State of New York
On this sixth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three personally appeared in open court before the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of the County of Schoharie in the said State of New York, Joseph Brown aged seventy years 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 7th 1832.
That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated.
That in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) he this deponent resided in a place called Vroman’s Land, situated on the Schoharie River about thirty miles south of the point where said Schoharie River empties into the Mohawk River. Said place called Vroman’s Land was then situated in the old County of Albany in the said State of New York, now called and known as the Town of Fulton in the said County of Schoharie, in the said State of New York.
That in the month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) the particular day in said month of June he, this deponent does not distinctly recollect, but recollects distinctly that it was in the month of June from the fact that farmers were then engaged in doing corn, he this deponent was regularly enrolled as a militiaman in a company commanded by Jacob Hager (1) as commandant and Peter Swart and Cornelius Feick as first and second Lieutenants in said company. This deponent does not now recollect that all of the officers in said company resided at that time in the said place called Vroman’s Land in the said County of Albany.
That Peter Vroman was Colonel of the Regiment to which said company was attached.
That in the said month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) and immediately after he this deponent was regularly enrolled in said company as aforesaid.
The said company was under the command of the said Jacob Hager as commandant were called out to perform duty and stationed at the fort called the Upper Fort in Vroman’s Land in the said County of Albany, now County of Schoharie as aforesaid in the defense of the country against the invasions and incursions of Indians and Tories. That said company were stationed at said fort from the said month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and eighty (1780) until the first part of the month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and eighty two (1782).
This deponent further declares that he faithfully served as a private soldier in said militia company at said fort from the said month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and eighty (1780) until the first part of the month of June (2) in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two (1782).
That in the fore part of the month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two (1782) he this deponent while on duty as a private soldier ins aid company at said fort was taken prisoner by a party of Indians and conveyed by them on foot to Niagara in the Canadas and retained by them as a prisoner until the summer of the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty four as this deponent thinks.
This deponent recollects distinctly that he was a prisoner for about the period of two years among the Indians and then was discharged from such imprisonment and returned home after the war had ceased.
This deponent further declares and distinctly sets with that from the month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) until the time he was taken prisoner as aforesaid he faithfully served the country as a soldier in at least the period of one year and eleven months. This period and duration of service, this deponent can positively attest to, and further that after he was taken prisoner as aforesaid he was in the actual custody and detention of the Indians at Niagara for at least a period of one year and nine months, that this period and duration of his imprisonment by and among the Indians he can positively attest to.
This deponent further declares that he is now a resident of the Town of Fulton in the County of Schoharie and State of New York. That he has resided where he does ever since the Revolutionary War.
That he was born in the County of Albany now called and known as the County of Schoharie in the State of New York, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty three (1763). That there is a record of the age of this deponent in the Records of St. Paul’s Church in the Town of Schoharie in the County of Schoharie of which church George A. Lintrer is Pastor. That by said record it appears that this deponent was born on the twenty first day of September in the year 1763 and that according to said record this deponent will be seventy years of age in September next.
That he has no documentary evidence of his services above set fourth, that he never received a written discharge from service.
That 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.
(Signed with his mark) Joseph Brown
Sworn to & Subscribed the day and year aforesaid in open court. John Gebhard Jr. Clerk
State of New York
On this sixth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three personally appeared in open court before the Judges of the Circuit of Common Pleas of the said County of Schoharie and the State of New York now sitting Barent Becker a resident of the Town of Middleburgh in the said County of Schoharie who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration.
That he is aged about seventy years. That he was born in the Town of Schoharie in the County of Albany, now the Town of Schoharie in the County of Schoharie. That he resided in the Town of Schoharie in the County of Albany in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) and previous and subsequent thereto. That he was well acquainted with Joseph Brown the person named as applicant in the preceding declaration in the year 1780 and previous and subsequent thereto until this time and for as long a period as he can recollect.
