History of Herkimer County

Why two peoples, distinct in their origin, dissimilar in tastes, habits and customs, should harmonize on a great political problem for a period of more than fifty years, and in numbers to carry almost every popular election, presented a question worthy of inquiry and solution. Animated with a strong desire to arrive at a just and proper conclusion in respect to this question, Nathaniel Benton gave, in the sequel of this book, a full statement of the facts which are believed to have drawn the German and English or New England populations into harmony. Where the English, to seek an asylum from civil and ecclesiastical oppression, and to fix themselves as the planters of a new colony, on a lone and desolate shore, surrounded by an unbroken wilderness and the same illegitimate emanations from the religion of the cross compelled the German Palatines to plant themselves in an exposed and wilderness frontier, as an out-post and vanguard, to protect and cover the older settlements in their rear from Indian assaults and depredations; while the not much less refined warfare carried on by a neighboring European colony, whose relentless cruelties, unmitigated barbarities and bigoted intolerance, they and their fathers had so often before seen, suffered and tasted.

Nathaniel Benton was able to name the first European settlers, the pioneers of the upper valley, and could trace the descendants of most of them, as being still inhabitants of the county, while some of those families, from emigration or other causes became entirely extinct, and the name is no longer known. Although there now are numerous descendants of the female branch of the Herkimer family in the county, it is believed there is not, at this time (1856), one inhabitant in it bearing that name. With perhaps two or three exceptions, the chapter of biographies of the Palatine families, will attract but little interest out of or beyond a confined locality.

It will be noticed that several individuals of these families have held prominent official stations in the county. From the first settlement of the valley, under the Burnetsfield patent, to the outbreak of the revolution, many German settlers came into the upper valley, some from Schoharie county, and the lower valley, now Montgomery county, others from New York and the shores of the Hudson river, a few from New Jersey, and probably several of the third emigration of the Palatines, who arrived in New York in 1722. He was not able to learn the names of a single family of English descent, which settled in the German-flats district, previous to the revolution, except that of Thompson on Cosby's manor. There may have been two or three others.

Table of Contents:

Introductory Chapter
Notice of the Mohawk Indians— King Hendrik
Early History of the German Tribes
Immigration of the Palatines and Events from 1709 to 1722
Settlement of the German Flats — Events from 1722 to 1772
Historical events from 1772 to 1783
Miscellaneous Incidents from 1783 to the present time
Forfeited Estates — Attainder Act of 1779 — Treaties of 1783 and 1794
Biographical Sketches of the Palatine families
Erection of the County in 1791
Political History from 1783 to 1855

Source: Benton, Nathaniel Soley. A History of Herkimer County. Published 1856, J. Munsell.


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Old England District

The "old England" district, embracing a small portion of the territory in the south part of Herkimer county, and a portion of Otsego and Madison counties, on the Unadilla river, erected by the colonial government, was organized as a part of Montgomery county in 1784, and officers appointed by the court of general sessions. Rudolph Shoemaker and Frederick Bellinger were appointed justices of the peace in Tryon county, May 26th, 1772; and George Henry Bell and Andrew Finck, Jr., were appointed to the same office in Montgomery county, July 8, 1784. These persons then lived within the present limits of Herkimer county.