History of Edmeston, New York/1770s

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Edmeston
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1760 – 1769
1770 – 1779
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The history of Edmeston, New York: 1770 through 1779

1770[edit]

March 5Boston Massacre.

Captain William Edmeston, a veteran of the French and Indian wars, who was rewarded for his services in the 48th Regiment with a grant of some 5,000 acres under the terms of a royal proclamation of 1763. Edmeston and his brother, Lieutenant Robert Edmeston, who received a similar grant, first tried to locate in the disputed region of the New Hampshire Grants (the present state of [[w:Vermont|Vermont), but in 1770 wisely chose to establish their claims east of the Unadilla River and west of George Croghan's Otsego patent, in what is now the town of Edmeston, Otsego County. The negotiations were carried out by one Persafor Carr, a former sergeant in the Edmestons' regiment, who subsequently became their agent for the Mount Edmeston tracts when the brothers returned to England. — James H. Pickering


In the northwest [corner of Otsego County], on a patent granted to a British officer named William Edmeston in the township now bearing his name, Edmeston's agent, Sergeant Parsefor Carr, managed a small settlement that had taken root as early as 1770. — Lyman H. Butterfield

1773[edit]

December 16Boston Tea Party.

In 1773, William Edmeston himself finally returned to America to supervise and develop personally his promising holdings west of Lake Otsego. But with the outbreak of the Revolution, Edmeston, now a British major, quite naturally attracted the attention and suspicions of the patriotic element in Tryon County; and it was not long before he found himself placed on his best behavior as a parolee in either Kingston or Albany (the accounts differ on this point). With Major Edmeston under the watchful eye of the Americans, the management of Mount Edmeston again fell to Carr, a known Loyalist who was strongly suspected by the patriot committees at German Flats and Cherry Valley of selling provisions to the notorious Joseph Brant. — James H. Pickering

1776[edit]

July 4Declaration of Independence.

But the Revolution came along to ruin things. Edmeston, as w:colonel:colonel of the British Army, was viewed with suspicion and kept in Albany and Kingston. Carr was known to be a loyalist and to sell provisions to Joseph Brandt [Brant], so that the patriots at German Flats and Cherry Valley kept close tabs on him. — Mary E. Cunningham

1777[edit]

November 15 – Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation.

Upon the eastern shore of the Unadilla, opposite a portion of Brookfield, lay the Edmeston Estate. This was a large tract of land ceded to Col. Edmeston, a British officer in the French war of 1763. [The grant for this tract was obtained by Robert and William Edmeston, in 1770] About 1770, Col. Edmeston sent Percifer Carr, a faithful soldier who had served under him to settle upon the estate. Mr. Carr and his wife with their servants, were for a long series of years the only white inhabitants of the Unadilla valley. During the Revolution, Mr. Carr, it is believed, was friendly to the British Government. The following letter by Brant to Mr. Carr, in the Indian's own orthography, we extract from Campbell's Annals of Tryon County :

Tunadilla, July 6 1777.
M. Carr — Sir: I understand that you are a friend to Government With sum of the settlers at the Butternuts is the Reason of my applying to you & those people for some provisions and shall be glad you would send me what you can spare no matter what sorte for which you shall be paid you helping an account of the whole.
from your friend & hum'le Servt, Joseph Brant
To M. Persafer Carr.

1778[edit]

February 5 - South Carolina becomes the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

That Mr. Carr was in sympathy with the cause of his countrymen and against that of the Colonies, can hardly be doubted, though there is no account that he at any time actually engaged in the struggle pending. There is no doubt, however, about one thing; that the Unadilla bore from this estate supplies to the British and Indian armies. The subjoined seems to confirm the view taken: —

Tunadilla, July 9 1778.
Sir: I understand by the Indians that was at your house last week, that one Smith lives near with you, has little more corn to spare. I should be much obliged to you, if you would be so kind as to try to get as much corn as Smith can spared, he has sent me five skipples already of which I am much obliged to him and will see him paid, and would be very glad if you could spare me one or two your men, to join us especially Elias. I would be glad to see him, and I wish you could sent me as many guns as you have, as I know you have no use for them if you any; as I mean now to fight the cruel rebels as well as I can; whatever you will be able to sent'd me, you must sent'd me by the bearer. I am your sincere friend and humble serv't,
Joseph Brant.
To Mr. Carr.
P. S. — I heard that Cherry Valley people is very bold and intended to make nothing of us. They called us wild geese but I know the contrary. Jos. B.