That said Joseph Brown resided in the Revolutionary War in a place called Vroman’s Land in the County of Albany now the Town of Fulton in the said County of Schoharie. That in the years 1780, 1781, and 1782 the said Joseph Brown belonged to a militia company under the command of Jacob Hager, as commandant and said company were stationed at the fort called the Upper Fort in Vroman’s Land.
That during the above named years said company were stationed at the said fort in defense of the country against the invasion and incursions of the Indians and Tories and this deponent distinctly sets forth that he frequently see the said Joseph Brown on duty as a member of said company at said fort and also on scouts in the neighboring country in which this deponent was personally engaged with said Joseph Brown, that the number of times he see said Brown in such service he cannot positively attest to. That said company was attached to a regiment commanded by Colonel Peter Vroman. That he has no doubt from what this deponent saw and knew of the services of the said Joseph Brown that the said Brown was engaged in the service of the common country and of the United States as a private soldier from the early part of the summer of the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty (1780) until he month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two (1782) when the said Brown was taken prisoner by the Indians at said fort and conveyed, as this deponent was informed and believed at the time to the Canadas. That this deponent well recollects the invasions of the Indians into the old County of Albany in the month of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two (1782) and well recollected that they killed one of the inmates of the fort (3) and that it was well understood at the time that the said Brown was taken prisoner and conveyed by the Indians out of the country in the direction of the Canadas that he saw Brown remained absent for some length of time and returned to Vroman’s Land soon after the war as this deponent recollects distinctly, but the exact time he was absent as a prisoner he cannot state.
(Signed) Barent Becker
Subscribed & sworn to the day and year aforesaid in open court. John Gebhard Jr. Clerk
North Blenheim, July 31st 1837.
Honourable and worthy Friends. I have had it in contemplation for some time past to inform the Hon., the Secretary of War of two persons in the County of Schoharie who are and have been drawing pension for some years past relative to the Act or Acts of Congress reference to pensions, who in my humble and canded opinion are not entitled to pension more than the man would be who was not in existence in that memorable war and being unacquainted with the present Secretary of War and having had the pleasure in former years to form an acquaintance with you and as I had understood that you had recently acted in that capacity of Secretary of War, I therefore take the liberty of addressing your Hon. on the above subject. The persons to which I have r____ince to is Joseph or Jost Brown, residing in the Town of Fulton in the said County. The other is Barrent Becker residing in the town of Middleburgh in said county.
First I shall as briefly (as the nature of the case will admit state the circumstances relative to Brown’s case as that and those appear to me some years since I was at the Court House in our county where a man by the name of Hador (4) in company with said Brown came to me at which time said Hador introduced to me the subject of pensions and wished to make oath for Brown. (5) Then told him that I had no recollection that Brown had ever done any duty in that war, whereupon said Hader said that Brown had been on duty under my father when the Indians had taken him off.
I then spoke to Brown in his own language and put the questions to him if he had been under my father when he was thus taken off. Where upon answered in the affirmative, I then asked him what he had been performing, where upon he replied that he had drove away their cows, I then asked him if my father had ordered him to drive the cows, where upon he answered in the negative and said that his own father had sent him to drive the cows. (6) Then I told said Harder to say no more on the subject that I could not for a moment think that he had ever been enrolled under my father, that he would not have trusted to such persons as Brown was in such trying times as we had in that war.
