Our appreciation to Mr. Stanley A. Shaut, a frequent contributor to this site and a descendant of several of the people mentioned, for sharing this rare pamphlet from his personal collection. In my transcription I have been true to the errors and inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation of this small privately printed book.
John Jost, Madalana and Catharina Herkimer, came from Holland in 1710, and settled in the Mohawk Valley in 1721. The first land taken up by them is now a part of the village of Herkimer, and Fort Herkimer on the south side of the river, where was located in the Homestead, which was used as a Fort in the Revolutionary War, and was demolished during the enlargement of the Erie canal in 1835.
JOHAN HOST, sometimes called Hanyost, died in 1775, leaving five sons, Gen. Nicholas, the eldest, Henry, Johan Jost, George and John, and eight daughters. Elizabeth Barbara, the eldest, married Peter D. Schuyler. Lana was three times married. Her first husband was Warner Dygert, the second Nicholas Snell, and the third John Roorback. Delia was married to Col. Peter Bellinger, Catherine to George Henry Bell, Gertrude to Rudolph Shomaker, Anna to Peter Ten Broeck, Anna Maria to the Rev. Abraham Rosecrantz, and Elizabeth to Hendrick Frey. These daughters of our venerable grandfather left numerous descendants, and among them are some of our most respectable citizens.
Grandfather Herkimer was the patentee of several tracts of land. One of them, the Fall Hill patent, contained 2,500 acres, which he gave to his children. Lots No. 15 and 16 of this grant of lands, was the homestead of grandmother Delia, who married Col. Peter Bellinger. They had eight children, four sons and four daughters, viz: John, who married Nancy Stauring; Peter, who was twice married, his first wife being Alida Wagner, the second her sister Nancy. Joseph married Anna Eve Campbell. Christopher P. was twice married; his first wife was Laney Bellinger, the second her sister, Mary Catherine, widow of Christopher Shomaker. The name of the four daughters were Catherine, Margaret, Delia and Gertrude.
CATHERINE, who was generally known by the name of Katie, was twice married. Her first husband was Lieut. Dedrick Marcus Petrie, a son of John Joseph, sometimes called Hanyost, and brother of Delia - who married Jacob - mother of Nicholas Casler. Katie's second husband was Johannes Bellinger, whom she married in 1784. By this marriage one son was born, the late Hon. Daniel Bellinger, who was a lieutenant in the war of 1812, and served his country faithfully on the northern frontier. He was a member of Assembly in 1842, and was a staunch Democrat all his life. He was highly esteemed by his relatives and friends. He married Margaret, daughter of the late George Lotridge.
Katie in person was short and stout, fair looking, of jovial disposition, kind-hearted and beloved by all who knew her. She died in 1840, aged 90 years.
Lieutenant Petrie, her first husband, was killed in the battle of Oriskany, in August, 1777, fighting by the side of Gen. Nicholas Herkimer. He was killed in the early part of the engagement. He was a gallant soldier and bravely fought the enemy until he received his mortal wound.
Catherine, Katie's daughter by her first marriage, married John I. Bellinger, and had a large family, of whom only one is now living, the youngest, James Bellinger. The late Esquire John Uhle was one of the sons-in-law. Their homestead was the stone house, on the road to Jacksonburgh, now owned by one Abiel.
Delia Petrie, the other daughter, married Marcus Casler. They had two children, Richard M., who married for his first wife Betsy Lotridge, and for his second, Delia, daughter of John I. Bellinger. The name of the other child of Delia and Marcus Casler was Katie.
She was twice married. Her first husband was Abram Walrath; the second a Mr. Bishiop. She had a number of children by the first marriage, but none by the second. She died at Chittenango several years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Walrath were my sponsors when I was christened.
MARGARET married Marks Petrie - a near relative of Aunt Katie's husband, Marcus Petrie. They had children Marks, Peter and Joseph, and one daughter Margaret, who married the late John Dygert. They had no children. Margaret died may years ago, and none of her children are now living. In person she was rather tall and not very stout, of fair countenance, genial disposition, and was highly respected by her relatives. Inter-marriages of relatives in our family occur often. Esquire John Tygert, as the name was formerly spelled, was a grandson of Lana and Warner Dygert. Her homestead was on Church street. She died in 1830.
DELIA, married Nicholas Ten Broeck. Their children's names were: Nicholas, Joseph, Peter, Jeremiah, and two daughters, Nella and Melinda. Nella married a Mr. Powers, and left here many years ago. There are none of this family now living in this vicinity.
