Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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in Irving's Knickerbocker's History of New York. Congress-
man Knickerbacker in his Washington speech said: "I want
you to understand that I am Prince of the Tribe of the
Schaghticokes." And this phrase won for him the title oi




269



270 The Hoosac Valley



"Prince" Knickerbacker. Dolly Madison once asked him;
the difference between the Dutch Reformed and the Presby-!
terian Church creeds, to which he replied : "Not any, Madam,
except one congregation sings short metre, and the other
long metre," "Prince" Knickerbacker's son was elected}
Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the West, and resembled
his father. A portrait of Judge Knickerbacker is said to
be in the possession of his granddaughter, Mrs. Kate Fay
of Lansingburgh. " Prince " Knickerbacker's homestead onl
Schaghticoke Hill was burned, and the estate is now owned'
by the Tibbits of Hoosac.

The manorial days of the Colonel Knickerbacker race are
gone; though the parlor and haunted chambers of the Old
Mansion still contain the life-like portraits of the departed
burghers, whose steadfast gaze follows the beholder qucs-
tioningly. In their accustomed corners still stand quaint
arm-chairs and canopied bedsteads with the old-fashioned
valance, in which many generations of Knickerbackers have
nodded and dozed their last years away. The old clock in
the parlor corner is silent, and its weary hands have dropped
from their pivot, having pointed out the hours of conflict
as well as the monotonous years of peace, since Dav. Morra
of Muchty, Holland, turned forth the clock in the year 1625.
He carved with skill the phases of the moon on the dial-
plate, and the hands have pointed out the birth, marriage,
and death hours, — hours of joy and hours of anguish during
the past two centuries in the Hoosacs' "Vale of Peace."



CHAPTER XIII

THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS' MILITIA OF BENNINGTON

I 764-181 5

To live hy law,
Acting the law we live hy without fear,
A nd because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in scorn of consequences.

Tennyson.

Gov. Benning Wentworth's Commission — Green Mountain Towns —
Military Grants — Land-Title Controversies — Bennington Militia — Stamp
Act Riot — Settlers' Petition to King — Death of Samuel Robinson —
Treaty with Mahican King — Pownal Militia — Freehold Court.

GOV. Benning Wentworth's Commission, ^ dated in June
1 74 1, bounded the New Hampshire Grants on the
adopted Twenty- Mile Line between New York and New
England. This boundary was published by the Crown, on
Jno. Mitchell's Map,^ in London during 1755. The map
was used later, in 1783, in adjusting the American and British
domains. Governor Clinton and Lieut.- Governor Colden
of New York, however, sent letters to Governor Wentworth
and challenged the Green Mountain territory east to the
Connecticut River, by virtue of the obsolete Charter^ of
New York granted to the Duke of York in 1664. Governor
Wentworth ignored these messages and between 1749 and
1 765 signed over one hundred and twenty-five town charters ^

' Hiland Hall, Early Hist. Vermont, App. 2, p. 476.

'See illustration, p. 63. ^ See illustration, p. 38.

^Bennington was chartered in 1749; another town in 1750; two in 1752;
seven in 1753, including Stamford, north of North Adams, and Woodford,
east of Bennington; three in 1754; Pownal in 1760; sixty in 1761, including
Shaftsbury, Arlington, and Glastonbury, north of Bennington; ten in 1762;
and thirty in 1763.

271



2^2 The Hoosac Valley

west of the Connecticut, — half of the two hundred and forty-
six organized towns and cities in Vermont to-day.

After the close of the French and Indian War, the Con-
necticut Pilgrims migrated to the Green Mountain towns
bordering Rensselaer wyck, Walloomsac, and Schneider pat-
ents of Dutch Hoosac, N. Y. These patents overlapped
Pownal, Bennington, and Shaftsbury on the New Hamj)-
shire Grants. After the King's Military Proclamation,
dated October 7, 1763, Lieut. -Governor Colden confirmed one
hundred and six patents to the British, east of the adopted
Twenty-Mile Line, covering portions of Bennington and
Shaftsbury. Field officers were entitled to five thousand
acres; captains, to three thousand; staff officers, to two
hundred; and privates, to fifty acres each. Most of the
grantees, however, returned to their homes and sold their
grants to James Duane and other land-agents. The his-
torian, Hiland Hall of Bennington, records that out of three
hundred and twelve military claims that overlapped farms
of the Bennington County settlers subsequently adjusted
by the Governor in 1797, only five remained in the names
of the original grantees.

