Thursday, December 25, 2008

The History of Middleburgh

Middleburgh is where Conrad Weiser, and his followers, decided to settle. Upon arguments over land, Weiser left Middleburgh and resettled in Pennsylvania in 1722. Mr. Weiser died there. His daughter, Anna Maria, married Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, the founder of the Lutheran church in America.

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Henry’s son, accomplished many things in his life. In 1774, he was elected to the House of Burgesses, and in 1775, he became a colonel. In fact, after he concluded a sermon in favor of the Revolution, he got almost three hundred men to enlist under his command, that very day. Mr. Muhlenberg fought in the battle of Charleston, and in 1777, was promoted to Brigadier-General. Soon afterwards, he joined Washington’s army , and was with his army until 1779. As the war closed, Muhlenberg was a Major-General. In 1801, he was elected a Senator, and was appointed supervisor of the internal revenue of Pennsylvania. He died on his birthday, October 1, 1807.

John Conrad Weiser Jr. succeeded his father as an Indian interpreter. John Jr. Worked for the government for some years, and even traveled with George Washington. Washington and Weiser were such good friends that Washington even visited his grave, even though it was many miles out of his way.

When the Palatines arrived to the valley, there were a small amount of Indians, Mohegans to be exact, living near the stream. These Indians gave the Palatines shelter, and helped them survive. As time went on, and the more there were whites, these Indians disappeared.

Between 1722 and 1775, the forest was cut down, and crops were grown. Also within this time period, houses were built, barns were constructed, and prosperity reigned. In 1732, the Reformed Dutch Church was built, and it stood until it was burned down by Johnson and Brant in 1780. In 1785, construction of a new church commenced, and in 1787, it was completed. In the meantime, services were held in the Middle Fort. Other churches in the area included, the Lutheran Church, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the True Reformed Church. The book gives detailed information on the positions held in the churches. “Stewards” of the Lutheran Church included two Vromans.

The Middle Fort was originally a wing of Johannes Becker’s mansion, which was sealed with wood and metal. In 1777, the property became a three acre fortress that accommodated the local farmers and the militia. In the fort were also cannons and an oven to serve the town.

Johnson and Brant came to raid the Schoharie Valley in 1780. Their forces attacked the Middle Fort on October 17. Patriots who fought in the battle included Tim Murphy, Colonel Vroman, and Nicholas Sloughter. Even though powder was low the patriots still drove back the Indians and Tories.

When Johnson’s truce-flag approached the fort, Martinus Zielie fired on Major Woolsey’s flag, under Tim Murphy’s order. The second time the flag approached, Murphy fired at it. Also next to Tim Murphy was David Elerson.

The Zielie family came from Holland to the Schoharie Valley before 1732, the exact date is unknown. The Zielies married into the Vroman family in 1724, when David Zielie married Engeltie Vroman.

The Borsts came to the valley in 1713, or 1714. Peter Borst built a grist mill before the Revolution, which stood until 1795.

Thomas and Cornelius Eckerson came to the Schoharie Valley around 1725. Some of the Eckerson family changed their names to Ecker or Acker. The Eckersons built a mill that was burned by the British in 1780, along with much of the valley.

Hartman’s Dorf was settled in 1713 and contained around sixty five houses. Planted there was the Schoharie Valley’s first apple trees. Lambert Sternbergh, the first man to plant wheat in the valley, came from this valley.

The Richtmyer family came from Germany in 1745. They were intense patriots in the Revolution, and they tried to aid the Colonies whenever they could. Christian Richtmyer was a friend of Tim Murphy’s. Richtmyer also served as a spy in the battle of Saratoga.

After the Revolution, Middleburgh was rebuilt using new technology. J. M. Scribner bought or built three mills. John Hinman made the first threshing machines in the county. In 1813, construction of a new bridge was started, and completed in 1819. Zodac Pratt made one of the largest tanneries in the state, and thanks to this tannery, the hamlet of Prattsville sprung up. George Danfort built another tannery in West Middleburgh. A prominent man born in Middleburgh was Abraham Keyser, who served as a sheriff, an assemblyman, and a state treasurer.

The First National Bank was founded in 1880, with a treasury of $50,000. Port Stanton was named after a soldier that was mortally wounded at Bull Run. In the lists given about the bank, names like Becker and Danforth show up.

Lands around Schoharie were named after Governor Hunter. Thus we get the name “Huntersfield”, but, obviously, later on it’s name was changed to Huntersland. A large portion of this land was bought by Johannes Lawyer in 1768.

On this that stood out to me this entire chapter is that it seemed like everyone knew everyone else. These people must have been really popular.

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