In person Aunt Delia was of good size. Her countenance was fair, and she had a kind disposition. Her relatives especially, were always assured of a warm welcome from her. Her homestead was on the farm of the late John Eysaman, Fall Hill. She died about 1835.
GERTRUDE, my grandmother, daughter of Col. Peter Bellinger and Delia Herkimer, was born July 18, 1764; married Nicholas Casler, September 14th, 1782; died April 5th, 1831. They had ten children, six sons and four daughters, viz: Peter B., the oldest, married Betsey Catherine Eysaman; Richard N., married Jane Young; Robert, married Tina Zoller; Nicholas, married Polly Stauring; Christopher B., married Esther Prall. John P. was twice married. His first wife was Betsy Steel, the second Caroline Zoller. By the first wife he had one son, Robert, who is now living at Whitesboro.
The daughters were Madalana, who was twice married. Her first husband was Jacob Vrooman, the second Joseph Heath. By the first marriage there was one son - Nicholas - and there were several children by the second. Delia was twice married. Her first husband was Jacob I. Harder. They had one daughter Gertrude, who married Thomas Sponenburg. Her second husband was Alonsing Loomis. Catherine married Henry T. Cronkhite and had one son named Tunis. Mary, called Polly, married Henry Heath. Aunt Esther Casler is the only one now living of this once large family. Her age is 87.
Grandmother in person was not very large. She was thick-set, fair featured, and of a kind, gentle, disposition. In early life she practiced midwifery, as there were not many physicians in this section at that early day. She was a splendid horsewoman, and when going to make a call, her horse was brought to the door saddled, and she would mount and start off at full gallop. Her saddle is now in my possession, and is one hundred years old.
Grandfather Nicholas Casler's second wife was Polly Miller. They had one son Myron, who died in Montreal, Canada, where his family are now living. Grandfather had a military title of Brigade Major. He served several years. After his death in 1827, his son Peter B. received the appointment, and on his resignation another son, Richard N., was appointed, and a grandson, Richard N. Casler, Jr., was elected major. Your humble servant was Colonel of the regiment.
On the completion of the canal in 1824, grandfather was appointed to take charge of the lock known as the collector's office lock, which was an honorable position in that early day. In person he was six feet in height and was well proportioned. His eyes were blue, and he was tender hearted and kind to a fault. He was highly respected and beloved by his children, relatives and friends. He was always called Major Casler. He was a member of the Presbyterian church, and very attentive to his religious duties. He died a faithful Christian in full hope of everlasting life beyond the grave.
JOHN BELLINGER, grandmother Casler's eldest brother, left this vicinity in 1790, and purchased lands in what is now the city of Utica, where he died. He married Nancy Stauring. They had eleven children. John married Margaret, daughter of John I. Bellinger; Adam married Olive Barnard; Nicholas married Polly Story; William married Fannie Stanton; Christopher married Catherine Weaver; Delia married George Weaver; Mary a Mr. Billingham; Elizabeth, a Mr. Coleman; Nancy was unmarried; Catherine, married Abram Weaver; Lydia, married Amasa Weaver. Probably not any of this large family are now living. Their descendants must be very numerous.
JOSEPH BELLINGER was twice married. His first wife was Anna Eve Campbell; the second Catherine Rosecrantz, a cousin by the first marriage. They had one son, the late John C. Bellinger, who married Mary Feeter. By the second marriage they had three children, Josephus, Abram and Maria. The latter married A. Breckenridge. They left this section of the country many years ago, and located at or near Ogdensburg.
Joseph was a man of energy. He and his father built a grist mill where the Whitman knitting mill now stands. It was demolished in 1845 to make room for the cotton factory. After his death his widow married George Coughnet. They had a daughter Catherine, who married Jacob Nellis.
PETER BELLINGER, son of Col. Peter Bellinger, was twice married. His first wife was Alida Wagner, the second her sister Nancy. By the first marriage they had two children, Peter and Nancy. The former married Catherine Barnes, the latter Robert McChesney. Their homestead was near the Indian Castle. He also had a farm on Fall Hill. He moved to or near Ogdensburg, where he died about 1855. In person he was thick set, and was nearly six feet tall. He was highly esteemed by his relatives and friends.