Lieut. Duncan McVicar, an officer of the 55th Regiment
of Scottish Highlanders, father of Anna Mc Vicar-Grant,
author of Memoirs oj an American Lady, published in 1808, 1
drew a thousand acres. He purchased three thousand acres
more of brother officers, and caused the vast tract to Ite
located together in Durham and Clarendon manors, part in
Shaftsbury, Vt., and part in White Creek, N. Y. In her
cnildish fancy, his daughter contemplated the "simple
felicity which was to prevail among the amiable and innocent
tenants of their baronial estate." The Rhode Island pro-
prietors of the town of Shaftsbury, chartered by Governor
Went worth, 1761, however, refused to be tenants to anyone.
Anna McVicar-Grant stated that their conversation was



The Green Mountain Boys' Militia 273

ainted with " Cromwellian politics," and that they "refused
be slaves to arbitrary power." In 177O: Lieutenant
.IcVicar, alarmed at the widespread declaration of Repub-
icanism, embarked with his family for Laggan, Scotland.
Ic left Clarendon Manor in charge of his friend and country-
nan, John Munroe of West Shaftsbury,

Lieut. -Governor Colden published a Proclamatio7i, De-
:ember 28, 1763, setting forth the Yorker's claim to the
'jreen Mountain District as far east as the Connecticut
^iver. The Bennington County settlers were paralyzed
,vhcn the King on July 20, 1764, confirmed Colden's Proc-
amation and adjudged the Green Mountain towns under
he jurisdiction of New York.

Those of Connecticut and their Green Mountain grand-
sons, as the Mahicans and Yorkers learned, came to
;he wilderness with a "load of thought . . . knowing
veil what they knew, not guessing but calculating!'' On
Dctober 24, 1764, therefore, the Benningtonians organ-
zed their first company of Green Mountain Boys.
[The muster-roll contains the names of Capt. John Fassett,
eleven officers, and forty-five members of rank and file,
ncluding the names of the original founders of the town
md church.

Capt. Samuel Robinson's name is not enrolled among the
Green Mountain Boys, since at that time he was a justice
of the peace and detained in Albany Jail. During the latter
part of October, a land-title controversy took place between
several Dutch burghers and English settlers of Pownal,
on New Hampshire Grants, Justice Samuel Robinson,
Sr., and Sheriff John Ashley, on behalf of John Horsford
and Isaac Charles, who had purchased farms in Pownal,
attempted to eject Petrus Voseburgh (Vose) and Bastian
Van Deel from farms upon which they "squatted" between

1724 and 1760. The Sheriff of Rensselaerwyck arrested

18



274 The Hoosac Valley

Samuel Robinson and John Ashley and lodged them h
Albany Jail. This resulted in the organization of a Granc
Committee and militia to defend the Green Mountaii
settlers' rights against the Dutch land-claimants.

The case of Petrus Voseburgh was finally settled, and ii
1765 Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer granted him a quit
claim deed for his farm overlapping Pownal, ostensil)h
for his honesty in rendering quit-rent and for his genera
good reputation. The Dutch of Pownal became bitte
Tories during the Revolution and caused the English pro
prietors all possible annoyance. The present Voseburg]
homestead was built by a son of Petrus in 1802, and hi
descendants still reside in Orange, N. J. The Brimme
family later owned Voseburgh's Pownal farm, occupiei
to-day by Thomas Brownell.

The historian, Hiland Hall of Bennington, claims that th
clandestine marriage of the play-actor O'Brien, with th
daughter of the Earl of Ilchester brought about the exposur
of Lieut. -Governor Colden's fraudulent methods of land
pirating. The King in Council advised the Governor c
New York to grant Lord Ilchester and others sixty thousan(
acres for O'Brien's benefit in the Mohawk Valley. Tha
intervale was covered with charters, and O'Brien reporte(
Colden's irregular patent methods to the Lords of Trad
and was promised a vast manor in the Green Mountains o)
the west bank of the Connecticut. But before this wa
confirmed. Parliament passed the Stamp Act, March ^
1765, and the Stamp Riot that followed prevented it
confirmation for lack of stamps.

The Stamp Act was considered an infringement upon th
rights and liberties of the colonists. The Crown's oratoi
Charles Townsend, supporting the Ministry's side, said
"These Americans, children planted by our care, nourishe(
by our indulgence, protected by our arms, until they ar



,c,



Of th^Jirtt r^vmpmnf of MUitia in tiu tovtl of
litnntngtoH, orgaumJ (kiuber i'i, l7©-4.



OFFICERS;

JOHN FASSETT, Cjftain.

JAME« BUF.AKKNUIl>UlvZ.tfa/?aciiaf't»t) H*rwi")(J,



]ienaj.ili Itourl,

Jose^jli SJifli'rd,
Daniel Scott,
, Jonalhaa Scott,
• -Matthew Scott,
.'Mo^es Si-oii,



^^'alnuel Scott,
John Siniih,
^oliti Siniih, jun.
ji>fiepli S'luith,
-^^I'miitl Sniiih,
*T^ioinas Smith,
riijab Sli.rv.
Thiimns >^l"ry,
Jamen X"bbs,
JnM»fi)i Wickwirw,
Samuel Wiijjbt.



