Morrison's Pensions


Frederick Visscher
by James F. Morrison

Frederick was born February 21, 1741 at Albany, son of Harmon and Catheriana Brower Visscher.  He married Gazena De Graff on May 22, 1768.  They had the following children: John, Gazena, Daniel, William, Catrina, Harmon and Jesse.

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on May 14, 1768 in Captain Hendrick Hanson's Company in Colonel Guy Johnson's Regiment of Albany County Militia (Third Regiment).  In 1772 Tryon County was formed from Albany County and Frederick now served in the Tryon County Militia.

 In 1775, Frederick served as a member of the Tryon County Committee of Safety representing the Mohawk District.  On August 26, 1775, Frederick was appointed Colonel of the Third Battalion of the Tryon County Militia in place of Guy Johnson, a loyalist who later fled to Canada.  Visscher received his commission as Colonel on June 25, 1778.

On August 2, 1777, Fort Schuyler was besieged by enemy forces under General Barry St. Leger.  The Tryon County Militia was ordered by Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer to muster at Fort Dayton.

On August 4th, the militia began their relief march for Fort Schuyler.  Colonel Visscher was put in charge of the baggage waggons and the rear guard.

About ten o'clock on the morning of August 6th, the relief column was ambushed at Oriskany.  Part of the rear guard with the baggage waggons was cut off from the main column and many of the men began to run. Colonel Visscher rallied many of his men and joined General Herkimer and the remaining Tryon County Militia in their defensive circle in the ravine.  While rallying his men Colonel Visscher was creased in the back of the neck by a musket ball.

A force of about 250 men under Lieutenant‑Colonel Marinus Willett sallied from Fort Schuyler and raided the enemy's encampments.  The Indians at Oriskany heard the musket and cannon fire at their camp in their rear and they began to retreat back to the camp to investigate the cause of the firing.

General Herkimer now ordered the wounded gathered and the Tryon County Militia began their return march.  They spent the night at the Oneida Indian Village at Oriskany and on August 9th they reached Fort Dayton.

On May 28, 1778, Colonel Visscher was charged with cowardice as a result of the conduct of the rear guard at Oriskany.  The charges were groundless and he was found innocent of all charges on June 16, 1778.

In April of 1779, Colonel Visscher was ordered by General James Clinton to erect a blockhouse at Sacandaga and it was completed in May.  It was nicknamed Fort Visscher although officially it was referred to as the Sacandaga Blockhouse.

Colonel Visscher also had charge of a regiment of three months levies and he made his headquarters at Fort Paris until November of 1779 when the regiment was discharged.

On May 22, 1780, Colonel Sir John Johnson with about 50 Indians and Loyalists raided and burned the Mohawk District which includes what is now the Fonda and Johnstown area.

A party of the enemy attacked Colonel Visscher's home near the Danascara Creek (now in the Town of Mohawk) and a fierce fight took place.  The enemy finally succeeded in entering the house and brothers John and Harmon were killed and Frederick's mother was struck in the head while sitting in a chair by an Indian.  Frederick was then struck down by an Indian and scalped and left for dead.  The enemy then set the house on fire and left to continue their destruction.

Colonel Visscher regained consciousness and dragged the body of John out of the burning house and then he pulled his mother, who was yet unconscious, also from the house.  The rest of the Visscher family which had escaped from the house and hid in the woods on seeing the flames from the house, left their places of concealment to return to the house to save what they could and to learn what had happened to their brave defenders.

A nearby neighbor's slave Tom also arrived at the Visscher home and tried to put the fire out but it was in vain.  Uriah Bowen another neighbor now arrived and with Tom took Colonel Visscher, his mother and the rest of the Visscher family down to the Mohawk River where they were put in a boat and taken across to the home of Ephraim Wemple where they were cared for.  The next day they were taken to Schenectady where Colonel Visscher was placed in a military hospital where he was cared for and he later recovered from his wounds. 

In June 1782, while General George Washington was visiting Schenectady attending a dinner with several officers and prominent citizens, Washington requested that Colonel Visscher attend.  The dinner was not served until Visscher had arrived and was seated at Washington's right hand.

Frederick served as an Assemblyman representing Tryon County at the Sixth session.  The sessions were held at Poughkeepsie from July 11 to 25, 1782 and at Kingston from January 27 to March 23, 1783.

Visscher was appointed Brigadier General of the Montgomery County Militia (formerly Tryon County) on October 2, 1786 and he received his commission on February 6, 1787.  Visscher resigned his commission on September 1, 1787.

Visscher also served as a Judge in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Tryon County and a Justice in the Court of Oyer of Terminer and General Goal delivery for Tryon County for 1778.  He also served as a Judge for the Common Pleas for Montgomery County from March 27, 1787 to January 1801.

Colonel Visscher died at his home which he had rebuilt on the original site of the one that had burned, on June 9, 1809.  He was buried in the family cemetery on a hill behind the house which still stands on Mohawk Drive off of Route 5 between Amsterdam and Fonda. 

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