CHRISTOPHER P. BELLINGER, son of Col. Peter Bellinger, was twice married. His first wife was Lana Bellinger, by whom he had six children - one son and five daughters. Peter H., married Nancy Fox; Catherine married Peter Walrath; Margaret, married Henry Eysaman; Lana married William H. Leigh; Delia married Gen. Nicholas P. Casler; Polly married Richard Winsor. His second wife was Mary Catherine, widow of Christopher Shomaker, and a sister of his first wife. They had no children. Uncle was a man of energy and influence. After the death of his father and mother he became heir to the homestead. Previous to his death he conveyed it to William H. Leigh. Besides the farm he carried on business at the grist mill. In the war of 1812 Col. Bellinger was out with his regiment, and marched to the defence of Sacketts Harbor, which was menaced by the British forces. He was a vigilant and energetic officer and highly spoken of by his superiors. In 1816 he was commissioned a brigadier general. Several times he was elected to represent the county in the assembly, and was justice of the peace and supervisor many years. He was not quite six feet high and well proportioned. He died in 1837.
The late Colonel Frederick Bellinger of Mohawk, and Major Frederick Bellinger of Herkimer, were near relatives of Colonel Peter Bellinger.
Johannes and Nicholas Kessler - now called Casler - came from the palatinate of Alsace on the lower Rhine, Germany, in 1710. They settled in the Mohawk valley in 1721, and took up lands on the south side of the river, near Jacksonburg.
JACOB CASLER, was the son of Nicholas, and married Delia, daughter of John Joseph Petrie, about 1750. They had six children, five sons and one daughter: Nicholas, Marks, Richard I. N., Jacob and Joseph. Grandfather Nicholas and Marks' families I have before mentioned.
RICHARD I. N. married Betsy Casler. They had two children, Amos and Jonas.
JACOB, married Rachel Fetterly. Their children were Henry, David, Nicholas, William, Isaac, Levi, and one daughter, Rachael, who married John Youngs.
JOSEPH married Lany Miller. Their children were: Richard, Eli, Nicholas, Delia, Diana and Elmira. They were all respectable people. Some of their descendants are still living in this vicinity.
DELIA, daughter of Jacob, grandfather's only sister, married Samuel Abbott. Their children were: Anson, who married Anna McDonald; Hannah, married George W. Phillips; Mary was twice married. Her first husband was Joseph Casler, the second Charles May. Delia was a wman of rare personal beauty, large and well proportioned, and of kind disposition. She had a natural business turn of mind. I saw her in 1838, while she was here on a visit. She died at her home in Canada, about 1842. I was informed by John P. Casler, that Delia, his mother, was a very beautiful woman, and that the Petries generally were a handsome family. She was aunt to the late brothers Solomon, Richard, Joseph, John M., Jacob, Adam, and Betsy and Mary Petrie. In speaking of our female relatives the Petries, I do not wish to be understood as saying that they were the only handsome relatives we had. There were among the Bellingers and Caslers many handsome featured women.
Greatgrandfather Jacob Casler, was sometimes called Black Jacob, on account of having black eyes, an unusual circumstance among the Germans. His son Jacob also had black eyes and all the other children blue eyes. To distinguish father from son they were called Black Jacob and Jacob Black, which created considerable merriment among their relatives. In German they were spoken of as Swartz Jacob and Jacob Swartz. This I relate, having heard it in my younger days. He was a bold and resolute man. One evening he set out in pursuit of some cattle which had strayed into the woods, armed only with a spontoon - a short pike with a long handle. In passing along a path in a woody ravine, he saw a short distance ahead of him a large black bear, ready for a fight. Jacob made a thrust at his bearship with a spear, driving it deep into his side. This only enraged the animal and did not disable him. In making repeated thrusts the pike became detached. The fight was a desperate one, but he continued to club the bear over the head with the handle until the animal lay dead at his feet. His clothes were torn and his limbs were lacerated by the bear's claws. The bear was taken home and dressed and made a rare feast for the family.
In the summer of 1780, Gen. Herkimer sent a company of sixteen volunteer soldiers to Unadilla, to break up a camp of Indians and Tories. They had made frequent raids upon the settlements and driven off the stock and plundered and pillaged the inhabitants. In this company was grandfather Nicholas Casler, Philip Harter, and a Mr. Rasbach of Snell's Bush. I have not been able to learn the names of the others. Their instructions were to surround the house, make prisoners of the inmates, and burn the premises. On arriving at the house, guards were placed around it, with instructions not to let any of the inmates pass out. A little girl came out and was stopped by the guard. She said she was going outside on account of necessity, and was allowed to pass. She ran up a ravine a short distance from the house, where was camped a band of Indians and Tories, and gave the alarm. They immediately swarmed down upon the little band of patriots whom they outnumbered two to one. Volleys were fired by both parties. Our men seeing they were so much outnumbered, fled and took shelter in the woods until night, and taking advantage of the darkness traveled all night towards their home near Fort Herkimer. Only half of them returned, several having been killed at the first fire, and others in a running fight. The three above named, returned home in safety.
