At the request of many, I am going to give you a summary of the history of German Flatts until I can find more interesting details.  Most of this information is taken from Herkimer County at 200, a book published by the Herkimer County Historical Society several years ago.  If you don't have one and you have relatives in the Mohawk Valley, you're missing an important resource!

In 1788, authorization was given to establish the towns of Herkimer and German Flatts.  Both of these towns were very large, and prior to 1788 Herkimer was on the south side of the Mohawk and German Flatts was on the north side, but...there was some confusion by the surveyor-general (Simeon DEWITT). He asked Doctor William PETRY to clarify the locations of each town.

"Viewing the ground from his standpoint, below the mouth of the Mohawk, looking up that river, he answered that Herkimer was on the left, and German Flats was on the right.  The surveyor-general supposed that the doctor meant the right and left banks of the Mohawk, as the stream flowed; so wrote the names on his maps, and so the error was enacted into a law, and the reversal of the names was not known until too late, and so they have remained ever since.  The old and true German Flats, which are situate in the angle formed by the confluence of the Mohawk river and the West Canada creek, were by this mistake placed on the opposite side of the Mohawk, and Fort Herkimer was carried by force of law over to the German Flats.  And so the two places are now in false positions." (Taken from R. W. Beers and Co.,  History of Herkimer County, N.Y. New York, 1879.  Reprint, Ovid, N.Y.:W. E. Morrison and Co., 1980.)

    1723:  German Flatts was settled by Palatine German families.

    1725:  Patent was granted along the Mohawk River

    1756:  After the surrender of Oswego, the French over-ran the Mohawk Valley.

    1757:  After the surrender of Fort William Henry, much of German Flats was burned and many people were massacred.

    1788:  Town was formed on March 7  (it was the original fifth district of old Tryon County)

      NY legislature authorized the election of a supervisor to oversee the administration of each town and to represent the towns on the county board of supervisors

    1791:  representatives of the board of supervisors represented the three existing towns (Herkimer, German Flatts, and Whitestown)

      The county seat was at Whitestown.

      The supervisors met not just at Whitestown, but various locations in the county.

      A county courthouse and jail were built in Whitestown.

      In a handwritten entry in The Supervisors Book, Herkimer County, John PORTEOUS is stated as being the supervisor of the Town of Herkimer, Frederic FOX as the supervisor of German Flatts, Jedediah SANGER as supervisor of Whitestown, and Jonas PLATT as clerk of Herkimer County.  Further information in the minutes indicates that the meeting took place May 31, 1791 at the house of John MYERS, Inn keeper.  Michael MYERS, Esquire was appointed as Treasurer of Herkimer County and James YULE was appointed Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of Herkimer County.  A budget of Forty Pounds was established.  Herkimer Town was to pay 15 pounds, German Flatts Town was to pay 13 pounds and Whitestown was to pay 12 pounds.  Michael MYERS was appointed as the first county representative to the state legislature.

      William COLBREATH, of Rome, was named sheriff.

      Henry STARING, of Herkimer, was named judge.

      Jonas PLATT, of Whitestown, was named county clerk.

    1792:  Frankfort, Litchfield, and Warren were formed from parts of the Town of German Flatts.

    1793:  A courthouse and jail were built in Herkimer.

    1797:  Thomas R. GOULD was appointed as a part-time district attorney.

    1798:  Oneida County was formed and Whitestown became part of that county.

      Herkimer became the county seat of Herkimer County.

    1824:  The Gazetteer described German Flatts as a Post-Township on the south shore of the Mohawk, in Herkimer County, 5 miles southeast of Herkimer and about 75 miles from Albany. It was bounded on the north by the Mohawk River or by Herkimer, on the East by Danube, on the south by Warren and Columbia and on the west by Frankfort. It went on to state that German Flatts had been so known for about 100 years. Further it states that a canal has been built around the Wolf Rift in the Mohawk River which is 1 1/4 miles long. The canal has 2 mill-streams. There are 7 grain mills, 10 saw mills, 2 carding machines, 2 fulling mills, 1 oil mill, 1 ashery, and 1 meeting-house (75 years old). There are a number of locks in German Flatts and the Grand Canal runs along the Mohawk through the length of the town. Town Assessment:

      Population:  2665

      Taxable Property:  $464,626

      Electors:  468

      Acres of improved land:  11,737

      Cattle:  2327

      Horses:  803

      Sheep:  4334

      Yards of cloth made in families in 1821:  19,921 (Note:  How do you suppose they assessed that?)

      Public monies received in 1821:  #373.27

      School Districts:  13

      Children between ages 5 and 15:  864  (707 attended school)

    1829:  Part of the Town of German Flatts became part of the newly formed Town of Little Falls.

    1834:  The sheriff and his family were provided living quarters when the new jail was built. The county taxes paid for food for the sheriff's family as well as the prisoners. The sheriff's wife was expected to cook for the prisoners.

    1848:  William Cullen CRAIN, of Warren, served as speaker of the State Assembly

    1869:  From a report to the board of supervisors, these facts are gleaned about German Flatts:

      OSGOOD'S Hotel, Ilion
      Supervisor:  E. A. BROOKS
      Assessors:  S. GETMAN, Nicholas VROOMAN, J. CRIM, Honorable Josiah SHULL, L. L. MERRY
      Real estate is assessed at 33%
      Personal Property is assessed at same rate (33%)
      Bank stock is assessed at 33 1/3%
      Cows are assessed at $30
      About 2100 cows are milked in German Flatts.
      There are several cheese factories.
      The committee recommended that bank stock assessment be raised to 40% to be in line with the rest of the county.
      Ilion population:  2800
      Ilion real estate assessment:  $212,969
      Ilion is an extensive manufacturing village with 2 banks (National Mohawk Valley Bank and the Ilion National Bank), REMINGTON Agricultural Works and Mohawk Gas Light Company
      The committee recommended that canal boats be assessed as a very large number were owned in German Flatts.
      Mohawk population:  2300
      Mohawk real estate assessment:  $109,445
      Farm land was equalized in 1868 as $14 per acre.

    1887:  Titus SHEARD, of Little Falls, served as speaker of the State Assembly.

    1991:  Town Officers:

      Supervisor:  Raymond STEELE
      Town Clerk:  Marie K. HENNINGS
      Town Justices:  Arthur DUNKEL and Raymond CASHMAN
      Councilmen: Richard STEELE, Frank SPATTO, Fay DAVIS, and Daniel MONOHAN
      Superintendent of Highways:  Charles PRIMMAR
      Tax Collector:  Dorothy R. SNYDER
      Assessor Chairman:  Eleanor J. MANION
      Historian:  Francis CUNNINGHAM

If you have more facts about German Flatts to add to this, I would be happy to hear from you.
Beverly Crim

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Last Updated: 5/6/98
Copyright ©1997, 1998 Beverly Crim
Copyright ©1997, 1998 Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.