Ii is



'"*tS*^'



id the ff»re;;'jin;3; ?toU fof the



raiiilia rni^ni/ first i.ry :i;ii/^ ^l. pr^ihnjjlt. m
ilii^ SL.ie. uill i'j-..;'.f'. «..ir; iiii\
It is iIki (run
lo(\)rr, hrlwe
Federal part
iir.iln(;iin the^
tiicro-ichmcnWl
^ a legitim]
anil
lis



Muster-Roll of ihe First Company of Green Mountain Boys'
Militia, organized at Bennington Centre, New Hampshire
Grants, now Vermont, October 24, 1764.
S7Sk



276 The Hoosac Valley

grown to a good degree of strength and opulence, will they
grudge to contribute their mite?"

The Colonists were represented by Colonel Barre, who
replied :

Children planted by your care? No. Your oppression
planted them in America. . . . They nourished by your
indulgence? No. They grew by your neglect. . . . They
protected by your Arms! . . . They have nobly taken up
arms in your defence ... of a country which, while its
frontier was drenched in blood, has yielded all its little
savings to your emolument.

Nevertheless, Parliament passed the Stamp Act; and
Benjamin Franklin, the night after, wrote Charles Thompson
of Philadelphia that : ' ' The sun of liberty is set ; you must
light up the candles of industry and economy." Mr. Thomp-
son replied: "Be assured; we shall light up torches of quite
another sort." On November i, 1765, Lieut. -Governor
Colden attempted to convey the stamps, lately arrived, to
Fort George on Bowling Green, New York City. A vast
torchlight procession of the colonists appeared in the fields,
on the site of Central Park, carrying two images on a scaf-
fold, representing Colden and the Devil whispering in his
ear. Those images were burned in front of Fort George
along with all of the governor's carriages and sleighs. The
next morning, Colden turned all the stamps over to the
Mayor of New York and they were deposited in the City
Hall.

Twelve days after the Stamp Riot, Sir Henry Moore
arrived and assumed the office of Governor of New York.
Anna McVicar-Grant in 1808 stated that: "If the business
of a governor was merely to keep the governed in good
humor, none was better fitted for that office," than Moore.
The Green Mountain settlers of Pownal, Bennington, Shafts-



The Green Mountain Boys' Militia 277

bury, Arlington, Sunderland, Manchester, and Danby re-
solved to apply direct to Governor Moore for relief against
the fraudulent patents of the Yorkers overlapping the
towns granted by Governor Wentworth. During December
following the Stamp Riot, Capt. Samuel Robinson, Sr., of
Bennington and Jeremiah French of Manchester were
chosen agents to present the Settlers' Petition to Governor
Moore. He offered them no aid, and in March, 1766, the
Stamp Act was repealed. The news of the repeal reached
the Bennington settlers in May. Governor Moore allowed
the settlers from June 6th to September 6th in which to
make new surveys of the towns granted by Governor Went-
worth and to prove their titles. This was impossible as
they had spent their all in furthering their settlements.
On September 7th, the New York surveyors began to es-
tablish the Yorkers' fraudulent patents covering the
Benningtonians' farms.

A Petition' signed by over a thousand settlers along the
western border of the Green Mountain District was prepared,
and Capt. Samuel Robinson, Sr., chosen agent to present it
to the King in Council. He was accompanied by attorney
William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut and arrived in
London, January, 1767, A detailed statement of the settlers'
grievances was prepared by Johnson, and the Petition of the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
and another for the Church of England were also delivered
to Lord Shelburne, Secretary of State, March 20, 1767.

The King ordered Lord Shelburne to address Governor
Moore a letter, ^ dated at White Hall, April 1 1 , 1 767, together
with copies of the Benningtonians' petitions. Governor
Moore and the Colden-Duane land-pirating league were
indignant over Samuel Robinson's assumed statesmanship.
On June 10, 1767, James Duane, Esq., aided Governor Moore

' See Note 15 at end of volume. ' See Note 16 at end of volume.



278 The Hoosac Valley

and replied to Lri r i Shr.i^rr.r's letter. Tames Duane was
proprietor of one-:Jiird of 26.; r :. :hr frs: grai:

executed by Lieut.-Govemor Ci.i :. .hi: iv^rl^cpel the
Bennington Cz'ir.zy settlers' land east ;: l.v T^etir^'-Mile
Line. He held titles :: nearly 50,000 acres, 39 :: :.i:h

were la: r : ir.i :: re military daims. Du : "as kn: atl
in :he Hoosac anl Walloomsac valleys as the " :::i:::r ::n
U:: : - irate and swin'ller," and adviser of John Tabor Kemp,
the Kin^s attorney during the Albany E;e::r:t::: Trials of
-::.: ~v::m::^: :::i.::Imi766.

Sa :: : h ?. : r n, 5r., wh: v in 1 "i:n awaiting the de-
ci : r. : ' r :^'l ill wi:h : h - x and died, October

27, 1767. xie was :u-hl in Bnnhiiis Burial-field, connected
with Whiteheld's Chur h. This cemetery is said to contain
the dust of several Am.ir::?.ns who have died in London, in-
c! :li-:r Thn Bnnyan. Isaac Watts, and George Whitefield.

I Mrmc "h — "- -c y^^r ?: 1767, iNIrs. Robinson's log-



Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 19 of 41)