I then told Harter that his very appearance would satisfy any man of discernment that he was not a person to be depended upon in such times as we then had encountered and this I can substantiate by affidavit if necessary by a person who stood by and heard the conversation I have not till very recently been informed how and from whom an oath had been obtained that Brown had been on duty when taken off as stated, a respectable young man, a neighbor to Brown and Harder informed me, that Harder had told him that he had got said Barrent Becker to swear for Brown that he would have been on duty as stated when taken off as mentioned, and that he the said Harder was to give said Becker ten bushels of corn for making an oath and H. said he had paid said Becker two bushels of corn and further stated that the said H. was to have $45 (7) of the pension of Brown as long as promised and had had it for some time but Brown had been advised and would not pay him anymore whereupon he the said H. told him the said young man that he would not pay to said Becker the eight bushels of corn and that said Becker had got a certain Justice of The Peace to write him the said H. a line requesting him to pay, the corn due him the said Becker to prevent costs, where upon said H. told the said young man that Becker might sue as Quick as he pleased and if he did that then he the said Harder would have him the said Becker indited for fals [sic[ swaring in said war, and there were three forts, that were mentioned, the one was called the lower fort, the next middle fort and the third the upper fort, at which said last mentioned fort my father was stationed this I mentioned to show that Brown and Becker were not together in one fort in that war Brown was in said upper fort and said Becker in said Middle fort, I have my doubts very much if they had any knowledge in that said war of one another—the last year of said war the company to which I then belonged was stationed in said middle fort where said Becker was then with father, and upon principles of honour I have no recollection of having seen said Becker in the parade or seen him have a firelock (8) in his hand—it is said that Becker pretends that he was in the battle with the Indians at the Atsando Lake (9) in Delliware County. I am well satisfied as I was there and have no knowledge of his being there in short in my candid opinion it would be rear [rare] thing to find a ___and honest men in Schoharie County that resided here in that war and was & is still acquainted with Brown or Becker that ____ of ____ is intitled to any pension your Hom. Will or corse [course] present to his Hon. the Secretary of War. Please write and yours very respectfully. Henry Hager.
[on the side of last page] please remember me to his Excellency the President and if you plese [please] say to him that [blotted] from him to me would be pleasing.
The Frontiersmen of New York by Jeptha R. Simms; Albany, NY 1883. Volume II. Page 523.
An Invasion of the Schoharie Valley.
About the 1st of November, 1781, a party of the enemy under Joseph Brant,
and Capt. Adam Crysler, a former resident of that vicinity, entered Vrooman's
Land early in the morning, near the residence of Peter Isaac Vrooman, a
little distance from the Upper Schoharie fort. Isaac Vrooman, father of
Peter, who then lived on the now Philip B. Lawyer farm, had removed his
family below the Helleberg some time before, and had, at the time of which
I am writing, visited his son to. procure his aid in moving his family
back to his old residence in Schoharie. A few days before the arrival of
his father. Peter I., who lived nearly half a mile below, had removed from
a hut he occupied at the fort, to his dwelling, which he intended should
be his winter quarters, thinking the season so far advanced that the enemy
would not reappear that fall.
Peter was a self-taught blacksmith, and had a little shop near his house, where he usually did his own horse-shoeing. It was found necessary, previous to leaving home, to set several shoes; and the father rose before day-light, carried a shovel of coals from the house to the shop, and made a fire. As it began to get light, the old gentleman left the shop, as was supposed, to call his son. On his way two guns were fired at him—the one by the tory chieftain, and the other by an Indian warrior beside him. The door of Vrooman's dwelling was on the side opposite the shop, and the son, already up, hearing the report of two guns, and rightly conjecturing the cause, sprang out of his house and ran towards the fort a few hundred yards distant. lie had gone but a short distance when he was discovered, fired upon, and hotly pursued by several Indians, but reached the fort in safety. The wife of the younger Vrooman, on hearing the guns, ran up stairs, and from a chamber window saw an Indian in the act of tearing off the scalp of the elder Vrooman, who was then on his hands and knees, bellowing most piteously. After the scalp was torn off, the Indian, who was the reader's old acquaintance, Seth's Henry, dispatched his victim with a war club, cut his throat, and the bloody knife added another notch on the club, to the record of scalps he had taken in the war; after which he laid it upon the body of the murdered man and left him. The reader will remember that this Schoharie ehief left a war-club in the same neighborhood some time before, which recorded a most startling account of his prowess and cruelty ; the record was much larger at a later period, and I think it hardly possible that an equal number of scalps and prisoners were made during the war by any other individual Indian. When the enemy entered Vrooman's house for plunder, Mrs. Vrooman went below, and being known to several of the Indians, she addressed them in their own dialect, and they spared her life.
