Morrison's Pensions

Jacob Zimmerman, Pension Application

The name Jacob Zimmerman is well known in St. Johnsville, he is one of the earliest settlers in our area. The German habit of using the same names each generation is most confusing. Then when each branch of the family along with each generation used the same names over and over, for our purposes, there are a few too many Jacobs. This is the pension application for the grist mill owner Jacob Zimmerman, born 1757 or 1758, and died in 1835. The founding father, Jacob Zimmerman was born about 1690 and died in 1739.

The following genealogy was provided by Nancy Timmerman Cioch.
1. Jacob Zimmerman was born 1690 and was the founder of St. Johnsville. The first Indian deed of 1734 was given to his wife.
2. Jacob Zimmerman - their son was born 1722 - he reapplied for the 1754 patent he died about 1760.
3. Jacob J. Zimmerman was born September 1, 1758 at what is now St. Johnsville. He married Magdalena Failing, daughter of Nicholas Failing. This is his pension application.


      The pension is very thick, difficult to read and repetitious. It is over twenty pages plus depositions from others who served with him. Only a synopsis of it will be included.

He belonged to the company of Captain Christian House and Lieutenant John Zimmerman, Ensign Henry Zimmerman, Infantry Regiment of Colonel Jacob Klock, under the command of General Nicholas Herkimer. He joined that company 15 May 1776.

He was ordered to German Flatts on account of an alarm by the appearance of a body of Indians and Tories and they were afraid of them murdering the inhabitants. Scouts followed their trail but they believed they had gone off.

25 June 1776 they were again called to German Flatts, General Philip Schuyler held treaty talks with the Indians. The treaty was broken and the company marched home. He was discharged 5 July 1776.

15 July 1777, ordered into service to go with General Herkimer and Colonel Cox to Unadilla River to talk to Indian Chief Joseph Brant. He supposed the Indians were not as strong in numbers as they were. Brant and his Indians were allowed in the camp of Herkimer. At first it seemed they could make a definite arrangement of matters but the Indians fired into the air. Colonel Cox said that if the Indians were there for fighting, he was ready and this irritated the Indians. General Herkimer and Brant were acquainted before the war and were unwilling to come to conflict. They agreed to keep their men at certain distances, each side on opposite sides of Oriskany Creek. The men were then marched home.

The first day of August 1777, he was ordered into service under Col. Jacob Klock and General Herkimer. The company met to march to German Flatts for the relief of the garrison at Fort Stanwix. At German Flatts they were advised there might be an attack on the old men, women and children inhabitants. He and eleven others under the command of Lieutenant John Zimmerman marched back to Stone Arabia. The remainder of the forces left German Flatts under General Herkimer. Jacob acted as a scout and visited some of the nearby forts to see the situation.

While on scouting duty he heard about the Battle at Oriskany and General Herkimer being wounded. He was discharged August 8.

On September 10, 1777, he was drafted out of Captain Christian House’s Company of the Palatine District Regiment and ordered to serve in Captain John Zielly’s Company in the Palatine District Regiment of Militia at Fort Plank. Discharged September 18, 1777.

September 28, 1777, while under the command of Conrad Zimmerman, Sergeant, captured six Tories, one was executed as a spy, five were put in jail. At this time he heard about the fighting in Stillwater with Burgoyne. He enlisted as a private, Captain John Wynne, he thinks he served with the Rangers at this time. Lawrence Grof, Lieutenant. He can’t remember anyone serving with him. Philip Failing was his neighbor. They were marched with their company to Coopers Town, near a lake called Lake Saso. Scouts were sent out near Unadilla River. He was taken sick and unable to do duty so he was discharged and went home.

He and another person by the name of Walrath were ordered into service 25 Sept 1778 to take two Tories to Johnstown Jail from the now Town of Oppenheim. He resided in the now Town of Oppenheim (St. Johnsville) near Col Jacob Klock. Christian House was captain of the infantry under Klock.

He was marched to Ticonderoga in the company of Christopher Fox to serve as scouts on the frontier. They went to Ticonderoga in the sleighs over ice on Lake George. While there Capt Wynne forbid a man named Weaver and others in his company from firing a gun. Weaver fired his gun. The captain asked Weaver if he had fired and he admitted he had. The captain pushed Weaver with the butt of his gun and pushed him on his body. Weaver shortly after died. He does not know anything more about this affair.

4 May 1779, private under Christian House, Captain, Jacob Klock Colonel, Van Rensaler General, to guard boats or bateaux at Fort Stanwix. Discharged 12 May 1779. From there he guarded the fort in Stone Arabia.

Here we go back to 1778, 1st November where he was still under Captain Christian House in Klock’s Regiment. They were on duty at Fort Dayton and he was discharged 12 November 1778. About this period Cherry Valley was burned and destroyed . On their way from Fort Dayton more men from Klock’s regiment joined them and they marched to Cherry Valley. (At times the dates seem to be mixed up.)

In the spring of 1780, he was again a private but did scouting duty. He said he was in the company of Christian House, Captain and in the Regiment of Jacob Klock, Colonel. They were ordered into service in Klock’s Fort. June 1, he served at least three days at the fort. Considerable numbers were at the fort and they had some Indians surround the fort while he was there.

August 9, 1780, while he was still a private in the company of Christian House, in the regiment commanded by Jacob Klock, colonel. He was in Fort Zimmerman guarding it when he and about five others of his company, John Zimmerman, his cousin Jacob Zimmerman, Adam Zimmerman, Peter Hellegas and himself went from Fort Zimmerman on their way to Fort Walradt. He understood it was done by the order of Col. Marinus Willett, then stationed at Fort Plain in the Town of Minden. The orders were that six man more from Fort Walradt were to go on a scouting party to see whether the traces of any Indians could be discovered in the neighborhood. On the ninth day of August, 1781, according to his recollection they started to go to Fort Walradt.

