Schenectady During the Revolution:"

"On May 18, 1775, the: Albany Committee had resolved that all who refused to give up arms for the American cause or sold either arms or supplies to 'inimical persons' should be held up to the public as enemies of their country. Later any one who refused public service, and on March 6, 1776, every 'non-associator', was placed in the same category. Upon the militia acting under orders from the Committees of Safety, devolved the duty of apprehending those against whom complaint had been entered.

"These complaints and subsequent arrests were incited by a variety of causes: aiding the enemy in any way; associating or corresponding with Tories; refusing to sign the Association or violating its provisions; denouncing or refusing to obey congresses and committees; writing or speaking against the American cause; rejecting Continental money or drinking the King's health, and even mere suspicion was not infrequently deemed sufficient to justify a man's seizure.

"To Albany as a concentration center to await their final disposition, were transferred the greater part of those arrested in this section, and, by December 1775, so crowded was the jail there that the Committee was obliged to provide additional quarters and secure an extra jailer.

"Both the colonists and the Mother Country had been quick to realize the important part to be played by the Confederacy of the Six Nations should their differences lead to a clash of arms. As early as 1774, efforts were made, in behalf of the colonists through the Stockbridge Indians, to secure the sympathies of the Mohawks, while to Reverend Samuel Kirkland was intrusted the matter of winning over the Oneidas. In behalf of England, Colonel Guy Johnson, acting under orders, had sought to hamper the work of Kirkland and to retain the friendship of the Indians.

"Scarcely had the Committee of Safety at Schenectady been formed when rumors began to be freely circulated to the effect that Colonel Guy Johnson, in abuse of his office as Indian Superintendent, was desirous of bringing about an Indian uprising with a view of 'cutting off' those who opposed him and — that he was laying plans to that end. So persistent were these rumors that Colonel Guy Johnson, fearing the consequences were he to permit them to go unrefuted, placed the matter before the Schenectady Committee on May 18, (1775) thus stating his position:

"'Gentlemen: We have, for some days past, heard of many threats from the public, that give us reason to apprehend that the persons or properties of gentlemen of the first consequence, both with respect to station and property, would have been insulted in this county, and myself in particular, under color of a gross and notorious falsehood, uttered by some worthless scoundrels, respecting my intentions as Superintendent of Indian affairs. To gentlemen of sense and moderation these malicious, ill-founded charges ought to be self-evidently false, as my duty is to promote peace, and my office of the highest importance to the trade and frontiers; but as these reports are daily increasing, it becomes me, both as a subject and a man, to disavow them, and, until I can find out and chastise the infamous author, to assure the public of their mistake, and to acquaint them that it has rendered it my duty for self-preservation, so necessary, that I have taken precaution to give a very hot and disagreeable reception to any person who shall invade my retreat; at the same time I have no intention to disturb those who choose to permit me the honest exercise of my reason and the duties of my office; and requesting that you will immediately cause this to be made publicto the Albany Committee.

"'I remain, Gent'n, your very humble serv't,

G. Johnson.'

"Much, however, as Colonel Johnson sought to check it, the current of opinion continued to increase in its hostility to him. The gossip of the day abounded in stories, false or otherwise, circulated for the benefit of one side or the other. One, to the effect that the 'person of Colonel Guy Johnson was in danger of being seized and their supply of powder thereby cut off, evidently spread with a view of inciting the Indians against the colonists, so well succeeded in its purpose that, on May 20, Little Abram, a chief of the Lower Castle of Mohawks, in behalf of the Indians, thus appealed to the magistrates and committees at Albany and Schenectady:

"'Brothers — Our present situation is very disagreeable and alarming, what we never expected, therefore desire to know what is designed by the reports that are spread amongst us. We hear that Companies and Troops are coming from one quarter to another to molest us, particularly from New England to apprehend and take away by Violence our Superintendent and extinguish our Council Fire, for what reason we know not —

"'Brothers — We desire you would inform us, if you know of any such design on foot either by the New England People or in your Vicinity and not deceive us in this Matter for the Consequences will be important and extensive —

"'Brothers — We shall support and defend our Superintendent and not see our Council Fire extinguished —

"'We have no inclination or purpose of interfering in the Dispute between Old England and Boston; the white People may settle their own Quarrels between themselves; we shall never meddle in those matters, or be the Aggressors, if we are let alone. We have for a long time lived in peace with one another and due wish ever to continue so. But should our Superintendent be taken from us, we dread the Consequences, the whole Confederacy would resist it, and all their Allies, and as reports now are, we should not know where to find our Enemies; the innocent might fall with the Guilty. We are so desirous of maintaining Peace that we are unwilling the Six Nations should know the bad Report spread amongst us & threats given out —

"'Brothers — We desire you will satisfy us as to your knowledge of the foundation of those reports, and what your News are and not Deceive us in a matter of so much Importance —

Signed Abram Chief.'

