Zenas Barker: A Forgotten Incident
By James F. Morrison
incident was copied from THE FRONTIERSMEN OF NEW YORK, JEPTHA R. SIMMS, GEO.
C. RIGGS, PUBLISHER, 1883, VOL. II, pp 532-533. Simms relates a forgotten
incident in Barker's life during the WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, which
even Barker didn't relate in his pension application. It appears that the
names of the other scouts are to be forgotten through the lapse of time.
A Race for Fort Herkimer.-In the fall, as believed,of 1781, a scout of seven men was sent from this post,for observation,down the river,to discover,if possible,the foot-prints of an enemy. Only one name of the party has been preserved,and that was Zenas Barker. The scout proceeded nearly seven miles and met with nothing unusual; but before returning,they visited the apple-orchard (upon Fall Hill) of George Henry Bell's desolated homestead; and had just seated themselves under a tree to enjoy the luxury of its ripe fruit,when they heard, near by,a shrill Indian whoop. Springing to their feet, they discovered a party of Indians,whose number exceeded their own,about to enter the orchard near them. Their only chance for life was in instant flight,which they fortunately made in the direction of their fort.
Leaping a fence into the road,they were fired upon,but escaped unharmed; and then commenced a race for life. For some distance they all kept out of the way of their pursuers;but at length Barker,the youngest of the scouts,began to lag and would,if unassisted,soon be overtaken. Two comrades lent him helping hands, and he was saved. To increase their speed the scouts unwisely cast aside their guns,and when a single shot would have told,they could not make it. After a race of an hour or more-for seven miles was calculated to try the mettle of friend or foe-they were all nearing the fort,and all but one of the enemy had slackened pace;but the leader was so intent on killing one or more of the three who were still behind,that he seemed reckless of his position. Several rifles at the fort were brought to bear upon him,and the instant his exposure came they fired,and his death followed the report. His temerity had cost him his life. The rest of the party escaped on the back track.-Reuben Barber,a nephew of Zenas Barker.
Pension Application for Zenas Barker - NO. S12116
State of New York
Erie County SS:
On this 7th day of December 1832 personally appeared before the Court of Common Pleas now sitting at Buffalo in the County of Erie Zenas Barker a resident of Buffalo in the County of Erie & State of New York aforesaid and 67 years and upwards who being first duly sworn according to Law doth on his oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1832. That he entered the Service of the United States under the following named Officers & serve as for herein stated. That he was born on the 25th day of January in the year 1765 in the Town of Northbury now Plymouth in the County of Litchfield and State of Connecticut, that he served with his father from Northbury aforesaid when hw was six or seven years of age to New Lebanon in the State of New York where he continued to reside until the winter of 1781 when he enlisted in Capt Skinners' Company on Col. Willett's Regiment of New York State Troops for three years. That he marched [from is crossed out] in the spring of 1781 to Albany where he remained in the service under Major Hitchcock of the said Regiment who was during that time stationed at Albany. The other Officers of his Company & Regiment he cannot recollect.
The next year (1782) he the said Zenas Barker was transferred to Capt. Cannons Company of the same Regiment. The other Officers of his company he cannot recall.
That his Company was stationed at Schoharie ubtil the fall of 1782 the said Company was ordered to Fort Plain on the Mohawk River and there continued until it was disbanded. This applicant never was in any battle but was frequently out in scouting parties.
That the subaltern officers in Capt Cannons Company were several times changed which is probably one reason that he does not recollect them. That he served during his term of service and before he was discharged not less than two years and six months as a private soldier.
Has no Record of age & know of none in Existence. Was living at New Lebanon in the [County of was crossed out] Kings District (Columbia County) State of New York when he entered the service and has lived in the State of New York ever since the Revolutionary War and since the year 1804 he has been a resident of Buffalo.
Entered the service as a volunteer. That he resided at New Lebanon aforesaid until just before he came to Buffalo to reside.
That he was discharged at Schenectady in the State of New York on the sixth day of January 1784 and then & there recieved a written discharge which was signed by Peter B. Tearse then being the commanding Officer the Col & Major both being absent which said discharge he haspresented and which is hereto annexed.
And this declarant further states that the Revd William Spelton is a Clergyman resident in Buffalo aforesid near his residence and that General Herman B. Potter & Philander Bennet fisrt Judges of the County Court, of the County of Erie aforesaid with many others have for a long time past resided & now reside in his neighborhood and can testify to his character for truth & veracity & their belief of his services as a soldier of the Revolution.
That he has no documentary Evidence Except the discharge hereto annexed and knows of no person who can testify to the services above stated Except Hezekiah Dibble whose affidavit is hereto annexed.
He hereby relinquishes every claim, whatever, to a Pension, or annuity, except the present, and declares that his name is not on the Pension Roll of the Agency of any State
Sworn and subscribed this 7th Zenas
day of December 1832
Noah P. Sprague Clerk
of Erie Common Pleas