From motives of policy she had to receive the proffered hand of a foernan, although bloody from the act named. With two small children, one on her back and the other in her arms, she was allowed to flee to the fort, some 80 rods below. A negro lad belonging to the family some 10 years old, the Indians claimed as a prisoner. He caught hold of Mrs. Vrooman's dress and imploringly enquired if he could not go with mistress? Her sensibilities were severely tested ; but she knew it would be useless to importune a foe that had not a moment to waste, and she gently relaxed his hold and said to him : " Perhaps you'd better go with them !" He did, and she never saw him again. Hearing several guns after her husband left the house, she supposed him to have been slain ; but he had escaped their bullets ami they were happily reunited.
The invaders did not linger long in the vicinity of the fort, but advanced up the river, appropriating to their own use whatever was attainable. Soon after the arrival of Peter Vroooman, a party of 15 or 20 were dispatched from the fort in pursuit of the foe, of whose numbers they were totally ignorant. Who commanded this American scout is unknown, but Timothy Murphy had its principal direction. They proceeded with alacrity along the eastern shore of the Schoharie, and when on "Bouck's Island," a few rods above the residence of the late Gov. Bouck, they were tired upon by the enemy, who were concealed on the bank of the river above Panther mountain, and one of their number, Derrick (Richard) Haggidorn, mortally wounded. The Americans returned the fire and retreated. On this occasion, Murphy and Peter Hager were under cover of a large black oak tree, where, as Murphy made a shot, be dryly remarked : " Chaw that if you please !" As Haggidorn fell, he called to his companions not to leave him to a merciless foe ; whereupon Murphy addressed his brave comrades- nearly as follows : " My boys, every ball was not moulded to hit, let us save him.*" He was then taken between two of his friends and borne off in safety to the fort, where he died the next day, much lamented, as he had been a patriot and faithful soldier.
Whether the enemy received any injury from the return fire of Murphy and party was unknown ; but not long after, Jacob Fremire, a soldier who was out on a hunt from the Upper fort, found the body of a white man sitting against a tree, with his
* The remark of Murphy, that "every bullet was not moulded to hit," was peculiarly applicable to his own case He was almost constantly exposed in border wars from the beginning to the close of the Revolution, ever seeking the post of danger— the front rank, if" an enemy was near, and probably, at the lowest estimate, had several hundred bullets fired at him by good marksmen, without ever receiving the slightest wound. To look back on the multiplied dangers he passed through, without injury—but a lew of which have come down to the writer in a tangible form—it would almost seem as though fortune had her particular favorites After the above was published in 1845, Judge Hager assured the writer, that he was one of the pursuing party at this time, and that he made the remark accredited to Murphy—" that every bullet was not moulded to hit." Mr. Hagar was a man of truth.
gun and equipments
by him ; supposed to have been a tory under Crysler, and to have been
mortally wounded by the scout on Bouck's Island : the appearance of the
body justifying the belief that he had been dead about that length of
time. The dead man, who had been shot through the body, was found a mile
or more from where the skirmish had taken place, near where a brook intersected
the mill stream known as Bouck's saw-mill creek; the brook was afterwards
called "dead man's creek."