In July 1782, a band of Indians and Tories under Brant came into the Mohawk Valley. They were discovered early in the morning by our vigilant scouts, who were on the lookout. One was an Oneida Indian called Good Peter. The Oneidas were our allies during the revolution. Peter was an Indian runner and gave the alarm to the inhabitants that Brant was coming. The people near Fort Herkimer took shelter in the fort. The family of Augustine Hess were the last to gain the fort. They all got safely in but Mr. Hess, who was shot dead at the gate. The inhabitants east of Fort Herkimer who could not reach the fort, were gathered together by grandfather Jacob Casler, and were taken for safety to the ravine on the north side of the river, near the gulf bridge, where they remained for two days and came back to their home in safety. Among the children were Betsey Rankin, who afterwards became of the mother-in-law of the late Major Richard N. Casler.
Grandmother Delia Herkimer, wife of Col. Peter Bellinger, was in her house when the Indian runner passed. He cried, "flee for your lives; Brant is coming." She hastily gathered together some provisions, and with her children and a sick daughter-in-law went to the river, got in a canoe and paddled to the island now called Hansen's island, where they concealed themselves in the bushes, and remained there two days and nights and came off in safety.
I will give a few incidents with the battle of Oriskany, in which our brave patriot relatives were conspicuous. In that battle Grand-uncle General Nicholas Herkimer, with his brigade of about nine hundred men, left Fort Dayton in the village of Herkimer, on the 5th of August, 1777, for the relief of Fort Stanwix, which was besieged by 2,000 Indians and Tories, commanded by the British General St. Leger, Col. Butler, and the Indian Captain Joseph Brant. Colonel Gansevoort and Colonel Willett were in command of the fort, which was garrisoned by 200 men. On the morning of the 6th they took up the line of march with Col. Peter Bellinger's men at the head of the column. Flanking parties were thrown out on the march. On arriving at some low marshy ground in a wooded ravine, the flanking parties were recalled and were marching with the main body of troops over a causeway of logs. The advance had commenced ascending the westerly slope, when a well directed fire from the enemy on the front and both flanks, accompanied by the dismal Indian war whoop, announced to General Herkimer that his little army had been involved in an ambuscade. The suddenness of the attack and the intensity of the enemy's fire produced great disorder among our men for a time. The enemy were under cover behind the trees. Immediately our men were formed in circular squads, took to the cover of the trees and returned the fire with good effect. When our men would deliver their fire the Indians would rush upon them with tomahawk in hand before they could reload. To counteract this, two men were placed behind a tree. One fired and the other reserved his fire until the Indian rushed up, when he was shot down by the underring aim of our men. General Herkimer's horse was killed under him early in the action, and his leg was at the same moment broken by a musket ball. He directed his saddle to be placed upon a little hillock, where he rested himself and coolly and firmly issued his orders to the troops. When requested to place himself in a less exposed situation he answered as a brave and true man would in like circumstances: "I will face the enemy." While the battle raged the fiercest, and the savage yell was loudest, he took his flint, steel and tinder box from his pocket, and lighted his pipe, which he smoked with great composure. The battle lasted about six hours, and then the enemy began to give way. At the moment when the soldiers were placing him on a litter, while adjusting the blankets to the poles, three Indians approached and were instantly shot down by the unerring rifles of three of the militia. These were the last shots fired in the battle.
The Indians finding their own numbers sadly diminishing now raised the retreating cry of "Oonah! Oonah!" and fled in every direction, under the shouts and hurrahs of our surviving little army and a shower of bullets. Capt. George Henry Bell remained upon the battlefield with Gen. Herkimer until the action was over and took charge of the escort which took his wounded commander more than thirty miles on a litter to his home three miles below Little Falls, where his leg, which had been shattered by a musket ball was amputated. It was found impossible to staunch the blood, and he died about ten days after the battle. Thus fell in early life a brave patriot. His loss was felt throughout the Mohawk valley, and most of the principal places were draped in mourning. The Americans lost in killed 200, and about as many wonded and prisoners. The enemy's loss was about the same.
Some of the brave relatives in the battle were: his brother George, brothers-in-law Col. Peter Bellinger, Capt. George Henry Bell, Col. Cox (killed), his nephews, Major John Frey, Capt. Jacob Seeber, Lieutenant William Seeber (wounded), Lieut. Dedrick Marcus Petrie (killed), Henry I. Walrath. Col. John Bellinger was taken prisoner and carried to Canada, where he remained until the close of the war.
Part 2 of Col. Henry McLean Heath's Historical Sketches
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