In Sep., 1778 Carr’s house was burned by a band of British Indians despite his loyalist leanings, and Carr was hauled off to Fort Niagara. Enroute he is said to have been curiously treated by the Indians, being forced to lie down and serve as a bridge at shallow streams. — Mary E. Cunningham


George Langworthy bought the Carr farm from Oliver DeLancy and found a large lead kettle buried in the ground and several large axes were recently found [1926] which by their appearance had been buried purposely. There has been speculation as to the leaving of Carr and his family at one time. Some have maintained he placed himself in the protection of the Indians as the Oneida Indians were very bitter toward the Tories. Others claim he was taken prisoner by the Oneidas. However, the writer thinks he was taken prisoner by hostile Indians who knew nothing of his Tory sentiments.

Robert E. Russell acted as agent for the Edmeston heirs at one time surveying lands and selling them off as other settlers wanted them. Some of the finest lands in Columbus were received by Russell for his services. He was at one time a very wealthy man. However, his dissolute habits and time spent at the tavern of Greenwood and Champlin proved his final ruin. Russell boarded with Silas Button who lived in a Carr house when Warren DeLancy bought the Carr farm. A powder horn was found on the Carr farm and owned by the Solomon Hoxie family. It had the name of the maker, the date, and for whom made, with a map of the Hudson Valley, the Mohawk Valley and Albany and sketched at the top and bottom and forts and settlement in between New York and the upper lakes, etc. Col. Timothy Bottles, owner; coat of arms; the maker was Joshua Parmenow. — Ethel Edwards


The date is September 16, 1778 just one year and one month after the bloody battle of Oriskany. Since spring the western frontier in central New York has been subjected to raids and rumors of raids by Indian and Tory forces.

The enemy is centered around Onaquaga [near present-day Windsor, New York where Rt. 17 crosses the Susquehanna] under the Indian chief, Joseph Brandt ['Brant']. General Herkimer had met with Brandt at Unadilla, south of Edmeston on June 28, 1777 in a peace attempt to keep the Indians of New York neutral during the Revolution.

The attempt to make peace failed and raids on border areas were a severe hardship on farmers trying to produce enough food for their families and the new nation.

Scouts assigned by the militia to keep track of enemy movements were discovered as they encountered a raiding party of 500 Indian and Tories bent on destroying German Flatts, westernmost settlement in the Mohawk Valley.

All the Scouts were killed near Edmeston except Adam Helmer who began the 40 mile run to warn the settlers of the Mohawk Valley. Revolutionary Scout Adam Helmer was 24 years of age when on September 16, 1778, he ran 40 miles from Edmeston to Fort Herkimer to warn the settlers of an impending raid by 500 Indians and Tories under Chief Joseph Brandt. He was described by a descendant as thin, tall black haired, and a good runner.

Word of mouth, fact, and legend has it that Adam Helmer ran through 40 miles of wooded, hilly terrain toward [present-day] Schuyler Lake, up the west side of Canadarago Lake to [present-day] Richfield Springs to warn the settlers of the impending raid. The settlement of Little Lakes may have been avoided because of the Tory sympathizers.

He continued running with Tories and Indians in pursuit to Andrustown [near present-day Jordanville] where two months before, on July 18, the settlement was destroyed in an enemy raid. The enemy killed five and captured others before burning the buildings. Andrustown had also been destroyed in the French and Indian wars twenty years before. Members of the remaining families now living in Fort Herkimer had returned to harvest the remaining crops when Adam arrived in Andrustown. Helmer ended his 40 mile run at Fort Herkimer, enabling the settlers to escape with their lives. A few hours later Tories and Indians completely leveled their homes and crops on September 17, 1778.

The Adam Helmer Run was immortalized in the historical novel "Drums Along the Mohawk" by Walter D. Edmonds and made into a popular movie starring Henry Fonda. — anonymous

[The film version, directed by John Ford, omitted Helmer's run and a good deal else from the book.]

1779[edit]

July 22Joseph Brant, destroyed Goshen, New York in the Battle of Minisink.

Col. Gardner and Alexander Parker coming down from Bennington joined General Sullivan's army at Otsego Lake, New York. General Clinton had been responsible for damming up the Susquehanna River, holding back the water which would later carry the troops down the river, surprising the Indians. Col. Gardner and Alexander were impressed by the countryside and in 1790 returned as civilians to locate on the land. — Winifred Wilcox Parker

[John Sullivan himself was probably not at Otsego. James Clinton was Sullivan's second in command during the Sullivan-Clintion Expedition and was leading his men south from the Mohawk River to meet Sullivan at Tioga.]

Continue to 1780s[edit]