As the enemy were concealed, their number was still unknown on the return of Murphy and party, but enough having been seen and heard to judge somewhat correctly of their strength, Col. Vrooman dispatched Capt. Hager with 15 or 20 Schoharie rangers, and a company of eastern troops, numbering about sixty men, under Capt. Hale. (1) The command of the Americans was given to Capt. Hager, who, taking two or three days' provisions, moved up the river. The enemy, as was afterwards ascertained, numbered between 60 and 70 Indians and tories, under the command of Brant and Crysler. One of the principal objects of the invasion was the removal to Canada of Crysler's family, which, up to this time had remained in Brakabeen. Capt. Hager halted his men just at dark near the late Wm. Finck place, in Blenheim, where they encamped in a pine grove beside the road. The night was a very cold one, and the troops suffered considerably, deeming it imprudent to build fires in the night near an enemy whose strength they did not know.* Three hours before the dawn of day, the pursuit was renewed : and near the residence of the late Gen. Patchin, the Americans ascended the mountain by a narrow and uneven road; overhung by a heavy growth of hemlock. As the night was cloudy and dark, the progress of the troops was necessarily slow. On arriving at the forks of the roads which led, one to Harpersfield and the other to Lake Utsayantho, they halted, struck up fires and ate breakfast : it being then about daylight. It was discovered that the enemy had gone towards the lake, and a consultation now took place between the officers about the road to be pursued. Capt. Hager was in favor of making a rapid march on the Harpersfield route and, if possible, head the enemy at a favorable place for surprise; but was overruled and the trail of the enemy followed.
* Johan Jost Dietz and Peter Vrooman, the former a Colonel and the latter a Major of militia after the war, were left at the place of encampment, in charge of a keg of rum anil a quantity of provisions, to await the return of the troops; and well did they perform their duty, as they assured the writer when together in 1837; being unable a part of the time to leave the trust if they would—or, lest others who liked "the striped pig " should fall in with them and bear off the keg, they had secured a liberal share of its contents within their own stomachs.
Hager had pursued the enemy but a short distance on the Lake road, before
their approach was known to the latter, who made preparations to receive
them. About a mile from the .place of breakfasting, they met two of Capt.
Hager's horses hoppled together, which the enemy had taken the preceding
day. The Captain who was walking in front of his men at the time, with
the cautious Murphy beside him, slept up to the horses and cut the cord
which fastened them together. They had proceeded but a little way farther,
when they heard the whoop of several savages, whom they supposed were in
search of the horses. A rapid march soon brought the Americans where the
enemy had encamped the previous night; seven large fires being yet burning.
Several horses laden with plunder and a number of cattle were abandoned
by the Indians near this fire.
On arriving at the lake, the road, which was little more than an Indian foot path, ran along its margin. A ridge of land extended nearly to the lake where the Americans were approaching, and as they were rising the eminence, the enemy who were concealed near its summit, discharged upon them a volley of balls. The instant they fired, Capt Hager commanded Hale, who was marching in the rear to "flank to the right and march on!" Hager intended to bring the enemy between his command and the lake; but Hale, instead of obeying the order, faced to the right about, and followed by his men with one noble exception, retreated in double-quick time. Brant and his destructives seeing the cowardly retreat of Hale and his men, advanced to meet Hager, who was left with less than 20 men to resist a force more than triple his own. The little band had taken trees, and were beginning to return the enemy's fire at the time Hale retreated ; but seeing that they must soon be entirely surrounded, if they attempted to maintain their position, their brave leader ordered a retreat. On leaving the ground, they were necessarily exposed to the fire of the enemy, and Sacket, (2) a Bostonian (the exception of Hale's men), sealed his bravery with his blood, as did Joachim Van Valkenberg,* one of Capt. Hager's followers. Joseph, a brother of Capt. Hager was also wounded severely in the right shoulder, but the ball was extracted and he subsequently recovered. It was thought by the Americans at the time a most providential circumstance, that, exposed as they were in their retreat to the fire of so many good marksmen, only two should have been killed. Capt. Hager, with Murphy still at his side, then ran to overtake the cowardly Hale; and after a chase of about 500 yards overtook him; as both of them gained his front, they placed the muzzles of their rifles at his breast, and the Captain in a voice of thunder exclaimed : "Attempt to run another step and you are a dead man ! "
Thus unexpectedly brought to a stand, Hale, at the order of Capt. 1 lager, which he was not in the situation a second time to misunderstand, faced about and began to retrace his steps. But the golden moment to punish the invaders of Schoharie and avenge the murder of Vrooman was past. Brant, to whom possibly the actual force under Capt. Hager was known, having, as before remarked, a French war acquaintance with the latter, and knowing what resistance he might expect if a stand was effected by him, chose, encumbered as he was with Crysler's family, to make a rapid march to the Susquehanna. The two soldiers who fell near the lake were scalped by the foe. Having restored order and infused a share of his own fearless spirit into his ranks, Capt. Hager was about to renew the pursuit as Col. Vrooman arrived upon the ground, with 40 men drawn from the Lower fort. After a short consultation, the chase was continued, but still in ignorance as to the enemy's numbers ; after proceeding about two miles and losing all trace of their footsteps, they having left the usual path for some unknown route, the pursuit was abandoned, and the troops returned to Schoharie.—Manuscript of Judge Hager, one of the pursuing party.