"In answer to the appeal of Little Abram, at a conference of the Indians called at Guy Park on May 25, (1775), a committee composed of delegates from Albany and Tryon counties declared to the Indians in the presence of Colonel Johnson that the reports concerning intended harm to their superintendent were false. They declared further that they hoped the report in regard to the powder was false also, and assured the Indians that, on their return, they would inform their 'old and wise men' of the report and use every endeavor, if it were so, to prevent any recurrence in the future.

"The Indians, on their part, again expressed themselves as being peaceably disposed toward the inhabitants, but made it quite plain that, if their supplies of powder which they obtained from their superintendent, were cut off, they would surely distrust them.

"The Indians who attended the conference were mostly Mohawks, and as the Western Indians who were invited to attend were not represented, the council was soon adjourned with a view of meeting later at Cosby's Manor near German Flats. This council was never held. Colonel Guy Johnson remained but a short time at Cosby's Manor and then proceeded westward to Fort Stanwix, accompanied not only by his family and some five hundred retainers who had left Guy Park with him, but also by a large body of Mohawk Indians from the Upper Castle. The stay at Fort Stanwix was but a brief one, Colonel Johnson and his followers proceeding almost at once to Ontario, where a council of the Western Indians was convened.

"Thus far no act of open hostility had been committed by Colonel Johnson, although his movements were viewed with the greatest suspicion by the settlers. While the council was being held at Ontario, the whole Valley was again thrown into alarm by rumors that reached the Tryon County Committee, on good authority, that Col. (Guy) Johnson was ready with eight or nine hundred Indians to make an invasion of the County, that the Indians were to be under the Command of Joseph Brant and Walter Butler and that they were to fall on the inhabitants below the little falls in order to divide the people in two parts.

"The cause for this alarm seemed the more real as Sir John Johnson still remained at Johnstown, surrounded by a large body of loyal followers. The Tryon County Committee wrote to the Albany and Schenectady Committees, on July 13, placing the matter before them, stating that they had every reason to believe the reports true, and further that they feared that all their enemies in the county would appear in arms as soon as the Indians approached. 'Our ammunition is so scant,' continued the letter, 'that we cannot furnish three hundred men so as to be able to make a stand against so great a number. In these deplorable circumstances, we look to you for Assistance both in men and ammunition to save this County from slaughter and desolation.'

"To counteract the influence of Colonel Johnson, the Tryon County Committee, on June 29, 1775, met with the sachems of the Oneida and Tuscarora tribes. At this meeting were present delegates from Albany and Schenectady and in the chair was (later General) Nicholas Herkimer. Mutual speeches were made, friendship and confidence with the two nations renewed, with a promise from the latter, if possible, to bring the rest of the Six Nations to unite with them in measures of peace. The Indians expressed themselves as greatly pleased with the kindness and generosity manifested toward them and recommended that 'the gate of Fort Stanwix be shut, that nothing might pass or repass to hurt the country.' A like recommendation was made to the Tryon Committee on July 3, by the associated settlers at Fort Stanwix, who represented their dangerous situation due to their exposed position, and it was immediately resolved that the matter be brought to the attention of the Schenectady Committee that they might, if so inclined, send one hundred men to the post.

"With a view of using still further means of keeping the Indians in a position of neutrality, Congress, on July 12, 1775, established an Indian Department with three subdivisions — Northern, Middle and Southern. Major-General Philip Schuyler was appointed one of the five commissioners of the Northern Department, and under the direction of this body a second conference with the Indians was held at Albany in August, 1775. About five hundred Indians attended this conference. Presents to the amount of one hundred and fifty pounds worth of goods were distributed and, while the Council was not wholly representative, the Indians solemnly agreed not to take up arms for either side.