After going about a quarter of a mile or so from Fort Zimmerman on their way to Fort Walradt, they were fired upon by a large party of Indians and Tories who were concealed in the brushes, by which fire John Zimmerman, the lieutenant of said House's company, and said Jacob Zimmerman were wounded and killed and scalped by the Indians. Adam and Henry Zimmerman made their escape. He was badly wounded in his neck and throat. The Indians did not discover his wound at first. They took him a prisoner together with Peter Hellegas, and he saw the Indians tomahawk and scalp his said lieutenant and said Jacob Zimmerman.

The ball struck in his neck or throat. After going but a short way with the Indians, they discovered his clothes bloody and then saw his wound. They halted and ordered him to spit, to see, he supposed, whether he spit any blood and was dangerously wounded, and if so, to kill him also. As directed he did spit but not any blood, when they started off again on a hard trot, and he was obliged to keep up with them. In consequence, his wound gave him a great deal of pain. He several times began to feel faint and thought he should fall and be unable to proceed. His clothes were bloody. The Indians halted several times and made him spit, but as he did not spit any blood he was told he must go along. He suffered a great deal on the way. Peter Hellegas, who was taken a prisoner also, would dip up water with his hands on their way to give him to drink, as he could not stoop to drink at the brooks by reason of his neck being swelled and stiff. They traveled about a week through the woods until they got to a place commonly called Swagotchie, where was a British fort. On the way, he lived chiefly on roasted cornmeal with which the Indians mixed water, almost the only food he could swallow. When they came to a stream of water, he was not suffered by the Indians to wet his feet, but they would take him on their backs across the streams. The ball still remained in his neck. His right hand he could hardly raise to his mouth by reason of the swelling of his wound, and he suffered more than he can express. The Indians treated him well enough, as much so as he could expect. Some leaves the Indians found and applied to his wound, which eased his pain some.

When he arrived at the fort at Swagotchie, he saw some Tories he had been acquainted with before the war. They examined him as to the state of affairs at home and whether the people had anything left to eat. He told them that Colonel Willett commanded at Fort Plain and was an active and good officer, that the Indians had destroyed much of their grain, etc., but that those whose property was spared would give to those that wanted, and thus they got along well enough. Major Ross it was said then commanded the fort at Swagotchie. He told some of the Tories he knew he wished the ball to be cut out of his neck. They told him that unless the Indians consented it could not be done. The Indians, however, consented. He was taken to the room occupied by a surgeon. He was placed on a chair with his head held back over the chair by an Indian. The surgeon cut or extracted the ball, and who told him that a few days more he would have died of his wound if the ball had remained.

From Swagotchie he was taken to Montreal, where he saw many of his fellow soldiers or countrymen prisoners of war. Colonel Campbell at Montreal purchased him of the Indians. He saw said Campbell pay the Indians some money on said purchase. A Captain Jones at Montreal he became acquainted with, who was a captain in the British service and who, he thinks, had to see to the prisoners; to said Jones he had told the manner of his being taken a prisoner and his sufferings, etc. The Tories at Montreal wished him to enlist. He refused, telling them in substance he would rather perish on the spot than enlist among them. Captain Jones had previously informed him that the Tories dare not hurt him and he could freely express his mind to them. Captain Jones and his lady were kind to him. He would go often and see Captain Jones and ask him for a little tobacco, and he always got some, but once was refused when his lady told him, "Oh! Do give him some coppers," which the captain did, adding that he did not want to be troubled so much for tobacco and told him to go and buy some with the coppers.

From Montreal he was taken to Quebec, thence to Boston, and from Boston he traveled home on foot, to wit, to the now town of Oppenheim where he resided when he was taken a prisoner and has ever since his return from imprisonment. He returned home from his imprisonment about ten days before Christmas in the year 1782, that is, on the fifteenth or sixteenth day of December, 1782, according to the best of his recollection. He believes he has given correctly the time he was taken a prisoner and when he returned home but has stated same only from the best of his recollections, having no memorandum thereof. He was a prisoner as aforesaid from the time he was taken, as he considers, to the time he returned home, to wit, for one year, four months, and six days. A special law was passed by Congress allowing him a pension on account of his said wound as under which law he has received his pension up to the fourth day of March, 1833. He believes from information that Ogdensburg is now situated on or near the place called in that war Swagotchie or Oswegatchie. On reflection, he thinks that Captain Robenson commanded instead of Ross the fort.

Jacob operated a grist mill in St. Johnsville, it was located on the upper part of Church Street. commemorating the place where the dam for the grist mill stood on Zimmerman Creek. This is the creek which flows down Church Street and meanders over to West Main Street just east of Failing Avenue. Jacob Zimmerman's Dam has been filled in with silt over the years. The marker is about one block north of the old Horn's Mill on Church Street. The marker says "About 16 Rods North Stood The Pre-Revolutionary Grist Mill of Jacob Zimmerman, Founder of the Village of St. Johnsville." The marker was erected in 1927. Just north of here the miller's house is still standing though it has been extensively modernized.

Jacob applied successfully for a pension in 1833 for his services in the Revolution. In 1835, January 18, he died and is buried in Prospect View cemetery, St. Johnsville. He was married to Magdalena (Lena) 22 February 1784 by Rev. Rosencrantz at the house of her father, Nicholas Failing. Copy of page from Family Bible.

Letter included in the Pension Application giving summary of his service.

His rank was private in the war. Jacob was awarded a pension of $80.00 a year, of which he collected $200.00. At age 76 he applied for his pension. The pension started on November 21, 1833 .

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