* The following anecdote was related to the author by Lydia Kline, a sister of Van-Valkenberg. Among the Indians who returned to Schoharie, alter the war, was one who called at the house of Henry, a brother of Van Valkenberg above named, having with him a gun. Henry Instantly recognized the gun as that of his deceased brother,, and taking it up he asked the Indian where he got it He replied that he had killed a man at the ' Little lake,' and thus obtained it. Said Henry, "This is my gun, and I shall keep it." The red man was unwilling to concede that point, It being as he believed a lawful prize from the fortune of war. Henry however retained the gun, and told the Indian to take it from his grasp and he should have It. Mortified at thus losing his gun, the Indian left the house and went into a swamp near by. Not long after this event the body of a dead Indian was discovered in this swamp, but the cause of his death, or by whose hand he had fallen, remained among the mysteries of the times.
In the latter part of the war, supposed in the year 1781, six tories, who had threaded the forests from Niagara to Schoharie in the hope of milking a profitable adventure, were concealed in and around the settlements for a week or more. They were led by Nicholas Snyder, a former resident of the valley and neighbor of my informant Jacob Enders, whose person they thought to secure. The party were secreted in a small swamp several days, near the dwelling of William Enders, his father, on Foxescreek. After waiting in vain nearly a week for a sight of Jacob's person, two of the number dressed in Continental clothes, went to the house of Enders, and supposed to be patriots, were very kindly treated; they enquired of Mr. Enders, while partaking of his hospitality, if he had no sons to aid him in his farming? He replied that he had a son, who was then in the nine month's service at the Middle fort. Mortified at being thus foiled in their attempts, the tories then sought to surprise and capture Capt. Stubrach, to effect which they laid in wait for him sometime under a bridge in Kneiskern's dorf; but the Captain was not to be caught napping, and the enterprise proved abortive.
Another Victim. Early on the morning of July 4th Adam Vrooman (a namesake and cousin of “Pull Foot Vrooman”, and son of Isaac Vrooman, who was killed the preceding fall), went from the Upper Schoharie fort, accompanied by Peter Feeck, (the man who discovered the rear of the British army on the morning of Johnson’s invasion,) to drive cattle to a pasture near the dwelling of the late Cornelius Vrooman. Feeck was driving the cattle as his companion went forward to open the gate; and as the latter was in the act of so doing, he received several bullets from a party of seven Indians and tories concealed in ambush, and fell dead. Feeck fled, and although fired at by the enemy, he reached the fort, nearly a mile distant, in safety. ON the same morning, Joseph Brown, who had left the Upper fort on the same errand as had Vrooman and Feeck, was captured by the same party and hurried off to Canada. A band of rangers left the fort on the return of Feeck, and soon struck the trail of the enemy; but the latter having stolen a number of horses in the neighborhood, effected their escape. Mrs. Van Slyck and Josias E. Vrooman.
End Notes for The Invasion of The Schoharie Valley