"Toward the end of July (1775) a more serious clash than had yet occurred took place between Sir John Johnson and his Whig neighbors. Alexander White, the sheriff of Tryon County, had imprisoned John Fonda, much to the displeasure of the Whigs, who, some one hundred strong, went to the (Johnstown) jail and forced his release. Following this the mob attempted to take the sheriff, shots were exchanged and White subsequently sought the protection of Sir John Johnson. 'Expecting that an attempt would be made to retake Fonda,' wrote Christopher P. Yates to the Albany and Schenectady Committees on July 22, 'we have collected together about 5 or 600 men to protect Fonda and take the Sheriff prisoner. We have wrote to Sir John Johnson, Bart. and requested him to deliver the sheriff to us, or that we would take him by force. The Gent. we sent up being John Frey and Anthony Van Veghten inform us that Sir John has got about 400 men in Johnstown and has fortified his house in such a manner that it is not possible for us to take the sheriff out of the house with small arms and Sir John declared to Messrs. Frey and Van Veghten that he would protect the sheriff so long as he remained in his house. As the sheriff gives us a great deal of trouble Insulting us on every occasion and bids us open defiance we are therefore now determined to have him, and as we understand that there are field pieces in Schenectady we request you would send a couple with all the implements necessary.'

"On the next day (July 23, 1775) John Fonda reported to the Schenectady Committee that Sheriff White had left Johnstown, presumably for Canada, and, on the twenty-ninth, the Albany Committee reported to General Schuyler that not only was the unhappy dispute with Sir John amicably settled, he agreeing to take no further active part in the dispute between Great Britain and the American Colonies, but that the apprehension of the inhabitants of Tryon County respecting the Indians was entirely removed."

Johnson's protestations of neutrality were false and he and his followers continued their dangerous Tory activities under cover, with the result shown in the next chapter.

* * * * *

The following dates give the chief events leading up to the Revolution, as well as those transpiring in 1775, the first year of actual warfare. These dates, given under chapters dealing with the years of the Revolution from 1775 to 1783, enable the reader to carry along the national events of the war, in connection with the Mohawk Valley story of the War for Independence. The table of dates of National Revolutionary events, from 1765 to 1775 inclusive, follows:

New York congress of 1765, called to protest against the Stamp Act of 1765; formation of the Sons of Liberty in New York city and conflict between them and British troops, Jan. 18, 1770; resulting in bloodshed (Appleton's Encyclopedia says "this irregular fighting was the real beginning of the Revolutionary war."); Boston massacre, 1770; Boston tea party, Dec. 16, 1773; organization of "Mohawks" in New York in 1773 and repetition of "Boston tea party" in New York harbor, April, 1774; Continental congress in Philadelphia, Sept. 5, 1773 (in reality an assemblage of the patriot committees from the different colonies), sitting also during 1774; battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775; American capture of Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775; second Continental congress, May 10, 1775; battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775; Washington made commander-in-chief of the American army, June 15, 1775; American defeat under Montgomery at Quebec, Dec. 31, 1775.

* * * * *

The following sketch of Col. Peter Vrooman, commander of the Schoharie (Fifteenth Regiment, Albany County) Militia during the Revolution, is from Ellsworth Vrooman's "Schoharie Valley Lore":

Peter B. Vrooman, son of Barent A. Vrooman and Engelite [Engeltie?] Swart, was born at Vrooman's Island, Schoharie County, New York, June 20, 1735; married Engelite [Engeltie?] Swart, daughter of Josia Swart and Janette Vrooman, May 15, 1764; died at Schoharie, New York, December 29, 1793.

Peter Vrooman was commissioned lieutenant in 1754, captain in 1759, major in 1770, under the Crown, and served against the French on the frontier.

When war was declared, he espoused the cause of the Colonies and was commissioned colonel of militia by the Provincial Congress of New York on October 20, 1775, having dropped the "B." in his name, perhaps to shield himself from being recognized as the former major of the British government. He remained in command from the beginning to the close of the Revolution, excepting when reinforcements were sent to the valley or when made immediate command, by reason of courtesy or seniority of rank, was transferred to the visiting commandment. During Johnson's invasion, Col. Peter Vrooman was the superior officer and took part in the defense of the Middle Fort. The Continental major was either a coward or traitor, as he insisted on giving admittance to the flag of truce, upon which Colonel Vrooman took command, even issuing the ammunition himself, that the men might not know the scantiness of the supply, and thus by his boldness and determination saving the fort. In addition to his military service, Colonel Vrooman held the office of secretary to the Committee of Safety, was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775, was member of Assembly in 1777, '79, '86 and '87, served as delegate to the General Committee, and filled other important positions of trust. After the close of the Revolution, Colonel Vrooman, his buildings having been burned by the Indians on Vrooman's Island, purchased the old mill on Foxes Creek, Schoharie, built 1760, and erected the house now the home of Mr. Charles Vrooman.

A monument to Colonel Vrooman stands adjacent to the Old Stone Fort, which was the Lower Schoharie Fort of the Revolution, over which he exercised command during a great part of the war.

Go to top of page | back to: Chapter 56 | ahead to: Chapter 58

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 57 updated March 30, 2015

Copyright 2015 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library